The Los Angeles Times just ran a story that is critical of the bestselling book and DVD, The Secret, which advocates the power of positive thinking and claims that people are wholly responsible for the reality they create. Author Rhonda Byrne suggests that the insights revealed in The Secret have been kept from the world for centuries and history's greatest thinkers have kept the secret all to themselves.
The real secret, of course, is that The Secret is not a secret. In the DVD, there are ridiculously cheesy reenactments of faceless church officials hiding ominous-looking scrolls which purportedly hold the secret and scenes of men in private boardrooms chuckling over the fact that they possess the secret and no one else does. Through images like these, the DVD seems to suggest that there's some kind of worldwide conspiracy keeping this information hidden from the public.
Sorry, Rhonda, but this information has pretty much been available, um, forever, and it's been in mass public consciousness since at least the beginning of the last century. I have the self-help books to prove it.
The You Create Your Own Reality (YCYOR) paradigm has always been very appealing to me, but the way it has typically been packaged and conveyed to the public has always seemed to me to be overly simplistic. I've read all those books, and sometimes I feel like they're written in a way which suggests that the authors think you're an idiot. To me, The Secret is a prime example of that, and that is why, despite its many advocates, it so easily draws fire and skeptics can so quickly and adeptly dismiss its core messages as dangerous New Age mumbo jumbo. Because the paradigm has always resonated with me so much, I've gritted my teeth and withstood the cheesy writing and the sunny dispositions of the authors, in order to glean as much as I could glean from the text. Beneath all style, there is substance.
The reason also that people can easily discount The Secret and books like it is because these books are like a Cliff's Notes version of a paradigm that deconstructs, oh, the entire universe. It would be like critics lambasting evolution based on reading a term paper about evolution—as if that term paper incorporated every single facet of the topic.
The first work that I encountered in the YCYOR canon which seemed to take an intellectual approach to things and seemed much more complex and comprehensive than anything else I had previously read was Jane Robert's The Nature of Personal Reality. It is no exaggeration to say that this book changed my life and significantly altered the way I see the world and the way I approach my own existence.
This seminal book in the New Age movement was published in 1972, and it loses none of its potency today. It's a book that I've found myself returning to time and again. And this masterpiece has been flipped through so many times that it looks like its been manhandled. Like a crack whore down at the bowery.
Okay. Here comes the part that freaks people out or makes them dismiss the work of Jane Roberts and similar books. Roberts claims that the material contained in most of her books are channeled through her by an entity named "Seth." These books are, then, dubbed "Seth Books." Some look at so-called channelers as cheap and conniving hoaxers; others think that they suffer from split personalities. For those who are interested in this material but can't wrap their mind around the whole channeling thing, they should, at least in the case of Jane Roberts, just simply ignore the channeling claims and look at her work on its own terms. You'll find that, if the skeptic in you can stop thinking about how the book was supposedly written, then you can find great benefit in what is actually written.
After many years of study, I seemed to reach a wall with the Seth material, which is explored on this website. I felt like I went as far as I could with it. I felt like there was something more, but I didn't know what it was.
As I alluded in a previous entry, nearly a year ago I accidentally stumbled upon the "Elias" material online, which takes the concepts in the Seth books and elaborates on and/or re-frames them in ways that seem to rearrange your consciousness. Yes, it's more spooky channeled stuff, but, for the curious, there are thousands of pages of transcripts available for free online. And some guy in Germany created a website that's a good introduction to the Elias material, and you'll frequently see me on the discussion boards trying to figure this shit out and injecting my own healthy brand of cynicism to the proceedings.
About 90% of the reading I do on any given day, week, or month is all Elias material, which is channeled, written, or what you will by Mary Ennis, who is alive and well in Vermont. That's how deeply this stuff is currently integrated into my daily life. However, I don't discuss it much in public and haven't blogged about it at all because I feel like the channeling claim is a deal breaker for most folks and it makes people think of the movie, Freaks: "One of us! One of us! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble! One of us! One of us!" Loren has asked me repeatedly, "Have you joined a cult?" and has accused me of belonging to an "Internet religion," at which point I make my eyes wide and point at him menacingly and chant, "One of us! One of us! Gooble gobble, gooble gobble! One of us! One of us!"
But I decided to share tonight because I just reread an Elias transcript, in which the following is conveyed to a group of people:
What is obvious to me is that you are all drawing yourselves together to be accessing this information.... You have allowed yourselves the opportunity to view many other individuals that hold the same direction as you hold. Therefore, you have also offered yourselves the opportunity to view that there is no necessity for fearfulness of speaking of such things and engaging in such things, for there shall be no hurtfulness, and you offer yourselves validation to each other and the engagement of each other to share, and in this you offer yourselves not only the validation but the comfort that you may also share this information without fearfulness, that there are more individuals that hunger for this information than you realize.
Those individuals that you may not suspect are merely waiting for the opportunity to be sharing, but are fearful, just as all of you hold elements of fearfulness. "I shall not be expressing this to my employer! They shall be carting me away! I shall not be expressing this to my children! They shall think I have entered senility! I shall not be expressing this to my friendships, for they shall be convinced that I am within lunacy!" Incorrect.
There are more of them that are holding the same thought process, and therefore all remain silent.
So I remain silent no more on this topic, and you don't have to either. We can talk.
And those of you who don't want to talk, that's fine too. Look at this picture of my baby instead:
—Reporting From Glendale, California