Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Secret Was Really No Secret

I thought "The Secret" had disappeared into the mists of time, until the next manifestation of its old message - but I was wrong.
From “Bling Ring” to Oprah, “The Secret” lives on: ( from Salon this week):
In this era of class immobility, the self-help book looks less relevant than ever -- but don't count it out yet
By Daniel D'Addario

In 2006, Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book “The Secret” took the world by storm. It was utterly inescapable, selling millions of copies, spawning a movie, and earning the devotion of Oprah Winfrey, all upon the premise that persistent and focused visualization could bring the ardent follower huge rewards.

Time hasn’t been kind to “The Secret,” though; the philosophy has gone from hot new thing to object of fun. The new film “The Bling Ring,” about a group of teen criminals, treats one family’s devotion to “The Secret” as an uproarious joke.

Here's an edited version of a post of mine from 2007 on The Secret:

It's an old message. It's not a "Secret" either - at least not to those of us of a certain age. My husband provided evidence of this - he wandered off into the garage, where he stores his obscenely large collection of LPs, and came back with "The Strangest Secret" an old 10-inch LP narrated by Earl Nightingale (record sleeve, left). I'd never heard of this gentleman, but it appears that in America he was one of the the best-known motivational gurus of the 1950s.

The message contained in "The Strangest Secret" is the same as in countless other books, tapes, records, films, some from even before the 1950s, and many more since. For successive generations the message has been presented differently packaged in a variety of guises : Creative Visualisation, The Power of Positive Thinking, How to Make Friends and Influence People, Cosmic Ordering; for some astrology fans there are New Moon Wish Lists. These are just a few examples - and now there's "The Secret". A whole industry has sprung up, ostensibly advising people on how to enjoy their lives more.

The message, or "secret", from all of the above sources, can be distilled to two words "think positive!" For some of us this is sufficient, and a natural part of our makeup. Others need to be coaxed and given a boost of confidence, helped by anecdotes, examples and illustrations. Still others just need someone to "flick the switch" for them, so that a dormant natural tendency can come to the fore.

One of the most frequent criticisms of "The Secret" is that it concentrates on, and creates a materialistic mindset. There's a downside to everything. Perhaps in today's climate, materialism is the only thing strong enough to attract the attention of the number of people required to make an enterprise ..... profitable.

As I see it there's no secret, no magic, no woo-woo. It's a matter of maintaining single-mindedness, a determination to keep showing-up with your most passionate desire in focus at all times, that's the key to all "Secret"-ish endeavours. If you don't follow through, and keep on....and on...and on following through, nothing will change in the way you had in mind - trust me! It's all in the small print of this, and every other "secret".


mike said...

Well, be careful for what you wish; as is said: you just might get it! Personally, now that I'm of a "mature" age, I realize that many of the events from my past that I wanted and desired were actually not in my best interests (or I could call them learning experiences that I must have needed!). Many events that I certainly wouldn't have wished for had conclusions that were far reaching and very beneficial in hind-sight.

Over the past several years, I've read various astrologers that have expressed distress with "The Secret", as the method tends to negate the inherent patterns, aspects, and cycles of astrology, ie, distraction and potential disappointment ahead for the practitioner of "The Secret".

I do believe in a path of least resistance or events that have a natural flow to them...if I go with the flow, all is fine. The more I struggle and force pieces together, the more likely the outcome will not be satisfactory.

Visualization can be an effective tool, but the technique is best utilized for spiritual purposes or truly personal-material purposes that cannot involve manipulation of others' self-will. What's that bumper-sticker? "Visualize Whirled Peas".

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Looking back - yes, me too - some things I really would never have wanted to happen turned out, eventually, to be helpful in ways nothing else could have been.

Wishes for things such as promotion, finding a good job, visiting a certain place/country etc. could be helped along by constant focus and taking all available steps towards the desired aim - all the time -but simply thinking about the desired stuff would NOT ever do the job. that's where the Secret-ish things are silly, to my mind.

I hadn't read about astrologers' objections to The Secret - I see their point, yet wouldn't a person's wishes (types of things they'd wish for) be more or less in line with their astrology and transits anyway?

Like you, I believe that rolling with the flow is usually the best way, but in addition following pointers which come from intuitive ideas and plans - of one's own - not from any book or other source.

That bumper sticker is a new one to me --LOL!

Chomp said...

True it is an old message, summed up as: “Think positive”, and it happened to me to hear it many times before last time ...

It will be submerged by the waves of time only to re-emerge, like an old ship, like Rimbaud’s “Le bateau ivre”, only some little time after ...

And continue to float again, up and down the waves ...

“As I was floating down unconcerned Rivers/
I no longer felt myself steered by the haulers:/
Gaudy Redskins had taken them for targets/
Nailing them naked to coloured stakes.”


Comme je descendais des Fleuves impassibles,
Je ne me sentis plus guidé par les haleurs :
Des Peaux-Rouges criards les avaient pris pour cibles
Les ayant cloués nus aux poteaux de couleurs. ”

With beautiful images:

Starry Night, Van Gogh :

Chomp said...

If we follow Wikipedia, the main source of “Le bateau ivre” should be the “Ship of fools”, the medieval allegory.

The image given in the Wikipedia page is interesting: It is the “Wheel of Fortune”, related to astrological themes and topics...

This is Albrecht Dürer’s image called Luck ...

DC said...

This post reminded me of a book my stepfather recommended to me back in the seventies.
Maybe you've heard of Napoleon Hill and his book "Think and grow rich"?
...and here here
I just thought it related to you nostalgic post :)

mike (again) said...

"...yet wouldn't a person's wishes (types of things they'd wish for) be more or less in line with their astrology and transits anyway?"

Astrologically, I think of desire and wishes to be related to the placement-aspects of Venus (desire), the houses Venus rules with an added emphasis on the second house, and the eleventh house of goals and wishes, and that house's ruler placement. There's a lot of other territory in a chart.

I think the science of genetics is analogous to astrology. Genes are half of the picture and the environmental pressure is the other half that determines how those genes actually play-out in life. The natal chart indicates trends, but the nurturing or environmental feedback that individual receives will determine a lot. Rather like a person having a particular genetic predisposition toward a specific disease, but allaying that disease through diet, exercise, and medication.

A person with easy aspects often has to gain inertia to put the influences to positive use, move out of their comfort zone, and develop their own self-worth program. A person with difficult aspects may attain a resilience and achieve more in life due to the upsets and barriers they encounter; a "bitter or better" pathway.

I don't discount visualization, though. Visualization has been studied scientifically and has shown benefits in many ways: in sports to produce a victorious mentality; in medicine to increase a survival outcome; in random chance to increase a desired result. Visualization has its roots in meditation and prayer. Biofeedback is an excellent example of training the mind by visualizing a specific outcome. Biofeedback has been shown to be very beneficial in lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and reducing pain.

mike (again) said...

OK...last comment here, I promise! Pondering this during my morning shower, I think "The Secret" depends more on an expected outcome rather than the mental process to achieve that outcome. I just looked at the Wiki entry:

"...that everything one wants or needs can be satisfied by believing in an outcome, repeatedly thinking about the outcome, and maintaining positive emotional states to "attract" that outcome."

I think this is a different process from visualization, which doesn't necessarily require one to maintain "emotional states", but does require a series of mental images to achieve the result.

Twilight said...

Chomp ~ Thanks for those thoughts, and links. I hadn't encountered that poem before. I was amazed to find it was written when the poet, Rimbaud, was only 16 years old! He seems to have been something of a prodigy - lived a short life but interesting one.

I like the connection to Ship of Fools (we've discussed this before here, I seem to recall:


Connection to the image used in tarot's Wheel of Fortune is interesting also.

I suppose we shouldn't be at all surprised at the emergence, disappearance and re-emergence in different guise of this "secret" message, it has become lodged as part of our cycle of human experience.

Twilight said...

DC ~ Napoleon Hill - yes a name vaguely familiar. Now there was an author who didn't mince his words or hide the main thrust of his advice behind euphemism or altruism! :-)
"Wanna grow rich, 'course ya do - here ya go folks.....!"

Thanks for the reminder of yet another proponent of Secret-ish

Twilight said...

mike ~~ Thanks for your additional thoughts - always valued!

Agree on astrology. Visualisation, not so much - but I shall try to keep an open mind.

If a person sincerely believes that visualisation will help in some endeavour, that strong belief alone is going to be a psychological spur to keep all thoughts positive, and lead to the right actions being taken to bring forth the desired outcome. I'm still of a mind that without the right ACTIONS there'll be no result.

Visualisation might be useful in that it might cause ideas to drift out from the subconsious mind, ideas which would not have occurred to the visualiser otherwise. But following through with ACTION would still be necessary for a result. Mere thinking cannot possibly ever be enough - that's the part of the message I dislike.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem with 'The Secret' is simply that it doesn't work that way most of the time, that you wish for something and you get it. It CAN, if you work for it, if the aspects are in your chart or the karma is good and the timing right. But no, it does not work that way most of the time.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Exactly - that's it in a nutshell. :-)

Anonymous said...

astroparadise said...

A strong parallel operates between both the Law of Attraction and Astrology. The things they have in common are that the people that know the least about them are also their loudest (and often harshest) critics.

Also, there is something beyond the old "think positive" method. It is FEELING positive (and good) and believing positively. When we do this we also incorporate the powerful and emotional subconscious mind as well as the (logical and analytical) conscious mind. Repeating an affirmation that also really makes us feel good is helpful. If you don't actually believe (or at least enjoy) the affirmation you are repeating to yourself, you are wasting your time.

I agree that we also need to take action. However, it needs to be INSPIRED action. Action that makes us feel good because it is directly in line with our desire-goal.

I can see why astrology and the Law of Attraction might be at odds. Astrologers believe that the planets shape their destinies to a large extent. Law of Attraction followers believe that they create their destinies by what they focus on. In my opinion, the planetary transits have both a "low road" and a "high road", in terms of results and manifestations. If we focus intently and passionately on something and sustain that focus while incorporating good feelings about it and being open to the possibility of it manifesting, we will naturally take the "high road" that all transits offer, and the transits will help us to manifest what we desire.

Twilight said...

astroparadise ~~ Hi - thanks for your thoughts. :-)

If we were in a courtroom considering arguments for and against Secret-ish "stuff", yours would be a persuasive argument. I can't disagree with anything you've proposed. point I'd make is that our individual astrology colours the way we each see things, so there's lots of room for all opinions, those on The Secret, and all such nebulous matters, included. Those of us whose astrological bluerprint directs our minds in a certain way will always seek the most realistic approach. Your argument remains rather persuasive for such people (myself included), I should add. :-)

astroparadise said...

Opinions are like index fingers - everyone has one. (most people do anyway). Whatever one's opinion is, the truth still remains, incognito of the widely ranging opinions of the masses. Whichever astrological blueprint you happen to be directed by Twilight, it is nice to see that you manage to remain openminded :-)

Twilight said...

astraparadise ~ I think keeping an open mind is the only way to remain sane in this world. Do we really know what "truth" is, beyond the simplest of matters: "Did you go to the store today?" Yes or no - one is truth one isn't.

Beyond that, I'm with H.L. Mencken:
“We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine.”

astroparadise said...

Truth is eternal, whether we recognize it or not. The truth is the truth and always will be so, and great truths survive and reoccur throughout time, and are recognized by many. For instance, some people find astrology to be true and relevant, where other people don't. It all depends on one's level of awareness. When we recognize that astrology indeed does have some relevance, we tap into an eternal truth that is way beyond simple, and has been around for thousands of years.

The limited human conscious mind and ego may not recognize or be able to distinguish a powerful and eternal truth, however, luckily we are much more than just our rational conscious mind and accompanying ego defense system. At our soul level, we are able to recognize an eternal truth by actually PRACTICING it (astrology for instance) rather than immediately judging it with our conscious mind. By doing this we see for ourselves that (astrology and more) works and is true, and human beings with enough awareness have been doing this for thousands of years - tapping into a universal truth.

Twilight said...

astraparadise ~ What you're proposing is more or less what Will Shakespeare wrote, in a piece of fiction which contained some factual wisdom "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."