Is the Law of Reciprocity Really a Law?

This week let’s talk about the spiritual law of reciprocity.

What makes a law spiritual? It is hard to define a spiritual law. Because … it’s … spiritual. You can’t measure it or quantify it. But that in itself does not mean we have to dismiss spiritual laws as pure fantasy. Absence of quantitative evidence does not eliminate the possibility that spiritual laws are real. In fact, most of our staff kinda hope they are real.

Give us an example. The Law of Reciprocity. That’s a big one. Some of our instructors at the Centers for Spiritual Living seminary school would say the Law of Reciprocity is the basis for all the spiritual laws of the Universe.

OK, so what is the basic premise here? This ‘law’ assumes that there is a Me and there is a Universal Presence. Don’t call it God, because then you can’t not see the old man in the sky directing traffic. This idea of Universal Presence is not up in the sky somewhere. It is more akin to an impersonal, omnipresent, invisible power that responds to what we think into it.

Think into it? We admit that this is where things get a little dicey. But we’re not laying out a deductive logical argument here. We’re just outlining the spiritual law possibility.

Soooo, what is the Law of Reciprocity? Here’s the theory:

  • Spiritual energy is constantly flowing from the Universal Presence to the individual (i.e. Me) and back.

  • The individual takes that energy from the Universal Presence and focuses it for his own manifestation. It is called setting the intention.

  • Then the individual sends his intentions out into the Universal Presence. And this creates manifestations.

According to this Law, this reciprocal exchange of energy and intention is working all the time, whether we realize it consciously or not. Soooo, we are always setting some kind of intention even if we are sitting on the couch watching a football game.

The problem. The football game analogy points out a challenge here: What does it mean when your team does not win? Were you not thinking hard enough? Were 51% of the fans watching the game setting intentions for their team? Is there some overarching purpose to the loss that will make your team better in the long run?

We have no idea. And that’s the challenge with all these spiritual laws; we can’t look under the hood to see what is really happening.

Which comes first— Me or Universal Presence? This is also a tricky one. Thomas Troward (a 19th century philosopher who was big on this) said we get intuitive hits from the Universal Presence. These hits nudge us in certain directions.

So we have another paradox: If the Universal Presence is impersonal and responds to what we put into it, why would It initiate any kind of intuitive hit? To me that sounds more like the anthropomorphic God that cares about what we think and do. So which is it — a Universal Presence that is impersonal but reacts to what we put into it, or a God that provides insights to us? We are not going to deal with that one today, largely because we would get wrapped around the axle quickly without anything productive coming from it.

Does Reciprocity work? No idea. Many of us would like it to be true, because that gives us a lot of power over our own lives. But proof? Some people back-cast experiences to ‘prove’ that some of their intentions ultimately manifested. But these examples are circumstantial at best.

Ultimately, embracing the Law of Reciprocity (or any spiritual law) requires something we wanted to get away from — a leap of faith.