“The Study of Reality”

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The Secret of Life, the Universe, and Everything
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No, it’s not 42. Not in this post anyway.

A couple of nights ago I went to a showing of the movie "The Secret." If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s supposed to reveal a secret that’s been passed down through the ages. The secret of how to get anything that you want in your life.

The movie starts off with many quotes from famous people throughout history talking about the secret. Then there are several motivation speakers also talking about the secret. They go on about how is you use the secret’s power, you can get anything at all that you want. Several people give specific examples of how they’ve used the secret’s power to get their dream house, to find their soulmate, to make lots of money, etc.

So what is "The Secret"?

It’s "the power of intention" and the formula is:
3- Receive


Ask the universe for what you want, then believe that it will happen with every part of your being, and then receive it from the universe. That’s it! It’s that simple!

This sort of thing is ripe for sarcasm and smart-alec comments, but I’m not going to do that. I actually believe that in many ways this theory is correct. I’m a firm believer that you create your own reality (subject to the laws of physics of course) and that what you believe you can achieve. The mind is very powerful and shapes, colors, and interprets what our senses bring in.

I also know that most of the doors that we are looking for are right there in front of us but we usually can’t see them because we’re either distracted and/or neglect to see them when they open. It’s easy to go off in new-age la la land with this stuff so I won’t. My experience has show me that these things happen but other people may not be open to this way of viewing the universe.

 The reason I’m bringing this movie up though is because of the events that happened before and after the movie. The showing was set up by an employee of one of the big 3 internet companies. It was not a company event but many employees attended, along with people from other professional organizations.  The person showing the movie was a newly-crowned motivational speaker. He’d stopped being a physician to become a motivational speaker. He was full of the fire and annoying over-enthusiasm that mark most of his ilk, and he had drank heavily from the cup of "The Secret." He told us how he had "manifested" the showing of the movie to happen to our group.

In The Secret they tell you EVERYTHING that happens to you is because you’ve "manifested" it to happen to you. That works whether you’ve manifested your dream home or manifested having no friends because of your sour attitude. One of the motivational speakers in the movie (Bob Proctor) I believe, said that this power works every time, all the time, and has never ever failed. (Absolutes raise my BS detector.)

In our discussion group several people told stories about how this was true.  People told how they’d changed their home, work, and relationships by making their desires known to the universe and believing with all their heart that it would happen. One lady told how she had been weak after surgery and was carrying herself in a weak and vulnerable manner and how she’s gotten mugged. She believed that her negative and weak thoughts made  her the obvious victim to the mugger. I believe most of this stuff really. We all know we can "feel" another person’s mood or "vibe" through some unknown channel. You can see how weak or beaten down people carry themselves as opposed to how strong and confident people do. None of this is strange to me.

Then a guy in the audience asked the speaker the sort of things that I wanted to get into. He asked if the victims of ethnic cleansing in places like Rwanda or Sudan had "manifested" themselves to be killed. This threw the motivational speaker for a loop. He was visibly shaken and I could see the wheels of his brain turning, trying to figure out an explanation that would support the theory of The Secret. The best he could do was say that maybe they were all part of a greater plan than we could know. Talk about a bullshit answer. That’s just the kind of crappy rationalization religious people use for why "god would do such a horrible thing."

But the speaker had truly drunk The Secret’s Kool-Aid. He went on to him and haw around but the question was still essentially unanswered. A few more people questioned the teachings of The Secret while others supported it in spite of the unanswered question. I finally got to speak and I told the speaker and the group what I thought.

I said that yes, The Secret had many good points and many things that could help a person in their life. It is one answer but it’s not the only answer. Then the speaker challenged me saying that no, everything in our lives happen because we manifest it. I asked if he thought a five year old kid getting beat up by his dad had manifested it to happen to him. He said that maybe he had and then an Indian guy in the audience said that the child had probably led a bad previous life and so was being made to suffer for it now.

I started to get angry. The speaker again asserted that yes, we all manifest all that happens in our life. I said that people are born bipolar or schizophrenic and can’t control their thoughts so how can you say that they’ve manifested bad things to happen to them. No answer. I asked is all the people affected by hurricane Katrina had manifested their homes to be destroyed. No answer. Then he came up with something about "mass-consciousness" and how maybe collectively the group had manifested it, just like the nazis had done in Germany. The power of the secret could be used for good or evil, blah, blah, blah.

The level of bullshit in the room was almost overflowing. I ended my rant with telling them that yes, the power of intention is one force but it’s not the only force. There’s weather, genetics, biology, chemicals, mental illness, and so many more forces at work that you can’t expect one magic rule to be the only force at work in the universe, no matter what it says in The Secret.

So that fairly well divided up the room. You had the scientists and "reality" folks in one camp and you had the "feelings" and "mystery" folks in another camp. The speaker was clearly miffed that I and some others had poked holes in his presentation.

What did I learn from this experience? Well I didn’t learn anything new but it reinforced what I already knew. People are largely empty, lonely, scared, and looking for answers, they’re looking for a "reason". A reason why good things happen, a reason why bad things happen, a reason why they exist, and a reason for them to continue living. Some look for it through "religion", some through cults (unpopular religions), and some through the latest new-age mumbo jumbo. All of these institutions are quite happy to exchange your money for their version of "the secret."

People do not want to accept that "shit happens." They don’t want to accept that the universe doesn’t give a shit about them. They don’t want to accept the fact that the universe does not revolve around them, nor does it even "care" about them. They don’t want to accept that there is no "reason" for anything. It all just "is." That’s it. Pure and simple. To expect "reasons" and "explanations" is just to over complicate things and make yourself unhappy.

Humans are a product of the evolution of the universe and that’s it. We aren’t the ultimate goal of evolution or of the universe. We’re just a product of it, another form of matter like an ant, slime-mold, piece of granite, the clouds, helium, comets, and bacteria. We happen to be the most intelligent thing on earth at this particular point in time, but it hasn’t always been that way, and it wasn’t "meant to be" that way. After we humans are gone, the universe will continue to move on. Maybe another more intelligent life-form will inhabit the earth or maybe in the future squirrels will be the most intelligent creature on earth. Time rolls on with no concern for what we humans want to believe.

The Buddha said that "suffering occurs when we want things to be different than they are."
The more we can live with that in mind the easier our lives will be. And that’s one "Secret" that you can take to the bank.


2 Responses to “The Secret of Life, the Universe, and Everything”

  1. Chad, on June 22nd, 2007 at 7:52 pm, said:

    The Buddha said that “suffering occurs when we want things to be different than they are.”
    The more we can live with that in mind the easier our lives will be. And thatโ€™s one “Secret” that you can take to the bank.

    In that case, let’s not worry about health care, or animal rights, or abortion, or global warming, or the fact that the next door neighbor physically and sexually abuses his children, or whatever the particular “evil” happens to be. These “things just are,” and my desiring to change them would just lead to more suffering.

    Do you want your life to be easier? Do you want other people’s lives to be easier? Is suffering a bad thing? Evidently Buddha thought so, or he wouldn’t have made the statement, eh? Sounds like he WANTED an absence of suffering. But that implies at least two things: (1)Suffering is bad or “evil,” if you will and (2) he wanted things to be different.

    Have a good one, homey:)

  2. Realitology, on June 26th, 2007 at 10:29 pm, said:

    You’ve read more into the sentence than is there.

    It just states a fact: “suffering occurs when we want things to be different than they are.” It doesn’t say that you shouldn’t necessarily try to change things, just that *wanting* things to be different than they *really and currently are* will cause you to suffer. I don’t think that is even up for debate is it?

    Here’s a very quick and concise “For instance”…Say your wife leaves you. If you were OK with it you wouldn’t be suffering would you? But if you focused on wishing that she wasn’t gone then you’d be suffering right? You’d be wanting things to be different than they are. That’s a simplistic example but you get the point right?

    Probably for it to make more sense you need to know “the four noble truths” to put it in context.

    1-“Life means suffering”
    Just to be human means to suffer pain, injury, heartbreak, sickness, tiredness, etc.

    2-“The origin of suffering is attachment”
    More precisely the attachment of transient things. Craving and clinging to both physical things and ideas. Things like desire, jealousy, wanting fame, desiring money, and attachments to ideas and perceptions, the way things “should” be, etc. Since all of these things are transient their loss is inevitable and so suffering will naturally follow.

    3-“The ending of suffering is attainable”
    Simply put, ending the craving and attachments to these things that cause suffering can be done. The Buddhists call the ultimate freedom from worries, troubles, ideas, etc. “nirvana.”

    4-“There is a path to ending suffering”
    They call it the “middle way” or “the eightfold path.”

    Mind you, I’m not a buddhist and I don’t buy all of their stories. Maybe he should have said “mental suffering” to be more precise. Obviously if you cut your finger that’s a different kind of suffering than we’re talking about.

    I kind of look at it as “going with the flow.” The more you just accept “the way things are” the less suffering you’ll have. Sure there are things you’ll want to change which is not a bad thing, but maybe the point is knowing and choosing which battles to fight.

    You could also probably state it as the serenity prayer “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

    That’s another way to look at it if you so choose ๐Ÿ™‚

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