Monday, September 10, 2007

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Not recommended by Kulsum

The Secret is a horribly materialistic meditation on life. I have been reading it on the toilet. While it may contain some pearls of wisdom (like our body is an energy mass that we can use in a positive manner to effect positivity around us), it contains other long sections of utter tripe, like visualizing that you have money will make you get it. Er. . . there's something called "work"?

The ideas of effecting positivity by thinking positive and being proactive aren't new. Scores of self-help books are devoted to this matter. In fact, there's an entire sect of Buddhism devoted to this very ideal, and believe me, they do it better. Much of The Secret absorbs other people's ideas, rehashing them into a pastiche of anecdotes and dropped pearls of wisdom that read like cliches. It's hard for me to accept that Rhonda Byrne is the author of this work. To me, she is a washerwoman of words. She strung together a few paltry sentences of her own and hung them out like a line on which she pegged other people's ideas. Not a single original thought in this book comes from her own mind.

None of this to say that the book can't help people. It has some great ideas and techniques to handle stress, think positive, and reduce anxiety. However, the book operates on a tacky system of wish fulfillment and exploits the vulnerabilities (and stupidity) of magical thinkers, offering the most absurd promises of tangible riches and rewards for some deep breathing. All The Secret really has to offer, at the end of day, is one germ of truth: meditation. Meditation helps people focus. Focus helps us to go after our goals with a sense of greater purpose. Going after our goals helps us attain them. The end. It's no big secret.

The book is available online at or, or in the US at


Alias Grace said...

I have refused to read this book for the exact reasons you mentioned. Thanks for taking one for the team as it were! From what I've understood of the book hard work seems undervalued while more traditional (tried, tested, and true) methods of a "successful" life are indeed available without the purchase of this book.

tinylittlelibrarian said...

Whenever I hear this book mentioned, the Saturday Night Live sketch about it comes to mind. If you've seen it, please ignore the rest. :)

Oprah has Rhonda Byrne on the show and they're both extolling the virtues of The Secret when Oprah goes live to a man in somewhere Darfur. The two of them then try to convince him that the reason he's a refugee and everyone's killing everyone is that he's not using positive thinking. He keeps repeating things like "No, I think it's because they're shooting at us." and they keep denying that that's the real problem. It's hilarious!

The Chapati Kid said...

That's precisely it... Hee hee! (But also, not.) I mean, to imply that millions of Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis because they didn't think positive... hm.

Joe Torre said...

they all die at the end - ha