I can’t find the original essay, but the first time I posted the following, I got major flack from the New Age disciples of that major marketing event otherwise known as “The Secret.” LOL
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-=[ Narcissism as Spirituality ]=-
Sometimes the desire to be spiritual is really a dysfunctional grasping for psychological security.
“The Secret,” according to the book is “the law of attraction.” This “law” (as permanent as the law of gravity) is that our thoughts attract what they are about and bring them to reality. Think about wealth, and you will become wealthy! Think about that new car you’ve always wanted, and it will come to you! Think about your ideal weight (really dwell on that number, write it on your scale), and you will attract that reality to yourself. Think about getting a good blowjob and some raging beauty will smoke your cock! All of these (except for the last one) are real examples in the book. Author Rhonda Byrne is glad to report that since deciding her “perfect weight” is 116 pounds, she has moved to that mark, and nothing moves her from it, no matter what she does or eats.
Now here is how “the law of attraction” actually works, according to The Secret:
“Thoughts are magnetic; and thoughts have a frequency. As you think, those thoughts are sent out into the universe and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source. And that source is you.” It is here where we find the inherent contradiction of The Secret. It is all about the self, for the self, obsessed with the self. And this is what disturbs me the most about the Secret: from a moral reasoning perspective, The Secret is deplorable. It concerns itself almost entirely with a narrow range of material concerns -- houses, cars, vacations, followed by health and relationships, with the rest of humanity hardly a consideration.
Like most swindles, The Secret is based on partial truths. It takes the truth that our thoughts and feelings are powerful and inflates them to a universal (and false) scale, giving us: Our thoughts are the most powerful things on Earth. The secret takes a statement such as Thought can influence reality and magnifies it to Thoughts create reality. Not just any thoughts, but your thoughts.
Judging by its continued popularity, it’s a great justification for the cynical maxim that there’s a sucker born every minute.
Since you create your own reality, you are responsible as the Source of whatever arises in your Reality. Every thing in your experience, you created (merely using thoughts and feelings!). Many of you reading this right now may be finally relieved to understand you gave yourself cancer. You caused yourself to be born poor, raped, robbed, murdered, stricken with every illness, and overwhelmed with all kinds of trouble imaginable. The Holocaust? Just something Jews brought on themselves, as they each apparently created their own Reality. The Rape of Nanking? Bad Chinese! With their bad thoughts and feelings, simply created their own reality and thus caused the unspeakable murder of 350,000 innocent children, women, and men. Weird, the Reality people create for themselves, ain’t it?
Of course, it’s hard to exaggerate how cruel and insulting such a notion is. The impossibly sick idea that people in such situations create their own Reality is so obviously wrong, so self-evidently false to our basic intuition, that we can almost laugh it off. I mean, we could if tens of millions of people (Oprah said so!) haven’t literally oriented their lives according to these sorts of “discoveries”
The Secret takes a truth like The Self is one with the Universe, and then immediately inserts the wrong self; The Ego. The Secret confuses ego (personality) with Self (an unbounded, unlimited reality which transcends but includes all qualities). In doing so, it creates a blatant narcissism. Ego is God. Your ego, its preferences, its unresolved cravings, becomes the garments and objects in a twisted ritual.
That’s what sucks dead dog farts about The Secret: There are many levels of self, but only one which thinks, and that’s the Ego. Thinking and feeling compose the essence for everything The Secret espouses, and sadly thoughts and feelings (while important and valid) come from an extremely shallow aspect of the self. Because of this, the Secret deeply, tragically, entangles us further into suffering instead of liberating us from it. The Self is absolute freedom. The relative self, what I call the Mini Me, is delusion. The Secret is appealing to the relative self (the Mini Me ), and pretending it’s the Higher Self.
It’s magic. You cast a spell and (voila!) the Universe responds. The Secret repeatedly invokes “The Universe” and “Your thoughts, your feelings” until the two are interwoven into a fantasy that places your Ego squarely at the Center of Reality, in control of all that comes in and out of being. What do you want to do with your Divine Power? Free all sentient beings? Awaken every sister and brother from the Dream? Dissolve the source of suffering?
You want things. And girlfriends (who give good blowjobs), and boyfriends (in tune with their feelings), and a new car and a big new house.
The Secret masquerades the self (ego) as the Higher Self and as an egomaniac, I can attest to the efficacy of that marketing strategy. Conversely, I can attest also to its disastrous consequences.
Don’t get me wrong, I have long ago stopped pointing out to people the futility in attempting to grasp happiness through people, places, and things. And hey! I want things too! I want good blowjobs (and anal sex) from pretty girls, a stable home, and financial security. And no, the Ego is not the bad guy, it serves a purpose -- just as all of life (including those things the ego labels “negative”) serves a purpose. My point is that The Secret is spiritual snake oil supposedly fulfilling wishes, dreams, and desires. But whose wishes? What level of desire? What depth of dream?
The Secret takes materialism, narcissism, and other afflictions of self and fetishizes them, placing them on an altar. Rather than liberate us from the Wheel of Suffering, The Secret reinforces it. It anchors us in the shallowest level of our self (the Ego) and sanctifies its preferences, its fantasies.
Genuine spirituality is not a vending machine that spits out cars, lovers, and shiny new gadgets. It is not a wand we can wave to avoid discomfort, or acquire power. Actual awakening increases intimacy with all suffering (and bliss), everywhere, without exception. It does not remove struggle, but increases our presence and devotion to all Reality.