Saturday, February 24, 2007

Reflections on The Secret

(Originally submitted to Joe Vitale's blog on Feb.24)

I am simultaneously amused and saddened by the discourse surrounding The Secret, as it seems to be a metaphor for the intense polarization that has long replaced true introspection and exchange of ideas.

On the one hand, supporters of the Secret/LOA claim that they represent Universal Law, yet rationalize that any event which might appear to be inconsistent with its status as law is merely a misinterpretation of the "law" or the event itself, along with the implication that the observer misses the point due to his or her own lack of spiritual evolution. This is merely the perpetuation of the early dogmatic teachings of a priest class eager to maintain control over the unsophisticated masses. Such condescension might keep some "believers" in line, but does not serve the quest for spiritual growth.

On the other side, there are those who dismiss any theory which has not been proven with empiric data in numerous studies as being the product of deluded fools. In so doing, they attempt to elevate themselves as being intellectually superior to others. Again, condescension replaces honest efforts to discover truth.

What these people fail to consider is that all instances of human progress were borne of efforts to establish a "truth" that was not previously considered, much less proven. Had Edison followed such a mindset, he would have known - thanks to extensive prior research in metallurgy - that a tungsten filament would not work in an incandescent lamp. He proceeded, however, his enthusiasm based in what *might* be, while facing scorn from the *scientists* of his day.

Somewhere in the middle, there is (IMHO) the presence of real Truth, as opposed to the polarized interpretations of truth. To claim that the universe is like a catalog, and that it is our highest calling to browse that catalog and focus upon our desires runs contrary to the lessons of all major spiritual teachers.

I am especially put off by the notion that in order to achieve a positive life, one must turn one's focus upon what is desired, and away from all things negative. Christian tradition is based upon embracing the less fortunate, and Buddhist tradition is founded in the realization achieved by Siddhartha after he finally emerged from his protected life and observed the sadness that arose from the insatiable fulfillment of desire. He understood that attachment to the "good," as well as avoidance of the "bad" were merely the two sides of the same coin.

He also understood that Right Thinking was powerless without Right Action. Focusing upon a desired outcome was essential, but failure to expend the logical effort to achieve that outcome rendered that Right Thinking powerless.

My greatest objection to the Law of Attraction/Secret phenomenon is that it serves to perpetuate an imbalanced approach to life. I realize that the marketing phenomenon surrounding it is very successful, and that (Vitale is) to be credited in no small part for that success. But I am left to wonder: When sales of this latest, greatest Path to Enlightenment begin to dwindle (as have those previously marketed by the proponents), will yet another, even greater Path be "discovered?" If so, perhaps The Secret/LOA consumers should objectively ask themselves what it really is: A spiritual path or a marketing exercise.


Cosmic Connie said...

Beautifully written, Ron. I hope Joe will publish it on his blog too. I think it is a reasoned and balanced contribution to the ongoing exchange there.

Steve Salerno said...

I second Connie's praise. You know, Ron, I'm having a major writer's crisis of faith of late. I look at the kinds of inane books being bought (by publishers, I mean), and the fantastic sums being paid out as advances to writers who aren't writers (but are merely people with visibility and that all-important "platform"), and I say to myself: What happened to the reverence for the original idea, elegantly expressed? That is what "good writing" used to mean. No more. Now "good writing" simply means something salable thrown between two covers. Good writing means "we're sure that the masses will buy it."

That's a long way of saying that I read prose such as you've produced here--I apologize, btw, for being so late to the party--and it restores some of my faith, or at least reminds me of why I embarked on this oft-despairing enterprise in the first place.

James said...

I wasn't too impressed with, "The Secret." I was a bit dismayed over the emphasis on materialism. I too am one who tries to adhere to the balanced "middle-way" of Buddhism.

RevRon's Rants said...

Thanks for the pat o the back, folks. What really saddens me is that plain-jane common sense runs so contrary to the norm that it seems to justify praise, while the pursuit of Tinker Bell sways the masses. Doesn't say much for our intelligence as a species, does it?

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