Response to "The Hubris of The Secret"
by Charlie Curtis
This article, by Valerie Reiss, shows what pretzels people twist
themselves into, trying to pretend to themselves and others that
metaphysics isn't true. This woman will be in for a big shock
when she awakens to the knowledge that the concepts in the Secret
are all true, and it all works,
For all the time that she has lived in her carefully constructed
skepticism, all around her, and most likely even at that ashram
she spent time with, were and are people who are living in the
wonderful reality that she is taking such pains to pretend isn't
It's fascinating to me to see how people find "proof"
for what they believe. In almost every article criticizing the
Secret, including this one, the author totally fails to realize
that the Secret is filled throughout with a metaphysical message
based on thousands of years of metaphysical experience, and that
the people interviewed and quoted in the Secret are people of
tremendous depth, profound healers like Beckwith, some of the
world's best motivators like Waitley, and historical figures who
were wedded to the profoundest understandings that have ever been
taught, like Troward, Behrend, and Haanel, all of which is just
the opposite of the materialistic projection she needs to paste
on them in order to justify her walking away from the truth they
have to tell.
If you analyze such articles as the projection they are, and
then ask yourself - when people project their faults onto others,
that which they criticize is really their own unhealed issue,
so therefore what is the unhealed issue this writer has which
she is accusing these great metaphysicians of having.
And the answer is materialism. In being out of touch with the
great metaphysical energies which keep this universe in harmony,
she is out of touch with the true nature of life, and thus, all
the time she is thinking she is deep, she really has a shallow
point of view, and thus is guilty of the very materialism she
For to be materialistic is to give material the power and allegiance,
instead of to the deeper underlying divine mystery, of which the
Secret is just one of many expressions.
In fact, that Secret is, in part, the knowledge that everything
is divine, that there is, in fact, no materialism, for there is
no place where God is not. That just as God is in the love of
one person to another (something this writer is willing to acknowledge)
God is also in all so-called material things (something this writer
would vehemently deny).
In fact, a robust metaphysics teaches that God is not only IN
the so-called material things, God IS the so-called material things,
for when we step back, leave our anthropomorphic concepts of God
behind, pop the bubble of the Trance of Scarcity, and realize
that God is not a being-that-is- not-us, God is an intelligent
energy, the Field if you will, within which we live, move, and
have our being, then we are free to perceive the God-ness in everything
including things like BMWs.
And yet. When "metaphysician" Joe Vitale says in the
film that the Universe is like "a catalog" that we can
flip through and shop, my stomach churns.
And that is what Joe Vitale understands that she does not. That
God is not only in every thought, but in every thing formed from
thought, and it was his knowledge of that that attracted his BMW
and other so-called material things to him, that she is skewering
For it is that absolute knowledge of the creative power of thought
that attracts anything to any metaphysician. The falseness she
accuses Vitale of having, is really in her own vision, her own
false perception that things like BMWs are crass and not worthy
When Lisa Nichols says at the film's end that, "It'snot
your job to make the world a better place," I want to sit
her down for a good long chat with Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Like many stuck in materialism and the trance that-there-is-not-enough,
she also has a profound lack of joy, and that keeps her from realizing
that a sense of playfulness is the closest thing to the Divine
essence that we can achieve. And that those teaching a playful
attitude towards life are the closest to God awareness, which
are of course our children, until we train the joy out of them.
Those who condemn the Godness of playfulness are uniformly angry
and podium-pounding in their righteousness, and this writer is
no exception. and she really has a terrible time when it comes
to acknowledging the power of thought in her own health. She's
willing to acknowledge the mind/body interface, which is more
than many, but she stops well short of the amazing power our minds
have to heal, which is obvious from the following quote.
And when the weirdly out-of-it looking woman says she cured her
breast cancer in three months with affirmations and funny movies,
I want to hit the TV for all the false, dangerous hope it's transmitting.
It is only a severely joyless person who would attempt to take
hope away from someone seeking to improve their health. Hope is
the greatest healer, and so therefore it is incredible to watch
our health care system in action, as it systematically seeks to
strip the hope away from people, painstakingly installing a belief
in the worst possible outcome.
Abraham, when asked the cause of cancer, said it is the unhealed
thought, day after day, that finally takes root as a condition
in the body, as the cause of every disease.
""The Secret" feels like white rice to me—stripped
of its nutritionfor maximum palatability and fluffy appeal."
Stripped of nutrition for maximum palatability? Fluffy appeal?
The white rice she speaks of is the health care system and other
godless expressions of hopelessness and fear in our culture, those
bastions of negative thought which teach us that we have to be
For fluffy appeal, try the television ads for health care institutions,
which promise "come to our cancer center because we care"
while the violins play in the background, but once you get there
you find that the only people having fun were the actors in the
ad, for when you walk through the doors, you find a population
of freaked-out patients, full of fear and misery, dreading the
next day's regimen of burning, cutting and poisoning,
And the fluffy appeal runs out of romantic momentum really fast
as you lose both your lunch and your hair, and the hopelessness
of materialism really kicks in when the insurance claim is then
But the good thing to know is that she, like everyone else, is
here for her soul's journey, and that as she takes one step after
another towards the light, one day she will contemplate the possibility
of what up until now she has denied. and one day she too will
join the ranks of those who learn to see the Godness in every
And in that day she will no longer condemn wealth, the healing
power of thought, and the value of living in a playful spirit
of abundance, for she too will realize that the God-Power that
runs this universe will create for her whatever she desires because
of its incredible love for her, and since it also loves each created
thing in this same way, all of us have access to this same abundance
in every moment, so there is no lack for anyone in any moment.
For when we learn to see the flame of love burning in every heart
and the sacred nature of every thing, and the sacred nature of
every moment, then we learn not to condemn, for we learn that
the very act of judgment, of condemnation, that is the one error
we can commit.
In other words, she never learned the fundamental truth of the
Buddha she purports to understand, and that is, in freedom from
the bondage of judgmental thought is the Peace she seeks but does
Because in any act of condemning, we are denying God, for we
are seeing not-God, but instead the material. We are seeing a
perfect world through the eyes of the separated self, and finding
fault with it. But the fault we see is the projection of the fault
within ourselves, and this fault is one of perception, it is the
hell of separation from the God-Self, created through divisive
And her article, like so many others like it, in its holier-than-thou
condemnation, commits the very sin it purports to heal - it sees
life through material eyes instead of seeing through the eyes
of the God-self that each of us, at our core, already is.
For she, like every one of us, is a pure and perfect expression
of the I AM. And as she labors mightily to deny her divinity within,
what has she accomplished of value?
But then, as Abraham says, we never get it wrong, for we never
get it done.
And so as she sincerely moves one step closer to truth, by attempting
to clarify her thinking, she moves one halting step forwards towards
the enlightenment she seeks, which is a conscious experience of
the God within her, and the knowledge that the Peace she has been
looking for for years is closer to her than her very breath, for
it moves in, through, and as her very Being 24/7, 365 days a year,
for it is her very life.
The Hubris of 'The Secret'
“As a cancer survivor I'm not sure I buy the 'create your
ownreality' stuff in 'The Secret.' And if it's true, what about
By Valerie Reiss
When I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, I was afraid
to tell my New-Agey friends and acquaintances. Mainly, I was afraid
they would say, "Why did you do that to yourself?" Not
out of cruelty, but from a genuine desire to help me see how I
had "created my own reality," a central tenet of New
Age thinking. Thankfully, no one said any such thing. (Though
one woman did ask if perhaps I should have just ingested a lot
of wheatgrass instead of having chemotherapy.)
This choose-your-own-adventure thinking has caught fire recentlywith
the wild success of "The Secret" book and DVD by Australian
TV producer Rhonda Byrne. There are already 400,000 copies of
the book in print and Simon & Schuster just announced they're
printing two million more, which is what happens when Oprah champions
your book in two separate shows and says this is how she's lived
her own life for years.
The book and the documentary-ish film are essentially the same:
a compendium of talking heads—philosophers, life coaches,
and authors— all talking about how the essence of our thoughts
affects, nay, creates, the world around us through the power of
quantum physics, energy, and our interconnectedness. It's similar
in a lot of ways to "What the Bleep Do We Know," but
without the narrative Marlee Matlin part.
Except this time the production values are better—everything
looks very luxe and DaVinci-code-esque—and the heads are
all hitting the same point home over and over: If you "align"
yourself by feeling good, the Universe (New Age-speak for God)
will provide limitless abundance. This is illustrated in numerous
dramatizations: a woman wraps her thoughts around a necklace in
a window, pretty soon it appears around her neck; a gay man who's
harassed for his homosexuality starts practicing the secret and
soon finds people are offering him new respect.
The "secret" is kind of like prayer on steroids: Instead
of apersonal God processing and granting requests, a web of energysimply
bounces your mindset back at you in material form. As one of the
teachers in the film, Mike Dooley, sums it up, "Thoughts
"I first encountered the "secret" about 13 years
ago when it was much less sexily called "The Law of Attraction"
or "Intentional Reality" by many, many authors and alternative
spirituality teachers, from Esther and Jerry Hicks to Wayne Dyer
to Deepak Chopra. Living at a yoga ashram the summer between sophomore
and junior year of college, two friends and I were walking through
the woods. City girl that I was, I carried a stick, hoping to
fend off dangerous animals or deranged woodsmen.
My curly-haired friend Scott looked at the stick and shook hishead,
"What you resist persists," he said, very much the 22-year-old
sage. He explained that what we fear, we "magnetize"
and manifest in our lives. So by holding the stick as defensive
weapon, I was actually putting us in unnecessary peril. I reluctantly
let it go. And proceeded to head-trip myself on and off for years
about my negative thoughts, which were abundant.
I would realize I was thinking negative thoughts, which wouldtrigger
more thoughts about how awful I was for thinking negative thoughts
and how I was ruining my life with those thoughts, and so on and
so on, until my head was ready to explode with all the bad juju.
The only thing that freed me from that loop was something else
I also learned that summer at the ashram, meditation.
The teaching that inside of us is a "witness" who is
not ourthoughts, not our body, but just a still, silent observer,
soothed me. I could find that perspective when I quieted down
and simply did as I was told: watched the thoughts roll by like
unimportant clouds— not clinging no matter how great or
terrible they seemed, just watching. Buddhism also teaches this,
of course, non-attachment to thoughts good or bad; in one of many
out-of-context quotes whispered sotto voce throughout the film,
"The Secret" cites Buddha as saying "All that we
are is a result of what we have thought" to back- up its
The secret, a.k.a. law of attraction (LOA), works, goes the theory,
because our bodies and thoughts are made up of the same vibrating
matter as the air, the trees, and God. According to a segment
of quantum physics, each thought has a vibration that the Universe
can somehow respond to, and each thought, especially those charged
with emotion, helps to manifest every experience, person, or object
in our lives. And, the LOA-teachers say, we can use this knowledge
to create lives we want and intend. It's supposed to be empowering.
It supposed to point out how we've been unconscious victims of
our own undirected intentions and allow us to become victims no
To some this seems laughable, like the Tooth Fairy or Ouija boards.
To others it's downright offensive—where does God fit into
this DIY existence? Fate? Karma? Destiny? Are those disposable
as paper plates? And what, of course, about genocide? Did Anne
Frank just not "align her desires with the Universe"
well enough? Were Rwandans' thoughts too focused on what they
didn't want ("Don't slaughter my family") instead of
what they did want ("Give me peace")?
Rhonda Byrne actually addresses this seemingly gaping lack ofcompassion
in a recent Newsweek article: "`The law of attraction is
that each one of us is determining the frequency that we're on
by what we're thinking and feeling,' Byrne said in a telephone
interview, in response to a question about the massacre in Rwanda.
`If we are in fear, if we're feeling in our lives that we're victims
and feeling powerless, then we are on a frequency of attracting
those things to us ... totally unconsciously, totally innocently,
totally all of those words that are so important.'"
It's difficult, when you follow this line of thinking to this
ultimately icky conclusion, to not feel sort of gross about wishing
yourself a new plasma TV. And yet. This is hard. But what. If.
It's. True? What if Darfur is getting worse because we're focusing
energy on stopping the violence instead of emitting requests for
peace? What if we do end up electing presidents we don't want
because they're the ones everyone's thinking about, as one man
says in "The Secret"? What if, nothing personal, I did
create my own cancer by being afraid of cancer? Then what?
I don't even want to ask these questions, but if we're going
to be buying into this law of attraction stuff, we must take a
legitimate look at its ugliest parts, in the same way that if
you're going to eat meat you should be willing to spend a day
at a slaughterhouse.
I'm of two minds on law of attraction. Of course, like any good
American, Horatio Alger-championing, magic-loving, wannabe-mystic
control freak, the warm fuzzy you-can-do-it-by-wishing parts of
the secret are delicious, delectable, enticing things—I
can "manifest" my dream home without working more? Cool.
I can wish myself to stay well without more self-care? Cooler.
I've experienced a taste of this before, putting lots of intentional
thoughts out into the Universe and having them come back quickly,
as surprise goodies, just like James Redfield said they would
in "The Celestine Prophecy." I've had amazing coincidences
all over the world, thinking about people minutes before running
into them. I believe in the power of positive thinking, and I
believe that once we are clear in ourselves, aligned with our
purpose, and going toward our dreams, magic can and does happen,
miracles do occur.
And I also think we are connected to each other
and God and nature more than we know, and that our minds hold
huge reserves of untapped potential. I even buy the part about
"anti-war" movements being less successful than "peace"
movements, and that the war on drugs and terror only gets us more
of what we're fighting against.
And yet. When "metaphysician" Joe Vitale says in the
film that the Universe is like "a catalog" that we can
flip through and shop, my stomach churns. When Lisa Nichols says
at the film's end that, "It's not your job to make the world
a better place," I want tosit her down for a good long chat
with Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr. And when
the weirdly out-of-it looking woman says she cured her breast
cancer in three months with affirmations and funny movies, I want
to hit the TV for all the false, dangerous hope it's transmitting.
When I had cancer (and I carefully choose the past tense though
the doctors never will, no matter healthy I am, because I want
to send my body a happy message), I made sure to lower my stress
levels, think nice thoughts, listen to an affirming CD, and ask
my friends and family to pray for me. The mind-body connection
is real to me. My thoughts may or may not affect the Universe,
but I know they affect my body; I have willed warts away, calmed
myself when fearful, visualized love pouring into me and felt
a shift. Energy is real to me too.
I'm just not so convinced that a woman peddling borrowed ideas
(and that's the generous word for how Byrne has ransacked the
work of people like Esther and Jerry Hicks, authors of "The
Law of Attraction" and other books) about wishing ourselves
fabulous is for real. If it gets people thinking more positively,
great. If it gets people clear and making strides to do good things
for themselves, even better. I'm just patently suspicious of something
that's a) so slickly marketed and obviously co-opted and b) is
supposed to be about feeling good yet doesn't mention the word
compassion or seem to take seriously the idea of harnessing this
great law (if that's what it is) to help others.
In other books on LOA, the materialism isn't quite so bald, the
hubris and lack of humility much less egregious. But no one to
my satisfaction addresses the blame-the-victim issue at the slippery
heart of this; in a culture that's already not too fond of "losers,"
do we really need another reason to disdain or pity those who
suffer because they're not "manifesting" the right reality?
In a culture that already likes to look away from systemic political
and economic oppression (bo-ring!), do we need another excuse
to walk away from it all and say, "not my problem"?
"The Secret" feels like white rice to me—stripped
of its nutrition for maximum palatability and fluffy appeal. And
I'm all for fluff, with the Entertainment Weekly subscription
to prove it. But not when it comes to something as serious as
creating genuine joy and peace. That should be sacred—done
with a combination of faith in a force that knows better than
I do and compassionate free will to make my life and the world
a better place. Manifest that, Universe.