Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

“The Secret”: Packaged in America

What Is The Secret

Last night I watched The Secret with a group of friends that meet for spiritual discussion. Since The Secret carries so much buzz, I was happy to see it and find out how well this film presents the Law of Attraction, ancient wisdom for modern times.

I loved its humor and laughed out loud several times. I loved the clever and beautiful graphics, especially the sort of pen and ink drawings back-dropping the speakers that seemed as if they were from the Rennaissance. Jack Canfield's for instance, had a chicken in it and other references to his popular and best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise. I drank in the wisdom of basic Buddhism 101: "You are what you think." I emerged refreshed.

But, People! Get a grip. Look at the packaging, the marketing, the hype. Look at how we do things in America. We love things wrapped up in neat packages. We love things that deliver right away. We are a nation that loves fast food, and here, as a friend said to me this morning, is "Fast religion."

By all means watch The Secret. Enjoy it. Apply it to your life. And understand the delivery system that reveals a certain amount of American comedy inherent in our culture.

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4 Responses »

  1. Gah! The Secret is one of my new pet peeves. I loathe it. But, it's FUN to complain about! I see it as sort of inverted Buddhism, as it turns "wanting things" into "spiritual pursuit." . Really, the whole thing stands in total opposition to the pursuit and cultivation of human goodness that should stand at the center of all honest and powerful forms of spirituality. It trivializes philosophy and openly mocks any understanding of science. But... like I said. Peeve. I just can't STAND it. It hits my ranty button.

    I understand that it's based on something less obnxious, but I'm so turned off by the Secret that I'm really not willing to bother with LOA.

    -Veronica from LC Writer's Group

  2. Janet,
    Thanks for the review and the insight. I must admit being attracted idea and went to the bookstore to check out the book where I was repulsed by the 'packaging' and couldn't bring myself to buy it.
    I did page through it and found the quotes to be helpful and affirming but I couldn't let myself be seduced into buying it. And I admit I do love pretty books. Maybe I'll see if I can check it out at the library, enjoy the messages for free.
    Susan

  3. I have had many opportunities to watch this film in groups, but avoided them because I didn't really want to be a naysayer and I intuited that it would be something of a commercially oriented film.

    I am on something of a spiritual path, being a medical intuitive, and one thing that I know about this path is that if my ego gets involved during the reading and tries to direct the show, the ability to read people's illnesses diminishes. I cannot use it to spy on people--I have to have full consent of the person I am reading. If I try to use this ability for financial gain it diminishes, so playing the stock market or lottery is out of the question.

    So this sort of visualization involves a number of parameters for its use. I was curious about the Secret, because I suspected it was primarily about visualization and affirmations and not having negative thoughts because that seems to be the focus of so much of the spiritual literature out there right now.

    When I decided to watch the film I got it from the library and watched it on my laptop in my home, where I felt I could absorb it without distraction. I sensed that I would groan when they gave some of the examples of how people got what they wanted. And I did. (It's the law of attraction right? I thought I would groan and I did! I got what I wanted! That's what they would tell me.)

    While I feel that there is validity to many of the ideas in this film, I saw how they got twisted into something that may only end in many people feeling disappointed when they don't get what they want via the methods detailed in the film. As much as many of these people would like to believe that there are unlimited resources to go around so that we all could own several cars and we all could live in McMansions and we all could consume to our heart's content, this is just not the case. I am certain that many of the authors who spoke in the film will benefit from the exposure so that the law of attraction worked for them, but what about people who have had only a lifetime of being kicked to the gutter.

    The earlier part of the film seemed to be about material acquisitions--I don't know how many times the word car was mentioned, but it seemed to be the possession most mentioned. For many, owning a car would be the path to financial liberation. I know that in giving up a car, I have limited my options a great deal, but being a non-farmer, a non-parent living in a city, this is a conscionable act. I do this because I know there are places in this country where gas is needed to operate machinery that tills the soil so that I can eat. I don't NEED a car so the conscionable thing to do is to not have one.

    We are in a time when the automobile is becoming a greater liability than a liberator, with oil reserves being depleted at faster-than-ever rates, third world countries joining the developed nations in greater consumption and global warming pushing us to an outcome that is just plain scary. Is it "right thinking" to including "cars" in this kind of message at such a critical juncture in history without also asking people to put their mind to solving the problem of oil dependence and viable alternative fuel sources. If you don't believe me watch A Crude Awakening, which is about our romance with oil, and the automobile, how it has led to environmental devastation and how this romance will come to an end.

    In The Secret there was a man who built a sort of wish board for what he wanted in life, and two of these things were a family and a home. On the surface this seemed really wonderful and I liked the idea. He realized later that he got the very house he had wanted, but when you see the aerial photograph of his house you see this excessively large building. It looked to be the size of a small hotel and if I remember correctly he had only one child. I wondered as I watched it if he would only put his remarkable ability to work and ask that those less fortunate have shelters over their heads. Maybe he could ask for homes for those whose homes were lost through war or devastation or even through environmental devastation caused by his overconsumption. But that was not this message of this film at all.

    I couldn't help but feel that the film was really about guilt-free consumption. The kind of film that would show up on the heels of other films--documentaries-- that point to other possible, more realistic outcomes to our unbridled, selfish overuse of resources. It's the kind of film guilty yuppies watch to make themselves feel better about their overconsumption (physics, the laws of the universe are on my side, the cosmos wants me to have all these things) or the poor watch hoping to find a path where others that have been tried have not worked.

    I don't think I would have felt this strongly against this film if there had been more about using these special skills in humanitarian efforts.

    I'll watch the film a second time through in case I missed that message, but basically I felt the film's message was this: You out there, forget the global problems we are facing right now, it's really not a huge concern, you can have anything you want, (unless you didn't want it enough) and just in case you haven't noticed I am an author and you can buy my book.

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