The Secret (book)
|Language||English (available in 44 languages)|
Beyond Words Publishing
Published in English
|26 November 2006|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback), audio cassette and CD, ebook ([Kindle])|
|Pages||198 pp (first edition, hardcover)|
|Dewey Decimal||131 22|
|LC Class||BF639 .B97 2006|
|Followed by||The Power|
The Secret is a best-selling 2006 self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne, based on the earlier film of the same name. It is based on the law of attraction and claims that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness. The book has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 46 languages, but has attracted a great deal of controversy, as well as being parodied in several TV programs.
The Secret is based on the earlier film of the same name that was released in DVD format in March 2006. The tenet of the film and book is that the universe is governed by a natural law called the law of attraction which is said to work by attracting into a person's life the experiences, situations, events, and people that "match the frequency" of the person's thoughts and feelings. Therefore, positive thinking and feeling positive are claimed to create life-changing results such as increased wealth, health, and happiness.
The book is very much influenced by Wallace Wattles' 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich, which Byrne received from her daughter during a time of personal trauma in 2004. Byrne read and synthesized several classic books and the words of modern-day teachers who spoke about ancient wisdom and the ways for people to attract what they desire into their lives. The book includes many quotes from these people.
The original version of the 2006 film The Secret, centered around Esther Hicks, an American inspirational speaker and author of the best-selling series The Law of Attraction,"translated from a group of non-physical entities called Abraham. Discovered by Rhonda Byrne during her research for the film. "Hicks describes what she is doing as tapping into "infinite intelligence". Hicks, after refusing to re-negotiate her contract with Rhonda Byrne, was edited out of the final version of the film.
After being featured in two episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the book reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list, where it remained for 146 consecutive weeks. The book has been translated into 44 languages, and has over 21 million copies in print. Thanks in big part to the appearance in the Oprah TV show, the book and film have grossed $300 million in sales, according to a January 15, 2009 article by Forbes.
In 2009, a book for teenagers called The Secret to Teen Power, written by the film's producer, Paul Harrington, was released. Byrne has also released a calendar and several follow-up books, including The Power in August 2010 and The Magic in 2012, which both also reached number 1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List.
The law of attraction
The Secret posits that the law of attraction is a natural law which determines the complete order of the universe and of our personal lives through the process of "like attracts like". The author claims that as we think and feel, a corresponding frequency is sent out into the universe that attracts back to us events and circumstances on that same frequency. For example, if you think angry thoughts and feel angry, it is claimed that you will attract back events and circumstances that cause you to feel more anger. Conversely, if you think and feel positively, you will attract back positive events and circumstances. Proponents of the law claim that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one's thoughts and feelings. For example, some people believe that using the Secret can cure cancer.
There is no scientific basis to these assertions.
The book begins by introducing and explaining the mechanisms of the law of attraction, then goes on to describe its historical applications and the great men and women in history who are claimed to have harnessed its power. The book describes the law as a magnetic power emitted through one's thoughts. The power of thoughts is likened to a transmission tower that sends out a frequency to the universe and then returns the same frequency in a physical or elemental form.
Next, a three-step creative process for manifesting dreams is introduced: Ask (visualize in the film), Believe, and Receive. This creative process is based on a quote from the Bible: "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." (Matthew 21:22)
The Secret highlights gratitude and visualization as the two most powerful processes to help manifest one's desires. It asserts that being grateful both lifts your frequency higher and affirms that you believe you will receive your desire. Visualization is said to help focus the mind to send out the clearest message to the universe. Several techniques are given for the visualization process, as well as examples of people claimed to have used it successfully to manifest their dreams.
As an example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car, having positive and thankful feelings about the car as if it were already attained and opening one's life in tangible ways for a new car to be acquired (for example, test driving the new car, or making sure no one parks in the space where the new car would arrive); the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person's life.
The following chapters describe how to use the law of attraction specifically in the areas of wealth, relationships, and health. The book provides examples and ways to use the law of attraction for each. The final chapters offer a more spiritual perspective of the law of attraction, and of how it relates to one's life and the world.
The claims made by both the book and film have been highly controversial, and have been criticized by reviewers and readers in both traditional and web-based media. The book has also been heavily criticized by former believers and practitioners, with some[who?] claiming that The Secret was conceived by the author and that the only people generating wealth and happiness from it are the author and the publishers.
Others assert The Secret offers false hope to those in true need of more conventional assistance in their lives—for example, in 2007 Barbara Ehrenreich, an author and social critic, ridiculed the book's weight control advice to "not observe" overweight people. According to the Religion Dispatches, Byrne argued that natural disasters strike those "on the same frequency as the event" and implied the 2006 tsunami victims could have spared themselves. In businesses using the DVD for employee training or morale-building, some reacted to it as "a gimmick" and "disturbing" like "being indoctrinated into a cult".
Psychotherapist and author, Thom Rutledge, created a web site (The Antidote) specifically to explain the flaws in the concepts included in The Secret. http://www.thesecretantidote.net/secretantidote/default.asp His position is one of healthy skepticism, not cynicism and he explains in detail his objections to what he considers to be dangerous about The Secret.
In 2009, Ehrenreich published Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America as a response to "positive thinking" books, like The Secret, that teach "if I just change my thoughts, I could have it all". She worried this was delusional or even dangerous because it avoided dealing with the real sources behind problems. It encouraged "victim-blaming, political complacency, and a culture-wide "flight from realism" by suggesting failure is the result of not trying "hard enough" or believing "firmly enough in the inevitability of your success". Those who were "disappointed, resentful, or downcast" were 'victims' or 'losers'. Ehrenreich advocated "not negative thinking or despair" but "realism, checking out what’s really there and figuring out how to change it".
Historian and ethicist John G. Stackhouse, Jr. also provided historical context for "The Secret," critically locating it in the tradition of American "New Thought" and "mind over matter" philosophy and popular religion in his weblog.
The Secret has been parodied in The Simpsons episode "Bart Gets a 'Z'," where Bart gets his teacher a book entitled The Answer, which is supposed to change her life after he unintentionally ruined it, by the Family Guy episode "Brian Writes a Bestseller", as well as It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Saturday Night Live. The Chaser's War on Everything, a satirical comedy news program on Australia's ABC TV network, also parodied The Secret on May 16, 2007 by testing out the ideas put forward in the book.
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- The Secret, p. ix.
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- Ehrenreich, Barbara (2009). Bright-sided : how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America (1 ed.). New York: Metropolitan Books. p. 235. ISBN 978-0-8050-8749-9. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
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- The Secret, Rhonda Byrne. Atria Books, New York. 2006 ISBN 978-1-58270-170-7