Visualization theory sounds great, but
I was recently asked for the third time in as many weeks whether I had seen The Secret, a feature-length film from 2006 thats readily available on DVD. At first, I admit, I was basically clueless about this product, even though Id sat fully awake through a Saturday Night Live parody of Oprah (Maya Rudolph) hawking it back in March of this year. Memory is not my strong suit.Finally, last weekend I heard someone hold forth about The Secret, including an enigmatic bit in reference to a friend of a friend, of whom, it was said, he was manifesting a new reality. Come again mani-what-ing a new who-ity?Taking all this as a sign, I began to plow through some resources and found, among other things, the first 20 minutes of the film online through YouTube.The film and the book (of the same title), both by Rhonda Byrne, are essentially rooted in the Law of Attraction, a principle espoused by the New Thought movement, which was burgeoning around the turn of the last century. This law, so named, roughly states that thoughts make destiny, or in other words that whatever your mind dwells upon will become your reality. The idea runs that in order to have something, you have to know what you want and ask for it, behave as if its headed your way, and be open to getting it. Money, health, love, whatever: just ask, believe, and receive.In some sense The Secret is an update of Wallace Wattles 1910 book, The Science of Getting Rich, which laid forth these same principles, quite literally, for getting rich. In order to receive his own when it is ready to come to him, Wattles wrote back then, a person must be in action in a way that causes him to more than fill his present place. He must keep in mind the purpose to get rich through realization of his mental image. And he must do so, every day, all that can be done that day, taking care to do each act in a successful manner.This message of asking/believing/ receiving, at least in the first 20 minutes of The Secret, is repeated in a hundred different ways by secret teachers (philosophers and so on) with rock-bottom certitude. One of the most frequent of these talking heads, self-improvement guru Bob Proctor, intones that if you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand. It always works, he proffers, it works every time with every person.And so it goes. A man stands shirtless before a mirror, imagining himself successful, and pow! suddenly hes being ushered into a limo whilst wearing a smart new suit. You can have, do, or be anything you want.Of course its never that easy, is it? Because thoughts are tied up with emotions, and so for any of this to work, youve got to have a better outlook on life or as presenter Joe Vitale suggests, It is really important that you feel good. Which, um, may be harder than it sounds.What is this exactly? The pluck of Norman Vincent Peale? The dazzling hope of Horatio Alger? The belief in human perfectibility?In a word, sorta. But isnt it also, to some degree, the spiritualizing of a rampant lust for things outside of ourselves? And isnt it a little, well, strange to believe that by hanging up a poster of a Harley rather than, say, taking a second job, one is just going to come cruising into your driveway with your name on it?As I write this, an unreal column of smoke has ascended outside my window, and the reports of shifting winds and fires fought are now running an endless news loop. Ill get in my car in a few minutes and try and drive home through this melee of fire and bravery.With apologies to Ms. Byrne and her crew of fellow metaphysicians, I happen to know that all this loss and smoke was the result of a lightning bolt on Sunday night, and that that bolt was felled in the midst of a people hoping for a rainy and safe summer.Nope. This is one reality we didnt manifest.The Rev. Torey Lightcap is Priest-In-Charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glenwood Springs, (www.saint-barnabas.info). Rev. Lightcap and his wife Jacqueline moved to Glenwood with son Gabriel last summer after serving St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church in Conroe, Texas. They are expecting another child in August.
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