Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Review of "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne

If you have been having some negative thoughts, then you've hit the right place; at least, according to The Secret's Rhonda Byrne. Let me be up-front about this review - I did not finish the book. I'll explain later.

I wanted to check and see what all the hub-bub was about, so I looked for it at the public library and found out there was a wait. Not surprising, since I had heard that it was all the rage lately and that it had been featured on several shows. Well, I got a copy about a week ago and it was pretty much what I thought - health and wealth gospel in quasi-religious language, except that you are the god that is making it happen.

You want a great parking spot? Just concentrate on getting a great parking spot. You want a million dollars? Just think happy thoughts about getting a million dollars. It is apparently as easy as that. Now, if doesn't work, you must be thinking something wrong, like having subconscious negative thoughts or you just don't believe it strong enough.

How does this happen? In the health & wealth gospel, God wants you to be happy and if you just believe that, he will make it so. In this version, your thoughts manipulate the universe and "attract" (Byrne's word) whatever it is you are thinking, whether it is negative or positive.

This can include natural disasters and diseases. I had to put down the book when I read that. According to the book, the hurricane Katrina and its aftermath is the result of people along the coastline all thinking negative thoughts.

When people first hear this part of the Secret they recall events in history where masses of lives were lost, and they find it incomprehensible that so many people could have attracted themselves to the event. By the law of attraction, they had to be on the same frequency as the event. It doesn't necessarily mean they thought of that exact event, but the frequency of their thoughts matched the frequency of the event. If people believe they can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they have no control over outside circumstances, those thoughts of fear, separation, and powerlessness, if persistent, can attract them to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (p. 28)
So, when a good friend lost a young child, it was his or the child's fault? All those people that suffered during these catastrophic events were just asking for it?

By the claims of this book, Yes. I had to put the book down at that point because it made me angry (more negative vibes). I just picked it up today, several days later, and decided to just read through the chapter summaries.

The book asks an important question:
You have a choice right now. Do you want to believe that it's just the luck of the draw and bad things can happen to you at any time? Do you want to believe that you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time? That you have no control over circumstances? (p. 28)
No, I don't want to believe that, but I do believe that sometimes we are at the wrong place at the wrong time. I believe that there are many things in this world that are beyond my control, that my thoughts can't control. Apparently I'm in trouble. At least I'm in good company - as far as I know, none of these proponents of the secret has lived forever.

The real question to me is, How will you respond to events and relationships that don't go your way? That is the real test of character and growth.

What also upsets me is that they characterize the New Testament as another source of this great secret. More quoting small portions of scripture that hopefully supports your position, if you just ignore the rest of it. Somehow, when they say that Jesus said "just ask and it shall be given," it did not compute to them that he was tortured and crucified in a painful death as a common criminal. This man who purportedly knew "the secret" must have had some major bad vibes at the end of his life.

Now I do believe in the power of the mind to help control emotions and thoughts, and thus behavior. I also believe that our imagination is largely untapped as a powerful part of our lives. We can focus on positive aspects and have amazing success as a result of that. There is a placebo affect as our body chemistry responds to our thoughts. But blaming Katrina on negative vibes? You might as well believe that this "life" and "reality" are just a big dream that you haven't woken up from.

At least I can feel good about knowing that if you did not like this review, it's your own fault.

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