The Secret is a self-help book/movie based on another work, The Power of Attraction. It centers around the premise that if a person wishes something to be true, it can be true; if they desire to manifest something hard enough, their desire alone can make it happen. Instead of hard work and open-mindedness, The Secret suggests all you need is positive thinking, and thus, the "secret" of this supernatural force is a key component throughout history, not made available to the public until now -- provided you buy the author's books and movies. Then the universe is at your command.
The Secret - Spiritual Cinema
A review by Yoga instructor Julian Walker
I just finally got around to watching the whole of this movie that has such buzz in the spiritual community. Yoga teachers are talking about. My friend is at a massage school where the teacher's are suggesting that the class watch it together. Another friend is in a graduate course for Somatic Psychology where the professors think it is an important piece of spiritual cinema...... I've held out for a while, but finally I thought I'd see what all the fuss was about.
Why have I held out you might ask? Two reasons. The first has just three words: What the Bleep. Perhaps you've heard of it? It's that popular spiritual movie funded by the female cult leader who claims to channel a 35,000 year old warrior king from Lemuria (little old red flag for ya there..) and produced by her (his?) students. This film takes bad interpretations of quantum physics, puts them alongside junk science claims of water and it's ability to retain the "energy of thoughts" and then drives towards all sorts of misguided spiritual and psychological conclusions that leave it's audience more confused and ignorant about spirituality, science and the relationship between the two than when they first sat down....presumably scratching their heads and saying "what the bleep?"
My second reason, you innocently ask?
Well that's a little more complicated and has to do with my having been around the spiritual community my entire adult life and being perennially surprised, amused and infuriated with what people call "spiritual" and with the naivete, superficiality and gullibility of most "spiritual" people, as well as the basically banal nature of the material that gets recycled and marketed to it's willing consumers year after year.
The Secret takes the cake though.
Let's begin at the beginning:
The movie starts with a dramatization. A sexy/disheveled aging blond Australian lady is clearly having a rough time - her father has died, her relationships are a mess, she has worked herself to exhaustion. Then she opens her suitcase and sees book. A post-it note on the cover says "Mom, this will help xxox..."
Whatever could it be?
It turns out (the montage tells us) that she is holding in her hands a glimpse of the ancient secret that has been passed down through secret societies along the ages, that people have persecuted and killed for, the knowledge that the power elite have used to keep the masses oppressed and that was known by everyone from Emerson to Shakespeare to Plato to Lincoln to Hugo to Newton to Beethoven! No hint as to how her daughter or son happened to slide this precious information into her suitcase...
In her mind's eye we see Romans and Egyptians, Templar Knights, priests, scheming white cigar-smoking men in boardrooms, all passing the secret document back and forth, chasing it, hiding it - presumably until one of them passed it off on the troubled Australian lady's child?
Finally, in a breathless climactic moment, she is lying on her bed, head flung back, - a tight shot of her face, eyes closed, lips glossy as she earnestly and not a little seductively asks "Why doesn't anyone know this?"
After another exhausting rapid research project, our short-lived Australian heroine has found those among us who know the secret today and leaves us now in their able hands.
Pretty exciting, huh?
What could the ancient secret knowledge be? So mysterious. So powerful.
Who are these modern teachers of the ancient mystery, the wise ones who are the contemporary bearers of the secret knowledge?
The Masters of The Secret
The set combines beautiful backdrops with state-of-the-art computer graphics, and each speaker has their name in both typeset font and signature form at the bottom of the screen, along with a title that, we assume, qualifies them to be speaking. Their titles range from "philosopher" to "author" to "quantum physicist" to "writer" to "visionary" to "entrepreneur" to my personal favorite - "feng shui consultant." Only one of the "writer/authors" is well known and has his book "Chicken Soup for the Soul" included in the computer graphic backdrop behind him. One can only assume that none of the others actually have published anything - nonetheless they are writers or authors who are in on "The Secret."
One of the speakers with the title "philosopher" appears by the letters after his name to be a chiropractor with a degree in science. OK...
But while their titles and qualifications may vary, on one thing they are all resolutely in agreement, and this is the ancient secret, shrouded in mystery, repressed, hidden, revered by the best minds of history. Finally available and delivered by this coalition of the brilliant and the brave. Are you ready?
Your thoughts determine your experience. Shocking, isn't it?
That's right, you create your own reality. I know, I know it's complicated and deep, but we have decoded the golden thread of all the secret ancient wisdom traditions and the knowledge that made Emerson, Shakespeare, Newton et al such great men, and this is it!
The movie goes on to suggest, through well-made video dramatizations and repetitive rhetoric that "the Law of Attraction" is at work all the time responding to your thoughts and your feelings, serving up from the universe whatever you are putting out there. For example:
That parking ticket, those bills and piling up debt, your cancer, gay people who are harassed by homophobes, lonely folks who can't get a date and so on...all of these are without exception manifestations of bad thoughts.
If you are focusing on not wanting to be late as you drive to work - guess what, you will be!
If you think about your bike being stolen and are extra careful to lock it up tight - it'll be stolen. But if you visualize that rock-star parking in front of the store you need to go to - it will be there!
If you focus on how stressed out you are about your credit card bills - guess what, you'll only create more debt!
If you spend time thinking about your cancer it will be more likely to kill you and even better, if you just focus on good things, watch funny movies and feel good after your diagnosis, it could take just three months to completely destroy the tumor - hey it did for this lady...
then there's the little boy dying of a rare form of hepatitis. Full recovery because his family ordered up some extra special "gratitude rocks" from one of our "writers....."
What's more all of this has been proven by science.
The film uses authoritative names, meaningless titles/qualifications, very badly constructed arguments, category errors, logical fallacies etc.. scientific seeming images that then never go anywhere to strengthen it's points, and examples/case histories that are anecdotal at best.
And the matter-of-fact "scientific proof" is alluded to by various graphics, impressive looking images of experimental scenarios, and vague verbal references, but never really appears.
What you may ask could be wrong with a hopeful, inspiring film that empowers people to use their minds?
We see a "case history" of a young gay man who is depressed, picked on, constantly humiliated by homophobic co-workers and street thugs. No more once he applies the secret. Done. In fact the audience at a comedy club cheers his proclamation of being "such an incredibly gay man..." Nice. He is happy and everyone magically either accepts and supports his homosexuality or, - get this - transfers out of his office - so strong is his intention!
You see the makers of The Secret want us to believe that if your mental focus is strong enough and the intentional "joy" in your being is brimming over enough, everything will happen as you want it too. That's the highest spiritual truth and the secret to life.
We see scenes from a brutally dysfunctional relationship. Shoving, yelling, faces contorted in anger and hurt. The solution? Write down what you appreciate about your abusive partner and watch them transform before your eyes to match the energy you are magnetizing them with!
They assure us that the reason a tiny percentage of the world's population has so much of the wealth is because they know this secret.
Never mind social conditions. Never mind racism, homophobia, colonialism, world history, psychology, trauma, economic oppression. Everyone, absolutely everyone could be wealthy, happy and in love if they just knew how to use the Law of Attraction. Um, what does that mean for people who are not happy, wealthy or in the perfect relationship? Well, for lesson number two - see lesson number one. You're just not doing it right, silly.
Of course we never hear about the implied (and clearly flimsy) connection to the list of historical luminaries. You should have seen Shakespeare park that horse exactly where he wanted to on opening night....Beethoven - died in the black. Deaf, but solvent - right? Newton - never got sick.
Friends, this is not a recipe for anything but a frontal lobotomy. This is not high spiritual truth passed down through the ages, it's narcissistic delusion, bordering on the psychotic, plugged into the akashic records by a tinfoil hat.
It is a complete abdication of depth in favor of a supremely superficial analysis of life.
It is a marvelous example of everything wrong with the new age movement and is so insulting of the true nature of suffering, so ignorant of the realities of privilege and oppression, so authoritative in it's endorsement magical thinking and judgment of those who are not doing it right as to set any nascent spiritual development and self-awareness back a good 5 to 10 years.
So what is the real secret?
An Intelligent Path
Well there are really three broad areas that need attention, and this movie beautifully illustrates why:
1) Critical Thinking
Gotta have it. Without it spirituality is filled with the unicorns of childhood fantasy and the poison kool-aid of manipulation and dishonesty. In order to have critical thinking one needs healthy rational development. Educating the mind by studying actual philosophy, psychology, literature and art that grapples with the universal spiritual themes that great minds have been expressing since at least the ancient Greeks.
A healthy dose of critical thinking will cut through the kind of nonsense these kinds of popular spiritual vehicles are selling. It will also allow one to side step the very real suffering and delusion that comes from buying into very, very poor interpretations of spiritual reality like these.
Rest assured, if The Secret and What The Bleep sound like deep truth to you, there is either a complete lack of critical thinking, or you have become convinced of the fallacious spiritual argument which says that critical thinking is the enemy of spirituality. Not so. Critical thinking is the enemy of false spirituality. It is the trusted ally of authentic adult spirituality. Use it!
2) Your Shadow is your Friend
Contrary to superficial and fragmenting prescriptions like those offered by What the Bleep and The Secret, the instruction here is to actually work with your shadow material and learn from it.
Your so called "negative emotions" have value and meaning. They are communications from your psyche. Be curious about them. Compassionate. Follow a path of inquiry into what lies beneath the surface of your reactions, fears, anger-triggers, unsatisfied feelings, sadness etc. The way to be free of these is to embrace them and listen to what they might be telling you about your shadow - the part of you that you have disowned and disconnected from.
Working with and ultimately integrating shadow material through a process that takes you beneath the surface into the actual meaning that your triggers have for you is the way toward ending self-sabotage, not just trying desperately to impose a junta of "good thoughts" on your mind from the outside in...
3) Spiritual Practice
Spiritual practice is absolutely distinct from spiritual beliefs or ideas.
Spiritual ideas might give you a map of the territory in preparation for and in analyzing the experience of spiritual practice.
Spiritual beliefs are usually best left alone as they tend to hinder authentic inquiry which is at the heart of spiritual practice.
Spiritual practices actually require that you do the work. That you sit down and meditate. That you start a yoga practice. That you journal. That you dance your demons and shake your Buddha. That you be present to your emotions, your body, your mental patterns and learn the art of self observation, introspection and that most harrowing of skills - honest communication.
Spiritual practice requires that you turn to face your shadow. That you get real about your social conditioning, your political situation, the distinction between what you have power over and what has power over you.
Spiritual practice is inspiring, but it's also deeply humbling. It does not tell you that you can have anything, be anything, do anything, without limit.
Sorry. That's the kind of fantasy high the Secret promises - and the hangover is a real drag. But real practice does give you tools and resources to deal with the inevitable disasters, disappointments and struggles that make up every human life.
And this is perhaps what is most problematic about the ideas promoted by movies like The Secret. Most likely the audience is looking for some real tools, looking for some real practices, techniques and resources to help make sense of life and it's complexities, to help them to grow and feel supported. Yet what these ideas offer is a short lived illusory hope that fades to reveal only one area of deepening - that of denial, fragmentation and self-judgment.
The Ethical Problem
Not too much searching online reveals that the movie is part of an elaborate advertising campaign to get people interested in working with the various "teachers" it features. Just like What the Bleep is a recruitment vehicle for Ramtha's School of Enlightenment, The Secret is an infomercial for it's talking heads. On a purely business level - brilliant. Too bad this is the last thing it's target audience actually needs.
1) The movie suggests something impossible - not only are there millions of other people out there with their own agendas/intentions, but there are also multiple variables that are not even remotely influence-able at the level of conscious intention - no matter how admittedly valuable a positive attitude might be. 2) Gullible and desperate people will try really hard to apply the "Law of Attraction". They will have some success with it because intention has a certain amount of impact. They will have a lot of failure with it, because it is nonsense. I already know of a few people who are watching the movie obsessively to try and master it's bogus teachings. See here for the recent New York Times article on magical thinking, it's harmless prevalence and problematic implications as a worldview. 3) the ones with money will buy the book, attend the events, and contact the teachers for help on perfecting their skills, which of course is, by definition impossible, so they will have a captive audience.
The dynamic described by the above three points is "The Secret" to these hucksters making a mint!
The Secret - an Integral Glance
by Steve Self, Durango, CO 2006
The 90 minute movie-infomercial, The Secret, resonates with the earlier film, What The Bleep, and further abandons any pretense of respect for critical thinking, philosophical fit and transpersonal development. Contradictions, confusions and indulgences are rampant throughout the film. It plays more like a fevered revival, encouraging us all to abandon ourselves to pre-rational magical thinking as a miraculous prescription for easing our materialistic suffering.
The film presents the Universal Law of Attraction as its central secret: imagine what you want to be, be positive in your thinking about what you want, and engage your mind and emotions when envisioning it, and the universe will manifest it for you.
First, the benign interpretation...
On the surface, this is sensible and useful, it is basic healthy orange-achiever level behavior. Just clarifying your wants, setting specific goals, and keeping it all vividly in mind is quite useful. One sees opportunities and makes connections that would never have occurred without the presence of the envisioned goals. Extraneous busy work begins to fall away and one attends more directly to fulfilling one’s desires. Peripheral friends and contacts begin to get involved and naturally make further connections toward completion. Staying aware of what you want is an effective step toward getting it.
For those stuck in a negative attitude, this advice could begin to shake them free and encourage healthy optimism. If one can involve others -- family, friends and those also inspired by The Secret -- in supporting this new outlook, it is more likely to become a lasting change. Again, on the surface, being optimistic is more effective than being pessimistic.
When the movie begins to insist, “you create your reality,” it in part presents a possibility for a broader and deeper sense of responsibility. We can begin to own that our choices and attitudes have something to do with the circumstances we find ourselves embedded in. A number of the teachers stress how our health is deeply affected by our views and thoughts. All familiar and straightforward guidance, straddling the orange-achiever to green-pluralistic structure-stages of adult development, and preferencing the individual’s interior experience, the upper left quadrant.
So far, this is a generous view of the movie, for in its extremely partial and naive presentation there lurk many misunderstandings, manipulations and outright pathological indulgences. Let’s wade in...
Pre-Rational Magical Thinking
Probably the strongest message in the movie is the pre-rational notion that the universe is like a cosmic Santa or a personal and infinite catalog and we merely need to place our order –by thinking positively about what we want– and all our desires will manifest. This idea is pounded into us with insistent repetition and manic sincerity. This is classic magical thinking, where one believes that the external world will physically change to match our internal mental thoughts. Such magical thinking is usually outgrown around age three. In the film, however, this is presented as an advanced understanding of how the universe actually works at a quantum level (more on this later) and in a clever manipulation, any dissent or contradictory evidence is cast in a light of “negative thinking.” It’s this negative thinking that manifests scarcity, suffering, and all the ills on the planet. These claims are so audacious, so outrageous, so completely implausible, that even a brief moment of rigorous thought completely dispels them. But in the postmodern world, where truth is revealed as context dependent, and naive dreamers think this means that the pre-rational is just as valid as the rational and trans-rational, that in fact one must not rank or preference any view over any other, this creates a listening in which completely idiotic notions seem valid and plausible.
No where in the movie is the mind or the self addressed. Anyone who has paused and sat in meditation very soon observes that thinking is running on and on and on by itself. There is a cacophony of chaotic thoughts that continuously wander through the mind. Yet the makers of The Secret directly imply that this out-of-control thought stream is what can manifest wants. Furthermore, they never consider who the “you” is that they are empowering with this magic genie. Is it the you that wants the Big Mac and fries for lunch? Or the you that knows the chopped salad is better? Is it the you that constantly desires more and more clothes, shoes, handbags, books, cd’s, and is never satiated? Is it the you that wants to sleep with every cute coed that walks by, or the you that nurtures the marriage? If manifestation is driven by mentally visualizing whatever is desired or wanted, this looks like an episode of the Twilight Zone. For sure, it is a terribly naive and shallow understanding of people.
Let’s get even darker. The presenters believe, and insist that you should believe, in this magic cosmic-genie granting all your wishes. What about the pedophile who really wants the young boys or girls to abuse? What about the terrorist leader who is very clear on his desire for a nuclear weapon? What about the depressed teenager who really wants his annoying parents to disappear? The makers of The Secret unconsciously assume that everyone will have the same generous and sensitive values as they have, or at least that the Universe has the same values, a typical 1st tier myopia. Or they naively expect that once people begin to get what they want, their true nature and good hearts will arise and they will only want “good” things. Apparently the authors don’t get out much, and when they do, they’re wearing rose colored glasses, as they have no regard for sociopaths, sexual predators, xenophobic red-driven fundamentalists, amoral criminals and voracious robber-baron greed.
Another fundamental error the teachers of the Secret make, that so many New Age inspirational presenters make, is the fallacious use of trans-rational insights to justify pre-rational behavior. They reframe wisdom from 3rd tier, clear-light sages or enlightened masters, describing the soul’s arc, karma, oneness and the great perfection of the manifest world, into 1st tier platitudes and narcissistic puffery. When a 1st tier perspective misappropriates 3rd tier truths, almost nothing of the original meaning remains. The wisdom of the sages becomes manipulative spin in the hands of flatland relativists. Once you deny higher levels of adult development, you lose all the beauty and nuance of these highly sophisticated perspectives. And you end up valuing pre-rational impulses as equal to supremely evolved and refined perception. In one stroke, the presenters in the film elevate pre-rational magical fantasies and degrade visionary insights, simultaneously eliminating all authenticity in both. The authors and presenters largely ignore perspectives from the right-hand quadrants, only addressing empirical science (the upper right quadrant) at the level of quantum physics, and completely misusing it to justify their brain-wave manifestation magic. Using a simplistic graphic of mind-waves broadcasting into the ethers, they demonstrate rearranging the underlying energy of the universe to fulfill an individual’s want. I guess the idea that physical objects are really made up of space, energy and probability clouds seems so counter-intuitive that one might as was well believe in unicorns and fairies as well. This is certainly easier than actually doing the work of physics to understand its truths.
If probability clouds are easy to misinterpret, systems theory must seem insane and opaque to those wanting a miraculous short-cut to wealth and love. The Secret ignores the pesky details of socioeconomic networks and ecological-systems perspectives, all in the lower right quadrant, at one point simply insisting that there is plenty to fulfill everyone’s desires for luxury and indulgence. This is like whistling by the toxic dump... They insist that all suffering and starvation is due to negative thinking, denying any effect of the complex mix of economic, ecological, and cultural interdependencies. The utter ignorance and egocentric hubris of their enthusiastic testimonials is an insult to marginalized people everywhere. By disregarding the influences of external systems, the presenters raise “ignorance is bliss” to new heights.So, from an integral perspective, The Secret flatlands developmental structures, preferences only one quadrant’s perspective, ignores learning styles and lines of development, disregards the complexity of the self, glosses over the nature of mind, and badly misuses postmodern perspectives. Additionally, within the partial view it advocates, there are so many errors, misunderstandings and exaggerations that any valid truth-claims in the movie are buried under the mess. However, I do recommend it as an integral exercise; use it to sharpen your wit, polish your cognitive awareness and stretch your compassion.
Amazon.com reviews of The Secret
The Review "They" Don't Want You To Read
Catchy review title? Thought so. Robert Cialdini, renowned psychology researcher and author of Influence: The Power of Persuasion (perhaps the best book ever written on the subject) identifies six basic rules employed by politicians, advertisers and scam artists alike to persuade others. Each of them are employed quite adeptly by Rhonda Byrne in this book.
Cialdini's first principle is SCARCITY; people want what's expensive, exclusive, or otherwise attainable. Byrne's mastery of this principle is clearly shown by the very name of the book: The Secret. We all learned this the first week of kindergarten as we felt the jealousy of watching two classmates, hands cupped over ears, sharing a secret out of earshot.
This message is reinforced throughout the book and its advertising campaign which pitches "The Secret" (whatever it actually is) as jealousy-guarded information hoarded by the happy, wealthy and successful. Whenever someone tries convincing you of something, whether it's a way to make enormous sums of money, to lose weight, etc - be wary of when it's pitched as "the knowledge THEY don't want you to have." Think about it - everything from the "secrets that Wall Street doesn't want you to know" to "uncovered - celebrities' secrets to staying young" are phrased not simply to pique your interest but to make you jealous. Appeals to our emotion are far more powerful than appeals to reason, and Byrne demonstrates mastery of this principle throughout "The Secret."
Cialdini's second principle is LIKING. We like those who like us, and in turn, we do business with them. Positive thinking and emotional intelligence has been linked to strong interpersonal relationships, academic and professional success, and good health, but there is a fine line when positive thinking crosses over to unjustified exuberance. Instead of simply noting the substantial benefits of positive thinking (a well-accepted principle which wouldn't sell books), Byrne crosses the line so blatantly that anyone with a modicum of modesty would find it blasphemous.
AUTHORITY is another Cialdini principle, also in play in "The Secret" in quite subtle ways. Another technique which differentiates this book from just another book of positive thinking is the heavy use of quasiscientific language, which gives the impression that the "law of attraction" is (or will become) an accepted scientific principle, just like the law of gravity or the law of attraction of oppositely-charged particles in chemistry. Many people are both intimidated and confused by the authority of science, a fact exploited by manipulators ranging from Byrne to peddlers of magic weight-loss pills.
Since no respected physicist would ever publish a paper on the universality of the "law of attraction," Byrne indirectly seeks experts in other ways. She attributes the success of people ranging from Einstein to Beethoven to adherence of "The Secret," thereby manufacturing experts. After all, if Einstein and Shakespeare mastered "The Secret," who are YOU to question it? The last two Cialdini principles are CONSISTENCY and SOCIAL PROOF. The success of this book should leave little doubt it will be followed by more (and more expensive) forms of media peddling "The Secret." The audio recordings, weekend seminars, advertising tie-ins, and other follow-up products certain to follow will exploit these two principles. Once people commit themselves to believing happiness will come from "The Secret," they will attribute future successes, whether a promotion or a great new relationship, to adherence to it. Conversely, setbacks will be even more powerfully in committing people to "The Secret," as people will attribute their failures to not living up to "The Secret" (and buying more of Byrne's books). Consistency dictates it will be less painful to buy more books and immerse one's self further into "The Secret" than to accept the whole premise is a quite ridiculous; while not as pernicious as a domineering cult, "The Secret" promises to charge you handsomely for a positive outlook on life.
Byrne's book is problematic on many levels. On it's face, it's a manipulative marketing tool meant to flatter, confuse and deceive. It's also pseudoscience at its best, the last thing we need to encourage in an increasingly technological world which requires healthy skepticism and critical thought. Most damaging, though, is how the book perverts reality by encouraging people to equate a positive outlook on life with a childish, idiotic narcissism. Ayn Rand must be rolling in her grave hearing about the modern manifestation of her objectivist movement reduced to the intellectual equivalent of canned pork.
If you're interested in "The Secret," I highly encourage you to read the book - yeah, READ the book - if for any other reason so not to be manipulated by its brilliant marketing. Read it with a critical eye, with a copy of Cialdini's book in the other hand. You may not learn the secret of happiness, but you WILL learn a lot about manipulation and influence from a master of the subject in Rhonda Byrne.
a best-seller; folly of the masses
This book was given to me as a gift on father's day. I started reading it the way I read any book but soon I started reading faster and faster, more like scanning, with speed-reading techniques, and finished it in 2 hours, while taking notes at the same time.
I have no interest in self-help books or concepts like power of positive thinking. This book combines the two, with the main thesis being that the "secret" to anything in life, wealth, health, success, love, romance, happiness is positive thinking, thinking positive thoughts. More specifically, imagining things that you want to have and really, truly believe that you already have them, and feel good about having them now!
For example, if you want to be rich, you should first imagine that you are already rich; second, you should really believe that you are already rich; and third you should feel yourself in a rich life style, feel happy about it. If you keep doing this for awhile, miraculously the doors of wealth will open to you, all the opportunities will line up at your door and you will be well into your way to becoming that rich person you are imagining. Similarly, if you want to loose weight, you should imagine yourself in your ideal weight, really focus on that, only allow yourself "thin thoughts" and avoid "fat thoughts", and you will get thin. I quote; "if someone is overweight, it came from thinking fat thoughts". Another one; "Food cannot cause you to put on weight, unless you think it can."
I felt like putting a smiley face right after the last sentence as I am smiling now, and was smiling throughout the book. All you have to do is just ask (oh, and believe, and feel) for the thing you want and lo and behold, thou shalt have it! I quote: "Make a command to the Universe. Let the Universe know what you want. The universe responds to your thoughts." Another one: "The Universe will start to rearrange itself to make it happen for you." Really? I didn't know the entire universe cared so much about me!
The method even works for some frivolous things. Like always finding a parking spot, never having to wait in lines, never being late etc. And a lot of people are, allegedly, already doing it: "We have received thousands of accounts of The Secret being used to bring about large sums of money and unexpected checks in the mail. People have used the secret to manifest their perfect homes, life partners, cars, jobs, and promotions, with many accounts of businesses being transformed within days of applying The Secret." One look at the titles of the co-authors of the book says a lot: Metaphysician, moneymaking expert (ha?), healer, life coach, law of attraction specialist, feng shui consultant (sure)... How about gullibility specialist, swindling expert, or snake-oil salesman?
Actually I shouldn't be so hard. At least one person, the main author of the book made her wishes come true. In the foreword of the book, and elsewhere inside, she says that she was going through a very bad time, her company of 10 years was about to be history. In desperation she looked everywhere for answers and that's how she discovered "the secret". Judging from the success of the book and the film, it must have worked for her. I suppose she must have thought, believed, and felt something like this: "I want a large number of credulous people to buy what I am saying (and the book, and the dvd) so I can make a lot of money".
The Secret is really no secret. This is nothing more than regurgitated recycled Hinduism/Shamanism/New Age occult thinking. It's full of lies, distortions missrepresentations and obsurdities. It is totally mind blowing how people are falling for it.
For instance the book says: "It has been scientifically proven that an affirmative thought is hundreds of times more powerful than a negative thought."
Really???? When/where/how were these scientific studies done??
The author is a shrewd liar, a charletan. Take your money and buy yourself an ice cream cone. It will be better spent than on this occultic dribble.
I have very mixed feelings about The Secret. I think this book can be an amazing catalyst for change and growth for certain people. I also think it can spell huge disaster for others.
Let's get the bad out of the way first. The book uses quotes from many famous people throughout history to say that if you want something - just BELIEVE you have it with all your heart and you will get it. Don't "want" it or dream about someday having it - instead, believe with every fiber of your being that it already is yours. If you want to go on a cruise, act as if you already have the tickets. Don't go around saying "I can't afford that" - believe in your heart that you can afford it.
I think most of us can see the problem here. If you have an instant gratification personality, you will easily believe these things - and go max out your credit card. You will honestly believe you CAN afford these things, that you WILL have money soon to cover all your bills, then bankrupt yourself and destroy your life. I know people who have done that.
Rhonda applies the Secret to health and weather too. So if you simply believe your cancer is going away, it will. I am ALL for positive attitude (and I'll get into that later) but what if your chosen belief is "I will beat this cancer completely naturally, without medicine"? We have seen in the news families who believed 100% with all their heart that God would heal them - and the child died. Someone who believes with all their heart "My ex will come back to me!" might waste their life away - bypassing wonderful men - because of that incorrect belief.
So yes, this book can certainly be mis-used by people who do not apply its words wisely. But you could probably say that about anything. People out there lose lots of weight on low carb diets - and then some people think it means "eat only steak and nothing else" and do poorly. Any system can be followed properly or badly.
Is this some kind of joke? I blindly purchased this book upon the recommendation of an online companion, and it is horrible. The secret is, in a nutshell, sending good thoughts into the universe. It tells you that the reason you are fat, if you are, is not because of the food you eat, but because you think fat thoughts. Do not buy. Way overpriced, and not worth a penny of your money. I left mine on an airplane.
There was one major thing I disliked about the book and one major thing I liked about it.
The thing I disliked was that it was clearly wrong. People have unexpected things happen to them all the time. If what we thought about was always what happened, every prediction anybody made (which is necessarily based on their thoughts and feelings) would be correct. People who worry too much would live horrible lives filled with strife and optimists would live carefree lives and be successful in everything they did. The fact that this is not the case should be evident by anybody who has ever taken the trouble to examine their own or anyone else's lives. The book starts with an extravagant claim (the Universe is like a genie; everything you think about will happen, no matter what it is) and shrinks it down considerably (in order to make something actually happen you have to make believe that it already has happened, getting in the correct frame of mind over time). It promotes an ideology of passiveness and laziness; if things naturally just come to me whenever I think about them, what is the point of working hard for them? Of earning them? One doesn't need to deserve thing, all you need is to believe you have it and there you are. I will concede that a person might, through concerted mental effort, delude himself into believing that he has effortlessly manifested a car in his driveway, and I will make the more reasonable suggestion that a person could work towards getting a car and will be more motivated to do so if he's thinking about how much he wants it and how cool it will be to have it. Positive thinking is not useless. However, the notion that things will come about just because you think about them is just plain wrong.
The good thing about the book is that the claims it makes are easily disproven. Here you go: Step 1: Find someone who believes in the Secret. Step 2: Have them use the Secret method of Ask, Believe, and Recieve to attract the experience of flipping a coin twenty times and having it land with Heads face up every time they flip it. Give them as much time as they need to get into this frame of mind. Step 3: Give them a quarter and have them flip it twenty times. Write down which side comes up each time they flip it. If the Secret works, it will come up Heads every time.
This can be tried by yourself, with the potential confound that you yourself have to be experiencing some kind of doubt in order to critically examine the belief. Basically, this means that you can safely assume that anyone who believes in the Law of Attraction (as it is described in this book, anyway) haven't actually tried it. Remember, isolated incidents don't count because it's supposed to be an omnipresent "law of the universe, like the law of gravity."
Let's say something first: if it makes you feel better, you can even believe in Santa Claus, and there's no problem with that.
So, if you want to believe what Rhonda says, it's up to you. For me, there are too many lies in this book. They are appealing, because we all search for an easy way out. They sounds beautiful, like birds in the sky. But they remain lies. They are also immoral: I think one of the best teaching in christianity is compassion. Compassion means to feel the suffering of another, to understand him deeply. It's the feeling we all feel when we see a baby cry for apparently no reason, so cute and so defenseless. We feel his pain, we think we have to help. But if you believe that feeling (mental) pain attracts to you disgrace, how can you embrace compassion? Also, why help others if when they are in struggle it's all their fault? Why try to help them if you believe that their minds are responsable for that? When we think of World War II, and Nazism, are we going to say that all the Jews were vibrating in a bad mood? I don't think it's a good answer to the evil that men do (and what about 9/11, or Katrina?). Were all the people in the '60 anti-war movement creating more war? Vietnam was caused by John Lennon? Don't be a fool. The poet says: the good sailor moves the sails, for he knows he can't control the wind.
I take this very personal. When I was just a kid, a friend of mine died. He was the happiest child in the world, we were shocked and thought about death for a long long time. He didn't attract his bad destiny, and we didn't attract anything, except tears. Leave this book alone.
P.S. There's no need to say that the quotations of great men in the past are largely distorted. Take Bhudda: he spoke all the time against desire of material things, and he thought a lot about illness, aging and death. It's easy to take a quotation out of context and gain noble fathers for a poor idea.
This book is skilfully marketed to convince people that some new truth is about to be revealed here. But nothing of the sort takes place. It is simply a flashy repackaging of some very old ideas: new age thought, eastern religions, the human potential movement, positive thinking, pantheism, cosmic consciousness, and so on.
The message is simple: you and I are God, are energy, are the universe, are perfection, are spirit, etc. As such, "you can have, be, or do anything you want". That's it. Want a brand new car? Visualise it and receive it. Think and feel that you already have it.
Want a perfect partner? A new home? Perfect health? A new job? A million dollars? It's all yours. Just claim it. Receive it. No more negative thoughts. Just think happy, positive thoughts and anything you desire is yours. It is the creative visualisation message made popular in the New Age Movement: you create your own reality. You script your own destiny.
Of course this mind over matter thought has been around for ages. Indeed, Byrne assembles 24 "great avatars and amazing teachers" here whom she quotes and rephrases. Some have already passed on, however, which is curious, since we are promised in this book both perfect health and "eternal youth". So why have they carked it?
Indeed, many such questions arise. We are told we should always be grateful; we should always say `thank you'. But to who? It seems to ourselves, since we in fact are God, the universe, energy, the all. We are the ones who make our own reality. Everything that exists is the product of our thoughts, our feelings.
And given that "you deserve to be happy," then just claim all those goodies you have always longed for. Got bills to pay? No probs! Got cancer? No worries. It will all disappear if we simply want it to.
But wait, there's more. It is not just personal greed that is being pandered to here. It is not just my own dreams that can come true. The big issues of life are also a piece of cake. Want to end global hunger? Easy. Just think happy food thoughts. Want to end all war? Couldn't be simpler. Just feel and think peaceful thoughts. And you thought some problems were just too intractable. Foolish you.
Indeed, you can have a lot of fun when you are the centre of the universe. You can have a blast being God. You can really groove on being perfection. Isn't it great that it is all about you? Consider this closing thought of the book:
"The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wonderful thing you experience, is all there for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You. No matter who you thought you were, now you know the Truth of Who You Really Are. You are the master of the universe. You are the heir of the kingdom. You are the perfection of life. And now you know The Secret."
And her very last line? A paraphrase of Stars Wars, no less: "May the joy be with you!" Gee, almost makes me feel like soaring through the air, forming some new galaxies, and creating other worlds.
If it all seems a bit familiar, that is because it is. It is just old-fashioned Eastern thought, repackaged and resold to a gullible new generation. It is plain old monism and pantheism with a facelift. It is just more New Age thought in drag. It is simply positive thinking in a new dress.
Oh, and one final thought: I tried to do what the book suggests: use the Law of Attraction to get whatever you want. Unfortunately it did not work for me. I told the gal at the counter I wanted to get the book for free, and was using the Attraction principle to create my own reality.
She did get a chuckle out of that, but still demanded cold hard cash, insisting that moolah, not some Attraction mumbo-jumbo, was the only way I was going to get the book. Thus I am $30 poorer, and still not able to script my wishes into reality. Oh well, guess I just gotta try harder.
I'm so happy I got this at my library. I wouldn't want to give this woman a penny of my money. This book is part reiterated positive thinking (which I do believe in) and part nonsense. Women do not will themselves to be raped, you can not loose weight by eating whatever you want while picturing yourself thin and you can't stop bills from coming in the mail. Absolutely absurd. There are bad people who do bad things, if you eat junk it will make you fat and kill you, and if you spend money that isn't yours, you have to pay it back. I know most Americans want to think life is this easy, but even morons have to know better. This book even borders on dangerous in parts. It tells an already materialistic overspent society to live there life like the already have the money!?! Doesn't everyone do that already. Are they richer? NO! They tell an already fat society to say "I can eat whatever I want and be thin". Did Oprah bother to read this? It goes against everything Dr. Oz, the Debt Diet and Bob Green preach. Please keep your money and just think positively, work hard to achieve your goals and treat yourself and others with respect. It's really just that simple.
Rhonda Byrne is a smart woman. Why? Because she is swindling the American populace into buying her garbage. Her information is nothing new. She has simply repackaged that information into a catchy title with a cover that seems to be crying out The Da Vinci Code. Essentially, Ms. Byrne (or her publishers) are savvy marketers. That same information is conveyed more precisely in earlier, original works. Go get yourself Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich". You will become a millionaire five times over reading that before you get even a penny from this book.
The truth the American population does not want to hear is that there is NO SECRET! They are all looking for a quick fix. Why do you think fat-loss pills like Hydroxycut are all the rage these days? People simply do not want to do all those crunches to lose their gut. It takes too much time, it's too hard, etc etc etc.
I think one of America's most visible companies has The Secret. It's their motto, and I'm sure all of you recognize it. "Just do it". Nike has come up with a three-word phrase that is more true and more revealing than any of the nonsense in Ms. Byrne's book. You simply cannot just "think" about losing weight, "think" about becoming filthy rich. You must do. And doing something is hard. But hey, that's life.
Someone once told me, "Doing anything worthwhile is going to be hard. If it was easy, it would not be worth your while in the first place."
Please, save yourself some money and save Ms. Byrne from becoming a multi-millionaire. The only one getting rich from her secret is herself. Do not buy this book.
Occasionally you come across some things so ludicrous as to be unbelievable. The so called 'Secret' television series, slickly advertised and marketed, is just such a thing.
The Secret purports to unravel the 'Secret', the mysterious key to power, wealth and success known through the ages from the ancient Egyptians through to Greek Philosophers to the medieval Catholic Church to people like the Freemasons and the American Transcendentalists (most particularly Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoereau, who are quoted out of context at various points). The secret is then alleged to have been known by great luminaries of the scientific revolution, from Galileo to Newton to Albert Einstein, and finally by several obscure self-made entrepenuers and millionaires in 19th and 20th century America.
After some flashy and intruiging imagery suggesting a great hidden knowledge so dangerous people have killed for it through history, a procession of celebrities, televangelists, 'metaphysicians', philosophers and businesspeople are wheeled out, claiming the 'Secret' has changed their lives for the better in infinitely many ways. During these interviews we also see flashy images of expensive sports cars, palatial houses, people in corporate boardrooms, and other images suggesting great personal success, health, happiness and material wealth all flow like a river from the well of the 'Secret.'
While in itself the philosophical idea behind this (idealism) is well known in both classical and modern philosophy, and to an extent also in Eastern Philosophy, the general aim of philosophy both East and West was never to make as much money or career success as possible, but to understand the nature of mind, the world, and reality. In fact, Buddha, one of the most refined ancient Philosophers of Mind, came up with a notion of mind in a lot of ways similar to the so called 'Law of Attraction' but then derived the conclusion all phenomena which appear to the mind are basically empty. Buddha then in his teaching most strongly condemned all forms of greed, desire, lust, and attachment to material possessions, because in his eyes this ignored the true nature of things and also brought out the worst vices in mankind; Buddha would be especially disgusted at the notion that you think yourself into being poor or thought on your own efforts can cure you of cancer or serious handicaps. A similar position was reached by many other great idealist Philosophers, such as Plato, Augustine, Eriugena, Aquinas, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Plotinus, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Descartes, and Edmund Husserl.
Changing the way we think does not change fundamental reality, a point many philosophers and scientists emphasize; changing the way we think, or rather removing our prejudices and preconceptions which blind us to the true nature of the world, including our tendency to be greedy and unsatisfied with what we currently have, allows us to cope with reality as it is, and transfigure it into a beautiful everyday richness.
In my view the Secret is designed to tell us what we wish to hear and says there is an easy, trouble-free way to make our wishes come true. In so far as serious philosophy or religion goes, this is a complete cop out, a retreat from the problem of existence, as Sartre might put it, and from the viewpoint of the practical life, suggests absurdly we can reach wealth, power, status and glory without virtue, hard work, sensible practical planning, and individual merit. Any reasonably intelligent person with common sense and some capacity for reflection can see how absurd most of the claims made in the 'Secret' are, and while even someone like John Stuart Mill said the aim of human life is happiness, material plenty and pleasure, he would also be jolted in the way philosophy and learning (for which he had great respect and considered to constitute the happy life) are debased in this show into mere sophistry and wishful thinking.
Caveat emptor, in so far as this Secret is concerned.
"The Secret" is that The Law of Attraction states that like attracts like; your thoughts and feelings attract corresponding experiences. Yes, it's true that a positive attitude is helpful in anything. However, it's not true that anyone can achieve anything if they just "will it" enough. Quite simply, "The Secret" is just a lot of psychobabble," and the fact that so many read it and swear by it gives credibility to Neal Boortz' belief that half of Americans are too ignorant to live in a free society.
Marketing such silliness should be considered a crime. If you want to lose weight, you could follow the advice of physicians by dieting and exercising; or, following Rhonda Byrne, you could just avoid looking at fat people and imagine yourself being thin. We no longer have to work hard and have talent to create a good future - just imagine being successful! (Actually, that sometimes seems to be what educators are teaching today with their emphasis on "feeling good" about oneself.) No point either for middle-age/older folks to undertake diagnostic medical tests - if you get cancer, heart disease all you have to do is "will it" away. Let's all escape reality and just will ourselves into NBA stardom and immortality - I'll even practice shooting, and diet!
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