Friday, December 28, 2007

The Secret

Okay, I don’t think I’ve ranted about the book The Secret yet. If I have, well, it’s my blog and I’ll double-rant if I want to. So, The Secret. Oprah ordained this book shortly after the DVD of the same name was released. After that it lurched to the top of the bestseller’s list and, much to my chagrin, has been the most requested book at my workplace ever since. I swear if I hear one more person waxing philosophical about the law of attraction I will throttle them right there in the aisle between Self Help and Psychology. Thank Zeus for my colleague Leeman who regularly stops by my section and reads random passages of The Secret in the voice of Christopher Walken. If not for him, I would’ve torched our stock of 100+ copies long ago.

Now, if you want to believe that we attract every person, situation and experience into our lives as some sort of karmic learning vehicle, well, be my guest. Just be sure to let me know how sexual abuse, rape and genocide fit into that paradigm. I’ve not heard a decent explanation yet. And how does one choose to bring these things to themselves? And how does one quantify that such a process is taking place? How would you really know that it was your almighty intention that drew an experience to you and not the random confluence of events?

Sigh. Maybe I’m just bitter. Maybe I wish the law of attraction really were so. If it were true I would’ve been off this stupid planet a long time ago. But I’m here, writing this blog. So...fuck The Secret. Law of attraction my ass.

tall penguin


mememe said...

hey penguin.....really i am buying that book....u know that this will be the first book i'll buy from the first salary i got today......and u gave such a bad review....hey tell me it cant be that bad when people like einstein followed that!!

Anonymous said...

hey tall... gotta disagree with your post on this one. loa is not about wishing for what you want... it's more like a mindset and it's really hard to keep yourself in that mindset all the time. you literally have to police yourself to think positively... we are so engrained to think negatively and in a fear based paradigm... the media etc. just feed on this and push us down to that level. try it for one day... you'll see just how difficult it is.


tall penguin said...

Hey Ashok,

Einstein followed the secret? Explain.


I see what you're saying. I just don't buy into the whole positive thinking idea in general. Just because we think it doesn't make it so. We are not our thoughts, neither "positive" nor "negative". Thoughts are just the manifestations of the mind doing it's mind thing.

I also find these labels of "positive" and "negative" so arbitrary. Who's to decide which is which? And in what context?

And I hear ya about the news. I don't watch the news. If I feel fear on a day to day basis, I know the rest of the world is feeling it as well. As the microcosm, so the macrocosm.

I think sometimes, that rather than trying to adopt a paradigm of more thought (as in trying to think more "positive") we need to abandon our attachment to thought altogether. I mean, if it can be conceived of in the mind, perhaps it's best to just let it pass through. The thoughts of a tree are not the tree. In the words of the Beatles, "Let it be."

tall penguin

Anonymous said...

hey again,
actually, it's even simpler than that. loa does not decide what is positive and what is negative... just as you say. it's simply WHAT you are thinking about that it notices.

so... what i meant was to think positively in a sense that you use no negative language in your thought...
avoid words like don't/won't/can't/not/etc, ie. words that are inherently negative. loa ignores the positive or negative that you put there and takes only the thought, just as you say!

i'm a rookie at this loa stuff but i do believe in it to some extent... i've used it a few times with great success. it's difficult to do all the time though... something i'm working on.


mememe said...

you know penguin(hey..whats you name yarr..penguin is good..but i prefer names..haha)...... Einstein did follow this secret ...really he did.....i know he did......but anyhow..i dint buy that book...i also dint find it worth the money it asked...i had gone today to buy it...i finally dint...partly bcoz of u also..but i think you are not fully correct when you say that also find these labels of

"positive" and "negative" so arbitrary.
I think there is a lot of difference in being a pessimist or an need to look to things in a positive way...a constructive way...and we cannot "abandon our attachment to thought"..that is simply not possible...and just saying "let it be"..wont really help....hey you know...this can be a very good discussion...haha.....i like arguing upto a certain extent..i mean till the time before ppl actually start throwing eggs n tomatoes at me!!.....hey but really...think positively..thought process effects us..a lot....hey one more thing....einstein actually in my dream told me "hooooheeeeeehoooooo....i am einstein the great e=mc2..n i found the secret in the website ..i follow that also do it..hoooooooooooooooheeeeeeeee"
hey anyways..its new so ..HAPPY NEW plans..with those twenty year u had last time..haha..i am also planning to go to some thirty something ladies' party !!.....they wont throw me out na??

tall penguin said...

If you're looking for a better read on loa, I would suggest Hick's "The Law of Attraction". For me the book "The Secret" is just slick marketing. Not much else. It's just gotten so much talk because of Oprah's backing.

Let me clarify, I'm not saying we should abandon thought, that's impossible. I'm saying we should release our attachment to our thoughts. We have become a society that has become obsessed with the outpouring of our minds. Really, at its most basic level, thought is a chemical process happening in the brain. It's a story we've created and are at the centre of. Doesn't make it real. Doesn't make it true. Doesn't make it worth spending much time with.

Of course I realize I'm the biggest hypocrite here, because my blog is compiled of the ongoing thought process of my mind. And that's my point though. One can see how fucked up it all is. How pointless the inner workings of the mind really are. They're cyclical. They're monotonous. They're never-ending.

So, what gets me about loa or any other idea aimed at adjusting your thoughts is that it's just continuing to focus more on what needs to be just let go of: thought itself. What would happen if we just let thoughts slip though our minds, rather than needing to change, analyze or adjust them in some way? What would happen if we could learn to be in the moment, without all the mind stuff occupying our energy constantly?

Believe me, I'm no expert, nor do I have any answers. Perhaps loa is a necessary part of our evolution. Perhaps it is the bridge between our obsession with thought and getting to a place of less thinking and more being. I don't know. Not sure anyone does.

tall penguin said...

Hey ashok, just to let you know I don't give out my name here for security reasons. Hope you understand. Thanks for your comments. Always great to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

totally agree with you on the marketing thing... blech.


John Conley said...

Hi Penguin,

Thanks for the entertaining post and the subsequent comments! I've spent a long time thinking about this and still have yet to come up with a fluid argument, however I will do my best.

I remember you and I have personally spoke about this. I've also given how and why we think and feel and react to situations a lot of thought.

I'm going to call this the Theory of Attraction because the jury's still out.

I'm not willing to embrace this theory. As a poet, a philosopher and an artist, I would be effectively amputating my creativity. You see, I'm a very critical thinker. My mind seeks the negative. Without my work I would feel like a two-dimensional being. A cardboard cut-out. It is my burden and I have chosen to accept and embrace it rather than fight it as I have been for so many years.

I hope that when I shuffle off this mortal coil I will be seen as a person of profound depth of understanding. I hope they say that I knew my own darkness well and communicated it to my audience. I hope they saw me as someone who vocalized my internal conflict.

This does not mean I cannot find happiness, it means that I cannot ignore the negative emotions that I will feel, in fact I must embrace them and understand them.

It does means that I need to find balance. To that extent, I'm a Catch-22. Happiness cannot be found for me without my artistic endeavour, and this endeavour, to some extent, requires my own suffering.

I am above artist.

John Conley

tall penguin said...

Hey John,

Thanks for chiming in your comments here. I can relate to your words. I too see some beauty in suffering and see its necessity for growth. Not sure that loa would dismiss suffering, but the focus on a "positive" framing of life and experiences is what I take issue with. I just think we've become a society focused on being "happy" without any real sense of what the word even means. It has become a valueless word these days, much like the word "love".

tall penguin

Leeman said...

Hey all, I'm the Leeman of Chris Walken fame and I just wanted to chime in. My problem with The Secret is pretty much what Tall Penguin laid out. It's a brilliant marketing ploy that takes a whole lot of different philosophers, new age gurus, writers and spiritual texts and edits their sayings together with commentary to justify what, in my opinion, is a fundamentally dangerous philosophy.

If you want to talk about the Law of Attraction, the Power of Prayer, the Power of Positive Thinking, or similar beliefs, I think that's fine. Where Rhonda Byrne bothers me is how she goes from these complex, theoretical notions to trying to use fuzzy science and emotional manipulation to make it a hard fact. The philosophy it boils down to is, if you have the will, you can control the universe with your mind and no-one can judge you. There is no moral context, there is no responsibility. She speaks about how love and gratitude are these powerful forces but someone can love to do horrible things to people and be really grateful for the opportunity. Just look at Albert Fish. One grateful fella.

A lot of people have claimed it works for them though so maybe I'm mistaken. From my point of view however, I think a system so solipsistic and narcissistic that it suggests you should avoid facing the suffering in the world and not look at fat people is not for me.

Zeke said...

Ahh, The Secret. This inspired one of the Chaser's better skits:

Also, nice blog tall penguin. You've got a gift for writing, and hopefully will get more of an audience now that you have been linked by PZ :-p

tall penguin said...

That was pretty funny zeke, thanks for sharing.