Thoughts About ‘The Secret’

When I was beach bum in California, and lived with the ducks along the Venice canals, I’d hear this buzzing sound at night. It was coming from a nearby house. It sounded like whirring sci-fi equipment, like Dr. Frankstein was turning dead body parts into a movie, stuffed with Igor’s poorly chosen brain. Or like some swarm of insects. But no. It was chanting. Namyohorengekyo. Over and over. Fast. In a rhythm. To the point where no human syllables were recognizable.

I heard that chanting could get you what you want. Chant “Namyohorengekyo world peace” and you’d get world peace. Chant “Namyohorengekyo Cadillac” and you’d get a Cadillac.

I just watched the DVD about “The Secret,” and it reminded me of chanting for Cadillacs, in which I don’t believe. But suspend disbelief in the gimme portion of this program, and let’s explore it more. Basically, the central premise is “the law of attraction,” that what you think about the most, you’re most likely to get. So if you dwell on fears of rejection, failure, criticism or disputes, well, you’ll get those things in spades. But if you change your Negative Nellie ways (I plead guilty to that charge, your honor), and focus on what makes you happy and grateful, more of those things will come your way.

My skepticism lies along two lines: First, the show presents this as some law of the universe, as if there’s an Amazon.god just waiting for orders (free shipping!). Second, it flat out declares there are no limitations and luck, good and bad, isn’t really a factor, and neither are good behavior or intentions. Third, there’s no warning about Oscar Wilde’s “be careful what you wish for … you just might get it.” Simple example: Dogs and babies can be a lot of work. Conversely, lust for something unique (the presidency!) or rare (a free Stradivarius!), and, well, you just might never get it.

Now, I have seen examples of “what you think is what you get.” Hover over a child, repeating nervously “Be careful,” and oops, you’ve got a broken vase. Bite your nails in a job interview, and you’ve chewed away your chance.

But, c’mon, bad things do happen to good people who never imagined the disaster that befell them. Think everyone, or anyone, inside the World Trade Center was visualizing horror from the skies? And, c’mon, isolated cases of medical miracles don’t prove that positive thinking works for everyone. Don’t lots of quadruplegics and cancer victim visualize being cured?

So let’s look at how much is reasonable, not metaphysical / quantum bullchanics. Most of us are in conflict about what we truly want. Was it Gay Talese who said, “Everything in life is a mixed blessing”? Many of us see drawbacks everywhere. “That brownie would make me happy … and fat with saturated arteries.” But lots of times our worries are trivial, and besides hazards are everywhere. So thinking about what you truly want is a wise first step

Once you’ve decided what want, your luck is likely to improve. You’ll act toward getting it. You’ll let others know, who might be happy to help. And maybe you’ll even put off certain vibes, so that even without saying, that woman knows you’d like to date her, or that boss knows you’re dreaming of better things.

Second, thinking about dreams coming true can make you feel happy. And if you feel happy, more people will like being around you and want to find out more about you and be willing to be involved financially, spiritually, romantically, whatever.

Third, and this might be the most important part, once you know what you truly want, your mind becomes receptive to opportunities. You’ll notice that note about a conference, you’ll play with ideas that pop into your mind.

Fourth … am I belaboring analysis? … you’ll have a competitive advantage. Seriously, if you know where your finish line is, and nobody else is gunning for it, chances are good you’ll get there easily.

Finally, it’s an adage that if you haven’t sold yourself on an idea, why should anyone else believe in you? If you like a creation or idea of yours so much, it’s your end-all and be-all to see it succeed, you’re a lot more likely to get someone to agree. 

Plus … OK, scratch finally above … visualization is like product testing. You’re told to imagine success down to every detail. Not the “how” (that’s a big thing in “The Secret,” don’t worry about the “how”) but the end result, the final jubilation. Still, such daily imagining is bound to improve your vision, uncover flaws to fix, fine tune what works and doesn’t.

So, I’d say, metaphysics aside, there’s helpful wisdom here. Appreciate what life has brought you, notice that opportunities abound (when life gives you lemons, expect oranges soon), sort out the conflicts in your desires (do I want this job or not?), think things through, and just have faith.

Yes, this could help you feel happier and find success. But it’s still true, I believe (and as one Secret testifier does point out), that it’s best to wish not for luxuries and status symbols but for better relationships, outlets for your abilities, and a better world.

Oh, and just for the record (as my own “Secret” exercise), here are a few things that I wish:

  • That giving away ideas will improve my karma.
  • That newspapers will reinvent themselves, and realize I can help.
  • That some publisher will buy my children’s sci-fi fantasy novels.
  • That Workman will go for my idea involving card games I’ve invented.
  • That Dunkin Donuts, a marker company, Just Born, the Postal Service and other companies would think: Maybe this guy has a great idea for us.
  • That health and happiness multiplies for myself and loved ones.
  • That other people’s wishes also come true.

OK, I’ll stop. I’m feeling like Jiminy Cricket. (“When you wish upon a star …”)

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