Monday, September 2, 2013

Documentary review: The Secret

The Secret - 2006
The film The Secret came out in 2006, quickly followed by the book in February 2007. It is written by Rhonda Byrne, produced by TS Productions, and directed by Drew Heriot and Sean Byrne.

I am going to state up front that I did not like this film. It was overdone and overly dramatic, and presented no 'secret' to the world. In fact, the basic premise from the beginning is that “past leaders” (with images of cardinals, Nazis, and past American presidents) hoarded “the secret” for themselves in order to keep all the power. If you actually follow the philosophy set out in the film, you will see how impossible that scenario is (going by the rules as presented).

I found the film repetitive. They stated the same thing (positive thoughts lead to positive results) over and over again, as if for small children or village idiots, in the most basic of scenarios. Not once did the film touch on such meaty topics as the meaning behind third world starvation levels or the innocent Middle Eastern citizens who've been destroyed by the current wars and conflicts going on around them by rebels and rogue governments. Instead, they chose to focus on some pretty basic stuff.

Despite all that, the “secret” (while not really being a secret at all) is actually a fairly common sense thing known by most mystics and philosophers from the dawn of time. In a nutshell, your vehicle will go in the direction you are looking. In other words, if you focus on the negative all the time, that's where you'll end up. Conversely, if you focus on the positive, that's where you'll go.

They used a rather long list of big names, including Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup books. His sections, and those of the physicists (there were two or three) were the most interesting and useful to me. They spoke in a very factual way, making excellent similes and connections without getting into a lot of spiritual clap trap.

The cast of the show continually make the comment that, “it's that easy.” I have a question in response to that: if it is that simple, why is it so hard to do? Yes, I believe the basic principle they are touting is a real one, and have experienced it in my own life. Most of my readers probably have as well, using daily positive affirmations or prayers to bring about positive change in their lives. It does work. But it isn't a secret tool, hidden by the elite and kept from the masses.

Several people in the film, including Bob Vitale (a metaphysicist), made some statements that I found high disturbing. Some of the reviewers of the film on IMDB called it “victim blaming” and I am afraid I have to agree. Mr. Vitale says, in response to whether we've brought on cancer or poverty or rape or other negatives, “Yes you did attract the negatives.” While that may be true at a certain level, I don't know a single person who's made a decision to step into poverty and live there. I don't know a rape or cancer victim who wants or wanted anything to do with either. I find it disturbing that these well known authors and personas saying such things (Mr. Canfield, I'd like to note, did not say any such thing, and stuck to very positive, affirming, verifiable statements).

The video goes over so much ground, talking about money, relationships, family, success, finding the right career, and health, just to name a few. It always comes down to the bottom line, the Secret, though. Be happy, and the world will go your way.

Another moment in the movie which really bothered me was one where they were talking about how people will follow the Secret path for “a little while” (time undefined) and then give up because nothing has happened. At this point, they blame the people who failed, stating that they just didn't hold on long enough or didn't visualize well enough. This has the same feel to it as so-called faith healers, who spend their time telling people who don't get better that their faith or the faith of their families has failed them, not God. What I heard was that you have to believe wholly (not a bad thing) and basically forever, even if nothing happens, because if you wait months and nothing happens, then you must obviously have just been on the verge of all that you could image, but you gave up.

They don't make any differentials between good or bad desires, nor do they say how long you should expect. I realize you can't put a time limit on much of this, but with it being so incredibly open-ended, you run the risk of poor people devoting their lives to this Secret, and then waiting passively for years and getting nothing. It feels like they're suggesting people become slaves to their desires, almost, even though this is not the main point of the documentary.

There are some great points made. About half way through the film they talk about how having one bad thing happen in the morning can really ruin your whole day, and that you can spread that dis-ease to others as you move through your day. This is a very true thing. The suggestion for turning life around was to spend time with pets or a loved one, to watch a laughing baby, or even to go look up LOLCats on the internet. Changing the focus of your outlook will change the focus of your day. This is a very wonderful technique, and has the potential to make a positive change in people's lives.

Jack Canfield also talked about his vision boards, cork boards he set up years ago with images and write-ups about the things he desired in his life. He would look at those things, those desires, every day and visualize them happening. He continued to work, accept opportunities, and move forward in his life, as well. The end result was, as we all know, his becoming an incredibly popular author and speaker.

At the same time, other speakers pointed out that focusing on scarcity is a good way of bringing it to fruition. Going to the mailbox with the expectation of finding a bill is going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Going to the mailbox with a smile on and an expectation of a fun catalog or a check will change YOU, and therefore change your response to what's in the box.

Changing your focus to the positive definitely won't harm you, provided you keep your feet on the ground. The problem with The Secret is that they don't get very deeply into how to keep your feet on the ground, and spend almost the entire film explaining how to get sky high on your dreams and desires. I don't see it as a good balance.

Near the end of The Secret, Jack Canfield explains one of the rules he has for his family, a rule they repeat a lot: “If it ain't fun, don't do it.” I think that's a marvelous way to deal with life. His family enjoys several pursuits together, and in doing so, they create positivity around themselves.

To wrap up, the film has some beautiful imagery from around the world, and many inspiring stories and anecdotes. Unfortunately, it seems much more like fluff than substance. What I heard was not far off from what my Wiccan mentor taught me years ago, nor from what I heard at seminary. “Feel good” and “pay attention to the positive” are hardly the “secret” this film plays it up to be.

Check back often for book reviews, prayers, ceremonies and more. If you have questions or comments, please write to me below. I love to answer questions! You can follow the blog via Network Blogs and Google Friend Connect. If you purchase items I have linked through Amazon or the ads on my site, I receive an affiliate portion of the sale. If you find the items are useful, please purchase from my site! 

You may also be interested in:

Dream Weddings