This secret... it vibrates?
July 6, 2006 8:57 AM   Subscribe

The Secret is the brainchild of Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne. There's a bulletin board where those in on The Secret can discuss their vibrational progress. What happens when you carry the ideas of positive thinking and the power of intentions too far? Sometimes the results are heartbreaking, other times damned creepy. You may need all three gratitude rocks to soothe your soul if you think about this stuff too much.
posted by fleetmouse (50 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I heart rubes.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 9:06 AM on July 6, 2006

I saw another post last night where a cancer patient was praising the secret for making his cancer go into remission. He said the chemotherapy "wasn't working". Well obviously, if you are getting mainstream medical care and also praying or using healing crystals and you get cured, it can't be because of the normal medical care. So next time you or a loved one has a fatal disease, why go to a normal doctor at all?

My sister in law has MS and it would have progressed slowly if she'd taken the medicine prescribed to her but nooooo... she had to take some bullshit new a ge herbal remedy she'd read about somewhere. A year later she was much worse and the doctor told her the herbs actually made her condition worse. Not that that's directly connected to The Secret but it shows the danger of this kind of magical thinking.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:07 AM on July 6, 2006

sigh ... the secret isn't having what you want ... it's wanting what you have

that's impossible for most of us, including myself

i get very tired of this kind of spiritual narcissism
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Where is the batshitinsane tag when needed?
posted by adamvasco at 9:17 AM on July 6, 2006

Added. I knew something was missing.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:21 AM on July 6, 2006

I don't deny the amazing power of the human body and the human mind and the human spirit/soul/whatevah. This came through my self-help junies network a while ago. The movie is expertly delivered (kudos to the video infrastructure folks) and slickly produced (the production team are commercial veterans - the rhythm of the whole thing is pretty expert). I find the whole movie a bit unnerving. I think what irks me is all 'the trappings' put around this abundance stuff - the idea that meditating on the results you want focuses your attention on achieving results and forwarding action and momentum - none of this is new or secret or strange. But it is wrapped around this core of 'THINK THIS - GET STUFF'. Like when the guys says he simply began getting checks and payments in the mail - he says nothing on the mechanics that brought that wealth to him.

I almost feel like the suffix should be 'and then you work your ass off.' That always gets left out of the picture - yes you do work you love - you attract the things you need and yes - You Work Your Ass Off.

And yeah the narcissism seems to infect the whole topic - and materialism - all of these wealth and millionaire books and programs... Self-help falls into the trap of challenging you to improve yourself first and then falls short of asking you to go improve the community/world around you. Become the change you want to see in the world - but you don't stop with yourself.

Plus I think people that become enchanted with this thinking get deluded about their reality being just a collection of perceptions and that the social/economic/political context around them isn't an entire dynamic operating in this world of 'wealth' and 'attraction.'

Summation: clever marketing of Nothing New wrapped in a chocolatey-warm fuzzy shell.

posted by ao4047 at 9:25 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Wow, this is pretty fucked up. I love how they dance around the fact in "creepy" post, about how there system basically breaks down when it comes to real world examples.

The "secret" is that this is just another money making ploy, like all religions its a scheme to keep some people in money and power while the rest blindly carp about how much better the world is that these few people are rich and powerful.

Nothing new here. Just packaged better.
posted by stilgar at 9:25 AM on July 6, 2006

It really is well packaged, isn't it? They used at least three coats of Da Vinci patina on the bullshit in that trailer. The scroll case is a stroke of genius.

Overall I have decided that this is for people who think astrology and conspiracy theories are too complicated, but they want to have mystical secrets too. Gosh, who would have thought that the symbol for The Secret is the letter S? I mean, what are the odds?
posted by fleetmouse at 9:33 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Is this the same as Victoria's Secret?
posted by Pastabagel at 9:43 AM on July 6, 2006

Everybody knows that avarice is the best path to enlightenment. Isn't that what Buddha taught when he said (and I paraphrase the original Sanskrit), "Git while the gittin's good,"?

Christ also spoke to the point when he sermonized that "the rich have a guaranteed home in Heaven for it is he who grabbeth that demonstrates the truest devotion to his God-given desires."

Mohammed, too, weighed in with the classic passage in the Koran about the holiness of "submitting to desires for recognition, prestige, power and wealth" in order to best bring about inner and outer peace, in Paradise and here on Earth.

Let's not forget Kreskin's immortal message about the power of magnetic insoles.

It is apparent, too, that The Secret has infiltrated the ranks of Olympic coaches, who are constantly encouraging their charges to visualize achieving their goals as a method for focusing the will. And everybody knows that Olympic athletes are all richer than scientists. ("Ah, Africa!")

Stalwart philosophies like Universal Vibration Theory and Scientology just can't hold a candle to this kind of wisdom.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 9:46 AM on July 6, 2006

Isn't that what Buddha taught when he said (and I paraphrase the original Sanskrit), "Git while the gittin's good,"?

The central message of Buddhism is not "every man for himself".
posted by Gamblor at 9:51 AM on July 6, 2006

It really is well packaged, isn't it? They used at least three coats of Da Vinci patina on the bullshit in that trailer.

I find it awesome that a religion has a trailer. I move that every philosophy should have it's own movie trailer, with the voiceover done by that Don Fontaine guy.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:53 AM on July 6, 2006

Skallas, I am no friend of religion in general but lumping them all in with this vapid turd of a pseudo-faith is like tarring all philosophers with the brush you'd rightly use on Ayn Rand.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:55 AM on July 6, 2006

Pastabagel, doesn't Scientology have a trailer they show to raw meat? Though if they need an announcer with a deep voice I think Isaac Hayes is their go-to guy.

I immediately thought of $cientology when I came across this but I don't think anyone in this operation has the absurdly bloated ego, science fiction theology writing skills or faith-monetizing ability of Elron. The DVDs and prayer rocks are a nice start - however they'll need to charge for something akin to auditing if they really want to fleece the sheep effectively.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:00 AM on July 6, 2006

I move that I should stop writing "it's" when I mean "its". Grr.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:06 AM on July 6, 2006

[batshitinsane]It all makes sense to me![/batshitinsane]
posted by gigbutt at 10:08 AM on July 6, 2006

the responses in the "damned creepy" thread are some of the most ignorant things I've ever read.
posted by pinky at 10:10 AM on July 6, 2006

These people are doing the same thing but are just much more honest about what motivates us to be religious in the first place: fear and doubt. Not some altruistic need to suddenly throw off the shackles of everday living.

Fear and doubt of what? What happens after you die? If so, then what's wrong with that? No one can conceive of what it is like to be dead, i.e. what nothingness is.

If it's fear of not making the car payment or doubt in getting a promotion to Head Powerpoint Colorist, then maybe that's why most major religions implore their faithful to cast off their worldly possessions, embrace poverty, etc, so that the only fear/doubt left relates to the afterlife.

The difference between Victoria's Terrible Secret of Space in the fpp and Jesus's teaching is that the former wants you to send your worldly possessions to them in exchange for more crap, while the latter wants you to give everything not to them but to someone else (preferably someone poor).
posted by Pastabagel at 10:14 AM on July 6, 2006

These people are doing the same thing but are just much more honest about what motivates us to be religious in the first place: fear and doubt.

I don't think the underlying questions are the issue here -- it's the answers.

"Wanting stuff badly" is considered by many if not most spiritual ideologies to be a destructive rather than constructive force.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 10:17 AM on July 6, 2006

Anyone who can read those forum threads without feeling a welter of emotions including amusement, anger, pity and deep sadness is a flat soul indeed. It's laughter of a sort but it doesn't come cheap.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:34 AM on July 6, 2006

of course, skallas, some might say that compulsive cynicism is just another way for people to deal with their fear and doubt ... but as usual in these discussions, you take the things you want to see as the thing itself and ignore any other aspects of it

just because people don't consistently follow an idea doesn't mean that the idea itself is wrong ... just because they use or misuse the concepts presented to them by people who take them seriously doesn't mean the presenters are wrong

is there an ethical, religious, moral, or philosiphical set of beliefs/opinions in the world that no one misunderstands or twists to their own self-deceiving ends? ... i don't think so ... does that invalidate all of them?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:35 AM on July 6, 2006

Come on, lets not be 100% naive here to just bash a few nutters. If anything these people are just slightly nuttier than the average. For that I doubt they need to be mocked from the "intellectuals" as well as the "holy rollers."
posted by skallas at 1:23 PM EST on July 6 [+fave] [!]

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. Whoa. Let's focus on christianity for a minute.

Don't confuse the edicts of religious authorities with what the New Testament actually says. It doesn't say to be a monk, but it does suggest loving your neighbor and avoiding the trappings of materialism. Buying a car because you need a car is not materialistic. Buying a car you can't afford because of status or keeping up with the Joneses or whatever is materialistic.

Of course people pray for that stuff, but that's precisely because they've been misled about christianity, and it's why Christianity will appear to fail them in the end. Because at the end of their life, they'll be asking God "why me" instead of having embraced the inevitability of death and having spent years contemplating its meaning, and therefore looking forward to having the mystery finally solved.

Of course this can be stretched to far - to the people who can't wait to shuffle off this mortal coil - but you get the picture. Christianity is supposed to be a contemplative personal experience, not something you go on my TV in lousy makeup and and yell at me about.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2006

One of the things that's interesting about cults is that they are embryonic potential religions. And yes, they have much in common with their older siblings so if you want to expand this into an attack on them, by all means, go ahead.

But not all meals are equal just because they are meals, and there's a difference between eating meat and 2 veg and being a coprophage.

To put it bluntly, there's a measure of wisdom in what Buddha, Jesus and Lao Tzu had to say that one doesn't find in this travesty of platitudes. There is an order of rank that one can't help but perceive.

When I read the post about the guy trying to positive-think his dog back to life and then lashing out at himself and The Secret... my god, it doesn't come much rawer than that, does it? That's the problem of religion and the human condition all rolled into one terrifying wail of pain.

I saw that and asked myself, "can such things be?" And I just had to share. Sorry if you think it's only schadenfreude at work here, skallas, because it's also a sense of amazement and an odd sort of self recognition. Haven't we all wished desperately for the power of mind over matter and even believed it could happen at one time or another?

While I'm making wheedling excuses for this post, let me also justify it by stating that forewarned is forearmed - one of the posts on that forum is a lady saying that no one comes to her house without being made to watch The Secret movie and also What The Bleep Do We Know (which is a whole other kettle of fish and has probably been posted about here before).
posted by fleetmouse at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2006

Oh brother. This is a celebration of ToddlerMindtm. They've even got a link to a matching game, just like the ones my son plays on the Noggin website.
posted by maryh at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2006

But it surely cannot be funny because its full of "crazy beliefs" as most people have what would rightly be called "crazy beliefs."

i don't think it's funny at all, any more than julia child would consider a big mac funny ... i think it's a gross simplification and distortion of an ancient idea; that people can be in tune with the world around them to the point that they are happy and fulfilled ... i even believe this ancient idea is possible ... however, i don't believe that it's done by "willing" the world around you to change so it's in tune with you, but the opposite ... becoming in tune with your surroundings to the point where not only can you accept things as they are, but work with them

many have attached a supernatural belief system to this, but not all ... in fact, i'm not even sure that you can accuse "the secret" people of doing so ... they're not praying, they're "visualizing" and "manifesting" ... the problem being is there's a neglect of "seeing" and "doing" as they attempt this and it's being considered on a shallow level

a person who goes all out and follows this program would probably see some positive results, but much of that would be from psychological and social factors, not some kind of mumbo-jumbo "i willed it to happen" ... for example, people who feel good and confident about themselves and what they're trying to do are more likely to succeed than those who don't

someone getting money for telling people this is sort of depressing ...
posted by pyramid termite at 11:07 AM on July 6, 2006

You're honestly telling me that people don't pray for that promotion or that car payment, especially when the shit hits the fan and then attribute that high interest payday loan to the supernatural forces in their lives when they get it?

Of course they do. And we call that "superstition".

What did it say in the satrical voice-over intro in Lina Wertmuller's film Seven Beauties? "The ones who think Christ is Santa Claus as a young man"?
posted by jokeefe at 11:09 AM on July 6, 2006

I beat the matching game in 33 tries. Here's my secret fortune:

33. Here's the question I would ask you to consider; do you treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you? -- James Ray
posted by arcticwoman at 11:13 AM on July 6, 2006

arcticwoman, that's an astonishingly infantile perversion of the golden rule they've served up as a puzzle reward.

I'm going to post a couple of verses from the Tao Te Ching now.


Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.

What do you mean by "Accept disgrace willingly"?
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain.
This is called "accepting disgrace willingly."

What do you mean by "Accept misfortune as the human condition" ?
Misfortune comes from having a body.
Without a body, how could there be misfortune ?

Surrender yourself humbly; then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.


Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind rest at peace.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.
Returning to the source is stillness, which is the way of nature.
The way of nature is unchanging.
Knowing constancy is insight.
Not knowing constancy leads to disaster.
Knowing constancy, the mind is open.
With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
Being at one with the Tao is eternal.
And though the body dies, the Tao will never pass away.

posted by fleetmouse at 11:19 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

skallas: Lay practicioners do expect some kind of compensation for their faith and if they thought they weren't getting it they would surely switch faiths faster than you could sell "Poor Dad, Rich Dad" to well-off middle class couples

Not sure what's meant by that, but while the first part is true, the second part -- counter-intuitively -- does not follow. Not empirically.

What more typically happens when people do not get their "compensation" is that they pray harder.

I think what's unclear here is the concept of "compensation." In your example I think (and in my responses I know) what's meant is some kind of identifiable reward -- something related to the stated reasons you're doing it. If you pray for a car and you don't get it, then you don't get your 'compensation.' But people are seldom really honest with themselves about what they're looking for from religion, from prayer.

What they're really looking for (IMHO, of course) is investment in a less tangible way. And in a real sense, they get more of that if they don't get rewarded all the time. It's basic intermittend-reinforcement.
posted by lodurr at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2006

Oh my goodness, they are literally ready to believe in anything, even Structured Water:

A geometrically perfect water with the "Message" your body is waiting to receive.@Dr. Emoto's Indigo Water contains eight ounces of highly charged hexagonally structured concentrate . By mixing one ounce of concentrate with one gallon of distilled water, you are creating eight gallons of structured water from this 8 ounce Indigo water. This is about a one month supply of structured water.

(they're not selling this themselves - one of the users linked to this site on the boards)
posted by fleetmouse at 11:57 AM on July 6, 2006

Dr. Emoto's Indigo Water contains eight ounces of highly charged hexagonally structured concentrate

posted by Pastabagel at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2006

This may be slightly off-topic, but a health supplement importers that I used to work for had coasters that had magnets in them that were arranged in a specific pattern. What you did was put a glass of liquid on it and the magnets would rearrange/charge the molecules of water so as to be more beneficial to the body.
Totally ignoring the fact that water can't hold a magnetic charge. In short: people need to buy bullshit detectors! I'm still trying to think of a maketing scheme for that.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:06 PM on July 6, 2006

Good grief. I dunno about "highly charged", but when I think about "hexagonally-structured concentrate", this is what comes to mind. After all, a little bit of sweetness just might convince you that the water's somehow better than normal.
posted by wanderingmind at 1:06 PM on July 6, 2006

No no no no no. Not benzene, not glucose. The Indigo Water FAQ explains all:

We utilize ceramic oscillators, sacred geometry, inert gases, proprietary minerals and frequencies delivered through Scalarwave technology.

Oh, well okay, then.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:13 PM on July 6, 2006

The Secret, along with Scientology and the movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? is a product of what I'd call pop spirituality: High production values, lots and lots of commodities to sell and simple belief systems promising to effortlessly lead to spiritual bliss and financial affluence.

I like that concept. What are other examples of this?
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 1:17 PM on July 6, 2006

Totally ignoring the fact that water can't hold a magnetic charge.

Yes but it can hold vibrations, dude.

It's very similar to the idea of homeopathy - the water takes on the groovy vibes of whatever you dissolve in it until you don't even need trace amounts of the solute anymore.

How you can then consume the water without it taking on the groovy vibes of your digestive system is never explained to my satisfaction.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:19 PM on July 6, 2006

And also why is taking the most minute amounts of the solute supposed to have a better effect than taking, like, lots of it?
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 1:22 PM on July 6, 2006

What the bleep do we know is an interesting picture in a lot of ways. I was fascinated by it, at a meta level. You'd be sitting there watching all these eminent personalities opine (without providing any basis for their opinions, mind) about something to do with the relationship of spirituality to actual biology or physics.

And then you'd get Ramtha pontificating about male orgasms. And doing that creepy chortly thing that she/he/it does.

I thought: "Wow. This is fucking weird."
posted by lodurr at 1:23 PM on July 6, 2006

And also why is taking the most minute amounts of the solute supposed to have a better effect than taking, like, lots of it?

I'm assuming the resulting tiny bottles of product save on warehousing costs for the manufacturers.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:25 PM on July 6, 2006

And also why is taking the most minute amounts of the solute supposed to have a better effect than taking, like, lots of it?

Dude, get with the program: It's the intuitive principle that like cures like. So, like, you take lead in small doses to cure lead poisoning. Sheez. Any idiot knows that.

(...waits for someone to bite on the setup...)
posted by lodurr at 1:25 PM on July 6, 2006

Yea, I should see that bleep movie. I've never heard this ramtha chortle. Fuck me if I'm going to pay money for it though - maybe it's floating around on Emule.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:28 PM on July 6, 2006

Dude, you should totally know that the groovy vibrations of the water mesh with the groovy vibrations of your digestive system, increasing said grooves exponentially. Drink enough of it and it's like you've got a groovy rave in your gut, but without all the sweaty kids.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:46 PM on July 6, 2006

A rave, eh? I better eat me some glow sticks.
posted by fleetmouse at 1:50 PM on July 6, 2006

New Rule For Metafilter:

NEVER EVER NEVER post a thread about a dog dying unless:

A) Dog magically comes back to life (and not in the bad Stephen King Pet Cemetery way).

B) Owner, preferably a small child, learns a vital lesson about life and said story ends with finding a new stray frolicking puppy on the way home from the vet.
posted by tkchrist at 2:32 PM on July 6, 2006

You either have to WANT the dog to come back to life (in a vibratory way), or the child has to send out the proper good vibes to find the dog. Listening to the Beach Boys may help.*

*YMMV - by 'may help', I mean you could pick up a stray dog, or a surfer girl. If it actually is a surfer girl, then, dude, your vibes are right ON, man! woot!
posted by Zack_Replica at 4:50 PM on July 6, 2006

Dudes, quit dissing the good vibes, okay? Not too many roads to bliss can be had for a twenty and a couple of double A batteries. (I'd leave the dead dog out of it, though. Unless you're like into it, man. It's your happy place, not mine.)
posted by maryh at 5:10 PM on July 6, 2006

I haven't read the secret forums, but I have seen the entire film. It is relentlessly positive and I just can't see anything wrong with that. They don't say you can fly or shoot laser beams out of your eyes. They do say that you can make a difference in your own life by making a concious effort.

I did not hear anything that didn't make sense (except for the check guy - yes ao4047, a lot more mention of the effort it really takes for this big things to happen would have been good.) Is the actual secret a secret? No. It is most of the same things that are in most religions out there.

I don't judge Christianity by just looking at Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson and I don't judge Islam by looking at the evening news, etc. I don't think that the secret's forum posters and the secret's store should condemn the basic principals behind it.

Are these folks monetizing a belief system? Sure thing. There are a lot of Christian bookstores out there as well, doesn't make them evil or venal. Am I buying any stones? No. I'm Catholic, but don't own my own personal Jesus, either.

You can live a full and productive life without seeing this movie. If you have the $5, some time on your hands and are interested in seeing a really positive message, give it a shot.

@skallas: You really said all the things I wanted to, but I spent a lot of time typing this in my head, so I hope you don't mind me repeating some of your thoughts.

@fleetmouse: the movie has two views on the disease thing. One totally without medicine and one that says if you're gonna die, see a doctor. Also, I can't tell if you actually saw the movie or not.
posted by sciatica at 5:48 PM on July 6, 2006 [2 favorites]

Eddie McG, James P and all at the Nine Network say thanks for promoting the show on Metafilter.
posted by sconbie at 6:20 PM on July 6, 2006

NEVER EVER NEVER post a thread about a dog dying

"Okay, I want a goddamn concerted effort to come out of a thread that isn't a fucking up-tempo thread everytime I do a goddamn DEATH dedication! It's the last goddamn time, I want SOMEBODY to use his fuckin' brain, to not come out of a goddamn thread that is, uh, that, that's up-tempo and I gotta talk about a fuckin' dog dying!!

"Boy, this is fuckin' PONDEROUS, man. Ponderous, fuckin' PONDEROUS."

What are other examples of this?

Celestine Prophecy, the people who channel particular spirits (Ramtha is one of many), Castenada in his later years...just a few that come to mind offhand..
posted by First Post at 6:46 PM on July 6, 2006

You either have to WANT the dog to come back to life

the real problem is the dog didn't watch the movie and didn't know the secret
posted by pyramid termite at 8:33 PM on July 6, 2006

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