Dan Millman is a respected writer in these kinds of circles. He has a number of bestselling books. I thought his take on The Secret, from his blog might be of interest.
My Thoughts about “The Secret”
Thursday January 04th 2007, 1:58 pm
Filed under: Dan's Posts
Some weeks ago, a young man wrote to us, declaring, “In six months I’m going to have three million dollars, the woman of my dreams, and a beautiful house – because I’ve seen . . . The Secret!
The Secret, for those of you who haven’t yet heard, has become an internet phenomenon. It began as an Australian television production featuring a number of well-known authors and pundits, speaking about the “Law of Attraction.” This law says that we attract or manifest into our lives what we think about or focus on or earnestly desire.
As fate would have it, the producers, in a stroke of foresight, ended up delivering this 90-minute program via internet. One can go to the web site, watch a dramatic teaser, sign up, pay a mere $4.95, and download the program to watch to one’s heart’s content — to learn “The Secret.”
I’m not surprised by the popularity of this program. Magical thinking has huge appeal for many – especially when it intersects with ideas from quantum physics and metaphysical science.
In this respectful critique, I’m going to first express what I genuinely like about the program:
I find much of the program up-beat, good hearted, encouraging. It also has excellent production values, cinematography, effects, and sound. And the editing is excellent. I’m especially impressed by the cutting-edge method of delivery — internet streaming — ushering in a new era of movies on demand with the click of a mouse.
I also like the message that what we bring into our lives begins with a vision, a longed-for aspiration — a good reminder for those of us who haven’t yet stretched the wings of possibility and allowed ourselves to embrace higher possibilities. If The Secret opens the way to expanded dreams, it serves a useful purpose.
What concerns me, however, are the program’s primary suppositions. The message, repeated in different words by the various guests, is that if we simply intend and visualize and dream big enough, we can “manifest” all our dreams — effortlessly, magically, mystically.
However, this “Law of Attraction” does not, in my view, qualify as a law at all. In my book, The Laws of Spirit, I present twelve spiritual laws (including, to name a few, the laws of balance, choices, process, faith . . . action, surrender, and unity) — laws which apply consistently and universally to everyday life. This quality of consistency is essential to any law, and differentiates it from proverbs, principles, or aphorisms, which may or may not apply. In other words, a law works every time here on Earth, much like the law of gravity.
In any case, this “Law of Attraction,” as taught many decades ago by metaphysicians like Catherine Ponder and others, is certainly a positive and expansive idea. But dreams, desires and visions are only the beginning — they must be followed by focused effort over time – something barely mentioned in the “Secret” production.
Thomas Edison wrote, “We often miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” It has the ring of truth, doesn’t it? But suggesting that we need to work hard over time to achieve our goals doesn’t sell well. It isn’t sexy or fascinating, or sound much like a “Secret.” Common sense rarely does.
In “The Secret,” we personally witness a little boy who wishes and hopes for a bicycle—he thinks about it, visualizes a bike, cuts out pictures from a magazine. And lo and behold, one day he opens a door and there is his new bike! Personally, I would have been more drawn to see him walking a paper route, or doing chores to earn some money, or at least asking his parents directly for a special Christmas gift. Which reminds me of a story I relate in Living on Purpose:
Louie goes to church every Sunday and prays to God, “Dear Lord, I’ve been a good and devout man for many years, living according to your Laws, doing acts of charity, serving the poor, supporting my family. So please, please, let me win the lottery just once!” He repeats this plea every week for years, but his entreaties go unanswered. So Louie starts to pray to win the lottery every night and every day. Until one day, he hears a voice thunder down from the heavens: “Louie, will you at least go half-way with me and buy a ticket?”
That’s all I’m suggesting — a simple point ignored by “The Secret” — go to the effort to buy a ticket. Or as an Arabic sage once said, “Trust in God . . . but tie your camel.”
So if you wish to be successful, dream big, but start small — then connect the dots. In other words, start with a vision, then take baby steps. Neither dreaming nor wishing nor magical secrets get the laundry done.
The biggest issue I have with programs like The Secret (or other idealistic notions such as learning “positive thinking”) is that when their magical methods don’t work, we end up believing that it’s our fault, our lack, our fault. We believe that if we had truly deserved it, or really applied ourselves, or focused more intently, or visualized more clearly with a sincere heart, surely it would have worked.
The Secret, then, with its lovely and uplifting promise, is a foolproof supposition: If we don’t heal, manifest, get what we want, it’s due to our own lack of faith.
Or maybe it’s because we forgot the “taking action” part . . .
There are some successful people who claim to have mastered “The Secret” and who have manifested their dreams and desires. Few of them tell us about their years of struggle and labor and preparation.
By all means strive in the direction of your dreams! Visualize a grand life! Then get to work. While we cannot control the outcomes, we can control our efforts. And by making the effort, we increase the odds of creating a larger life.
I close with my warmest wishes, and with a reminder from Henry David Thoreau: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. Now put foundations under them.”