When I first wrote about my experience with the Law of Attraction I was very mixed about it. I saw its potential as a psychological motivator, but found it disdainful for spiritual growth by itself. I agreed with the criticisms where the belief promotes spiritual lethargy and an undeserved sense of self-entitlement based on my experience with those who practiced it. I also saw a problem with moral and cognitive dissonance, especially when one is confronted with issues like human trafficking and genocide. I questioned from where the Universe pulled to provide whatever one wished to manifest. If I manifested money did my manifestation make a person or group of people poorer? What if someone who wished to harm used the Law of Attraction? If the philosophy behind it is a person wills a bad experience on themselves, does it mean someone must be willing to cause harm that is in alignment with the Universe? All of these questions (in addition to my criticism of the just world fallacy) aside I still felt in the mind of someone with a strong sense of self and realism the Law of Attraction is beneficial.
A couple of years later I dealt with quite a few people who strongly adhered to this belief. The more I dealt with them as people who happened to believe in the Law of Attraction the more I saw a disturbing trend. Apparently someone, somewhere decided the best way to attract positive vibrations was to “root out” every minute negative aspect of one’s life. The nebulous idea of to what extent and how negative was never addressed because even something as innocuous as a lolcat could trigger “negative vibrations”, or so these people informed me (I’ve yet to determine what constitutes negative energy as opposed to offending one’s sensibilities). I’ve since rooted or distanced myself from those people. I’m sure their vibrational energies are better for it. I know mine are.
I was thinking about this old blog post a few days ago when I saw a trend in the Kemetic community quite similar to seeking out negativity as I observed with the Law of Attraction. Instead of calling it negativity it’s been labeled “isfet”. For those who don’t know isfet is the Ancient Egyptian word for “disorder”. It is considered the opposite of Ma’at. One conversation which finally led to this post’s revival was a discussion about familial issues with one person’s faith. This caused a bit of controversy in the group as some believed that the person shouldn’t rock the boat too much since the person was dependent on the family on a very small level and such a disagreement in expressing beliefs could bring disorder into the home. I and a few others found this problematic thinking for a couple of reasons, the main one being how much any disagreement causes disorder. Disagreements and even squabbles are bound to happen; that’s life. Should one be held responsible for isfet for any and all disagreements?
I found, and still believe, the issue of rooting out any and all isfet almost as extreme as rooting out all negative vibrations. I saw from looking at those who wanted to root out negative vibrations how obsessed they became with negativity. They surrendered self control to a formless entity they believed could potentially ruin their lives. Even the most innocuous slight earned someone the title of “negative person” and “psychic vampire”. Adherents to that extreme quest of a positive life may as well label the general population with such names. In a way of self-fulfilling prophecy and irony these people manifested a dark attitude about living a positive life. They became passive aggressive, hard to deal with in everyday conversation, abrasive, and outright unsupportive. I guess some people forget the Law of Attraction teaches that if one focuses their energy on a certain idea it’s what manifests.
Focusing on certain behaviors and the resulting behaviors isn’t something Kemetics should ignore. In The Book of the Heavenly Cow Sekhmet’s original focus was to eradicate those who plotted to kill Ra but ultimately targeted mankind in Her rampage. When She sought to eradicate mankind this became isfet. It created disorder and had potential to kill everyone. What started off as eliminating all of one form of isfet became isfet itself. Just as one seeks to remove all isfet from one’s life, this bears potential as its own form of isfet. It turns into an obsession, anxiety over minute issues and missteps, misanthropy, disdain towards a growing number of things, all of which the person internalizes. It gets toxic quickly from my observations.
I do believe, though, one should try to live in accordance with Ma’at and part of that is culpability for our response to isfet. It doesn’t have to manifest in a form as never offending nor abrasive reaction. Sometimes the best way to slay isfet is through changing a behavior or response. In an ideal world when a family member disapproves of a faith the family member can live and let live and even learn about the beliefs. More often than not it’s ideal to not bring it up in conversation. Have a plan of action for when it’s necessary. As an example, I have a father whom I consider a rageaholic. My plan of action when he seeks conflict is to note the circumstances and politely ask him to not engage until he can calmly discuss an issue with me. Sometimes I remove myself from the situation completely. I politely acknowledge his point and say nothing else at times. It doesn’t change his behavior, but I’m not feeding the situation. I’ve fought isfet in this situation because I didn’t let the situation degenerate. At times, though, his desire to seek conflict requires an offensive response. I’m not perfect at it as there are times where I let my emotions take over or I go overboard with my response. I’ve had to learn from it and try not to do it again. Yes, there will be a gamut of emotions in that process. Growing isn’t easy and is usually a painful process. It goes back to my belief of upholding Ma’at is to sometimes learn from it, tackle those processes, and grow into something stronger.
There are times where I find the best way to handle isfet in my life is to dismiss it. I may feel the person who cut me off in traffic contributed to isfet, but responding with road rage is also isfet in my opinion. I can let it go and continue with my drive. I can breathe and be thankful I didn’t hit the offending person. I can ignore someone’s habit of putting their elbows on the table while others are eating. It’s a faux pas, one I could argue is isfet as manners are meant to uphold social order, but it would cause more isfet to embarrass the person depending on the circumstances (yes, there are exceptions. If for some reason the faux pas causes major problems, I will speak up). I don’t need to slay every isfet in my life because it doesn’t necessarily need slaying or addressing.
The way I look for the isfet to slay in my life is the same way I look for negativity: I don’t. It will find me and I will have to decide how to deal with it when it shows, if I deal with it at all. Instead of killing it I may sedate it and reorganize my behaviors and thoughts. Ra reorganized the world after He sedated Sekhmet through drunkenness. In that regard I still give the Law of Attraction some leeway because at its core the focus is about reorganizing one’s behavior and thinking. The approach to it is something I find toxic as it encourages dysfunctional behavior and thinking. Sometimes isfet, negativity, etc., ends up more trouble than its worth to address it. Sometimes it’s not even something attracted. Forgive my vulgarity, but shit happens. There are days you will step in it, and there are days when you find the asshole responsible for leaving it. Not every asshole needs you to wipe it, but you will have to clean yourself off. I feel that dealing with negativity and isfet isn’t so distinct in that respect.