The Nearest Book
April 9, 2008
This is a Book Tag from Loni’s Argyle Socks:
1. Pick up the nearest book (at least 123 pages).
2. Turn to page 123.
3. Find the 5th sentence
4. Post the 5th sentence on your blog.
5. Tag 5 people. (Like Loni, consider yourself tagged, if you feel like it.)
Nearest Book: The Varieties of Religious Experience (Which I am currently reading, and loving, BTW)
5th sentence of the 123rd page:
“The adequacy of their message to the mental needs of a large fraction of mankind is what gave force to those earlier gospels.”
Alone and out of context, that sentence isn’t anything of particular interest. In fact, I haven’t even gotten to the 123rd page of that book yet. However, after I went to find the particular sentence this meme required, I started to read some text from the previous page just to see what the context of that sentence was. On the top of page 122, I read this passage:
“This system is wholly and exclusively compacted of optimism: “Pessimism leads to weakness. Optimism leads to power.” “Thoughts are things,” as one of the most vigorous mind-cure writers prints in bold type at the bottom of each of his pages; and if your thoughts are of health, youth, vigor, and success, before you know it these things will also be your outward portion. No one can fail of the regenerative influence of optimistic thinking, pertinaciously pursued. Every man owns indefeasibly this inlet to the divine. Fear, on the contrary, and all the contracted and egoistic modes of thought, are inlets to destruction. Most mind-curers here bring in a doctrine that thoughts are “forces,” and that, by virtue of a law that like attracts like, one man’s thoughts draw to themselves as allies all the thoughts of the same character that exist the world over. Thus one gets, by one’s thinking, reinforcements from elsewhere for the realization of one’s desires…”
I was shocked when I read this almost perfect description of people who follow the ideals from the dangerous and ridiculous self-help book, “The Secret”. Now while I think that positive thinking is a generally a great idea, and that pessimism can lead to misery, “The Secret” takes the power of our thoughts to extreme levels. It teaches that if we think about something, it will happen. Literally. For instance, let’s say you wanted a million dollars. Supposedly, if you believe it enough, you’ll magically be given a million dollars by “the universe.” Conversely, if you think negative thoughts, you are “asking” for negative things to happen to you.
It says it’s happens because of “the law of attraction.” The law of attraction is stated in the DVD as: “EVERYTHING that is coming into your life, you are attracting into your life – and it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in your mind – it’s what you’re thinking.” “The Secret” also says that our thoughts are literally magnetic waves that control the universe. It states that we can bring in money and wealth, fulfilling love lives, and health (even cure cancer) simply by imagining, believing in and feeling good about the things we want.
Here’s a few more quotes from the DVD and the book:
“Everything that surrounds you right now in your life, including the things you’re complaining about, you’ve attracted. Now I know at first blush that’s going to be something that you hate to hear. You’re going to immediately say, “I didn’t attract the car accident. I didn’t attract this particular client who gives me a hard time. I didn’t particularly attract the debt.” And I’m here to be a little bit in your face and to say, yes you did attract it.”
“Since I learned The Secret and started applying it to my life, my life has truly become magical – a life everyone dreams of. … I live in a four-and-a-half million-dollar mansion. I have a wife to die for. I get to vacation in all the fabulous spots of the world. … And all of this happens and continues to happen all because of knowing how to apply The Secret.”
“The most common thought that people hold, and I held it too, is that food was responsible for my weight gain. That is a belief that does not serve you, and in my mind now it is complete balderdash! Food is not responsible for putting on weight. It is your thought that food is responsible for putting on weight that actually has food put on weight. Remember, thoughts are primary cause of everything, and the rest is effects from those thoughts. Think perfect thoughts and the result must be perfect weight.”
“The anti-war movement is creating more war, because we are focusing on what we don’t want. Instead we should be pro-peace.”
And finally a quote from the author of the Secret, Rhonda Byrne, regarding the law of attraction and tragedy:
“In a large-scale tragedy, like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, etc., we see that the law of attraction responds to people being at the wrong place at the wrong time because their dominant thoughts were on the same frequency of such events. Now, this doesn’t mean that they thought of the same exact event, but if their dominant thoughts and feelings were in alignment with the energy of fear, separation, powerlessness and having no control over outside circumstances, then that is what they attracted.” 1.
The passage from the book I’m reading wasn’t about “Secret followers”. It was about a spiritual movement called the Mind-Cure or New Thought Movement. What was even more interesting was that the lectures that the book was compiled from, were given in 1901-1902, over 100 years before The so-called “Secret” was published.
I’m sure this isn’t nearly as interesting to most of you as it is to me. But I’ve been a little obsessed with the pervasiveness of this, and other dangerous and extreme philosophies, lately. Well, at least ever since last summer, when I briefly and unknowingly attended a cult (disguised as a self help seminar) that thrived on and taught those philosophies (ie. child abuse victims attracted their abuse with their negative thought patterns.) Yes, a cult. The kind with brainwashing, lovebombing and where everyone follows an “all-knowing” leader. But that’s a story for another time.