March 29, 2007
There is a film making the rounds of the major talk shows and other venues such as DVD parties of new age religious organizations and the like. It is called The Secret, and it purports to usher in a new era for mankind by providing the secret of the universe.
The "secret" it puts forth is what it calls the law of attraction, which, it maintains, is a scientific law that like attracts like. The interpretation of this information is simple -- what you think about, you get. If you spend your life worrying that you'll get the cancer that killed your mother, bingo. You've attracted that situation and you too get the disease. If you leave your house knowing that you'll have difficulty finding a parking place, you have difficulty finding a parking place.
The universe, the film says, is like the genie in Aladdin's lamp. He's a big, nice, musclebound guy whose job is to grant your wishes. (So nice to have a new personification of the Almighty, isn't it?) You tell the universe what you want, and the universe grants it.
Let's try an example. You leave your house and tell the universe you want to find a parking place. You know the universe is out there just to grant your wishes, and so you have confidence that you'll find a parking place. When you get where you're going, you find a parking place!
Think about this a minute. How often in your life have you actually not been able to find a parking place at all? The fact is, you will find a parking place even if you don't go through the exercise of telling the genie about it. Even if the parking place is not a space directly in front of the place you're going, and even if you had to circle the block a time or two, when you found the place you were happy, and if you believed it was because you asked the universe for it, you feel you have the secret.
I'm all for thinking positive thoughts. I do believe that a good attitude can get you through many of life's difficulties. I personally operate with faith that there is some spirit that unites us all -- call it God, a higher power, a universal intelligence, whatever you want. I don't claim to know what faith is or where it comes from, or even what the entity I believe in is, but that faith transcends my knowledge of it or my ability to define it. If it were definable it would not be more accessible. It is not man, woman, animal, vegetable or mineral. As far as I'm concerned, it just is. I don't see that "it" has a plan for me or anyone. I don't think I'm a chess piece on its board. Those are human values and conditions and this "it" of mine doesn't fit any such description.
My problem with The Secret is that it exists of, by and for the earthly realm. It addresses mundane wishes. It suggests that the universe wants us all to have "everything we want," which means BMW's, big houses, swimming pools, material objects -- most of all those symbols of status that we long for. It says that all we have to do is believe the secret, ask the universe, and keep believing. All too many of the examples cited in the film were for the trappings of wealth rather than for spiritual growth in any way. Not that we couldn't use the secret for a spiritual trip, but it doesn't look to me as if any of the teachers of the secret address that.
If it were as easy as The Secret says, why doesn't everybody have what they want? Why didn't my second or third book get published? Why didn't I get to be a movie star when I was in my 20's and wanted it so much? Because I didn't believe I was going to get it? I can assure you I did believe I would get all those things. And I worked for them, just as The Secret says. I was attracting success to me as hard as I could. Very hard.
Getting a parking place was easier.