May 25, 2009

“The Secret” Authentic Spirituality? Or Spiritual Materialism?

It’s time to go a little further with an intelligent discussion about “The Secret,” Secret followers, and the claim that if you want something in life, all you have to do is manifest it and create a vision board.

After all, this website has a lot of spiritual content and is even known to challenge spiritual materialism. The Secret and its principles need to be addressed.

I’ve heard a lot of heated debates about The Secret, but Stuart Davis calling the movie/movement “spiritual narcissism” in his latest blog post pushes this debate even further. [elephant journal printed a couple snarky reports on The Secret back when ele was still a print magazine, our primary charge was that it was using good techniques for materialistic ends ~ ed.]

A few months ago I finally rented The Secret and couldn’t get through the whole movie. I was both inspired and irritated at the same time. The constant barrage of using your thoughts to manifest material goods was overly simplistic. But at the same time, it had me really, genuinely curious about the law of attraction.

As many of you know, The Secret has a huge following [Oprah even lauded it].  Law of attraction coaches and healers are everywhere these days, claiming that they too can teach you the tools that the teachers teach in the secret. I mean, all you have to do is change your thoughts. You create your own reality right? The secret says so, it must be so.

In his post, Stuart Davis uses Integral theory and his own experience to differentiate between the self, the Self and what the Secret is really teaching in terms of spiritual laws and truths. He also writes candidly & wisely about the notion of a “genuine” spiritual path, but not from a “my spiritual path is better than yours” stance.

Here is an excerpt from Stuart’s blog:

The Secret.

It’s all the rage. The book and movie have garnered the enthusiasm of millions. Everyone from Oprah to Montel is extolling Rhonda Byrne’s spiritual juggernaut. The premise of The Secret is simple; The power of attraction. Like attracts like. What we think, what we feel, acts as a magnetic signal, attracting its correlate from the Universe. The Secret says our thoughts and feelings manifest that which we desire. In fact, according to the teachers of the Secret, this works 100% of the time, for 100% of the people who use it. The Universe responds to our wishes, providing whatever we desire. This is because “we create our own reality”, and The Secret says science confirms this.

As with most things, The Secret is a Good news / Bad news scenario. First, the good news. The secret is (partly) true. Our thoughts and feelings are of consequence, and positive thinking and feeling can significantly characterize our experience of reality, even influence the way reality unfolds. The Secret cites everyone from Martin Luther King to Einstein as examples of people who knew -and employed- The Secret. Martin Luther King had a dream. Einstein said God doesn’t play dice. And so on.

The Secret uses valid (but partial) suppositions such as:

Our thoughts and feelings are powerful

and inflates them to a Kosmic (and false) scale, giving us: Our thoughts are the most powerful things on Earth.

The secret takes a statement like

Thought can influence reality

and amplifies it to “Thoughts create reality.” Not just any thoughts, but YOUR thoughts.

(By the way, are you a rape victim? I guess you created that reality with your… read the rest here.

Please read the rest of his post before you comment. I would love to hear some of you Secret believers out there challenge Stuart on his notion that the Secret is spiritual hokey pokey.

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