Sssh, It’s a Secret
One question that comes up frequently in my conversations is “What do I think the answer or secret to life is?” Most did not come out and ask this specific question, yet it was there if you cared to look. These questions started long before the movie The Secret came out and it has been many years since I have considered this question or asked it of anyone save myself. Naturally, since the book and movie came out, the question and the nature of the conversation that followed changed. Most of the time, I was not asked, “What is the secret?” it became “What do you think of The Secret?”
Not having read the book or seen the movie I asked them to give me their impressions. The spoke about how the movie suggests we can have what we want by imagining our selves having what we want, I heard of “The Law of Attraction” and that thoughts are electromagnetic waves that radiate out and change the universe around us. These were the three most common concepts that people took away from the movie or book. Some believed that the movie was complete fiction, others were uncertain, but the bulk were believers in at least the concept and wanted my opinion.
The conversations varied dramatically, and though I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions, it has not encouraged me to see the movie or read the book. It simply did not hold any interest for me. Given the vastly different impressions about the ideas presented, I saw little value in it. During those conversations I spoke to the thoughts, understandings and even uncertainties people had about the ideas separate from the movie. The reason is that the material must be absorbed if there is any value in it; otherwise, they are merely regurgitating words. Therefore, I was more interested in what they thought about the concepts than in what the movie suggested.
I could start to try to speak to the points I mentioned in the second paragraph, but that is premature. The reason is they are predicating on their being a secret. So, is there a secret? My opinion is that there is a secret; the problem is in trying to figure out what type of thing it is, let alone what it might be. Further there is another question we must ask, that being “If there is a secret, what is it the secret to?”
One of the cornerstones of what I share is that we should avoid vague notions and unclear thoughts. The mind cannot do much with them, for without substance they lack any power. For instance, people say they just want to be happy, but they struggle to define what that is. They may have many ideas about what could make them happy, but again, there is a lack of clarity. When this occurs, the mind struggles to find ways to manifest our thoughts and can even start to manifest conflicting results.
There is an old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” I contend that most of us do not really know what we are wishing for, and it shifts and changes along with our mood and circumstances. Our minds contain an almost countless number of thoughts, of these tens of thousands are activate every minute and we are only conscious of a few of these. Nor do we really know what ideas, beliefs and concepts lurk in that complex mass of thoughts. This is the main reason why we cannot correlate our thoughts with the outcomes in our lives. Again, the mind does not do well with conflicting beliefs and ideas or without clarity, as I mentioned in when touching on the Law of Limitation in essays including “Developing Our Ability to Focus” (1).
In this topic, examining the idea of whether there is a secret at all and if so, what the secret might be, without being a little esoteric is not as hard as you might believe. We can broach the idea in a logical, straightforward manner. The challenge begins when we try to answer the question stated a couple paragraphs back, namely “If there is a secret, what is it the secret to?” If a secret exists, is it the answer to how to attain my wants and desires, is it how to find true happiness, the secret to peace and harmony on earth or even how to attain enlightenment? If there is a secret, singular not plural, then it must be able to help one accomplish any one of these goals. Is it possible that one concept can help us achieve any of these?
Well, either there is one simple concept or there is not. Yes, I know that this statement is always true. The term for such a statement is tautology. The definition for this word, from The Free Dictionary (2), is:
1. (Linguistics / Grammar) the use of words that merely repeat elements of the meaning already conveyed, as in the sentence Will these supplies be adequate enough? in place of Will these supplies be adequate?
2. (Philosophy / Logic) Logic a statement that is always true, esp a truth-functional expression that takes the value true for all combinations of values of its components, as in either the sun is out or the sun is not out Compare
So, is it possible for the secret to be one concept? Well, if this is not the case then the question should have been “what are the secrets”, the plural form rather than the singular. If the secret is one concept, it would have to be something such that anyone who hears it would understand it the same way regardless of language or even cultural or experiential backgrounds? Is such an understanding possible given we all have our own unique relationship with “life”? We can “agree” on something, say the colour red, but we know that we all perceive colours slightly differently as our eyes are not the same. Red can have a slightly different hue through one person’s eyes than another.
In a similar fashion, everyone interprets words in their own way. My interpretation of the term strength can be different from another’s, even if we are working from the same definition. This is because a word is just a single term and the mind attaches far more to a word than just its literal definition. This could lead us to assume that the answer to the question depend on what one is trying to accomplish. Everyone will answer this question regarding “the secret” differently, though there will be similarities, assuming they could answer the question. Ask various chefs what the secret to a good soufflé is and you will get a variety of answers. By trying to answer this question, we are delving into the nature of existence itself, for if there is a secret, then that secret must be universal.
Assuming there is an answer to the question, we need to consider if there is something that relates to us all equally. I believe that simplifies the question considerably. What we all share in common is our physicality, and not genetic equivalence, merely the fact we have physical vehicles and that we all have awareness and ultimately consciousness. If there is a secret then it must have something to do with these aspects. Since we cannot do much about our genetics then the secret must lie within the realm of our consciousness and awareness.
The movie suggests that the answer lies in the Law of Attraction. The "Law of Attraction" principle, as ascribed in the movie, suggests that feelings and thoughts can attract events, feelings, and experiences, from the workings of the cosmos to interactions among individuals in their physical, emotional, and professional affairs. My first concern with this is the notion that there is such a thing as the Law of Attraction, as I do not believe there is.
There is a Law of Action-Reaction, and if anything, the Law of Attraction is a corollary to this. I say this as the notion that something can attract anything is follows from more fundamental concepts related to how “things interact”.
“Action and reaction are equal and opposite. The equivalence of the re-action renders it calculable if the ratio of transmission be known.”
From The Cosmic Doctrine by Dion Fortune (3)
I will try to explain the above passage a little bit before proceeding. The first sentence seems clear enough and is likely something everyone can relate to. Most have heard the phrase “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This is true, however, the second sentence speaks to the idea the manifest Cosmos consists of a number of planes, and that action and reaction is only equivalent when it occurs on the same plane such as the physical one.
When an action at one plane induces a reaction at another, the reaction is not equivalent. We see this in the splitting of an atom, an act that sublimates the force, which is a multiplication. Sublimation is the process we are undergoing during this phase of our evolution. We had to descend into matter first and now we are “ascending” out of matter. In order to achieve physical manifestation, we had to degrade forces, which is a division. Hence, the ratio of transmission is determined by understanding the plane of the action and the plane where the reaction occurs. An epiphany is a sublimation process or a multiplication process, which is why, depending on the nature of the epiphany, they can be very powerful indeed.
In terms of the Law of Attraction, the problem with it, beyond it not being a “law” per se, is that it requires one to actually know what it is they want, desire or need. Further, it requires that we know that attaining what we want, desire or need leads to the outcome we believe they will. Therefore, being able to take advantage of this supposed law requires one know such things absolutely. Given our minds are something we are generally unfamiliar with and we are unaware of most of the thoughts that are in our minds, this simply cannot be the secret. So, what is?
If you follow the last few paragraphs, then the secret must have something to do with our awareness or consciousness. We attract the experiences we have now due to our thoughts. Our experiences are not an accident; they are the direct result of the thoughts in our mind and the choices we have made because of them. The thoughts we have are those we manifested through our integration of experiences. If we do not like the outcomes, then we must change the thoughts that led to them. This means that in order to manifest what we do want or believe we want we must work with our own minds.
If you are following this then you realize that the secret is not as mysterious as some would have us believe. The secret has not been hidden; we have simply been looking in the wrong place and have become too distracted to notice it. We get there not by trying harder, for we have been doing that all our lives, we are just exerting ourselves towards the “wrong” ends. The secret has been out there for a very long time, namely we need to know ourselves. This is something that Jesus stated, though he is not the only one to suggest it, in the Gospel of Thomas (4) when he stated, “know yourselves”.
"If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.
When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."
Our minds need to be clear, our thoughts unambiguous, in order for us to begin to manifest outcomes that we consciously choose. One does not attain this result by merely thinking about it. We get there by starting to examine our thoughts and “Paying Attention to Our Attention” (5). Only by learning to pay attention to our thoughts do we begin to unravel the mess of programming that we have built up by our reactions to experiences in life. This is an area I have covered from different angles in many of my essays and so will not repeat it here.
There is no guarantee that we will attain our inner most desires, whatever they may be, in a given lifetime, life does not work that way. The purpose of life is not what we think it is. As some have said, we are not beings of flesh seeking a divine or mystical experience we are divine creatures having a human experience. As a result, what we think we want is actually irrelevant, our divinity that has already decided.
The notion that we should imagine what we want and focus our thoughts in that direction is a foolish one to follow. This idea presumes that we know what is in our best interests and then can direct ourselves towards that end. Sure, we can do that, but we all know that people can work all their lives for a goal and never find any peace even when we have achieved the goals they set out to do. All we can do is be true to our inner selves. We do this by stripping away or getting past the ego that we have built within this lifetime, an ego that steers us on a path that we have programmed it to.
That said, all the experiences we have had, for “better or worse” have been ones we needed. They are part of our learning. If we deny this then we deny who and what we are. The path is not to deny who we are even if we do not like what or where we are. This only leads us away from the answers we seek. We must accept who we are and we do this by getting to know ourselves. Happiness is not without, enlightenment is not without, knowledge is not without, and peace and balance are not without for all of these are within.
We prevent us from being at peace in our lives, not others, circumstances, or the fact we may believe life dealt us a poor hand or have been unlucky. This is why I put so much focus on accepting total responsibility for all that occurs in our lives. If we do not do this, we have little chance of finding that peace we seek. If you go back through my writings and the material on the website, you will notice that this is the focus of it, it too is not an accident.
We have come to want certain things because of our experiences. When the outcomes in our lives do not satisfy us, we seek to find another way to achieve them and around and around we go. We cannot get off this cycle by merely trying different things to achieve what we think we want, we need to consider that what we want may not be what we need. Knowing ourselves is the act of peeling away the layers of ego we have built up to allow the true self to shine through and express itself. The problem or challenge is that we become accustomed to who we believe we are, even if it making us miserable, and are reluctant to shed this visage. So long as we refuse to do so then we must accept the outcomes that we have manifested.
The key or the secret is simple, life does not always give us what we want though as the lyrics of that Rolling Stones tune suggests:
You can’t always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need
© 2012 Allan Beveridge