3.07.2008

The Dark Side Of "The Secret"

Having once been a follower of the New Thought/New Age movement years ago, I've wisened up since then and realized some, if not much, of what these "religious" practices preach is fluff. At their very worst, they are dark and harmful in that they deny the reality that we all affect one another.

The folks behind "The Secret", trying to convince their readers through (at times) deceptive marketing that they and they alone have discovered something magical, and for only $21.95, you can access it too, seem to have an agenda. The agenda, as I see it, is to continue this "blame the victim" mentality, which does nothing to enact real change "out there" but instead, focuses every problem a person experiences as being "within"--those little thoughts, often unnoticed, that run around our brain. The basic premise is that (repeated) thought produces every single element of reality we experience. Something tragic happen to you? It must have been because some part of you wanted it or thought it. Interestingly enough, I haven't seen these folks address the fact that many people think quite often about winning the lottery, but most never do. And yet, a child can be brutally attacked in Darfur and the authors attribute it to the child's thought process. (Yes, I read in a publication of The Nation from last year that Bob Proctor, the man behind "The Secret" said this unbelievably ugly, callous remark during an interview on the radio.)

While I believe the power of thought and intention are very powerful, we must, we absolutely must realize that shit happens, many times beyond our control. Our thought is not the only one swirling around in the cosmos. To add to the cosmic pool, we have the thoughts and intentions of everyone else, some of whom have the intention to harm, to abuse, to manipulate and control others. One look at "The System" and one can see that writing all over the wall.

Oprah joined the bandwagon, promoting the book, claiming it was her intentions and thoughts that created her career. Oh really? It couldn't have been the other people who paved the way for women and blacks. It couldn't have been the people who took her hand, including the likes of Roger Ebert and Quincy Jones, and not only encouraged her but provided her opportunities. After hearing Oprah speak about the power of thoughts and intentions, I was a bit surprised to hear her proclaim that, until she was well into her 40's, and obviously very successful and wealthy in a business and financial sense, she felt unworthy of her success.

Wait a minute. Did I hear her correctly? If she carried the mindset that she was unworthy of success and financial wealth, how in the world did she manage to create just that? Aren't thoughts and intention everything?

I posed that question to someone in my life at the time who was not only studying New Thought teachings, but was teaching and thus charging others for the information. She had been telling me I was not financially successful because of my thoughts, because I didn't feel worthy of wealth. So I asked her "How come Oprah made it and not me, even though we both have had the same mindset?" It threw her for a loop. Rather than address it head on, she told me "We aren't to compare our lives to others. We don't know what Oprah's path and real intentions are." Huh? Oh, but the woman who was raped and was told, by Oprah herself, that some part of her must have wanted the experience, and the child in Darfur who witnesses violence most of us can't even fathom experience such ugliness because of their thoughts and intentions? Is Oprah somehow excused? Some exception to the rule?

I was ignored after that conversation. All attempts to have a real dialogue with this person went nowhere. In fact, in a brilliant move, as I've seen done by such head-in-the-cloud types who are challenged, the finger was pointed at me and I was accused of "rocking her boat and everything she believed in". In short, I was being too damn real. At the time I was apologetic. Today though I would have said "get over it."

I could take these folks seriously if they would stop engaging in the "blame the victim" and own up to the realities I've addressed. Life nor the cosmos aren't so black and white. They're full of gray, often messy chaos. But they don't seem interested in really helping people who are true victims. Instead they seem content to believe thought can change an entire planet, or at least a life, even in the midst of policies and laws created to oppress, even in the midst of a war-torn, impoverished community or nation. I'd like to see them express this to the little child in Iraq who is now an orphan and desires a life in their country without war and violence. I'd like to see them express this and then wait around with that child until the "desired" results manifest. I have a strong hunch they would be waiting a long time, when what they could do to really produce results, rather than say "think, think, think of what you want" would be to get the child out of the country and into a stable home. But it is doubtful that would be the road to take, for to do so would be to admit that, sometimes, often, perhaps always, we must rely on others and their intentions and thoughts to help move us along our journey, towards the sweet bliss of our desires.

No one's an island. We're all in this together. And besides, what good could ever come out of telling a victim of rape, war, famine that it was their intention that drew the experience to them. I can't think of anything positive. Can you?

2 comments:

tkn said...

I've wanted to see The Secret, but I'm not so sure after reading your post. I believe intention is a very powerful thing in shaping our lives, but I can't deny that there are forces greater than any individual. Institutions, perhaps, and of course, some individuals with way too much power in this dominator culture aka capitalism/corporatism that has taken over the world.

Your point about the child in Darfur is a good one and needs to be addressed. Clearly, that child is powerless over the circumstances of their life. As I see it, these realities on the ground are created by tyrants/overlords/people in high places living in luxury. And criminals must be held accountable.

How do we do that? Through collective intent. If we supported and energized the International Criminal Court then not only would the perpetrators of genocide in Sudan be stopped and prosecuted, so would our very own Bush and Cheney. Small wonder that they opposed the ICC.

Collective intent for peace and justice is a hard thing to achieve but its been done before and it can be done again. That is my hope.

Nina. Or is it Norman? said...

I'm still going to see it. Just very bothered by the belief that everything that happens to us is the result of our inner dialogue. They don't believe there are victims. Ever. Completely ridiculous.