by Rhonda Byrne
The Gospels, the Koran, Freemasonry, Knights of Columbanus, Opus Dei, the Charismatic Movement, Scientology, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Anthony Robbins, and Anam Cara have all been created by different degrees of shaman and entrepreneurs. They purport to help us navigate through the muddy path of life. The Secret is the brand name on the latest.
The Secret was developed by an Australian, Rhonda Byrne, who in 2004 got the idea while reading The Science of Getting Rich (the classic self help mixture of philosophy and finance by Wallace D. Wattles, first published in 1927). Byrne’s book has become a publishing phenomenon and has been high in the international bestseller lists for weeks. In Ireland it has some fanatical supporters. One very successful Race Horse trainer follows its guidelines with a reverence he never attached to his boyhood catechism. It is not just the book, it’s also a CD and DVD. In book form, The Secret is a cleverly packaged 166-page hardback, presented on faux parchment with quill-and-ink fonts and wax seals. It is a brilliant marketing concept promising unlimited happiness, love, health and wealth to those who follow its rules. Follow the rules and you might even train a Gold Cup Winner. You’ll fall in love and glide on gossamer wings. Is Rhonda Byrne a brilliant original thinker or is she simply a shrewder version of dear old Bhagwan? Well to begin with she’s a former TV producer in Australia who spent ten years working on shows like ‘The World’s Greatest Commercials’ and ‘Great Escapes’ before she was struck by the Secret lightning. What she had discovered turns out to be the very old idea that through the law of attraction you can manifest your desires. If you are attracted to money say, then you go where the money is. And it will come running to you. Obvious stuff? To empower yourself you must understand how the universal Law of Attraction works and why it is ‘the secret’ of obtaining anything you desire. According to Rhonda various exceptional people inthe past have understood this secret – Plato, Leonardo, Galileo and Einstein among them – and now dear reader it’s your turn. And this secret, what the hell is it, and why can’t we all obtain it? Well, the secret isn’t just one thing. It is scattered through various religions, philosophies and traditions over many centuries and so it’s hard for us slow learners to get a handle on it. But that’s where Rhonda comes in. She’s done all the hard work, drawing it all together in one beautiful seductive book. And she consults various contemporary “scientific” experts to illustrate how true it all is. There is a Dr Joe Vitale who holds a doctorate in Metaphysical Science. When I first saw the name I thought so that is what has happened to the brilliant drummer on countless Joe Walsh records. But I was wrong. This Dr Joe Vitale was homeless twenty years ago but is now one of the “top marketing specialists in the world” Again the message here for all of us.
The book, like any manual, accentuates the positive. If money is your objective you go to your pc and download a cheque from the Bank of the Universe. You fill it in, your name, the amount etc and put it in a prominent place where you’ll see it every day. When you look at the cheque you are encouraged to feel the feeling of having that money now, spending it and enjoying it. “The shortcut to anything you want in your life is to BE and FEEL happy now”. Be in the moment. Send out good vibes and they’ll return to you a thousandfold. That’s easy, then.
And finding the “perfect partner” is easy too. The “secret of relationships” section has this gem. A woman seeks the “perfect partner”. She makes a list of his required qualities, visualising her Adonis. Despite all this the “perfect partner” fails to materialise. Then one day she is parking her car in the middle of her rather large garage and has an epiphany that if she gets a “perfect partner” there won’t be room for him to park his car there also. So she cleans out her garage, parks tight to one side… and hey presto, soon her “perfect partner” is pulling into the parking space alongside. Note that she has a large garage to begin with. With regard to feelings it’s a bit puzzling – “your feelings tell you very quickly what you’re thinking”- Is that true. ? I would have considered that clear thought is the very last thing available when we have feelings, be they shallow or deep and especially those of an intense or contradictory nature. If they are terrifying, our instinct is to run is it not? I suppose it’s easy enough to pick holes in any advice so the odd pinch of salt might be necessary when leafing through.
A lot of the Secret’s success may simply be the result of using the word ‘secret’ in the title. A secret promises private knowledge, something unique, maybe even something dangerous. The Third Secret of Fatima, the Secret Service, Victoria’s Secret; all evoke a dimension of mystique. Even the old peroxide warbler with much wealth, Rod Stewart uses the word ‘secret’ to good effect in his crowd pleaser “Tonight’s the Night” – “The secret is about to unfold, upstairs before the night’s too old.” And the SECRET is … ?