the excluded middle way

The Secret – analysed by Wilber

I dearly love some people who loved ‘The Secret‘ on DVD… and I withheld my cynicism in most cases.

But the one time it mattered, the time I should have lovingly held-the-space for someone I dearly love. Made them feel empowered by the DVD and feel nurtured by me, I failed.

I let rip with my usual half-baked cynical moans. I can’t even remember what I said. And I regret saying anything.

But I still believe my intuitions were spot on.

Here’s why… if you care…



Matthew Kalman recently suggested to the London Integral Circle “that [he suspected] anything that moves my ‘locus of control’ to make me more internally-driven, rather than a passive victim of external events, could be very transformational

“Maybe ‘The Secret’ is just encouraging folks to feel like they are in the their driving seat?
“Perhaps this helps shift people towards Kegan’s ‘self-authoring’ level 4? (Something that would be hugely beneficial in building the centralcapacities and competencies that are needed in the 21s century, according to Prof Robert Kegan.)

“Anyway, whatever that practices are that shift one mass of people’s to elf-authoring (level 4) isn’t likely to be the best thing for shifting those who are already self-authoring to the next level (Kegan’s level 5 and onwards) – where we start to deconstruct and interpenetrate different systems.

Can this be where I’m at? Surely if cynicism and childish bemoaning was the best I could do, thinking I was a 5 looking down at 4, then perhaps… shit… am I a 3?!

Here are some of Wilber’s thoughts on The Secret

  • If [the Secret] is helping people feel empowered and positive about their lives, what’s the problem?
Well, the problem is that it’s not a basically solid approach with
room for improvement, it’s a fundamentally confused way of
understanding reality that misunderstands and contorts the genuine
truths that it intuits. Some of the central points that Julian and
Ken discuss are as follows:
• As with any “you create your own reality” schema, The Secret
fails what can be called “the Auschwitz test.” According to The
Secret, everyone who was murdered at Auschwitz—or Rwanda, or
Darfur—created that reality for themselves, and therefore they are to
blame for their fate. For obvious reasons, this position is an
unconscionable as it is untenable.
• By teaching that the world quite literally revolves around you,
The Secret encourages and entrenches narcissism. In developmental
psychology, narcissism doesn’t mean an unhealthy obsession with
thinking only about yourself, it means you can’t think about yourself.
The capacity for self-reflexive awareness just isn’t there. The
entire world and everyone in it is simply an extension of your-self,
and you are literally unable to take the perspective of another human
being. This is not mystical union; this is pre-rational fusion, and
without the ability to take the perspectives of other sentient beings,
the entire foundation for ethics evaporates.
• Actually, you are creating the universe moment-to-moment, but
it’s not the “you” that you think. According to the great
contemplative traditions, every person has at least two “selves”: the
finite, temporal, egoic self-sense, and the infinite, transcendental,
unqualifiable Self, or I-AMness. Your Self, your I-AMness, is indeed
giving rise to the entire radiant Kosmos in this and every moment, but
The Secret teaches that your separate self has the power to personally
manifest a new car, win the lottery, or cure cancer… and this simply
isn’t how things work.
• “The Law of Attraction” is true—as far as it goes. The problem
is that The Secret takes this one relatively small piece of the puzzle
and makes it the entire puzzle. A positive outlook will change your
life and your intentions will co-create your reality, but so will
brain chemistry, interior level of development, family relationships,
natural disasters, cultural trends, language structure, environmental
toxins, and, basically, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
• Developmentally, if one uses a scale ranging from archaic to
magic to mythic to rational to pluralistic to integral to
super-integral, The Secret teaches the magical thought structures that
were humanity’s leading edge several hundred thousand years ago. As
Ken explains, The Secret encourages childlike “primary process
thinking,” which can be in the form of “the law of attraction” (e.g.,
if one black thing is bad, then all black things are bad) and “the law
of contagion” (e.g., if this particular man was powerful, then a lock
of his hair must be powerful too).
• The importance of understanding how unconscious psychological
shadow elements color and affect one’s experience, and how The Secret
can agitate, alienate, repress, or—perhaps even more worrisome—act on
these disowned elements of consciousness.
• The genesis of the pre/trans or pre/post fallacy, and how The
Secret is a perfect example of elevating pre-rational childish
impulses to trans-rational spiritual glory. Simply because both
categories of experience are non-rational, they can easily be
confused, and often are.
The extraordinary thing about this dialogue is that, for all the
critiques Ken and Julian have of The Secret, it’s not meant as a
put-down or a mean-spirited attack. As evidenced by its incredible
popularity, there are millions of people who are starving for
something other than traditional religion or modern science in their
search for meaning. By using an Integral Approach, one is able to
look at what new offerings like The Secret have to bring to the table,
and assess in good faith what their strengths and weaknesses really
are, for the health and nourishment of every soul who dare grasp for
“something more”—and for what we consider to be the real Secret of
transformation and human happiness, we recommend an Integral Life
Practice and an Integral Spirituality, bringing together Body, Mind,
and Spirit, in Self, Culture, and Nature.”

Steve Beckett rounds it off nicely:

“My main Gripe with the Secret is – it doesn’t work!Lets look at the statistics which are actually on Steve Pavlinas own site!
He rightly says he doesn’t just take peoples words for things so he
has put “manifesting” to the test in his “Million dollar experiment”.
This seems to be the main thing people want to use the “Secret” for
when realizing their thoughts are capable of instantly curing all
suffering,world poverty,Wars and illness they think “how can I
manifest myself 1 Million dollars.In Steves own test of 1953 people who attempted to manifest 1 Million
dollars not a single person achieved it.

The earliest attempt was started in Aug 2006.
The average amount “manifested” over the 1953 people who participated
was $2853 .


Filed under: Integral, TheSecret, Wilber

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