the secret vs the sphere: in pursuit of happiness and other urban fairy tales


Ok at the risk of just adding more momentum to a trend that doesn't need any I woke up this morning needing to blog in the worst way ever and "the secret" was on my mind. Further prompted by bobbie's good words here, I felt the need to make a comment or two in light of my own life and what I have discovered which may overlap her post some (sorry bobbie it must be the fact that this "secret" is so volatile it needs lots of voices to balance out the insanity).

If you haven't heard about "the secret" consider yourself blessed, but clearly you have been hiding under a rock or living in a monastery because it seems to be inescapable. And if you have been spending blissful moments in a monastery then you have missed out on the latest "name it and claim it-possibility thinking-american dream/gnostic revolution with a juggernaught packaging campaign endorsed by Oprah. It is the Pursuit of Happiness available to the masses. Welcome to adult peer pressure.

And what about the name? Talk about a teaser. Hey it got me to pay attention enough to check out utube and find out what all the stuff was about. Everyone wants to hear a secret (which plays on the human nature aspect that I point out more down below). I have to hand it to the marketing machine for the enticement.

A few things as I see it... the secret isn't all that secret. The good parts aren't that special. The bad parts are destructive.

I don't have a problem with the think positive part of it, but the whole "master of your own universe part"...hmmm....

not so much.

I do happen to believe in thinking positive for two reasons. First, scripture teaches us that we are to focus our minds on good. (I was workin this one hard last friday because I was struggling with pesky negative self-talk). Second, because of the pithy little cliches my mother fed me early on that interestingly enough are like paraphrases of actual scripture and will never leave me...

• meet trouble as a friend (james 1:1)
• when life gives you lemons make lemonade
• count your blessings
• don't count your chickens before they hatch
• treat others the way youwould like to be treated
• don't cry over spilt milk
• birds of a feather flock together
• people in glass houses should not throw stones
• stop and smell the roses
• kill them with kindness

what a hoot, but they work. Most you will find in proverbs if you look hard enough. My mother is the picture of positive and that kind of person is just...well, fun to be around. Uplifting.

And we have all met people who for what ever reason, do the opposite of at least attempting to be positive. They are negative beyond imagination. It is an art form for them. A girl I knew in college had this. Under the pretense of christian love she would verbally pummel you with all of her daily problems. Every detail, every time, life was horrible, life was shit, give me a hug. You could feel the life being sucked right out of you. You know the person. When perceived hardship rarely crosses into actual hardship, and in an altruistic christian environment that might not call her on the carpet there is lots of attention enabling. Hey I was at fault, I was doing the hugging. But I can now spot this type of person from a mile away.

So I DO think it is a good idea to focus on all things good when one can (barring major disaster, pms, bad weather, etc ;-)


And it is a very BIG but...

I also believe in the sovereignty of god, and this other pesky little concept that most people like to ignore...


ick, not that word.

Ok let's use a different phrase... human nature.

This is where "the secret" breaks down. The assumption is that everyone is pure enough to know what to "ask of the universe". So many simple stories in literature and film depict what a falsehood this is. I won't even go into the scripture that deals with this, there is too much. Instead let's use pop culture.

Forgive the sci-fi metaphors, but's me.

Think three wishes from the Genie in the bottle (which ironically "the secret" uses as a visual icon in their media). Several versions of the genie story end in the wisher sealing their own fate with a wish that is ultimately distructive. I think of an old twilight zone episode called the man in the bottle where the main character wishes for ultimate power and becomes hitler, ultimate wealth that is taxed away and that ends with the moral of the story being content with what you have.(hmmm...more scripture could be applied...)

Another more current example is the Micheal Crighton movie, Sphere. I know I have blogged on it before so forgive the repetition. The basic story is about a team of experts sent to investigate an alien craft at the bottom of the ocean. The alien left a gift, a sphere that acts as a conduit of everyone's thoughts or "wishes" manifesting all that potential "goodness" into reality. Unknowing that they have this gift the member's of the team's subconcious run amok and one by one they die horribly at the hand's (thoughts) of each other (instead of saving the world, stopping famine, curing cancer). The survivors finally put two and two together and realize that there is no way to do pure ultimate good with this gift and humbly decide to "wish it" into non-existence (which is actually the only real flaw in the story because based on that scenario following it to the logical conclusion they all should have died, but hey, everyone prefers a happy ending-it sells more).

The point being, even the best person with the best intentions can screw this up. So if you employ the concept of "the secret" to, let's say... have your neighbor's wife (because it is what you really want and you are entitled...etc) the dominos begin to fall.

Of course "the secret" wants you to believe that there is enough "good things" to go around, that the universe wants you to have everything good...yada yada yada. The problem is that your idea of what is good for you might just come at the expense of someone else.

And what about disappointment.

Granted, "the secret" does try to frame life challenges as character building, but it seems like it is viewed(or allowed) only as a measure of hindsight, and once you are practicing "the secret" life will be hunky-dory forever, amen. Or you screwed up somehow and then it is your fault anyway.


Call me crazy but there are some simple common sense things that just don't seem so "secret" that a person can do to help move their life in a forward direction. For me it has been setting goals and then attempting to acheive them. For me if I don't have a goal...(well If you don't know where you are going you will get there every time.) And, (very important) the underlying assumption is that goal comes out of an exercise in discernment, seeking god's will, and other such checks and balances which are often hard and are part of a long spiritual journey.

Now, scripture teaches how to make good choices, but it also recognizes that sometimes/manytimes/always, we are powerless to make those choices without god. Enter jesus. Enter grace. Enter the power of prayer.

Not quite the same as "placing an order with the universe".

So as much good that may be produced from employing "the secret", because so many of its concepts originate from scripture and other common sense wisdom, there is a dark side that may cause a lot of pain and confusion. What if you don't get what you wish for? Because frankly our will and desires don't always line up with god's. Thankfully if we pay attention (to god) we are offered "realignment" through obedience which often takes sacrifice or acceptance of crushing disappointment, or sobering truth about one's self...

but ultimately leads to peace.

Because when you know that you are in line with the will of the universe (rather than the universe lining up to you)...

there is no better feeling.

And that is a happy ending.


planets by daniel


oh blair, no apologies or explanation necessary - i think the more we can address this we can help people refine the good stuff from the garbage. and the church (gasp) has been really crappy about the good stuff.

great thoughts - i'm not done yet either - i just had too many people with addictions talking about chucking recovery because it was "too negative" - argh!

Blair, this is great stuff. I came by way of bobbie. Sounds like your mama is a great lady. My mom had a lot of good ones too: slow and steady wins the race, and if you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything. I wonder what the secret folks would say about the second one: mistake? Thanks for writing this out.

I came across this site while browsing for research on adult peer pressure for a short story I am attempting to write. I guess what you think is answered and not just what you ask for. I am sick of seeing this book, just plain sick. My Aunt bought the book and I was just floored when I saw it at her house, even though I know that she is a 'universe' believer, even though I know that she believes in the 'universe' theory long before The Secret came out. I did not have to purchase this waste to know it was just a collection of books that the author read or heard of and put into laments terms. From interviews and just hearing people speak of the book word for word I could already hear the Chopra in it, the Dr. Phil, the Ruiz and many others. I am a believer of the bible. I just believe that if it is in my best interest and deserved it will happen. I believe that when I do not receive something that I want or worked for, it is ultimately for the best. I believe that the universe does not give me anything no matter how much I sit and chant, ask or beg. Finally, someone has put into words what I feel about this book. She will make tons of money and it will be a waste to those that gave it to her. I have lost interest in Oprah's 'selection' of books. Although, if I ever write a book, she is the first I will get to promote it for me.

My sister went to a baby shower a couple of weeks ago where someone spent the whole 4 hours talking about this book, according to my sister this woman was speaking of it like a cult leader speaks of his/her beliefs. That is just plain scarey. Thanks for the laments terms on how to tell people exactly what this book portrays.

I applaud you!

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This page contains a single entry by Blair published on March 15, 2007 9:39 AM.

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