More about The Secret, Post-Oprah...and The Work of Byron Katie
Posted Oct 22 2008 6:28pm
Yesterday's Oprah show, "Discovering The Secret," featured Rhonda Byrne, creator of The Secret DVD, with a panel of personalities from the film. If you've been reading this blog you know I'm no fan of The Secret. However, I respect Oprah and with so many people excited about this film, I wanted to see how she would position it on her show.
Oprah's producers are brilliant; they know that, after all these years of offering good, solid information, their audience won't buy half-baked spiritual junk. So I wasn't that surprised to see how beautifully The Secret was presented on the February 8th show. In fact, this Oprah segment was a lot more substantial than The Secret film itself. With the exception of Byrne and Jack "Chicken Soup for the Soul" Canfield, who both spouted the usual Law of Attraction platitudes, the panelists came off as deeply aware and grounded. They filled in some of the blanks I felt were missing in The Secret DVD around gratitude, opening the mind and present-moment awareness.
Still, "Workie" that I am, I can't help but compare Byron Katie's approach to abundance and happiness to that of The Secret.
From the Oprah website: "Gratitude is one example of the magnetic force of the universe. 'Basically, nothing new can come into your life unless you open yourself up to being grateful [for what you already have],' Michael [Beckwith] says."
Beautifully put...and we already know this. Won't someone please tell us how to tap into gratitude?
Byron Katie says that as a result of inquiry, what you are left with is gratitude. She doesn't say "Be grateful or you won't get what you want." Being gratitude is not an automatic function of the opinionated, unexamined mind. If we are told, "Be grateful" and we find we are not, why aren't we? It's because we have not questioned the stressful beliefs that keep us from recognizing the bounty which is already and always freely given.
From the Oprah website: "Lisa [Nichols] says...too many people who want to make things better focus on what's wrong with the present. 'Instead of wanting to change it, appreciate what's there,' Lisa says. 'Find the things about it that work...and by doing that, you create a space for it to get better.'"
So how do we find out what there is to love about what's there? Again, if it were automatically obvious, wouldn't we just do it?
"For example, Lisa says she would like to lose some weight. But instead of focusing on the negative—that she hasn't dropped the pounds yet—she loves and appreciates the present moment. "I accept it. I love it. I embrace every inch, every pound," she says. In this way, Lisa is creating the space to 'celebrate the now' and then invite better things into her life."
Byron Katie says of "loving what is": "Just when you think it can't possibly get better, it does. It's a law." And she doesn't leave us hanging with that. The way to love what is, is to first realize what is not. As long as we think "I haven't dropped the pounds" is a "negative," we are not truly celebrating the pounds...or the $100 as opposed to $1,000,000...or the spouse we have (or lack thereof) versus the spouse we think we should have.
From the Oprah website: "True forgiveness, James [Ray] says, is when you can say the following to the person who hurt you: 'Thank you for giving me that experience.'"
Byron Katie says, "Forgiveness is when you realize that what you thought happened, didn't." How can we know it did not happen? Through questioning thoughts like, "She hurt me." Is it true? Are we wounded, damaged, destroyed, the worse for wear? "Nobody can hurt me," Katie is famous for saying, "That's my job. I do that."
From the Oprah site: "But how can you forgive when something truly tragic or terrible happens? James [Ray] says you should grieve, but eventually you need to look for a hidden gift. 'Here's what I encourage people to ask themselves: How does this serve me?...If you're really willing to dig, there's a lesson in there,' James says. "And secondly, what can I learn from this situation?'"
Katie says, "Nothing terrible has ever happened," and "The worst that could happen is the best that could happen, but only always." Very reassuring; however, she doesn't expect us to believe this simply because she says so. That is how The Work's four questions and turnaround were born, to give people a way to replicate the "enlightenment" experience for ourselves. And even then, we don't stop with questioning our beliefs and turning them around; we delve deeply: how. specifically, is the worst that could happen actually for our highest good? Without the education of self-inquiry that The Work's four questions provide, we are merely jumping to the turnarounds, which can leave us feeling disconnected. If enlightenment could be experienced through a New Age version of Pollyanna's "glad game," we'd all be self-realized by now.
From Oprah: "In chronic situations with no end in sight, Michael says you should ask yourself another important question: 'If this were to last forever, what quality would I have to grow to have peace of mind? Now, as my attention goes to the quality I have to grow, that quality starts to emerge,' Michael says. 'The issue that I'm resisting and fighting against becomes less and less intense...it begins to dissolve because it doesn't have your attention any longer.'"
Sounds awfully complicated to me.
From Katie: "Who would you be without this thought?" That is a way into what Michael Beckwith hints at. Here's another hint: you don't have to "grow" any qualities. If you can answer Question Four of The Work, those qualities are already yours. The issue may continue to have your attention but you no longer give it any credence. That's when the issue dissolves. Resistance is born of (stressful) belief.
From the Oprah website:"'I'm the first example of how the world is supposed to love me and I have to give them the best example ever,' [Lisa Nichols] says. 'We expect someone to show us our greatness when [instead] I'm supposed to show up understanding my greatness and allowing you to celebrate it with me.'"
Katie says, "Your turnarounds are your prescription for happiness." How will you show up knowing who you are? By questioning what you are not. That leaves the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Willing ourselves to have great self-esteem has never worked.
From the Oprah site: "You can start living the The Secret today by following three simple steps: Ask. Believe. Receive."
Katie asks: "Do you believe everything you think?" If you do, then you believe you are a manifester, more powerful than God. Then if you get what you want, you say "I did it." If you don't get what you want, then "I" did it wrong.
From James Ray on the Oprah site: "'It's not, 'If you build it, they will come,' necessarily. It's, 'If you build it and it provides value, they will come,'...'It's that heart space. Not 'What can I get?' but 'What can I give and how can I serve?' And when you're in that moment, the universe lines up behind you and it's at your command.'"
Katie: "On my knees is my favorite position." Maybe that's the same thing in essence...without the marketing-tinged angle of "adding value." For me it feels more natural and true when I'm the grateful servant rather than to arrogantly dictate to reality that I'm the one in charge. A sense of entitlement implies there is a lack; is that true? Service with motive to gain is not service at all. Serving others as the service to oneself contains everything. I don't expect the universe to line up behind me. Can I line up behind the universe, God, what is? Can I do what I am asking the universe to do? Alignment is not a getting or a doing, it's a being. It is grace. Can I stop wanting, wanting, wanting for a moment and just notice that alignment is here?
So from where I sit, The Secret has not been revealed through this movie, or through the Oprah segment on it...yet. It can be revealed when we ask ourselves to clue us in to what we truly want. I know of only one way to do that which works for me and, thanks to Byron Katie, it is no secret at all. That's my story until it isn't; and I'm open to being proven wrong.
(Read the comments to see some work I did on this at the behest of a reader named Patty. Thanks, Patty!)