“The Secret”

I leafed through a copy of The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, just to see what all the excitement was about. What first strick me was the series of descriptions given to the many obscure contributors: “metaphysician and marketing specialist,” “visionary,” “personal empowerment advocate,” “creator of prosperity and human potential programs.”

The secret is a so-called “law of attraction,” meaning a law of the universe, complete with the quantum physics vocabulary of the What the Bleep Do We Know? book and film contributors, although much lighter in this book. This “law” means that if you have certain thoughts, then the universe will give you concomitant results. Thus the usual popular desires for fame, romance, and money only require lots of intensive wishing and obsessing until the universe gives these things to you.

Thus Jack Canfield of the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul books used this “law” to imagine himself wealthy and — sure enough — he became wealthy. He blithely tells us that originally he pasted an image of a $100,000 bill on his bedroom ceiling so that it was the first thing he would see upon awakening every morning.

There is a naive Horatio Alger/Dale Carnegie mustiness to this shameless book, but also a flippant arrogance in New Age trappings, all updated to 21st-century old-fashioned American-style covetousness and greed. For example, one of the contributors, identified as “entrepreneur and money making expert” tells us:

We can have whatever it is that we choose. I don’t care how big it is. What kind of a house do you want to live in? Do you want to be a millionaire? What kind of a business do you want to have? Do you want more success? What do you really want?

What do I really want? Well, I already have my own “secret.” I call it the “law of disengagement.” It, too, is a universal law, as far as know. It simply states that peace of mind, habits of simplicity, the company of the wise, and disengagement from the rush of society, culture, and the crowd, is the source of happiness. Maybe that is the real law of attraction. I don’t know, but it amounts to all the wealth I want.