Sunday, February 18, 2007

"The Secret", Intention, and Manifestation

(Via PZ) This is one of the reasons that I try to do this whole blogging thing at least semi-anonymously: I've got a pair of very good friends who completely buy into The Secret. They are successful, college-educated folks, but somehow this book/film/made for TV movie/whatever has managed to totally bypass the otherwise active critical thinking centers in their brains. I think I understand why this happens though; The Secret relys upon a logical leap that's subtle enough that even usually sane people can fail to notice that they've made it.

I first noticed this prior to The Secret becoming the big thing that it is today. I was watching What The Bleep Do We Know?, which starts out interestingly enough, but then veers off into la-la land. Said veering takes place during a segment dealing with intention and the self-imposed obstacles that people face in everyday life. They noted, rightly enough, that intention is a necessary precondition to action, and then go on to say that if you focus your intentions good things will happen to you.

Did you catch the leap? Points for you if you did. The problem is that intention, by itself, is not sufficient to make things happen. That's the fallacy that these people are peddling, that by merely wishing for something hard enough you will cause it to manifest itself.

Let me put it to you this way: In order to write The Great American Novel one must first have the intention to write a novel. Lot's of people have intentions... they're going to go back to school, they're going to start going to the gym more, etc. But they never do... the biggest failing of the human creature is not the lack of intention, but the inability to transform intention into action. I'm starting to sound like Tony Robbins, even to myself, so let me be a little bit more concrete. Once you've decided to write The Great American Novel you've got to get off of your ass and actually start writing... that's the part that so many people have trouble with.

This new crop of books and whatnot gloss over that fact. Maybe some people really have made changes to their lives after reading The Secret, but I guarentee you that those changes had nothing mystical about them. Its quite possible that the book motivated these people to actually get off their asses and transform intention into action, but one need not invoke dialogue with the Universe to explain that.


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