Friday, May 18, 2007

Concerning The Secret

I am becoming versed in The Secret, and this may surprise some of my loyal readers (maybe not), but: I like it. As it happens, however, it's not entirely new to me... positive thinking has always been my dad's philosophy, and when I was a child, it came naturally. As an adult, I have to be more conscious of it, but it still seems to work. This new "secret," by the way, has always been with us (of course)... I first read it in inspirational books by Og Mandino and then in Emerson's essays and occasionally in contemporary self-help literature.

The key to it all is: ideas become things. If you can see yourself having it, and you can believe you will have it, then you will have it... and I've been blessed; this method actually works. I talked to my dad about The Secret the other day and he said,

It's much like Norman Vincent Peale, Dennis Waitley, Og Mandino, and Zig Ziglar...In fact, I think you can trace this all the way back to portions of the Gospels (the "Good News" bible). Astonishingly (as we rediscover every 10-15 years), this theory works--hard to do consistently because as O.J. once said, "life is like a shit sandwich and every day you take a new bite!

That last part is mostly a joke, of course. But Dad suggests one little complication... before we imagine piles of money and homes on the beach and beautiful children and quaint communities for ourselves in hopes of manifesting them through "the secret," there seems to be one caveat...
Dad says in his email,

Take a look at Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Go ahead, try to interpret that one!

Okay, fair enough. I mean, it does seem reasonable to seek holier things first and then to seek piles of wealth like The Secret suggests we can have. But my dad's little tease at the end of his advice is what really gets me... "Go ahead, try to interpret that one!"

And he's right, of course. Theoretically, I can sit down all alone at the end of the day and get in good meditation mind, and get myself all prepared to seek the kingdom of God... and still have no idea where to look or what (exactly) to look for. Jesus would only describe it in parables. "The Kingdom of God is like stable footing on the other side of a collapsing bridge."


Wishydig said...

Matthew 7.7-8 (NIV)
7"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

But this may not be as mystical a formula as it seems at first. The sermon goes on to say that it's just how life works. How relationships work. And if know G-d then there's no great wisdom outside your reach.

And with that it's back to the mystical. It begs the question: Go to G-d for wisdom. Find G-d through wisdom. Oy vey.

Casey said...

Michael -- I believe all that... but what if I ask for petty things, thinking these verses are a get-rich formula?

That seems to be the basis of most contemporary self-help -- it teaches faith, but not necessarily in G-d. Just have faith, for example, that you'll make lots of money and have a big back yard, etc., and it will be given to you...

Here's an example: I think more and more about the children I may have some day, the children I hope I have some day. I want them to have plenty of opportunities, lots of stimulation, etc. For that to come together, I need to have enough money to make it happen. This is asking a little more than "our daily bread," but I think maybe that's okay?

Anonymous said...

WW Emily Dickinson say about all this?


Wishydig said...

Well the problem I have always had with these verses is in the analogy that follows. Jesus says (and here I'll paraphrase)

...because you will give your children what they ask for. Won't you? And you're sinners. So imaging how much more your heavenly father will do for you!

But I won't just give my kids what they ask for. In fact I'll have to deny them most of what they ask for.

And I'll give them the things that they need before they ask for them.

I think this is more about the connections that we wish to make. There is something absolutely right about your view of Jesus as an antimaterialist. And we often look at these promises as material promises. So I'm sorry but is it really money that's going to give your kids necessary opportunities?

If you rely on money to provide opportunities imagine the opportunities that you're earning. You would likely encourage your kids to rely on money as well.

Money usually turns...
...experience into diversion into certification
...pleasure into indulgence into indifference
...comfort into sloth into tourism

Casey said...

So maybe it really is easier for a camel to go through a needle than for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven?

But, like: a piano. Just take that. I don't think that's not really "certification," but it may be a necessary element in musical "education." I see the distinction, but I feel like there's a golden mean somewhere...

Financial poverty actually might be understood as a limiting force. Living in deeply depressed areas, even in America (say, New Orleans), seems to make things a little harder? Now maybe that doesn't translate into making things spiritually harder... so maybe it's no big thing.

But offering someone living in poverty the old line about the meek inheriting the earth, true as it might be, isn't going to make them feel any more comfortable or less hungry.

Buuuuuuut.... I dunno. Some of the stuff in Acts makes it seem like the apostles called on us to sell all that we have in move in with others until we convince them to sell all they have, an so on, until the world is just one big commune. (circa 1917)? Is there a way to just leave a question mark in the box asking about Jesus' political economics?

One more thing: I remember sitting on my couch with my brother in college (in our apartment) saying, "Man, this is the life... we should just work our shitty jobs forever and live together like this until we die." Sounded great at the time, but in retrospect, I never would've gotten to meet Gretchen or read Emily Dickinson or meet Michael and Brian (and Buffy and Mindy) and have the free time to be so interested in the tr-th. Instead, I'd be working at a rec-center carrying around a giant walkie talkie and trying to find the most secluded office in the building so that I can sneak a nap before my shift ends.

AHHH! I don't know. Look: at this point, I'm 90% finished with this degree, and I'm not going to learn too much more about my content (maybe a little)... what I do want is "certification." Is that a bad thing? Would ANYONE have the guts to finish their entire Ph.D., dissertation and everything, and then not accept the diploma (because what, after all, is certification compared to education?)?

GRRR... I hate this whole topic.

Buffy Turner said...

I resent the parentheses.

Casey said...

Sorry, Buffy. I hope the italics even things out...

Buffy Turner said...

Italics accepted.