|The Secret: there is no secret|
Fortunately, I purchased a used copy of the book online through Amazon for .01 cent. This in itself should give you a hint of the book's true worth. The Secret is nothing more than New Age thinking packaged in a new way. It's all about the philosophy of self-help, holistic heath, parapsychology and a lot of motivational talk. The book also tries in a general and disjointed to connect quantum physics to human consciousness. The Secret is all about the Age of Aquarius recycled again. Consider the title S.E.C.R.E.T. a clever marketing tool that has been used more than once.
Here is how Byrne explains it: "The Secret is the law of attraction! Everybody that's coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it's attracted to you by virtue of the images you're holding in your mind. It's what's you're thinking. Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you." (Page 4) This believe it or not is what The Secret is all about. The author then repeats this same message, in different ways, for almost 200 pages. In the book's Forward, the reader is told that the great people in history like Plato, Shakespeare, Newton, Hugo, Beethoven, Emerson, Edison, and Einstein used the Secret, but it's never explained how they actually did so. The book's flaw is precisely this: it makes similar statements over and over again without any sort of proof. Unlike The Secret, each of these gifted artists, musicians, scientists and inventors actually produced something of value for society. They wrote wonderful music, made new discoveries and wrote beautiful literature without ever having read the book. These great scientists and writers of history are merely mentioned to give credence to the book's thesis.
After defining The Secret the book goes on to apply it to different areas of your life. Here's what's covered: "The Secret of Money," "The Secret of Relationships," "The Secret of Health," "The Secret to the World," "The Secret of You" and "The Secret to Life." In each of these applications all a person has to do is to ask, to believe and to receive and your wish will be granted. It's as if a genie is wating to fulfil your every desire. All you have to do is ask for what you want and voila it's there for you.
Here's sample of the feel good messages the reader is told: 1. "Like Aladdin's Genie, the law of attraction grants our every command." (Page 68) 2. "Expectation is a powerful attractive force. Expect the things you want, and don't expect the things you don't want." (Page 92) 3. "It is helpful to use your imagination and make-believe you already have the money you want. Play games of having wealth and you will feel better about money; as you feel better about it more will flow into your life." (Page 110) 4. "When you want to attract a relationship, make sure your thoughts, words, actions and surroundings don't contradict your desires." (Page 122) 5. "The placebo effect is an example of the law of attraction in action. When a patient truly believes the tablet is a cure, he receives what he believes and is cured." (Page 138) 6. "What you resist, you attract, because you are powerfully focused on it by emotion. To change anything, go within and emit a new a signal with your thoughts and feelings." (152) 7. "Everything is energy. You are an energy magnet, so you energize everything to you and electrically energize yourself to everything you want." (Page 175) 8. "Now that you have learned the knowledge of The Secret, what you do with it is up to you. Whatever you choose is right. The power is all yours." (Page 184)
So going back to the person I know who wanted to buy this book. Don't waste your money on a text that is superficial, Pollyannish and poorly supported. The text is mere psychobabble at its best. The book defends its thesis by quoting a number of motivational speakers, filmmakers, teachers, designers, journalists, writers, ministers and self-help gurus. Even Oprah promoted the book as a way of living your best life. Here's a list of those who give their testimony and opinions about the value of pursuing The Secret: John Assaraf, Michael Beckwith, Lee Brower, Genevieve Behrend, Jack Canfield, Robert Collier, Dr. John Demartini, Marie Diamond, Mike Dooley, Bob Doyle, Hale Dwoskin, Morris Goodman, John Gray, Charles Haanel, John Hagelin, Bill Harris, Dr. Ben Johnson, Loral Langemeier, Prentice Mulford, Lisa Nicholas, Bon Proctor, James Ray, David Schirmer, Marci Shimoff, Dr. Joe Vitale, Dr. Dennis Waitley, Neale Walsch and Wallace Wattles Fred Wolf. We are not convinced. The long list of contributors doesn't strengthen the book's argument. The fact that many people support something deceptive doesn't change it.
The question to ask is: who are these people and what authority do they have to declare that The Secret is true? Sure they say it is, in many different and abstract ways, but it's left to the reader to fill in the details and the specifics. The language they use is so general that it's devoid of anything specific and real. Here's the main point of this book: I could tell you that I have a million dollar cheque in my pocket. It's a fact that I have made the claim, but it's a totally different thing to prove that what I'm saying is true. I would have to take the cheque out of my pocket, show it to others and be able to cash it in order to back up what I said with words. The Secret is ultimately flawed because of this: it's all words designed to make the reader feel good, but the evidence isn't there. Is this not the 21st century version of snake oil re-labelled, marketed and sold as The Secret? And The Secret has made its author and the people associated with it a great deal of money, and perhaps this is a the real secret to the whole story.
In the chapter "The Secret to Health" the reader is given a number of testimonies. One is of a person who heals himself of a very bad case of poor eyesight. In another case, a woman cures herself of "incurable" breast cancer through the power of gratitude, faith and laughter. It's all done with thoughts alone. We should "not listen to society's messages about diseases and aging. Negative messages do not serve you." (Page 139) In other words, just think and believe that you want to be healed, want to be rich, want whatever you want and it will happen. You are your own god. You alone are responsible for who you are. It's the idolatry of self worship. The Secret is that you create yourself. For "Beliefs about aging are all in our minds, so release those thoughts from your consciousness. Focus on health and eternal youth." (Page 139) This is what most people want to hear and this is what the book tells you. It's a self fulfilling prophecy. But it doesn't mean that it's true. Otherwise anyone who thinks they are not going to die would never die. And nobody in his right mind believes this regardless of what The Secret may say to the contrary. Human beings do age, do get sick and do die.
The real truth behind the book is found in the copyright statement, a paragraph most readers never read. We are told, "The information contained in this book is intended to be educational and not for diagnosis, prescription, or treatment of any health disorder whatsoever. The information should not replace consultation with a competent health care professional. ... The author and publisher are in no way liable to any misuse of the material." This disclaimer is a warning to all readers. In "educating" they can get away with half truths, propaganda and deception, but if one applies the claims of The Secret to reality, then the author is certainly afraid that these ideas may not work and therefore she could be sued. So, they make it clear that what they are saying will not necessarily work on its own. In other words, there's a big difference between the world of words and the real world. Never confuse what words refer to with real things and real people. After all, does anybody really believe that you can merely will your way to health, to wealth, to happiness and to good friends? Can we truly understand how the world works simply by wishful thinking alone? The Secret says yes, and I say no. What do you think?
In the Introduction we read, "As you learn The Secret, you will come to know how you can have, be, or do anything you want. You will come to know who you really are. You will come to know the true magnificence that awaits you in life." By praising and promising readers whatever they want, the author has manged to accomplish what she wants: sell a lot of books and make enough money to do what she wants. That's the real secret of the book. Everything else is mere deception and wishful thinking. If you haven't bought the book don't waste your money. If you have, try sending it back to the author and tell her you should get a refund because of the book's false claims. Do it in spite of the copyright disclaimer.