Thursday, March 1, 2007

Some Thoughts on 'The Secret'

I just watched 'The Secret' DVD and wanted to write about it without thinking about it too much so forgive me for loose associating here. My first reaction after watching it for a few minutes was that I was watching some kind of new-age infomercial and I wondered what type of big-dollar spin-offs it would generate. I guess the beginning also reminded me of the 'prosperity gospel' emphasized by many ministries like Rev. Schuller's and by Norman Vincent Peale's 'possibility thinking' books which promised an easy, sure-fire route to wealth and prosperity if one would only reach out and grab it. "Ask, and it shall be given; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matthew 7:7) No doubt faith is the foundation for any type of successful undertaking but there are also times when you can't always get what you want. A toddler in the grocery store, for example, sees a toy that attracts him or her and all the child can think about is how wonderful it would be to have that toy. It becomes so built up in that child's mind that by the end of mommy's shopping trip it erupts into, "I'm gonna make mommy get me that toy if I have to scream it out of her!" The kid screams but it doesn't work, and mommy ends up with baby tears showered all over the groceries. A half-hour later the toy is miraculously out of mind, and the toddler finds something new and just as fascinating to think about or do. Now as adults we have or should have some understanding of the concept of delayed gratification. The physical world has its ups and downs and good and bad things can and do happen to us just by chance. Also, good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good ones. "I have seen a wicked and ruthless man flourishing like a green tree in its native soil" (Psalms 37:35) The Psalmist then says "but he soon passed away and was no more; though I looked for him, he could not be found." There is also the biblical imperative which sums up our purpose here in this world, "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8) In the Gospels Jesus expands upon these ideas but he puts more of an eternal emphasis upon them, something left relatively under-discussed in the previous revelation.

So "The Secret" at about midway drops the "I wanna have this car or house so I'll pin a picture of it up on the ceiling so I can see it every time I wake up" and goes into the more mystical concepts behind the idea, that all of us are energy and that we have the infinite at our disposal if we only recognize it by thinking and feeling in a way which resonates with it. This part I really like. In my own experience, negativity brings on more of the same while hope and faith increases to the extent that it is employed in my moment by moment walk through the day. It is normal though and very human to have dark periods. We need to have bad times too because it helps us understand others when they are facing trials so that we are better able to offer them help and comfort. Like so many others, I've had major bouts with depression. Many times negative mental states are biochemical in nature and people sometimes just can't come out of the clouds by practicing positive thinking and may need to rely on appropriate medications to help them feel better. But beyond the physical limitations of the human body, it is very true that the mind has within itself the power to conceive a higher state than it finds itself in at any given moment. This can be gained through audio-guided relaxation methods for the non-God-believers among us, or through whatever spiritual practice one feels most comfortable with.

There is no guaranteed fast track system to gain success and happiness. It's not something that comes easy for most folks, anyway, and there is really no secret to 'The Secret,’ in my humble opinion. The road to understanding is often blocked by obstacles that must be moved out of the way each time they are encountered. Knowing ‘The Secret’ comes by learning from one's own and other’s successes and failures. There are times when we must claw through the dirt to get where we want to go and times when we have to fight for what we believe is right and true. It also involves finding a spiritual path that's compatible with one's particular temperament. Different problems often require different solutions and sometimes a whole arsenal of tools are needed to fix the things that go wrong in our lives and in our world. I do believe we are truly infinite, and part and parcel of God. We are also our brothers, sisters, friends, lovers and nature herself. Recognizing the ultimate inner goodness within us and in the universe is a matter of letting the Infinite do its work in us, always holding on to its activators: faith, hope and love. Words that reflect the Infinite must always be ready on our lips, their thoughts in our minds and hearts so that we learn to natually dwell upon them, always having the eyes of our souls fixated on that which is of the light so that goodness may continuously and plentifully enter into and reflect out from each of us. From this the world is helped to heal.

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