By Sankirtana Das (ACBSP)
Several months back the Times ran an ad for a DVD of the book The Secret. The Secret is newest sensation and darling of the New Agers. It’s beyond the New Age. I’m sure the Neocons are reading it behind closed doors. It’s a hot seller with the Walmart crowd. Oprah, on her show, made a big deal about it.
I had an occasion to see The Secret video last year. I can only describe it as a testimonial to materialism. The height of Me-ism. At one point on the video there’s a women standing in front of a jewelry store longingly looking at a necklace displayed in the window. The next minute she’s wearing the necklace. There’s another scene where a kid wants a bike and then you see him happily riding the bicycle. This goes on to a woman being attracted to a man and later she’s walking with him hand in hand.
The Secret views the earth as just one big Kamadhenu cow ready and eager to supply everyone’s desire, as opposed to the paradigm of The Sri Isopanishad which tells us that everything in the world is controlled and owned by the Supreme Lord and that we should only accept what we really need for ourselves and not take anything unnecessarily, knowing well to whom it belongs. There is a delicate balance in nature and we should fulfill our needs and wants with the utmost care. Native American wisdom tells us that we must take into consideration the impact of our actions on the next seven generations.
But The Secret, endorsed by the “good guys,” would have us believe that the earth can completely satisfy our every desire and that we can have a fairy tale life wherein all wishes are fulfilled (that may have been the case in the Satya-yuga). The ad in the paper reads that The Secret can give you “…unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth, everything you ever wanted.” Yes. It’s all yours!!!You have just hit the jackpot, won the lottery, beat out everyone on The Idol, been invited on Oprah, postponed death indefinitely, moved into a new mansion and made a million new close friends. (This sounds better than all the snake oil remedies the quack doctors used to sell in the wild west.)
In these times, however, is it responsible to have a mindset and live a lifestyle advocated by the Secret? This type of unrestricted consumerism is the very mentality that has put us in the precarious situation we’re in today. Is the The Secret going to stop the ice caps from melting or bring back the ozone layer? Is it going to stop people from getting blown up? Is it going to stop disease and death?
The Secret doesn’t mention that ultimately we cannot control what happens to us. We can only control our attitude and our intentions. As the ancients, to live peacefully, we must learn self control, to conquer our greed and anger, to respect all life and the environment we live in, and to offer ourselves in service to the Creator of all things.
One of the appeals of a secret is that people like to be in on something that’s exclusive. The Secret is special, and they are special and their knowing the Secret gives them a special advantage over everybody else. Of course, everybody else is thinking the same thing. Basically, the secret of The Secret is the law of attraction, when you think positive thoughts you get positive results. And when you know this ’secret’ you can have it all. And to prove that The Secret is bona fide, the narrator in the video (DVD) summons up some of the big movers in history like Jesus, Buddha, Lao-tzu, Confucius, Socrates, Shakespeare, Newton. They all knew The Secret, and that’s what made them so famous, successful and spiritual. I wonder why they didn’t mention Gengis Khan or Rocky Balboa.
Because of its popularity, I think devotees have a great opportunity to offer people an insight into the real Secret (In marketing this is called positioning - that you position your product with, or against, a product that is popular). Real knowledge is not on how to acquire material things and get a beautiful body, but how to distinguish between matter and spirit.
‘This knowledge is the king of education, the most secret of all secrets. It is the purest knowledge, and because it gives direct perception of the self by realization, it is the perfection of religion. It is everlasting and it is joyfully performed.’ Bhagavad Gita 9:2