My thoughts: there IS an element of truth to the thing of one's thoughts having an influence over the universe. It's how prayer and magick work. But there are people in the occult/new age movements that make the same mistake as the "we don't need medicine, we have prayer" folks: prayer is a *supplement* to action, not a replacement. Same with magick. Magick helps tip the scales in your favor, but also requires action. Positive thinking *can* attract positive results, but firstly requires specifics (or else you'll attract random things to you), but still requires action. All forms of using thoughts to manipulate the universe require action. The influence the mind has over the universe is very small.
Now, as to negative thinking... yes, negative thinking can tip the scales against you. But again, action is more powerful. Even if your thinking is depressed and negative, actions can still have positive results. Positive thinking, magick, and prayer can also sometimes yield negative results. Because the one thing both the "prayer medicine" people and a lot of new age people keep forgetting is this: CHANCE. Chaos. There is always an element of chance, and there are a lot of things going on in the world that are impersonal and will just do whatever the hell they want to regardless. Everyone in the world could have their souls and minds constantly overflowing with positive thoughts until they piss rainbows and shit out unicorns and sneeze glitter, and those impersonal forces would still happen. Earthquakes would still happen. Tsunamis would still happen. Volcanoes would still go off. Asteroids would still fall. And the Yellowstone super-volcano would still be a mass-extinction event waiting to go off at any moment.
So yes, to dismiss positive thinking altogether isn't good. But to think that positive thinking will bend the whole vast, uncaring universe to your will is delusional. Consciousness does have *some* influence over the universe, but not much. Maybe in another universe it's different, but here in ours, our influence is small. Our actions, while also small, are far more powerful. Even "Conversations With God" by Neale Donald Walsch says so: weakest is thought, stronger are words, strongest are actions. Thought, word, deed. Thinking alone will not suffice. Thoughts and words alone are insufficient. Thought, word, and deed must be united. Pray to God, but let God's healing flow through Western medicine and professional doctors for actual results. Do magick, but know that spells for getting a new job won't work if you don't fill out and turn in applications, and try your best in interviews. Try to be positive, yes, but if you don't always succeed at staying positive, there's nothing wrong with that. And whoever you are, and whether you pray, do spells, or just think positively, know that you are small an insignificant to the powerful, impersonal forces of our vast universe; your thoughts and even your actions are limited in influence to the local area, and even there, their power is limited.
Also, along with action, one must keep in mind that whether you pray, do magick, or just think positively, you have to recognize when opportunities are being handed to you, and take them. No amount of prayer, etc. is going to get you an old-fashioned miracle of an angel flying down to hand you a gift-wrapped box of what you're asking for. Look for your gifts in the mundane world, and recognize that they may seem pitiful. There was a time when I was getting a job not long after I lost the last one, and Djao-kain's sense of humor was strange in those days, giving me lots of jobs that were strange or amusing in some peculiar way. But I took them.
It's like that old joke:
Once upon a time there was a man that lived by the river. He heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town. The report said that the whole town should evacuate immediately. But the man said, "I'm religious, I pray. God loves me. God will save me." But the waters began to rise. A man in a rowing boat came along and he shouted. 'Hey! Hey you! You up there. The town is flooding. I can take you to safety.' But the man shouted back: "I'm religious, I pray. God loves me. God will save me." A helicopter came hovering overhead. A guy with a megaphone shouted. 'Hey! You there! The town is fully flooded. Let me drop down a ladder and I will help you to safety.' But the men shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God would take him to safety. The man then drowned. When he got to the pearly gates of St Peter, he demanded an audience with God. 'Lord,' he said, 'I'm a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?' God said, 'I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowing boat. So what the heck are you doing here?'
Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org