The Secret® Revealed
The Secret® Revealed
(Transcript of a recent message delivered by author/speaker Craig A. Smith at Heritage Evangelical Free Church in Castle Rock, Colorado. Audio of message is available at www.shepherdproject.com)
Let’s face it. Life is hard. We have too much of what we don’t want: debt, disease, disaster and despair. And too little of what we do want: time, money, happiness and hope. Our relationships are complicated, our kids are difficult, our jobs are demanding but unfulfilling, our houses are small but expensive, our computers crash, our appliances break, our bank accounts dwindle and the IRS takes what little is left. And that’s just the personal stuff.
On the global level we can add war, famine, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornados, terrorism, poverty and of course, may we never forget…global warming. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make it easier? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple technique that could radically transform our experience of life from difficult to delightful?
And wouldn’t it be great if this magical technique cost nothing more than the price of a small hard-bound book and an hour or two to read its life-changing words? Well, you’ll be happy to know just such a book is now available in stores everywhere. It’s called The Secret*.
On Thursday, February 8th, 2007. Oprah Winfrey interviewed the author of this book, an Australian woman by the name of Rhonda Byrne. Literally within hours of that broadcast, The Secret became the best-selling book in America and it’s still selling like gangbusters today.
That’s not really much of a surprise, for two reasons. First, everything that Oprah recommends becomes a best-seller. You want to know ‘the secret’ to becoming a bestselling author? Get Oprah to plug your book! But the second reason the success of this book is no surprise is that it offers literally everything for next to nothing.
So, what is the secret? Well, it basically boils down to something called the law of attraction. Like attracts like. The universe is a receiver and you and I are the transmitters. Whatever we’re broadcasting, the universe picks up and then manifests back into our lives.
If we’re thinking positive things, then the universe manifests those positive things back into our lives. If we’re thinking negative things, then the universe manifests those negative things back into our lives.
The author of The Secret puts it this way:
Everything that’s coming into your life you are attracting into your life. And it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in your mind. (p. 4)
In other words, you and I create our own reality by our thoughts:
You are the most powerful transmission tower in the Universe. Your transmission creates your life and it creates the world. (p.11)
In addition to understanding the law of attraction, there are a few additional principles you need to understand to be able to take advantage of what The Secret has to offer.
The first principle is this: the universe is responsive, but not rational. The universe doesn’t distinguish between good and bad, helpful or hurtful, positive or negative. The universe simply picks up whatever you’re broadcasting and then manifests it back into your life:
The law of attraction is a law of nature. It is impersonal and it does not see good things or bad things. It is receiving your thoughts and reflecting back to you those thoughts as your life experience. (p. 13)
In that sense, the universe is dumber than our computers. At least our computers know enough to ask us, “Hey, is that the word you meant to type? Did you maybe mean this word? Do you really want to delete that file? Are you sure you want to erase your entire hard drive?” But the universe can’t do that. It can only take your thoughts and manifest them back into your life.
Here’s what this means: If you’re thinking about having money, then you’ll have money, but if you’re thinking about how much you need money, then you’ll keep needing money. If you’re worried about losing your job, you’ll lose your job. But if you’re thinking about getting that promotion, you’ll get that promotion. If you go to the mailbox expecting to find more bills, guess what will be there? But if you go to the mailbox expecting checks, guess what will be there?
In other words, because the universe is responsive, but not rational, it’s vital that you think positively, because the universe can’t tell the difference between what you really want or need and what you’re thinking about.
The second principle that allows us to make use of the law of attraction is this: There are certain things that we can do to amplify the power of the law of attraction. One of those things is visualization. By visualizing exactly what we want and how we want it, we give the universe something concrete to manifest in our lives.
When you visualize then you materialize…if you’ve been there in the mind you’ll go there in the body. (p.83)
Another way to amplify the law of attraction is to harness the power of your feelings.
Your feelings are your greatest tool to help you create your life. (p.30)
Ask once, believe you have received, and all you have to do to receive is feel good. (p.53)
The Secret goes on to suggest that you should not only visualize exactly what you want but also get yourself to the point of feeling as though you’ve already gotten it. Apparently, if the universe receives you feeling like you’ve already gotten something, then it assumes you must already have it and thus has to manifest it in your life. (The universe is apparently pretty easy to trick).
But, how do you do that? How do you make yourself feel like you’ve already gotten something that you haven’t actually gotten?
Well, according to The Secret, there are a couple of ways. One way is to play make-believe, to pretend that you’ve already gotten what you want:
Start make-believing. Be like a child, and make-believe. Act as if you have it already. As you make-believe, you will begin to believe you have received. (p. 50)
Another way to harness the power of your feelings is to make a habit of gratitude, even for the things that you don’t have yet:
When you give thanks as though you have already received what you want, you are emitting a powerful signal to the Universe. That signal is saying that you have it already because you are feeling gratitude for it now. Each morning before you get out of bed, make it a habit to feel the feelings of gratitude in advance for the great day ahead, as though it is done. (p. 80)
Now, some of you may be asking yourself a question at this point and the question may go something like this: “Wait a minute. I thought I was the creator of my world. If I’m the creator of my world, then who am I supposed to be grateful to? Myself?”
That sounds silly enough (after all, isn’t gratitude always an outward-focused attitude?) that you may begin to suspect that maybe I’ve oversimplified or misrepresented the ideas in The Secret, but I assure you I have not. The idea that you are the creator of your own reality is absolutely central to The Secret:
Ultimately, we are the source of the Universe, and when we understand that power directly by experience, we can start to exercise our authority… (p.160)
Every beautiful thing you see, every wondrous thing you experience, is all there, for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You. (p.183)
So, if it all comes from you, who are you supposed to be grateful to? That’s a good question. More than a good question, it’s an unavoidable question. Unfortunately, it’s not a question for which The Secret has an answer.
This is one of the weaknesses that forces me say that The Secret is not true wisdom, but only what passes for wisdom these days.
But before I go any farther down that road, let me just say this: My purpose here is not to bash The Secret. My purpose is to evaluate The Secret in light of true wisdom from God’s Word. And when we shine that light on The Secret, there are several things that become clear.
First, the good things.
There are some things that The Secret gets right, though it often misunderstands either the foundations or the implications of those things. For instance, one of the key tenets of The Secret is the idea that positive thinking is more productive than negative thinking. This is true. People who think positively experience more success in life, but it’s not because the universe is manifesting their thoughts back into their lives, it’s because people who are positive are more pleasant to be around. They have more friends, they get more opportunities, they get better jobs, they do better at their jobs. Think about it: who would you rather buy an expensive sports car from, Tigger or Eyore? No question, is there? That’s not the universe at work…that’s human nature.
It’s also true that gratitude is a powerful force. Not as a shaper of reality, but as a revealer of hearts. Think about it: if you hand a child a piece of candy and instead of saying “thank you” he demands another piece of candy, what does that tell you about his heart? It tells you he’s selfish, and you don’t help someone overcome selfishness by giving in to it. Selfishness is a fire and the more you feed it, the hotter it burns. But when someone is grateful for what they have, that reveals that they’re ready for more.
Jesus said it this way:
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12)
Gratitude is powerful, not because it shapes reality but because it reveals the true state of our hearts. Because God is a genuinely loving Father, His primary interest is not pacifying us with possessions but nurturing us to maturity. And for that reason, God often withholds blessings from those who are not grateful for what they have already been given. Giving such people more would only fuel the fires of selfishness and self-centeredness.
That’s wisdom of a kind that is in very short supply in The Secret. But there are other serious weaknesses as well.
Probably the most obvious is that it doesn’t mention God. Sure, it says that we’re supposed to be grateful, but it never says who we’re supposed to be grateful to. God is never mentioned.
Actually, that’s not quite true. The Secret does mention God but in a way that’s not quite in line with what God has to say about Himself.
Here’s what God says about Himself:
“Turn to me and be saved, / all you ends of the earth; / for I am God, and there is no other.” (Isa. 45:22)
Here’s what The Secret says about God:
You are God in a physical body. You are Spirit in the flesh. You are Eternal Power expressing itself as You. You are a cosmic being. You are all power. You are all wisdom. You are all intelligence. You are perfection. You are magnificence. You are the creator, and You are creating the creation of You on this planet. (p. 164) [capitalized “You” original to The Secret]
Here’s what The Secret says about the world we live in:
The earth turns on its orbit for You. The oceans ebb and flow for You. The birds sing for You. The sun rises and it sets for You. The stars come out for You. Every beautiful thing you see, every wondrous thing you experience, is all there, for You. Take a look around. None of it can exist, without You. No matter who you thought you were, now you know the Truth of Who You Really Are. You are the master of the Universe. (p.183)
Here’s what God says:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstonewhile
the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?”
The Secret says:
…your purpose is what you say it is. Your mission is the mission you give yourself. Your life will be what you create it as, and no one will stand in judgment of it, now or ever. (p.177)
But Jesus said:
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mat. 7:2)
The Bible goes on to say that:
…man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment… (Heb. 9:27)
You can’t have it both ways. Either the Bible is wrong and The Secret is right or The Secret is wrong and the Bible is right.
I think you probably know where I stand on that issue. But I don’t think it’s because I’ve been brainwashed by the Church or because I didn’t give The Secret a fair hearing. No, it’s because the ideas in The Secret simply can’t stand up to serious scrutiny, biblical or otherwise.
Just one example should prove this point. The Secret claims that aging is optional:
You can think your way to the perfect state of health, the perfect body, the perfect weight, and eternal youth. (p. 131)
According to The Secret, this is a truth that all the great teachers in history have known. So, if all the great teachers in history have all known how to achieve eternal youth…why are they all dead? Does that seem like too nit-picky a question? The Secret not only makes claims that are unsupported by the facts, but it makes claims that are despicable to anybody with the slightest shred of moral sensibility:
Often when people first hear this part of the Secret they think of 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. (p.28) Hurricane Katrina? The people of New Orleans brought that on themselves. The
tsunami in Thailand? The people who died there brought that into being. The Holocaust? The Jews deserved it. No one else was to blame. No one else was responsible.
And if everyone is asking for whatever horror or tragedy befalls them, then what’s the point of charity? What’s the point of compassion? Can you imagine anything colder, more self-centered or less loving?
The Secret offers everything in return for almost nothing. But I think, at the end of the day, what it actually provides is nothing at the expense of nearly everything. This is not true wisdom. This is just what passes for it in a culture that’s starved for hope.
But the good news is that there is hope. There is a secret that can provide what The Secret promises but can’t deliver. Listen to what Paul, a follower of Jesus and a possessor of true wisdom had to say:
…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and
every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want…
What’s the secret?
…I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)
The real secret to happiness and joy is not the delusion that you need only discover that you are God and have the power to change circumstances to fit your every selfish whim. The real secret to happiness is learning to trust in the true God regardless of your circumstances.
What The Secret lacks in true wisdom, the Bible makes up for in abundance. It should probably also be pointed out that the Bible has been a best-seller for thousands of years…and all without an endorsement from Oprah.
* Rhonda Byrne. The Secret (New York: Atria Books, 2006)
For additional resources on using The Secret as an outreach opportunity, visit the Free Resources section at www.shepherdproject.com.