UPDATED for 2009. Oprah Winfrey aired a show titled "The Secret Behind The Secret" on Feb 6, 2008. I recommend you watch it if you can find it on the web. My SageTV system recorded it, and I watched it a few days after it originally aired.
A lot of us have been discussing the secret behind The Secret. There is in fact a lot of depth to this topic (and I might start a whole new blog on the subject).
There is also a lot of misunderstanding regarding The Secret. Some very smart people don't seem to get it. In fact, Stephen Mitchell, who I consider a very smart person, wrote that the message of The Secret is that “You can have whatever you want.” I have to believe he didn't watch the DVD or read the book if that's what he thinks The Secret says. He's got it exactly wrong. The message of The Secret is that "you can choose to feel joy and from this state you experience even more joy." In other words, when you feel joy and gratitude for what you already have inside, the outside world begins to mirror your consciousness.
Think about the woman in The Secret who healed her breast cancer. She wasn't saying, "I want to be well" or "I want this cancer to go away." She was living in a state of gratitude for the healing that had already occurred in her mind and in her heart. She already had what she wanted -- inside. Eventually (three months later), physical reality caught up with what she had been living at the level of her consciousness. Reality has no other choice!
Stephen Mitchell believes his message (which is Byron Katie's message) is opposed to The Secret. Stephen stated his message as “You can want whatever you have.” Whether he realizes it or not, the message is complimentary to and nearly the same as The Secret. In fact, it could accurately be called the prerequisite for really mastering The Secret.
The way I state the message Stephen is sharing is as follows:
- You can feel serenely positive emotions.
- You can be happy.
- You can have love and gratitude for everything in your life.
- You can love what you have inside.
When Stephen says, “You can want whatever you have," do you see how that is the same as saying that you can be happy and experience serenely positive emotions? If you want what you have, you will be happy with what you have (your life). Do you see how this fits in with the ideas expressed in this blog? How many of you reading this have glaucoma? How many of you with glaucoma want to have glaucoma? Until you want what you have, you haven't really understood The Secret. Wanting what you have is the first part of The Secret.
This is intimately related to the universal healing concept of that which we resist persists.
(By the way, there is a closely related issue of "identifying with glaucoma." Some smart people are aware that they can benefit by not identifying themselves as a diseased person or a person with glaucoma. The message I'm attempting to convey here is not at odds with that particular bit of wisdom. In another article I will clarify the subtle relationship if my readers are interested. For now I will simply say that we really do have to start by loving what is. That's the very first step. When we really love what is, we recognize that there is nothing "diseased" about it at all.)
The second part of The Secret is that we can choose to be happy. We can live in a state of joy. And from that inner state we create our reality.
Of course, we create our outer reality from any inner state we experience, but The Secret is, in part, about improving things. That outer improvement the DVD focuses on is a direct result of living in a state of joy. There is nothing else responsible for it.
Positive thinking is not the answer. Neither is wanting things to be better. Both of these ideas are total misunderstandings of The Secret, in my opinion.
The things that we have inside (in sum, our state of consciousness) are what create the life we live. What you have inside is what you will have outside (physical reality). And if you want what you have inside (i.e., you are happy) then you will also want what you have all around you -- and you will draw even more happiness to yourself. It becomes a virtual cycle (the opposite of a vicious circle) -- and that's the real secret.
One area where The Work Stephen Mitchell was referring to and The Secret differ is in the extent to which each camp believes we can control our thinking. I'll have to address this more fully in another blog post, but once again, there is no fundamental conflict. Western societies tend to believe that "I think, therefore, I am." In truth, the chatterbox function that keeps a stream of thought words flowing through our waking state consciousness is not who we are at the deepest level. The true "us" is not this stream of thought words. Stephen Mitchell and Byron Katie have it right in many ways. We are not identical with our thoughts.
As Byron Katie explains, we can disidentify with our thoughts through practices such as The Work or Serene Impulse or others. And I know from personal experience with Serene Impulse that we can achieve states where the chatterbox function of the mind that ordinarily never seems to stop becomes very settled. Thoughts do not stop completely (in my experience) but the nature of the thoughts changes completely. My experience shows that, with practice, we can achieve a settled mind where we have fewer thoughts: less anxiety, less worry, less stress, less anger, etc. In fact, I have found that many of those anxious thoughts and those angry thoughts just completely disappear! (I didn't directly control my thoughts in real time, but through practice of Serene Impulse I did do something that resulted in a change in my habitual thought patterns. So there is a subtle distinction between these two points of view that I am contrasting.)
As a side note, it is said that the average person thinks about 60,000 thoughts per day. Most are repetitive thoughts. Today's worry may be the same as yesterday's worry, for example. Our power gets diluted by those 60,000 thoughts. If we could learn to think one single thought per day, and put all our power into that one thought, we would accomplish far more in our lives than even the most successful role models we see in the world today. And we would be at peace while doing it.
You will discover that when the mind is quiet, the experience is joy. It is that simple. We can "control" what we think by developing a state of mind that has less anxious, angry, stressful thinking; and by thinking less we automatically enter into a state of serenely positive emotions. And that inner state automatically draws more happiness into our lives. This is a powerful state, and it is the foundation for manifesting intentions.
From the state of loving what is (living in gratitude), together with a more settled state of mind where we are not overwhelmed by our thoughts, the real power of The Secret emerges. This is the level from which we are truly healed. (The happiness that comes to us from living in gratitude can come in any form, including better health -- or the material stuff that is featured in The Secret DVD.)