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Dropping the belief in magic

13/02/2020
Andrew Outhwaite

Do you believe in magic?

I realised the other day that I had drifted into believing in magic.

Magic is the attribution of action or outcomes in the sense that some mysterious or supernatural force had influenced them.

The way I was believing in magic was in saying things, doing things, following routines or advice in a way that absolved responsibility to some mysterious force. Rather than intending that exactly my actions would result in the outcome, I hoped that if I followed along basically there would be some point at which magic occurred to create the desired outcome.

Outsourcing responsibility is, in practice, to miss the point of: strength training, contemplation practices or work routines. I was, to a certain percentage, allowing some unknown force to take 1, 10 or 100% of responsibility for something actually ‘working’.

What it meant was that in some practices and training I was less than 100% there and attentive. Not paying 100% attention to what I was doing and what was occurring. Slightly sloppy form, some little shortcuts, some sense of hopefulness or hopelessness. Rather than being interested, open, curious about if and how it was working I was just sort of ‘going along’. The very inattentiveness meant my senses, mind, body weren’t ACTUALLY doing the work that would transform them. They were being told, I was telling myself, encouraging myself, to just sort of 'fake it', half-heartedly hoping, waiting for the 'magic' force would kick in and make the difference.

A complete fantasy.

Now, I’m not saying things don’t happen that are mysterious and unexpected, and that there are forces at play of which I am not conscious.

It’s just the belief in them without inquiry, depending on them rather than taking responsibility, is ultimately, in any domain, ineffective.

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