The Secret Behind The Secret

By now half the country has seen, read or heard about The Secret, the movie and companion book that reveals the supposed age-old secret of manifesting what we want in life. In a nutshell, it’s all about intention and visualization—identifying exactly what it is we want, focusing our intention on getting it, and visualizing having it in our life.

The Secret promises that if we focus hard enough on these things we will unfailingly manifest whatever it is that we desire. This is not new—mankind has been doing this unconsciously for 10,000 years now. For example, if you want a home to live in you 1) decide that you want one, 2) out of intention, shop around until you find one that’s right and 3) buy or rent it. There is no secret to how this is done. However, The Secret encourages us to consciously employ our powers of intention and visualization at higher, more concerted levels.

While the concepts are certainly valid, there are two major problems with the process that The Secret glosses over. First, it shows the testimonials of a dozen or so highly accomplished people who have successfully used the process to manifest what they want in life. They either say, or imply, that the process is all but foolproof—just identify, intend and visualize and you will succeed.

Well, let’s get real here folks. Not everyone gets everything they want (thankfully), not even the famous, wealthy and highly successful. Everyone has setbacks and failures—the character-building incidents that we didn’t hear one word about in The Secret. The famous, wealthy and highly successful may have a higher batting average than the average person, but this can be due to many factors, number one being ability. If you don’t have the necessary ability to manifest what it is you want, you will never manifest it no matter how much intention and visualization you employ.

So if your dream is to become a famous singer but you’ve got only a good, not great, voice all your intention and visualization will be a disappointing waste of time and energy. We each have our gifts and we need to do a realistic assessment of how truly exceptional our gift is before pursuing our dream. I fear that The Secret raised the hopes of many naïve people unrealistically high and set them up for disappointment by focusing only on intention and visualization without considering ability.

Secondly, much of the emphasis in The Secret was on manifesting material things—cars, money, etc. It never once touched upon the notion of fulfillment or contentment. The Secret’s implied message is that having the material things that you want will bring you happiness. Of course, anyone over the age of 40 who has paid attention to life will tell you that material goods don’t bring lasting happiness. There’s a reason why the old saying “The best things in life are free” is an old saying. Sadly, The Secret fuels the flames of desire, which is the largest single cause of psychological suffering in the world.

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Buddha (the greatest psychologist of all time) spoke what came to be known as The Four Noble Truths. The First Noble Truth was that there is suffering, or discontentment; the Second was that the cause of suffering is attachment (desire). The Buddha then went on to say that the way out of suffering is non-attachment. This doesn’t mean that we don’t want or need certain things but that our inner peace can be enhanced by not being attached to them. If they happen we are pleased; if they don’t we still have our inner peace—the most valuable asset of all.

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