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Why has The Secret just been discovered NOW?
Many proponents of The Secret express wonder at why it has come into public view only now. The book and movie emphasize that the essential message of The Secret has been known through the ages, but seem to suggest that there was some type of conspiracy of the information that kept it from the public in earlier times. Why now?
There are multiple aspects to this apparent mystery. Some emphasize that in the past, this knowledge was kept from the public out of the belief that it is too powerful and potentially dangerous for dissemination to all, but qualified initiates. It is true that all spiritual traditions in the past emphasized that their knowledge was not meant for all. One had to prepare, purify and qualify oneself to receive and use it properly. This is especially true since the method advocated in The Secret could potentially be used to achieve negative as well as positive aims. Others have pointed out that in the past, spirituality turned away from life and human accomplishment toward fulfillment in some far off heaven, nirvana or the unmanifest Infinite. Those who pursued the spirit, applied these same methods for spiritual realization, but had little interest in the practical application of this knowledge in life.
There is a truth in all these observations, but none that adequately explains how The Secret has so suddenly appeared out of nowhere and shot into universal prominence. Various spiritual teachings based on similar knowledge have been widely available in print and translation for a century or more. So how then can we explain the meteoric rise of The Secret during the past six months? If the knowledge has already been available for some time, why has it only attracted public attention so recently?
The obvious answer is that for several reasons humanity is now far more receptive and eager to attain the knowledge that The Secret offers.
End of Scientism
For the past two centuries humanity has been awed and obsessed by the wonders of science and the miracles of technology. For a time it led us to believe that science would provide the answers to all human problems and technological machinery would solve them. Science dissected our consciousness and reduced it to a bunch of chemical reactions and nervous impulses. It dissected our personalities and reduced them to synapses, brain cells, inherited propensities and hormonal responses. Physical nature seemed to be responsible for everything. There was no need or place for the conscious individual human being.
As the Hindu doctrine of karma persuaded generations of Indians that their fates and destinies lay hopelessly buried in the unchangeable power of actions in past lives, the doctrine of scientism persuaded us that our character traits, propensities and actions were the result of physical forces and inherited tendencies beyond our control. In both cases the result has been to deprive human beings of freedom of choice and action.
While we still thrill with every new gadget that enhances our power, reach and convenience, humanity is no longer taken in by the claim that science can or will provide the Theory of Everything which some assert, it is so near to discovering. For all its remarkable achievements, the contribution of science has been quite narrowly limited to knowledge, control and mastery over the external world; and even here that contribution has brought with it unprecedented threats to peace, security and the health of our planet. We have come to the end of the age of scientism and are casting off its oppressive doctrine as our forefathers, five centuries ago rejected blind submission to religious doctrine.
This development is true not only at the level of personal life, self-help and New Age pursuits, it has gone mainstream and infiltrated the heart of global business as well. Since the publication of Principles of Scientific Management by Frederick Taylor, for most of the 20th Century major corporations regarded the management of a business as a purely objective process similar to a chemical reaction or manufacturing process. Money, resources, machines, structures, systems, policies, rules, strategies, plans constituted the heart and soul of business management. Recently, business too has lost its blind faith and preoccupation with the objective aspect of management. It has recently become evident that the subjective thoughts, perceptions, values, opinions, attitudes and feelings of employees and customers are more important than any objective or external factors. Companies have shown that a change in intangible attitudes can make the difference between survival and bankruptcy, that perception is as important as fact that even without money, resources or experience an insightful idea can be converted into a multi-billion dollar business.
Humanity has not lost faith in science or in systems, but it has come to understand that they never can or will deliver all the answers we need for successful living. As the challenges of physical survival and comfortable living are coming under mastery, more and more people are looking for means of higher levels of social, psychological and spiritual accomplishment that cannot be achieved by reliance on science and technology.
The Secret offers us a method that does not place its faith in the external machinery of science. It rather shows us that the real creative power for accomplishment lies within ourselves. It proclaims that the subjective field of human consciousness is the real source of accomplishment. It tells us that our understanding, our aspirations, our choices, our decisions, our feelings and our determination really matter – in fact; they are all that really matter in determining our achievements. The Secret affirms the value and power of each individual to determine his or her own destiny.
Rise of Individuality
It is not just our subjective humanity that is now being affirmed. It is our individuality. Science has studied all the typal groups of Nature, classified, codified, and generalized all life into phyla, orders, families, genera and species. That worked wonderfully well for dealing with thousands of species of microorganisms, plants, fishes, insects and animals, because subconscious life conforms to universal laws and generalizations. But as life on earth evolved more conscious species, the reduction of everything to fixed laws of nature became less and less tenable.
Humanity is the most conscious living species and consciousness is the basis for the emergence of true individuality. Consciousness and individuality are not objective phenomenon that can be studied with the microscope and classified by taxonomy. Individuality implies the freedom to vary from the general rule, break with the past, innovate, think and create freshly. Science offers a common solution to all the common external problems of humanity, but it cannot provide us the answers to the quest for personal meaning and fulfillment which differ from one person to the next.
The Secret offers us a ‘technology’ suited and fully adaptable to the needs of individuals. The phenomenal interest that it has aroused in the general population is an indication that we are approaching the end of the Age of Scientism and entering the Age of the Emerging Spiritual Individual.
Common Success Stories
The Age of the Individual is preceded by the Age of the Common Man and this caption aptly described that later half of the 20th Century. Never before has the ordinary citizen in most parts of the world enjoyed so much freedom, privilege, status and material abundance. Universal education, modern medical care, democratic freedoms, low cost communications and transport, universal access to information are a few expressions of this age.
In this Age of Everyone it is no longer the elite, the manner born aristocrat, the great industrialist, the rare genius or brilliant artist who enjoys the spotlight of public attention. This is the age in which ordinary people in all walks of life have an opportunity to acquire the good things of life, travel the globe, become millionaires, and walk in the media limelight. The Secret is about a power of transformation that is changing the lives of ordinary people who have never accomplished before. The fact that the achievers are people of this description has generated confidence that it will work for everyone.
The Secret has appealed to the crux of this age by making available to all – no matter how ordinary or commonplace, no matter how low they have fallen or how many times they have failed in the past – a means to turn the tide, reverse misfortune, raise themselves and excel. No wonder The Secret first attracted media attention and popularity in America, the land where anyone from anywhere can aspire to accomplish anything.
Some proponents have questions why the book and movie focus on the ordinary mundane achievements of ordinary people – who aspire for friendship or affection, to buy a new car pay their bills, lose weight, escape from depression, earn a windfall. Why not highlight the achievements of great thinkers, artists, idealists and saints? Surely there are a great many wonderful success stories of the already rich and famous. But the message of The Secret is that this method works for everyone and it will work for you! To communicate this message most powerfully and convincingly, the author, Rhonda Byrne, rightly chose to give precedence to the ordinary over the extraordinary. Byrne herself was a person who has applied this method to raise herself from personal problems, psychological depression and work failures to phenomenal success. Her message has credibility because she has lived it in her own life and because the other examples she cites are of real people who have accomplished real results based on this method.
The Media for The Message
There is one further explanation for ‘Why now?’ For the first time in history, we have a medium that is perfectly suited to disseminate a message of this type to the whole world. The Internet is the ultimate medium of the common man because it is makes a world of information available to people all over the world at no cost. It is also the ultimate medium of the emerging individual because it makes possible an infinite variation in the message that is broadcast and an infinitesimal selection in the message that is received. Oprah Winfrey and Larry King Live helped draw attention to The Secret and make it a respectable topic for discussion.
Although Byrne had originally envisioned a worldwide screening of the movie, that did not happen. Instead, it gained worldwide notoriety through video-streaming on the internet. Thousands of websites have cropped up overnight delivering millions of page views of information every day. Millions of people who have read the book or seen the movie are sharing the message with their relatives and friends. The Internet has converted a blaze of interest into a global wildfire of enthusiasm. The Internet is the ultimate medium for delivering a personalized message to each individual that matches precisely individual needs and aspirations.
See also other articles on The Secret