Okay, so there's this DVD that's being passed around, which was handed to me by a dear friend at a get-together a couple of weeks ago. It's called "The Secret".
So I pop it in, and the first thing I notice is that it's designed to look like a trailer for "The DaVinci Code," replete with faux-DaVinci-notebook sketches and little background skits about how "the secret" has been passed through the generations, hidden and hunted down. Evidently, it was written in stone-tablet form and on papyrus scrolls in dark back rooms and spirited away in the dead of night while armies of knights kicked down doors in search of its power.
Eventually, as it becomes clear that this is going to be some type of self-help video, we come to the gyst of what this all-powerful secret really is. It's "the law of attraction," which is to say, the natural, universal law of "what you think, will become reality." The idea is that whatever a person can think of, whatever we concentrate on - that which fills our consciousness - the universe will manifest in reality.
I have a number of problems with this theory.
The first thing that occurs to me, while watching the DVD, is that if this were truly the most powerful knowledge in the universe, then the people telling me about it wouldn't need to create a vessel for doing so that looks like a cheap knock-off of a popular movie.
The second thing is the people in the DVD. Although they claim that many of the greatest minds in human history - Beethoven, Alexander Graham Bell, the Buddha (?!), Victor Hugo, Carl Jung, Martin Luther King, Plato, Isaac Newton, and others - were privy to this great secret, the most recognizable person they could muster for the DVD is Jack Canfield, author of "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Seems to me that the greatest and most powerfully life-changing secret in history would be a bit better-represented in the modern era. It's one thing to claim the support of men like Winston Churchill, but it's quite another to be able to enlist the support of those who are still living - and thus still have the power to bring a lawsuit.
The next thing is the theory (or "law") itself. "Attraction" contends that, when you think about something, say, a bicycle, you're sending that thought out into the universe, and the universe will respond by sending you that bicycle. I say, that's a load of hogwash. What actually happens is what's been called the method of Creative Visuallization. Notice I say method, not natural law. That's because method refers to something that you do, not something that the universe does for you.
In Creative Visuallization, which is actually used in "The Secret" as part of their "law", you keep the image of your goal in front of you whenever possible, as a means of constant mental programming. Eventually, your goal will become "hard-wired" into your daily thought process, better facilitating your focus on that goal. But you still have to go get it. You still have to achieve your goals for yourself. The universe, in reality, will not simply provide for you. If it did, why would anyone work?
Another issue that I feel compelled to bring up is the notion that all matter is comprised of energy. Now, mind you, I'm no physicist, but I really believe that matter and energy are two different things. Matter is the physical "things" of this universe, while energy is the ability to move, the ability to do. Energy is defined - at least, it was when I went to school - as "the ability to do work". In this DVD, a physician named Dr. Ben Johnson (who doesn't practice medicine but co-owns a company that distributes "the Teachings of the Healing Codes") tells us how matter is broken down: There are molecules, then within molecules there are atoms, and within the atoms there is energy. But I seem to remember from high school, something about molecules (protons, neutrons and electrons) making up the atom. Now, these molecules are embued with a certain inherent energy, and are therefore constantly moving around a central nucleus, the size and makeup of which determining the exact combination of molecules existing in its orbit - and thus determining the type of matter, as expressed by its elemental symbol. But although there's a certain energy present in each atom, atoms are matter, not energy.
If I understand this much because I remember it from a high school science class twenty years ago, seems a doctor would understand it well enough. Don't ya think?
All this, combined with the nonsense I've been able to dredge up on the website (http://thesecret.tv/ ) - like a description of the Buddha as someone who parted water and "manipulated" physical matter - give me the feeling that someone's trying to sell me something, and send me running, with a groan and a shiver. If anyone tells me that all I have to do to get whatever I want - money, relationships, cars, houses, whatever - is to think about it and then receive it from the universe, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to call that nonsense...and I don't think it's unreasonable when my instincts send me looking for the sales pitch.