Monday, April 09, 2007

Secret My Ass!

There is a book flying off the shelves of bookstores around the country. Oprah has covered it at least twice on her show. It is called "The Secret" and claims to hold the answer to life's deepest mysteries. It has sold more than 1.3 million copies in the United States alone. It is written by an Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne. I haven't read the book but I have read enough about it to understand how dangerous it truly is.

Here is the secret..."The Secret" is, very simply, the "law of attraction." Despite it's claim of revealing hidden wisdom "for the first time in history," the concept dates back more than 3,000 years to early Hindu teachings that "like attracts like." The author writes "Everything that's coming into your life you are attracting into your life, You are the most powerful magnet in the universe . . . so as you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you."

Even though she has her physics a little backward, when it comes to magnets, it's opposites that attract, it is supposed to be the power behind geniuses such as Plato, Newton, Beethoven and Einstein. It's purported to be the ultimate shortcut to success and the American dream. Anyone who wants it badly enough can be a multi millionaire or even president. It is odd that nothing about hard work, talent, education or even luck is mentioned but if you are to believe "The Secret" all you have to do is "put in your order in with the universe." Ask. Believe. Receive. It's just that easy!

As usual all of the hard core believers fail to remember that every coin has two sides and that there is an ominous implication to accepting Byrnes' promise. If bad things happen to you, it's all your fault. As surely as your thoughts can bring you health, wealth and love your thoughts are also the cause of your illness, poverty and misery.

I am not making this up! This inverse reality is spelled out very clearly: "The only reason why people do not have what they want is because they are thinking more about what they don't want than what they do want." Follow this twisted logic to its end and you find that everything that happens to you is your fault. The soldiers dying in Iraq are to blame for their own deaths, all the people in New Orleans who lost their homes...right again, not thinking the happy thoughts. On the surface this might sound harmless enough but there is something very sinister hiding behind the glitzy self help screed. It is spelled out quite clearly in the book:

"Imperfect thoughts are the cause of humanity's ills."

"The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts."

Do you see where this is going? It's the age old scam of blaming the victim, of creating the impression that there is some external agency to blame for the condition of the world. The devil is the cause of sin in the world. Accept the truth(AKA Jesus, God, Allah, etc.) and the world will beat a path to your door. You are weak and a sinner and cannot be expected to walk the straight and narrow all the time. That is why Jesus died on the cross, don't you know, so that you could sin without worry and as long as you accept Jesus into your life and acknowledge your wickedness you will rise up to heaven when the trumpet sounds. Hallelujah! This whole misplaced philosophy, while attractive and comforting, excuses the pain and suffering of the world by some abstract excuse that people get what they deserve. This sham allows people to blame the victims for their lot in life and relieves one of any responsibility for anything outside of themselves. This is a bad thing.

This is the philosophy of separation and exclusiveness that, in reality, is the root cause of all the pain and suffering in this world. This is very subtle but very insidious. I can ignore the pain and suffering in Darfur because it is something outside of me and caused by some lack of the people there. They obviously aren't thinking positively. If they were truly good people then God wouldn't let this happen to them.

This thinking is the tragedy of modern religions whether they be Christian, Muslim or whatever. It surely isn't the teaching of Jesus or Buddha. Who realized that as long as we kept ourselves separate from the universe and everything in it we would suffer. "The Secret" is just another excuse to reinforce the ego and separate ourselves further from the peace that is found in accepting our oneness with everything around us. The starving child in Darfur, the dying soldier in Iraq, the homeless man in New Orleans or the drowning polar bear in the Arctic are diminishing the universe and therefore diminishing me for I am not separate from them nor they from me.

The way of the Buddha is to know yourself,
To know yourself is to forget yourself,
To forget yourself is to be awakened by all things.

Genjo Koan

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