In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss and expose the truths, lies and recent shame from “The Secret” – five years after its release.
First a quick update:
“Fame – why do some stars thrive while others meltdown?”
Watch the TV interview I gave to The Morning Show Australia about the pitfalls of fame and the motivations to become a celebrity:
“What led the people in James Ray’s warrior retreat to stay in the sweat lodge when they knew they were in danger?”
Watch the interview I gave to TruTV In Session with Vinnie Politan about self-help Guru and Law of Attraction teacher and author, James Ray, who is on trial for the reckless manslaughter of 3 people in a sweat lodge during one of his retreats.
“Dating at a price”
Read my quotes and insights in the New York Daily News about a new dating site where women set their price for men who want to date them:
Now, let’s talk about the book and movie “The Secret” – has it done more harm than good? Was it just a scam?
In 2006, Rhonda Byrne released “The Secret”, a DVD and later a book which, after being featured on Oprah topped the New York Times Bestseller list.
Its message is that your thoughts and visualizations create your reality and that by changing your thoughts and the imagery in your mind, you can change your world and, of course, become rich and wealthy.
Yes, your thoughts affect your life, your world and your outcome but they alone do not determine or create 100% of your reality.
The challenge with “The Secret’s” premise is that instead of empowering you into thinking you can change your life, it actually undermines you by trying to convince you that you are to blame for every single thing that happens in your life – that you attracted it or you created it by your thoughts or the pictures in your mind.
On December 26, 2004, The Indian Ocean Earthquake triggered tsunamis that killed over 230,000 people in fourteen countries. Rhonda Byrne argued that natural disasters strike those “on the same frequency as the event” and implied the tsunami victims could have spared themselves. Does the same principle apply to the 800 people that died from landslides in Brazil in January 2011 or the 14,000 people that died in the earthquakes and tsunami in Japan in March 2011? Did the Jews attract the Holocaust to themselves? Are they to blame for it? Did the people in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 attract their own death? Is a 2 year-old baby that starves to death in Africa to blame?
How do all of these ‘victims’ create their own reality? What are the thoughts, images and pictures that create the death of a baby in Africa? How does a child that is raped bring it upon him or herself?
Of course, large populations – cities and nations have a consciousness (the combination of thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs) but cultural consciousness which can result in crime, war, disease or the toppling of a corrupt regime (the revolution in Egypt in February 2011) is not the same as a natural disaster (flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or landslide.) Is Rhonda Byrne (and all of the teachers in The Secret) saying that the people of Japan, in March 2011, collectively had sufficient negative thoughts and pictures in their head as to cause the earth’s plates to move and break causing the sea floor to rise by over ten feet and thus causing tsunamis that would kill thousands of people, cause extreme radiation and a possible nuclear meltdown?
And what about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; whose thoughts and visualizations are to blame for that? Which people had thoughts and Vision Boards with pictures of dead birds, dolphins and fish?
And if people create every one of these disasters, then what about all of the New Age people who pray and meditate on a daily basis to raise the consciousness of the earth and to bring about peace, love and harmony? Are their thoughts and pictures weaker than those of everyone else?
The premise that we create every single moment in our life (including natural disasters) is a simple yet arrogant attempt to create a sense of security, to explain why ‘bad’ things happen, to ease our fear, chronic pain and suffering and, to satisfy our ego that we are in control at every moment.
“The Secret” though was a big hit because it promised the average person – instant wealth, health and riches; all you had to do was create a Vision Board (known as Treasure Mapping in the 1970s – clippings and pictures of the things you want in life) and voila, all of your heart’s desires would come true. According to “The Secret”, you didn’t need any qualifications, any hard work or even any real action, other than fantasizing about what you want.
This promise tapped into the desire for an instant fix, instant gratification – the get-rich-quick scheme or mentality. And the emotional excitement surrounding the possibility of being able to instantly transform your life and solve your problems in such an easy and simple manner appealed to millions of people around the world.
But five years later, The Secret is a victim of its own teachings.
This week, I gave an interview to “In Session” on TruTV to share my insights and expertise about the reasons people paid $10,000 for a “Spiritual Warrior” Retreat which resulted in the deaths of 3 people, and how so many people allowed themselves to be led in such dangerous and ultimately tragic exercises.
Interestingly, the person facing 3 counts of reckless manslaughter, the leader of that retreat, is a featured teacher in The Secret – James Arthur Ray.
One blogger, “Spirituality is No Excuse”, claims James Ray has shamed his fellow teachers of the Law of Attraction and “The Secret” when he:
1. Causes four needless deaths [another woman died in an earlier retreat by James Ray]
2. Finds himself clapped in leg-irons and being paraded before the media
3. Faces up to 39 years in jail for a triple manslaughter charge
4. Gets his bail reduced on the grounds that he’s broke and incapable of raising the cash
5. Bases his entire legal defense on the idea that it was all a ‘tragic accident’ and he is not responsible for creating his own reality using The Power of his intentions”
So, did James Ray focus his daily thoughts on being charged with the deaths of 3 people? Did he have a Vision Board with pictures of him in an orange prison uniform or sitting in a court on manslaughter charges? Did the other teachers in “The Secret” also create this with their thoughts and visions? What were their thoughts and visions that created the reality of bringing shame and exposing their teachings and “The Secret” as highly flawed?
Of course, not.
James Ray created his reality the way others before him have – ego, greed, narcissism and lust for power and control.
Ego: By arrogantly conducting specialized programs and exercises himself rather than using their respective experts; the Sweat Lodge is a Native American ritual designed for spiritual experience and not for profit – and always led by an experienced American Indian.
Greed: By charging $10,000 plus food and lodging when he could have charged less and made it available to more people.
Narcissism: By promoting himself as superior and worthy of adulation – “In Spiritual Warrior, you’ll build upon what you started in Practical Mysticism. You’ll become privy to techniques (many kept secret for dozens of generations) that I searched out in the mountains of Peru, the jungles of the Amazon (and a few other places I don’t care to recall.)”
Power & control: By using psychological techniques to gain control and authority over the attendees; testimony in the trial reveals many of the attendees felt afraid, humiliated or intimidated by James Ray. Studies also reveal that unchecked power corrupts by transforming the person into thinking the rules no longer apply to him and he can do whatever he wants: following the tragedy, the County Sheriff Steve Waugh said James Ray refused to speak with authorities and had since left the state.
Yes, “The Secret” appealed to and promoted greed, vanity and materialism. But it left out the truly significant elements necessary for real success and happiness – love, action, humility, contribution and service to others, and, pride and fulfillment gained from a sense of real achievement which is only attained by action and application – by using and applying all of your talents, skills and abilities – not just visualization.
While many people within the New Age (and New Thought) movement promote Law of Attraction and “Setting your Intention” they forget that the real intention – the motivation – is highly critical because it creates your subsequent actions and results. In other words, was James Ray’s deepest intention to help these people or to profit and elevate himself by selling and creating the hottest sweat lodge ever led by the one and only person who holds all of the answers?
On “The Secret’s” fifth birthday, James Ray does prove “The Secret” to be true on one level: some of us can actually create our own reality (not by our Vision Board) but by our actions and motivations; there is after all, a price for everything – including ego, selfishness and greed. The price for focusing on taking is so much higher than the price and rewards of focusing on giving back.
For more insights into “The Secret”, read my newsletters:
September 2010 – “How The Secret failed”
April 2007 – “Oprah and The Secret”
April 2007 – “The Secret Part 2”
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.