Monday, February 12, 2007

Do Ya Wanna Know The Secret?

This is my second blog entry on “The Secret,” Rhonda Byrne’s dangerous piece of New Age boomer madness. I am posting it in answer to those who emailed me asking if “The Secret” says what I say it says. To answer that question I have quoted liberally from the book (I have not seen the DVD) and added my comments to the quotes. Unfortunately does not allow italics, so the quotations are a bit hard to distinguish from the commentary. Just keep in mind everything after a page number is me.
Everything that is coming into your life you are attracting into your life…Whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you. (p.4) If you are the victim of abuse, disease, or injustice it is your fault for thinking thoughts that create abuse, disease, and injustice. There is no need to change the world, just change your thoughts about it.
You are the most powerful magnet in the Universe! (p.7) This notion that you are a magnet is the central metaphor of The Secret. Obviously they mean this metaphorically; otherwise you would be covered in iron filings. Coupled with the idea that you are a magnet is the notion that “like attracts like.” Unfortunately for The Secret this is not true; opposites attract: positively charged magnets attract negatively charged objects, negatively charged magnets attract positively charged objects. This is just the opposite of what The Secret claims is the secret.
Since you attract to you what you think about most, it is easy to see what your dominant
thoughts have been on every subject of your life, because that is what you have experienced. (p.9) In other words, if there is evil in your life it is your fault for putting it there. Tell that to the Jews in Nazi Germany, or Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, or the people being murdered in Darfur.
The law of attraction is a law of nature. (p.13) No it isn’t. The Law of Attraction is a law of motivational speakers.
Quantum physicists tell us that the entire Universe emerged from thought! (p. 15) No it doesn’t. Physics, quantum or otherwise, does not know from what the universe emerged. But if The Secret is right, then you and I are only thoughts in someone else’s mind, and therefore have no control over anything at all.
You can begin to consciously choose your thoughts, and you can change your life. (p19) While it is true you can change your life (do things differently) it is not true that you can consciously choose your thoughts. In order to choose my thoughts there must already be thoughts from among which to choose. If these thoughts are already there, I didn’t think them, yet The Secret’s Law of Attaction is already in play and my choosing among them is too little too late.
Meditation quiets the mind, helps you control your thoughts. (p. 23) No it doesn’t. Meditation allows you to witness your thoughts without getting caught up in them. Good thought, bad thoughts—just thoughts. Meditation isn’t about choosing to think good thoughts; it is about living without getting trapped in thoughts at all.
“I am the master of my thoughts.” (p. 23) Try this experiment. For the next ten seconds do not think of a naked skier speeding down the slopes of Aspen. You can’t help yourself. You are not the master of your thoughts. The thoughts you notice are already thought, so how can you be their master?
This is your life, and it’s been waiting for you to discover it! (p.41) Wait a minute. First we are told that we are to create our life now we are told we are to discover it. Creation and discovery are mutually exclusive. If my life is to be discovered then it is already created and my thoughts have nothing to do with it. The secret to The Secret may be to say outrageous things in sentences ending with exclamation points and hope no one pays much attention to what is being said.
Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts. (p. 43) You were raped? Your fault. You were abused as a child? Your fault. You are the victim of racism, sexism, or other injustice? It is your fault. Don’t put an end to evil and injustice, simply stop attracting these into your life.
The first step is to ask. Make a command to the Universe. Let the Universe know what you want. The Universe responds to your thoughts. (p. 47) Do you have any idea how huge the Universe is? Do you have any idea how infinitesimal your brain waves are in comparison? The Universe is not your cosmic concierge.
Now that you know you can have, be, or do anything, and there are no limits, what do you want? (p. 47) I can imagine few things more frightening that a world were everyone gets everything they want. Endless desire as Ecclesiastes, Buddha, and Jesus teach us is the root of all suffering.
Ask once, believe you have received, and all you have to do it receive is feel good. (p. 53) The assumption is that you can control your feelings, but you can’t. You don’t even know what you are feeling until you are feeling it. The Secret is about feeling good, but the truth is that you are made to feel a much fuller and richer palate of emotions. There is nothing wrong with feeling sadness, guilt, remorse, or anything else. Don’t control your feelings; just don’t let your feelings control your behavior.
Time is an illusion. Einstein told us that. (p. 62) No he didn’t. Einstein said time is relative to the speed of light, not that time is an illusion.
What quantum physicists and Einstein tell us is that everything is happening simultaneously… If everything is happening at the one time, then the parallel version of you with what you want already exists. (p.62) First of all Einstein didn’t say this, and if The Secret is going to rely on Parallel Universe theory they are in trouble. Parallel Universe Theory says that all possibilities must exist, each in its own universe. If this is true then there is a “you” that has everything you desire, but that “you” isn’t you and you can never be that “you” because that would destroy the very fabric of reality on which the Parallel Universe Theory rests.
It is impossible to bring more into your life if you are feeling ungrateful about what you have. (p. 77) While I am a firm believer in gratitude, it just isn’t true that lack of gratitude blocks you from getting more. First of all, behavior is what matters and not feelings and gratitude is a feeling. Second, there are plenty of wealthy people who lack all gratitude and their money still grows. It’s called compound interest.
Think about the inventors and their inventions… They only way anything has ever been invented or created is because one person saw a picture in his mind. He saw it clearly, and by holding that picture of the end result in his mind, all the forces of the universe brought his invention into the world, through him. (p. 82) This is patently (pun intended) untrue. Inventors work by trial and error. Failure and persistence in the face of failure is a key to creativity not its nemesis.
The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts. (p. 98) Wow, talking about ending welfare as we know it. This is blaming the victim at its socio-economic worst, and leads to a world of selfishness that would make even Ayn Rand turn over in her grave.
I never opened my bills until I had got myself into the feeling that they were checks. If I opened my bills before convincing myself they were checks, my stomach would churn when I opened them. (p. 105). Does this really work? You know they are bills (otherwise you wouldn’t have to pretend they are checks), so you lie to yourself before you open them. OK, but what do you when you do open them? Do you try to cash them? Can you think the bank into giving you cash for bills? Or do you still have to pay them? Since you think they are checks rather than bills, however, you won’t pay them, and the bank will repo your car and foreclose on your house. Who’s happy now?
…Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus were not only prosperity teachers, but also millionaires themselves, with more affluent lifestyles than many present-day millionaires could conceive of. (p.109) Dangling participles aside, this is just bizarre. Jesus said it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven. (Matthew 19:24) He tells the wealthy Pharisee to give all he has to the poor. (Mark 10:21) And he tells the apostles to travel and teach without a staff, bread, or money (Mark 6:8). I think it clear here what The Secret really worships.
You can think your way to the perfect state of health, the perfect body, the perfect weight, and eternal youth. You can bring it into being, through your consistent thinking of perfection. (p. 131) Illness, anorexia, obesity, even aging is your fault. Genes don’t matter. Don’t waste money on health insurance, and don’t bother fixing the nation’s healthcare system— just think healthy thoughts.
You cannot “catch” anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought. (p. 132) Aids? Your fault. Cancer? Your fault. I wonder if any of the The Secret folks get ill or immunized their children or grandchildren?
When I discovered The Secret I made a decision that I would not watch the news or read newspapers anymore, because it did not make me feel good. (p. 145) Rather than feel pain and sorrow over the injustice and suffering in the world, rather than take action to stop the madness that your government may be engaged in, rather than take any responsibility for being a global citizen and working toward global justice and peace, The Secret tells us to take refuge in ignorance. This is unconscionable.
Nothing is limited—not resources or anything else. It is only limited in the human mind. (p. 149) This kind of thinking leads to environmental exploitation and degradation all in the name of greed. The only thing that is unlimited is the amount of injustice The Secret is willing to sanction.
I never studied science or physics at school, and yet when I read complex books on quantum physics I understood them perfectly because I wanted to understand them. (p. 156) For The Secret even education is a waste of time. I wonder if, on the off chance that one of The Secret people needs a doctor, or a mechanic, or financial advisor if they go to one who just read about on her own or if they seek out someone who is well schooled in their field?
The Secret makes a mockery of social justice, environmental sanity, education, health care, ethics, and civil rights. It celebrates greed and a level of narcissism that verges on sociopathology. The Secret should be exposed for what it is, motivational snake oil, and used as a platform for discussing how best to live in the real world guided by the universal challenge of all great religions to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.


David Schirmer said...

You obivously have not studied the mind ... would do you well to first watch the DVD and spend a few years in study. You have a very low level of awareness.

BJ said...


Have you heard the AMAZING news? Oprah is doing a SECOND show about “The Secret” this Friday, February 16th. It is UNPRECEDENTED for Oprah to repeat a topic so quickly. But as we all know… Once the Law of Attraction is set into motion… there ain’t no stopping it!

As a follow-up to this Oprah encore show, there will also be two more FREE International Law of Attraction Teleconferences. The Teleconferences were a BIG hit last week. There were people there from four different continents and 7 different time zones. The link to register for this week’s teleconferences is They’re free, so why not???

I think it’s safe to say that “The Secret” is out! Let’s all keep spreading the word and see what amazing things happen next!

Frenchsheepdog said...

I studied science and physics in school. I have a BS in chemical physics from Yale. When I read simple books about quantum mechanics, I don't understand them. When I read complex books on quantum mechanics, I don't understand them. Apparently, I have a very low level of awareness.

(Thanks, Rami, for exposing the motivational snake oil.)

rebecca st. claire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rebecca st. claire said...

I watched the movie, I was on the follow up show. The universe is our private Genie here to grant our every wish? If what the secret says is truth, than can we assume that the U.S. attracted the 911 attacks and hurricane Katrina? If Abe Lincoln practiced the laws of attraction, did he cause then his own death? Why would he do that? Can we assume that the woman on the movie who joins in the volleyball game and then leaves with three strangers on their way to a bar on a deserted beach makes it home alive? I hope people don't start taking dangerous risks because of this movie. Just want it and it becomes your? Come on! I agree with everything the Rabbi said. Motivational snake oil indeed.

Felicia said...

I am surprised by the strong reaction to the movie. I heard a very different message. I heard people saying that it was ok to live a happy abundant life that we are not meant to suffer. I heard that it is ok for me to want things and to pursue them. This was very different from the messages I heard growing up that suffering and deprivation were the way to gain favor with God.

I have experienced many of the things they described in my own life. I have discovered that I can change the way I experience events in my life by changing the way I view them. I have the choice to experience joy and beauty when I choose to see those qualities even in the most challenging circumstances and people. And more importantly, when I choose to be those qualities, I can be a catalyst for change in myself and in others.

Collectively we are all responsible for the atrocities committed against humankind. Individually our thoughts did not draw particular experiences to us. But when we as a species maintain thoughts of anger, separation, attack and fear, we will act on these somewhere. The end result is the horror we see in the world on a personal scale and on a worldwide scale. Our responsibility once we know this information is to be vigilent in our thoughts. We become responsible to see each one of us as sacred beings, to honor life, to commit to acts of loving kindness and service, and to use our resources in a way that will promote the evolution of our planet. When they talked about getting what we want by thinking it, I believe that ultimately what we really desire is to know our sacred union with another and to be able to act accordingly. We just have to get past the point of "manipulating energy" to use Michael Beckwith words in another context. The Secret is a preschool introdution to this concept. It is now up to us to see how our thoughts are to be use to contribute to the well-being of the planet as a whole. I may not be able to do anything for Iraq right now, but I can begin to change things in my immediate environment by practicing thoughts and acts of gratitude, forgiveness and humility. I can begin to endeavor to live a life of peace trusting that as I do this and encourage others to do the same, we will collectively change the nature of how we treat one another. Yes, I really did get all of that from the movie.

Anonymous said...

Hi I am writing this from Florida. I have travelled from Australia to be here on a lifesuccess consultancy training course. I have met this week with David Schirmer and Bob Proctor. I have had the most amazing week of my life! I have learnt more this week than i have learn in the past 40 years of my life. WE have spent a long time here studying the mind and raising our awareness so take careful note of David's words. Stop relying on your senses and what other people have to say and develop your intellectual faculties. You have six, not many people know what they are, find out and study them and do it. I remember David telling me when I was green 'knowing and doing are poles apart' and now I know.
Start the journey.

wounded woman said...

Rabbi, thanx for being here.

Please change your comments setting from "only registered users" to "anyone."

You can still fully moderate comments under the "anyone" option.

It just gives people who aren't blogger bloggers, or have blogs with other blog hosts, the option to comment by signing in as "other" and providing their non-blogger URL. Todah rabah and shalom u'vracha.

Energie said...

R' Rami, thank you for intrepidly tackling this topic in your posts on the Law of Attraction.

I share your visceral discomfort with the concept and its destructive 'blame the victim' tendencies, especially as an abuse and trauma survivor.

I have a different take on "consciously creating" and avoid the term "law of attraction."

I use the terms higher consciousness, conscious living, and consciously creating, with a different connotation and I believe they carry a different connotation.

Consciously creating "tikkun olam" by helping those suffering under the Law of Tyrants, is among my integral beliefs in the aforementioned terms.

I just wrote about the topic of conscious creation VS the law of attraction from my take on it, on my blog.

"Yevaker li." I apologize if my Hebrew is bad. Maybe I'm attracting bad Hebrew grammer to me? :)

Adalberto said...

This will explain a few things:

Adalberto said...

This is a good insight into Schirmer:

Adalberto said...

This guy is getting quite prominent on the web these days, but all for the wrong reasons!!

Vania said...

I picked up a copy of the "Secret" (I was attracted to the box) but I didn't watch it. I decided that if I knew the answer to the "secret" it wouldn't be a "secret" anymore and the entire issue would be moot.

I think there is a universal "secret" but that it has been known and ignored since the beginning of time...that God exists everywhere and we bump into him even in the shower. There, we are naked, dirty and just about to get wet.

So wouldn't a well packaged shower gel work just as well as the "Secret" in a pretty boxed DVD set? I think we should just wash off the stupidity, quit looking for God in all the wrong places and pay heed to the words of a very great Rabbi "If you let the blind lead the blind, you both fall into the ditch". And of course you will get dirty, have to shower and start the entire process all over again.

I love your blogs.