Of course it’s wrong to call Rhonda Byrne’s film and book, both of which are called The Secret, historical.
They were published in 2006 and they represent a modern take on manifestation and law of attraction principles.
But what did The Secret really have to tell us about attracting reality, about manifestation?
Interestingly enough, The Secret has sold around 20 million copies worldwide, so people certainly thought there was something important to be gained from reading it.
Let’s go back to the beginning. The Secret was released on a DVD in March 2006. The content seems to be derived from Wallace Wattles’ 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich.
Together with ideas from other classic works on the Law of Attraction, Rhonda Byrne summarized its concepts and principles into a modern day handbook for manifestation.
It was mostly due to publicity on Oprah Winfrey’s show that the book entered the New York Times bestsellers’ list. (20 million+ sold to date.)
Cynics would say that whether Law of Attraction is a genuine concept or not, it’s certainly proved to be a goldmine for Rhonda Byrne.
But this is so cynical. Of course people want information on how to improve themselves, how to control their minds, information on how to direct their minds to generate money and abundance and prosperity and wealth and happiness.
You have to wonder why people would criticize something that can definitely help people grow and develop in life. (Because of their own cynicism, maybe?)
Let’s move on from cynicism and negativity, and see what’s in the book.
Law of Attraction Revealed
Of course as we know, the basic concept here is that our law of attraction is a natural law, a determining part of the order of the universe. Its function is to let us create reality with the power of thought, intention, emotion and action. It is NOT simply the law of “like attracts like” – that’s far too banal.
There is an element of positive thinking in the techniques described in The Secret, because clearly if you’re feeling negative and don’t believe you can manifest anything, you won’t be putting out an expectation that something will appear in your life any time soon ! (And it probably won’t.)
The Secret begins by introducing the mechanism behind law of attraction, and explains it as a magnetic power that’s transmitted through a person’s thoughts.
It’s rather a simplistic analogy, but thoughts are likened to the energy of a transmission tower sending out particular thought wave frequencies to the universe. In essence, the idea is that ask and you shall receive.
And that harks back to the Bible: “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22)
I find that The Secret really doesn’t offer enough information or explanation about Law of Attraction concepts in a way that is credible.
For a beginner who knows nothing about manifestation and the Law of Attraction, the way the process is presented in The Secret requires more faith and belief than logic.
Yet the reason most people fail to manifest what they want is because they don’t have a framework in which the process of co-creation seems believable.
I think the more information you give people about how this works, or how it might work, the more credible the process seems, and the more likely one is to be successful.
But in essence The Secret highlights visualization and gratitude as the two most powerful ways of making your desires, goals, and objectives manifest in reality.
While The Secret claims that gratitude is a method of lifting your energy to a higher frequency band, I would say that gratitude is one of the emotional fuels which drives the process.
But Rhonda and I agree on visualization: it’s a way of sending out your desires into the universe in a very clear, succinct language to which the universe is able to respond.
In the end, though, manifesting and using Law of Attraction techniques are acts of faith: this is an esoteric process, well outside the normal physical experience of the everyday world in which we live.
To believe in them requires a leap of faith which is often best based on experience.
And of course here is a paradox, for how can you get experience in manifesting reality if you don’t really believe that such a process exists?
The answer is to try at first on small things, and to build on your successes gradually so that you eventually are able to manifest more and more significant objectives.
Criticisms such as those of John G Stackhouse Jr are that The Secret contains nothing new, and that it’s merely another aspect of an American tradition called “new thought” or “mind over matter”, are irrelevant.
What matters is not whether the book can be located in a time and place in a cultural history but whether or not the techniques within it work.
It isn’t just a matter of “changing your thoughts” (positive thinking) to have it all, as another critic has suggested. Of course such an approach is dangerous because it is defeating and self-deluding.
By contrast, the problem with The Secret is not that the techniques aren’t real, but that the execution of them isn’t as easy as people would have us believe.
Worse, those who propagate the idea of manifestation by means of Law of Attraction offer criticisms of people who fail to use their techniques successfully which are completely inappropriate.
They may suggest that failure is the result of not trying hard enough, or not believing firmly enough in the inevitability of your success, or just having a frame of mind which could be summed up as that of a loser!
Awful, and it misses the point entirely.
Of course there are many things that will stop manifestation from working, and it is true that negative or self-defeating beliefs are high on the list.
What critics fail to observe is that you can’t measure an esoteric process by normal standards of physics or reality. You might as well mock devout Christians for their act of faith.
After all, the end of the day, whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right. And nowhere is that more true than in manifestation…!