I might actually have fallen for this whole The Secret nonsense say a decade ago when I was desperately looking for the ways to deal with the chaos my mind was dragging me in and would grasp for anything that had label self-development on. I guess one needs a certain amount of commitment, inner work and time before one gets to the level of critical thinking that allows to tell diamonds from glass. Julian Walker words it beautifully on his blog:
“In order to have critical thinking one needs healthy rational development. Educating the mind by studying actual philosophy, psychology, literature and art that grapples with the universal spiritual themes that great minds have been expressing since at least the ancient Greeks.”
His dismantling The Secret article is a delicious read in its own right: witty, logical and offering a more sober approach to the subject The Secret addresses. (Seems I am the only one who read it only recently but then again I didn’t hear much about The Secret either – it is not as a huge deal in Sweden as in the US. Sometimes there is a bonus to living at what often seems like the end of the world.)
What resonated with me most in Julian’s article was very much in tune with the recent discussion on our treeleaf Sangha Forum on reading Buddhist books versus the actual Buddhist practice :
“Spiritual practice is absolutely distinct from spiritual beliefs or ideas.
Spiritual ideas might give you a map of the territory in preparation for and in analyzing the experience of spiritual practice.
Spiritual beliefs are usually best left alone as they tend to hinder authentic inquiry which is at the heart of spiritual practice.
Spiritual practices actually require that you do the work. That you sit down and meditate. That you start a yoga practice. That you journal. That you dance your demons and shake your Buddha. That you be present to your emotions, your body, your mental patterns and learn the art of self observation, introspection and that most harrowing of skills – honest communication.
Spiritual practice requires that you turn to face your shadow. That you get real about your social conditioning, your political situation, the distinction between what you have power over and what has power over you.
Spiritual practice is inspiring, but it’s also deeply humbling. It does not tell you that you can have anything, be anything, do anything, without limit.
Sorry. That’s the kind of fantasy high the Secret promises – and the hangover is a real drag.
But real practice does give you tools and resources to deal with the inevitable disasters, disappointments and struggles that make up every human life.”