You must have caught the hype by now – the book/DVD called ‘The Secret’ that is supposedly changing everyone’s life. It’s all about ‘The Law of Attraction’, the universal Spiritual Law that says that what you ‘put out’ is what you attract back to you.
There is nothing new about this ‘secret’, of course. New Age evangelists have been singing this one since the before the New Age was new (is it? See a forthcoming post on the secret behind the New Age). It boils down to the claim that you attract to yourself the manifestation of what you think and believe about yourself and your own life.
At first glance, this is an attractive philosophy, nobly holding ourselves entirely responsible for our own lives and all thats in them. Responsibility is a good thing, we think, this makes sense, and we start buying into the idea. But quickly it develops into the idea that if anything bad ever happens to you, you caused it by your beliefs and thoughts about yourself. This is an attractive idea because it implies that nothing bad need ever happen to you if you think positively. It gets even more attractive when it quickly becomes the even more attractive idea that you can have anything you want, just by thinking and believing it so.
Wow! Having already bought the idea, this then seems to be a deep and profound truth. And so you spread the word and the authors behind the secret make another few hundred bucks (and no doubt end up having everything they want.)
The sickening thing about this idea is that its chief proselytist is Oprah Winfrey,a woman with a bank balance big enough to not only have whatever she wants, but whatever all of the rest of us want too! She can smugly sit there and proclaim You Can Have It All from atop a heap of gold while millions around her, in her own country, ours and everyone else’s, die in poverty, disease, lack of sanitation and housing, education and all the rest of the basic human necessities.
Ah, but of course, that’s their fault. They just think wrongly. Those starving masses don’t really want food, they probably believe they don’t deserve it. And would Ms Winfrey have us believe that the millions of desperate, hopeful children <em>she</em> never accepted into her elite academy in South Africa actually didn’t really believe they deserved it? Yeah, right, just like the victims of Hurricane Katrina that Oprah shed all those tears about. Why worry, why cry, why help them? Didn’t they attract that hurricane themselves?
There’s an even darker side to this – I’m gonna say it, wicked idea the Secretists are purveying. A woman I know who (even before the ‘publishing phenomenon’) made her living teaching that you cause your own illnesses by your beliefs (“yes you do!” chant the Secretists) suddenly was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. Because of her beliefs, she blamed herself, sunk into a deep depression (much more dangerous than ‘beliefs’) and tragically failed to fight the illness because she believed she must have caused it. She agonised because she couldn’t imagine how and why – she had been so positive about everything, she was the passionate evangelist of thinking positive! The wickedness is that (apart from the clear fact that The Secret Can Kill You) the Secretists would have her believe that she unconsciously had negative beliefs that caused it.
Yes, the Secret always works because if it doesn’t, it was merely that your unconscious belief was the opposite. How clever and manipulative is that? The Secret can never be disproved because the 99% of the time it plain doesn’t work is because you had wrong beliefs you are not aware of and actually can’t control. (Er, never mind the apparent contradiction that no-one seems to have noticed there…) So if it doesn’t work, that’s also your fault, not the fault of this supposed ‘Law’.
Despite the authors’ claims that this is an ancient knowledge they are revealing to us, it isn’t – they are manipulating some traditional or ancient ideas and fitting them into the modern materialist mentality that measures success and happiness by having what you want. Ideas like ‘as you sow, so shall you reap’ (which has altogether different implications than ‘you can have it all’) and even the law of karma, which in many ways is the opposite of the Secret but to the naive looks just the same … also a topic of a future post.
There are no spiritual or scientific worldviews that rest entirely on one law – the notion is absurd. These Secretists would have us believe that millenia of spiritual and scientific thinkers somehow managed to miss this point. That lifetimes dedicated to trying to penetrate the mystery of Life, the Universe and Everything, which absorbed the greatest minds that have ever lived on this planet, were wasted because they didn’t realise there’s only one Law of the universe. How arrogant could they be? They’ve essentially negated all of human thinking in all cultures … the mind boggles!
So why do people buy into it? For the same reason that they believe the advertising that says FREE! and YOU HAVE ALREADY WON $40,000! We want to believe there’s a magic bullet that will remove the difficulties of life. We want to believe we have control. We want to believe that we can have whatever we want without working for it. We don’t want to believe we’re subject to the laws of nature or of God (take your pick, but neither are compatible with the Secret, another fact the materialistic Secretists seem to have missed.)
But most of all, our world has become driven by materialism. You don’t need me to tell you that, it’s all about buy buy buy and want want want! And some clever people got together and created a religion based on You Can Have What You Want – the perfect religion for the New Age, the age of materialism and the belief that humans are the most powerful thing in the universe. Of course people would buy into that!
And right now, with millions of books and DVDs flooding the world, and millions in the bank, the authors of The Secret have exactly what they want: your hard-earned cash.