Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Law of Attraction and The Secret Criticism

You've probably heard about the independent movie "The Secret" which is all about the Law of Attraction. People are jumping on the Law of Attraction bandwagon without understanding the complex layers of wisdom that are bound up in this ancient metaphysical principle.

On the good side of things, "The Secret" is an inspirational movie just as "What the Bleep Do they Know" was. (I liked What the Bleep much better.) Both movies tickle our fancies about the amazing untapped potentials of the human mind and spirit.

On the bad side of things, whenever a complex metaphysical concept gets distilled and finds its way into popular culture, certain nuances are lost. And so when viewed from the outside, the cult-like following that "The Secret" movie has right now seems a bit silly. Is it REALLY true that simply by thinking positively about something, your reality can change? That's what the movie teaches.

The truth is that positive thinking isn't enough. You also have to take a hard, cold look at your shadow side, those dark emotions, ancestral urges, and genetic predispositions that you are carrying around at a cellular level. You need to do a lot of work on yourself, a lot of healing and transmutation of the darkness, before your positive thinking will begin to manifest huge changes for the better.

That doesn't mean that you can't make significant progress as you go along. Because once you start working with these principles, many amazing things start to happen.

And it doesn't mean that the Law of Attraction is bogus just because, in practice, it takes years of spiritual self-mastery to get close to the largest levels of success and well-being that you can create using this ancient principle.

It just means that there is no "instant fix" on the spiritual path. So beware any guru promising you instant enlightenment.

You CAN learn to manifest smaller miracles by applying the principles outlined in movies like The Secret and What the Bleep, and when you start to see these smaller things happen, you open up the floodgates so that you become ready to receive greater and greater levels of success.

I've been blessed to have manifested many miracles in my own life. I cured myself of serious heart illness after I had a heart attack at the age of just 28. I was living under very modest financial circumstances, working full-time as a psychic counsellor and doing much of my work pro bono to try to help the many, many people who were experiencing spiritual emergencies but who couldn't afford to pay my fees. And I had no health insurance at the time and did not seek conventional medical treatment.

Through doing a lot of hard, difficult work addressing my own shadow, learning to take responsibility for all of the negative thoughts I had thrown out at others over the years and seeing that this heart attack was caused by all of those things coming back to me in one huge psychic blow, I was gradually able to transmute serious heart problems that happened after the heart attack.

Two long years of working with some gifted healers and teachers also helped me. And two years after my heart attack, I could finally afford health insurance. At that point I went in for a battery of tests and there were no problems found on any of my heart scans. A bunch of heart specialists pronounced my heart to be completely normal and fine.

This was a true miracle that I directly experienced. After my heart attack I had two long years of debilitating chest pain of the type I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. It made me learn compassion for others. It made me learn to love myself more. And mostly, it taught me to place my faith 100% in a loving Higher Power's hands. Because that Higher Power led me through the darkness and out the other side into experiencing full health and complete physical well-being again.

I'm in my thirties now, and having gone through such melodrama in my own life and learned to experience the magic of "applied faith" or power prayer, I know beyond any doubt that the Law of Attraction is real. The further you go on the spiritual path, the more important it is to refine your capacities for love and understanding so that the accumulated negative energy of your past negative thoughts and misdeeds doesn't hit you as hard as it did me when I had my heart attack. I had chosen an extremely melodramatic way of learning this lesson!

Since that time, I have learned to be 100% responsible for the energies I'm putting out and the vibration I set in motion each day through my emotional tone, my thoughts, and my attitude toward others. I don't always run around blissed out with love and light. But I do manage to keep my head above water most days and remain truly thankful for the adventures that life continually brings me.

On the spiritual path it's important to use discernment and to continually apply critical thinking processes to everything you are studying. A lot of people don't do that. I believe that by blindly following the latest New Age trend people are missing out on a much more nuanced, rich, and complete digestion of these important metaphysical concepts.

Dig a little deeper. Do your homework. Don't accept anything at face value. And always examine things through the lens of your own heart. Before accepting any guru's teaching, ask yourself if this path moves you closer to love and peace or turns you into a creature of chaos and imbalance.

Julian Walker is a spiritual seeker and writer who has written an excellent criticism about The Secret. Check it out here:

Criticism of The Secret

One of his main points is that you can't just "wish away" your negativity through positive thinking alone. He writes:

"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."

He's right. Without plumbing the depths of your own shadow, all you're doing is putting a temporary Band-Aid over your own negativity. Only through purging, probing, and transmuting your darkness can you emerge into a reality where positive thinking is as easy and as natural as breathing.

Until you reach that point, be patient with yourself!

You can also check out Julian's blog at:

Julian Walker Yoga

20 Comments:

At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought you and your readers might be interested in this...
The Oprah broadcast of "The Secret" will be February 8th. Also, it will be followed by an International Law of
Attraction Teleconference. If you want more info go to http://www.lawofattractionteleconference.com.
Also, the more posts that Oprah gets on her message boards about a particular topic, the more inclined she is to
repeat the topic. So go to www.oprah.com and find the message board for “The Secret” to let her know that you
want more of the same!
Spread the word!

 
At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Yes, I will go to the Oprah message board all right! To let her know she has crossed the line from thought provoking discussion to "selling" spitituality. How disappointing. Did you notice how much emphasis was placed on wealth, the common denominator on her panel...all millionaires. Look into the credentials of the secret "teachers" For example: The Rev Dr Bickswith...Dr...what kind of Dr/Rev...where did he train...seems to me on his website bio this info should be posted...not there. Dr John Grey, known for his Venus/Mars book, look him up in the encyclopedia- his "PhD" is from a corrospondence school that is not credentialed and has since been closed, sited as a diploma factory. A wolf in sheep's clothing comes to mind, so I looked it up in the Bible concordance:
Beware of false prophits, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 7:15
go to the official website for the secret: "own the secret on DVD, MSRP $34.95 your price $29.95" "Notice: the $5 discount has expired and is no longer available." "watch the secret full screen on line $4.95 USD per view"

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't watched "The Secret" DVD, but I did see the Oprah show about it. I agree with the excellent assessment above of the pseudo-spirituality promoted by "The Secret". Throughout the Oprah show, I waited for a discussion of the shadow, the importance of working out negative feelings and thoughts, and a means of overcoming resistance. I have my own approach, and I was hoping to hear about theirs. I was disappointed to hear little about it. "The Secret" seems to mass-market spiritual principles by distilling out inconvenient truths/realities.

 
At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Secret seemed like Satanism to me. It was very focused on doing for self (like Satanism) and greed (one of the deadly sins). It doesn't surprise me this was on Oprah. I wonder if James Frey knew The Secret when he wrote A Million Little Pieces.

Somewhere Jimmy Kimmel is in his underwear drinking a beer and laughing at Oprah. Oh, and don't forget the actor Matt Damon will be on Jimmy Kimmel Live all week.

 
At 5:08 PM, Blogger Lipstick Mystic said...

I don't believe that you can instantly dismiss any action or intention that someone sets as Satanic. There's a big difference between setting the intention to be able to afford a nice house, take care of your family, and provide for your loved ones and doing something excessively greedy (like intending to own all of Manhattan.) :)

Here in the US, yearly inflation and cost of living increases mean that you have to earn at least 4% more than you did last year....even if all you do is sit in one place. So even people who already own property are dealing with increases in food costs, gas and transportation costs, and other inflation to the point where if you DON'T master certain techniques for manifesting a flow of abundance, you simply can't survive. And I'm not talking about living in a McMansion, either. I mean simply providing food, shelter, and transportation to and from work takes a lot of money these days. Therefore, I continue to state my own view that movies like The Secret and What the Bleep bring forth very important teachings about the nature of human creativity, the power of the human mind, and the miraculous field of energy that surrounds us in our daily lives.....and we NEED to be utilizing these ideas if we wish to be responsible human beings.

There's a big difference between exploiting others (in a Satanic sense) and simply expressing your full potentials as a human being so you can take proper care of yourself and your family.

The law of attraction is a neutral law. Like gravity. Since there are so few teachers out there teaching us about this, it's important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sure, you may laugh at Oprah or find that gnomish guy Joe Vitale and his whole "hypnotic marketing" shtick repellant, but if you look at the core of what The Secret's teachers are promoting, its good, spiritually appropriate stuff.

In my opinion, being a spiritual person who does service for others as a part of her path while at the same time manifesting a comfortable livelihood for herself and her family is NOT Satanic.

I don't believe that God doesn't wants me to suffer. He wants me to explore my divine potentials and my creative possibilities to uplift myself AND others.

I can help people a LOT MORE if I'm not starving and if my family isn't destitute from being unable to afford proper medical care, food, and shelter.

So why is it that so many religious people equate being able to provide for yourself financially with being Satanic?

Doesn't add up to me.

 
At 1:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant criticism. When deep and ancient metapysical wisdom is distilled in such a reductionist platform with money at the core ... it spells delusion and fraud. The principles in The Secret are misapplied in such a general materialistic context. I have known people with anxiety see this film and go over the deep end with it. This is how dangerous this film truly is. I also suspect that Ramtha is behind it.

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Leela said...

I am so glad to have found this discussion! I have met many Law of Attraction followers who look down their noses at someone who is experiencing difficulty and literally almost sneer, "Why are you creating THAT?" And they don't get it when it is suggested that their attitude is lacking in compassion! Most recently my chiropractor has found nirvana in The Secret. I have been seeing him for help with Bell's Palsy, and while I was sitting in his office with half my face paralyzed and fierce burning headache he was going on at me about how I create my reality and don't have to experience this. I don't disagree with the essential truth of that statement, but also know after many years of study, application and experience that snapping my fingers and repeating "there's no place like home" does not necessarily return me to Kansas. Perhaps "getting it" will dissolve all my pains, illness and and illness. I guess I just don't get it! I have yet to see anyone improved and buoyed by the imposed realization that they are obviously failing in enlightenment.

I am repelled by distortion of spiritual truth for the pursuit of personal gratification, while glossing over the fact that any deep personal work may need to be done (as mentioned by others here). I also question the assertion that we are here on Planet Earth for the sole purpose of enjoying ourselves. And, of course, since I think it, such is my reality, thereby proving the point I question... aggghh it makes me crazy. Thanks for this venue!

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Leela said...

I am so glad to have found this discussion! I have met many Law of Attraction followers who look down their noses at someone who is experiencing difficulty and literally almost sneer, "Why are you creating THAT?" And they don't get it when it is suggested that their attitude is lacking in compassion! Most recently my chiropractor has found nirvana in The Secret. I have been seeing him for help with Bell's Palsy, and while I was sitting in his office with half my face paralyzed and fierce burning headache he was going on at me about how I create my reality and don't have to experience this. I don't disagree with the essential truth of that statement, but also know after many years of study, application and experience that snapping my fingers and repeating "there's no place like home" does not necessarily return me to Kansas. Perhaps "getting it" will dissolve all my pains, illness and and illness. I guess I just don't get it! I have yet to see anyone improved and buoyed by the imposed realization that they are obviously failing in enlightenment.

I am repelled by distortion of spiritual truth for the pursuit of personal gratification, while glossing over the fact that any deep personal work may need to be done (as mentioned by others here). I also question the assertion that we are here on Planet Earth for the sole purpose of enjoying ourselves. And, of course, since I think it, such is my reality, thereby proving the point I question... aggghh it makes me crazy. Thanks for this venue!

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Leela said...

I apologize for the double post, I'm not sure what happened.

 
At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting to read these comments. A lot of 'm seem very onesided. There are some misconceptions about the movie and 'the law of attraction', but it's determined how each individual picks up on it. To say 'the secret' takes years of mental and spiritual mastery is nuts. If you dig a little deeper it's really quite a simple concept. Whether you know it or not you've been creating your reality all your life...the good and the bad. Why is this such a big deal to cope with? Ahh yes that means your responsible for everything. To most people this is a very, very very frustrating fact so instinctively one would rather believe otherwise. Who wants to be responsible for everything? It's like taking an enormous weight on you...or is it? The key words here are forgiveness and living in the now. If everybody would really get interested in the 'law of attraction', you'd get a world of people taking responsibility and letting go of blame. People would actually follow their passions. People would feel grateful more and more.
Discussion is always good of course but it would be nice if people would actually spend time to dig a little deeper before disregarding things that might look strange according to their beliefsystem. Every word that is said to disregard the type of thinkin the producers of the Secret promote is disencouraging people to be positive and believe in world with endless possibilities and hope. Do you really want to be the person that says 'no, no this can't be right, we live in a world with limits, boundaries and impossiblities. We must struggle at all times, we can't think in this way because there are people out there that are dying and leading unpleasant lives etc etc...
The best way to actually find something out it is go out your way to prove it (instead of disaproving) as if though it's a fact and you know it. But many people are so stuck in their own belief systems it takes a shift in thinking to allow a new beliefsystem to be evaluated. It so happens that this beliefsystem is a very positive and powerful one. Why battle something that could be ultimately a fantastically positive thing? If it wouldnt work, then who cares!?

 
At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book or watched the DVD, just saw it on Oprah. Can someone who has read the book or watched the DVD explain how The Secret accounts for bad things that happen to the innocent. Did all of those Jews in Europe really create the hell of Hitler's rule? Did a Rwandan baby really invite the "negativity" of genocide in her life?
From the very little I know of The Secret, it seems like a convenient theory to justify the enormous good luck of being born in a privileged family/society/nation.
But my take on this may be wrong.
Can someone with first-hand knowledge of The Secret clarify this?

 
At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Responding to the above post:

There are different ways to answer your question. What is taught is based on the law of attraction. For a fuller understanding of that I'd suggest books by Esther Hicks. If you don't know much about it, it might be harder to grip yourself around possible answers.
However, to answer your question, which is commonly asked tough question about 'the secret': "if everything is caused by attraction, how come innocent people in such and such situations die". (people never ask how certain people escaped certain death in those situations (LOA?))

It's impossible to understand another people's thoughts and feelings, or point of attraction. Let alone that of people in the past. So the only way to approach this dilemma is to look at the bigger picture. And there's a couple ways to look at it:

when you pool together the vibe people as a population generate one might understand how things come about. The great leaders in history were a product of that generation. So were the manmade disasters, like the holocaust. We attracted as a population those disasters - through our thoughts and feelings at the time. The universe does not differentiate between bad and good, immoral or moral, justified or unjustified. We're talking about a universal law that doesn't work by these social concepts. Looking for reasoning behind events like these are bound to be unfruitful. From the big perspective, as law of attraction states and as the secret tries to explain: everything is energy. Energy can't be destroyed. who's to say that innocent people dying is a bad thing from a universal perspective - the energy remains. Those that believe in reincarnation can even argue that it's just part of the process to the path of enlightenment. Who knows? There is no way to know. All we can do is use good and bad events to learn and use as lessons. One could even take the following approach for fun: what if there is only you and everything you think to be 'the outer world' is really just what you thought up in your 'mind'. In that case there really is no outer, no people really dying. It's you doing creating all the events...maybe it's a learning process, maybe thats how life is. One could never know.
Another approach is to realize we are all connected. You are part of a larger whole. When somebody else is hurting, you are hurting. The world is mostly an abundant place: you are mostly manifesting an abundant life, but not all areas. There is also war, unhappiness etc etc. It's all part of you. But people confine their awareness and reality to what they see on a daily basis, from one viewpoint. They view outer as outside themselves. If you view everything that is happening in the world as part of you, as a result of you, you will make a powerful shift in your thinking. Try expanding this just for fun and you look at things with a different perspective. There's an interesting story about a man that utilized this concept. He healed an entire ward filled with criminally insane patients- without treating the patients face to face. He asked 'the universe' for forgiveness and expressed love and gratitude, over and over. Every single patient in the ward got released within 1-2 years. He worked on himself to change reality. It's a mindblowing true story. (there's a book about it coming out soon)

What bothers me about the above posts is the focus on how this movie doesn't satisfy them. I don't see a real reason to waste energy on something that doesnt appeal to oneself. Maybe they take themselves a little too seriously. The blogauthor goes about his/her way to place him/herself in the mind 'of the masses'. You can't think for another person, that's why questions like 'how come it doesnt work for this and this person and how come that and that happened' really are impossible to answer. You can never comprehend what another person feels and thinks and thus attracts with full understanding: so why even try.

The secret brings about a shift in thinking into a lot of people. Many are leading happier lives. Many might even embark on a more thoughtful 'spiritual' journey like the above posters 'think' they are. We are not all wanting to lead inhibited lives pondering about how to balance our 'dark side' and grind over whether other people are doing the spiritual thing. Everybody is on a spiritual journey. It just differs from person to person. to say the secret is dangerous and even satanic is simply idiotic. Why try to think for other people. Most of you go about explaining away why this whole 'spiritual' doing is so complex to understand and hard to live, yet some try to generalize the masses and yet some judge over how a thoughtprovoking movie is being transmitted. It's sad that there are people that even make judgements about the people that are in the movie without finding out what they are truely about. Have you even read their books? Since when can you make a decent judgement about a 90 minute clip. And this is coming from 'intelligent' people on a spiritual path, it makes me giggle. They do not profess to be GURUS. But what you think is what you get. We are all one when you get down to it, scientifically, spiritually and universally.

"human beings aren't having a spiritual experience. We are all spiritual beings having a human experience." Wayne Dyer

 
At 2:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do personally believe in the Law Of Attraction, but i think the way the Secret is being promoted is perhaps a little materialistic and self-centered. I would like to suggest a possible compromise between the worlds of thought, global issues (i.e. poverty) and actions.

I read a forum post on the IMDB page of The Secret wherein a poster says "SCIENTIST! STOP TRYING TO FIND A CURE FOR CANCER." I find this a frightening thought. If all the scientists trying to fight global warming and cancer simply stopped their valuable work and thought positively... wouldn't that leave us defenseless if we took no ACTION?

Instead, i think people should apply the Secret's principles (which are immensely useful) with a world view and appropriate action. Maybe if all the scientists around the world went to work with the attitude of "I can find a cure!" and applied this positive life-affirming feeling to their actions, we would be miles ahead in a search for a cure. We might even develop one in years!

But nothing in life comes without hard work. Could Peter Jackson create LOTR just by thinking it? Nope. Not to be flippant but anything worth doing is hard work. Could Dr Yunus (forgive my spelling) free Bangladeshi women from poverty if he had not created his microfinance system with action?

Positive energy can make miracles happen. But the real miracle itself is believing in what you're doing. And doing something from the heart.

I guess what i'm saying is that instead of focusing soley on personal wealth, people should consider the world and apply positive thinking to positive ACTIONS.

The Secret has incredibly useful and valid ideas - most of which is adore and integrate in my everyday life. However, I do hope people read all the differing views on The Secret. The joy of analytical thinking is being able to view a problem or idea from all angles. This means knowing not only all the limits but also all the possibilities.

Take care everyone!

Ian

 
At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Ian,

In response to your thoughtful post the following things came to mind:

You accentuate that you'd rather see more attention made towards global issues/ communal issues rather than personal wealth in the Secret movie.
The quote that comes to mind - "you must be the change you want to see in the world."
The secret tries to explain that what you are feeling becomes your point of attraction. The better you feel the more in alignment you are. Whatever you focus on - expands. That's why there is such a focus on personal wealth. The whole idea is that people remember their ability to feel good, what manifests is in alignment with that. It all starts with feeling good, feeling grateful, being able to forgive. This is all mentioned in the secret. If more people in the world feel good, because they are following their bliss, there are less people fighting, being unhappy, being jealous, doing crimes etc. In other words: changing yourself is THE way to change the world. Not the other way around. Focus on being happy - most people derive happiness from helping and serving others! This is the best way to bring about change in the world. Imagine everybody using this as their life's mission...would there still be hate and war? Focus on your own personal wealth - do not focus on big problems you can't fix. And wealth has nothing to do with money.
I tend to disagree that the Secret focuses on materialistic things. I rather think this is just a built in response for many people because of their own beliefs. Spirituality and desiring fun things don't seem to match, as soon as they see it combined they judge it to be materialistic and 'bad'. IMO This is a poorman's reasoning - coming from a place of lack. It's all about belief systems.

 
At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed a quick sentence in the movie that said " you can manifest youth. " So tell me why aren't these people young and strong?
Also, Dr. Joe Vitale, one of the key promoters in the movie, has an alomost obscenely cheesy website hawking hypnotic marketing. What a fine spiritual guru.

 
At 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only read excerpts from the book.
Some people see it as reasonable, but It seems that thought is treated the a necessary causality, while ignoring any other sufficient causes or conditions.
If a child suffers from child abuse, did he/she create this reality from negative thought? If we can assume this using the premises of the book and movie, it completely ignores any psycho-social factors which may be the cause of the parent initiating the abuse. There are good reasons for why both good and bad things happen. Thoughts alone does not seem like a coherent explanation.

 
At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is to Peter. I don't know you, of course;my guess would be that you are probably pleasant and "positive" in your dealings with most people, as your relentless optimism would require. But your type of sugar-coating of tragedy and evil and blaming the victim is truly repugnant, borderline evil itself. Why can't you "think positively" without having to say that, for instance, a nine year old girl's being raped and murdered is the result of her not having a sufficiently cheery outlook on life? Or because of something she did in a past life? Or because it "teaches us compassion?" No one needs to be taught to care for others that way. It's incredibly disgusting that in order for you to have nothing but warm and fuzzy feelings about the universe, you find it necessary to blame other people's terrible misfortunes on themselves. People who anguish over the meaning of extreme suffering "make you giggle"--- your kind makes me want to puke. I would recommend you read When Bad Things Happen to Good People; from its title, I thought I would hate it, but it actually very concisely disposes of most of the horribly inadequate rationalizations, such as you give, for the tragic waste and suffering that have made up the bulk of most human lives throughout history. But you're probably a hopeless case, one of many people too weak or self-absorbed to be able to manage to try to get and give the best that life can offer without sneering at those who have undergone unimaginable pain through absolutely no fault of their own.

 
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At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Law of Attraction said...

What the Bleep is way more scientific. I like What the Bleep too, cuz it is more my personality to know why not just that it does.

 
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