The Secret? It's Out, It's Old, and It's Obvious

02/21/2007 10:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

What has seized America? Not a new guru, not a new sect, but a little group of people who claim to have discovered, and are now promulgating, the Secret of the Ages.

This is no small claim. And yet their formula is embarrassingly simplistic: "Like Attracts Like."

This is not brain surgery or quantum physics. It is the Power of Positive Thinking all over again. It is Werner Erhard, Tony Robbins and Deepak Chopra all rolled into one. Only, it has been given a short, catchy name and it has been launched at a time in our world where everyone
is looking for a rapid answer and a quick fix.

We do not have time to read philosophy, to engage in esoteric
discussions, or to formulate theories. Even psychotherapy is too long and
too costly an undertaking. We want the ready-made, the microwaved, the
heat-and-serve, the wash-and-wear; we do not want to be bothered with
serious study and careful analysis. We want answers at a discount, nicely
packaged and ready to go.

And that's what The Secret is all about. Oprah Winfrey and her
audiences ate it up. The mail in response was off the charts. The book
jumped to Number One on the New York Times bestseller list, and the DVD is
selling like heavenly hotcakes.

After the Old Testament and the New Testament, The Secret is the
Ultimate Testament. It is The Gospel According to Rhonda Byrne (the
author, an ingenuous Australian woman) and her peppy band of disciples.
It promises not salvation but, better yet, wealth and success and
happiness and love. Maybe health, too, if that's your problem. Just stop
thinking you're a jerk and a failure, and begin to see yourself as
infinitely powerful and talented and gorgeous and wise. Then everything
wonderful and enriching and gorgeous and wise will come to you.

Clearly, it is time for the Dalai Lama and Rabbi Berg and his
Kabbalists to hang up their hats. We are on the threshold of a New-New
Age, where we can manifest (The Secret's favorite word) whatever we desire
by focusing our minds on it. Of course, it should not be selfish or nasty
or harmful to others. (I imagine this to be true; Ms. Byrne does not
discuss the ethical implications of misuse of The Secret, or the possible
repercussions of evil intent.)

Anyway -- throw away your credit cards, tear up your diplomas, quit
your boring job, and focus on the money, the work, the home, the spouse
you really want. It will come to you. No hassle. No effort.

No kidding?