Pondering the Secret

The recent blockbuster book and movie “The Secret” promises to deliver whatever you ask for on a silver platter. Hardly anyone stops to think: what is really worth asking for?

The more the “Law of Attraction” becomes entrenched as a trendy mantra of the New Thought movement, the more I find myself somehow instinctively cringing, as if I were watching someone use a fine Stradivarius violin for firewood. I wasn’t until I spent some time on the website of the movie “The Secret,” the prime proponent of this latest pop philosophy, that I understood why I have been feeling so alarmed. The slick presentation looks like an amalgam of “The Da Vinci Code” and the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The names of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, such as Plato, Leonardo, Galileo, Hugo, Beethoven, Einstein, and Carnegie, are bandied about, implying their unconditional endorsement.

The copy shows little restraint in making promises: “‘The Secret’ is released to the world! This groundbreaking feature length movie presentation reveals the Great Secret of the universe. It has been passed down throughout the ages, traveling through centuries . . . to reach you and humankind. . . . This is ‘The Secret’ to everything – ‘The Secret’ to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted. . . . ‘The Secret’ is everything you have dreamed of . . . and is beyond your wildest dreams.”

I used to ask people, “If a genie suddenly appeared and offered to give you any information you requested, what would you ask for?” I had thought most people on this planet were consumed with the same burning issues that have occupied my mind since childhood: What is God? What is the purpose of creation? Where do we go after we die?

Boy, was I wrong! By far the most popular questions weighing on people’s minds were the equivalent of: What are the winning numbers for the lottery? When I mentioned bigger inquiries, like “How can I begin to understand infinity?” I was met with a blank stare and the benign nod usually reserved for those in the early stages of dementia. Why be concerned about life’s mysteries when what you really want is a new house – or the perfect mate or higher pay or whatever other improvement might make your stay in the illusion a better experience?

My quarrel with “The Secret” is neither the slickness of its presentation nor the validity of its message. In fact, the principles taught in “The Secret” are nothing new; they have fueled successes of all kinds throughout human history. Rather, I am grieved that the movie plays to the lowest human instincts. In a recent Newsweek article, Jerry Adler says: “On an ethical level, “The Secret” appears deplorable. It concerns itself almost entirely with a narrow range of middle-class concerns – houses, cars, and vacations, followed by health and relationships, with the rest of humanity a very distant sixth. Even some of the major figures in the film confess to uneasiness with its relentless materialism.” I couldn’t agree more.

“The Secret” would have you believe that the power of the Law of Attraction was deliberately kept from the masses of humankind throughout the centuries for selfish reasons. But another, more plausible reason should also be considered: invoking any tool of power has consequences that are best understood by those who have received sufficient training. The mystery schools of ancient times were exclusionary out of respect for the magnitude of the information the initiates would receive. Making that knowledge available for personal profit to anyone willing to purchase a DVD, book, or attend a weekend workshop makes a mockery of the great historical names the promoters of “The Secret” shamelessly invoke.

Each of us has control of only two factors: our attention and our intention. Through these we determine all their experiences. What we focus upon becomes our reality; what we visualize manifests. These principles are what is now being called the Law of Attraction. At the macrocosmic scale, this grand and powerful law is what consciousness used to create the universe. As human beings endowed with curiosity and free will, we can work with this law at our own human scale.

“The Secret” encourages us to use it acquire the trinkets of this illusion. It is worth noting, however, that most of humanity’s great thinkers used their intention and attention to advance human knowledge about the universe, to do good to others, to create great art, to strive for spiritual insight. Ultimately, it’s your call; you have the right, and the power, to manifest whatever you wish. With what you know, do you choose to redecorate your prison cell or to walk through the open door into a new world?


Jean-Claude Gerard Koven is a writer and speaker based in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. He was a featured weekly columnist for the UPI (United Press International) Religion and Spirituality Forum and is the author of Going Deeper: How to Make Sense of Your Life When Your Life Makes No Sense, recipient of both the Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award and the USABookNews.com Award for the Best Metaphysical Book of the Year.

©2004 – 2018. Jean-Claude Gerard Koven / All Rights Reserved.


 

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