Whirled Musings

Across the Universe with Cosmic Connie, aka Connie L. Schmidt...or maybe just through the dung-filled streets and murky swamps of pop culture -- more specifically, the New-Age/New-Wage crowd, pop spirituality & religion, pop psychology, self(ish)-help, business babble, media silliness, & related (or occasionally unrelated) matters of consequence. Hope you're wearing boots. (By the way, the "Cosmic" bit in my moniker is IRONIC.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Unevolved...or just unimpressed?

I want to share something that might come as a bit of a surprise to some fans of The Secret. You could, I suppose, call it another secret. Here it is: Not everybody who dislikes The Secret, or argues against the assertion that the Law Of Attraction is "scientific," does so because he or she is (1) "not ready" for the message; (2) not spiritually or emotionally evolved enough to grasp Truth; (3) closed-minded; or (4) jealous of the rich New-Wagers who have cleaned up so handsomely on The Secret.

When it comes to the ideas promoted in The Secret, some of us have simply "been there, done that." It’s not that we’re not ready for these ideas. It’s just that, for any number of reasons, we’re not impressed by them. It’s not that our minds aren’t open, or that we are incapable of grasping the Law Of Attraction. Many of us have seriously considered the ideas and rejected them, or perhaps have even embraced some of these notions ourselves at one time, but have since discarded them. (And I daresay most of us who reject the idea that the Law Of Attraction is a scientific principle formed that opinion after studying material produced by real scientists.)

And it’s not that we begrudge the New-Wage capitalists their wealth. Many of us simply take issue with the way some of that wealth has been gained: at worst, by selling empty promises, and at best, by selling…well, the opportunity to sell. Regarding the latter, I think Blair Warren put it very well in this post on his Crooked Wisdom blog. (He took a more cynically humorous approach in this one.) Read Blair’s posts and ask yourself, Do those sound like the words of someone who is "not ready" for the message in The Secret, or who is too spiritually undeveloped to grasp it? Or do they sound as if they were written by someone who has observed the dynamics of New-Wage culture and sees The Secret as little more than another example – though a stunningly successful one – of viral marketing and MLM-style hustling?

As I wrote the other day on a discussion on my blog, someone looking at the "bigger picture" might say that the Secret/LOA phenomenon is just like any other cult, or, in less extreme cases, any other self-help or spiritual path in which people get all caught up. (As a matter of fact, there is a big Secret discussion going on at Rick Ross’s Cult Education Forum.)

When it comes to self-help/spiritual exploration, it seems to me that most of us are either "coming" or "going." And where we are on the path of exploration will have at least some influence on our opinion of The Secret. Those who are on their way in one direction – who are either still in the starry-eyed, "oh-wow" stage of spiritual/mystical discovery, or who've been "into" it a while but have some sort of emotional or financial investment in it – are much inclined to love The Secret. They are the ones most likely to reject or even resent criticism of it, with many dismissing the critics as being negative, poor sports, spiritually ignorant, jealous of the success of others, and the like.

Criticism of The Secret is far more likely to be accepted or shared by those who are on their way in the other direction – people who are experiencing early or late stages of disillusionment – or those who never got much into spiritual and/or self-help stuff in the first place. (Of the latter, I’ve found, some have applauded my treatment of The Secret, while others have thought I’m not being critical enough, or that I am being critical for the "wrong" reasons.)

Even so, we are all more or less on the same road, though it seems to be a very wide two-way street. As I also noted in my recent discussion, some would say it’s a circular track, and I’d have to agree. I've been going round and round on this track for a while, and I keep passing the same people.

Most of you who are regular visitors to this blog have probably read what I’ve written, on my Cosmic Relief web site, about my own spiritual journey, such as it is. For those who haven’t, here are some links:

"Cosmic Connie Confesses" – My "electronic drunkalogue," in two parts:

The twelve-and-a-half steps of Personal Growth Survivors Anonymous (originally written as a promo for my book-like product, Cosmic Relief)

My attempt to get serious about the self-help/new-age culture, written back in my earlier days as a skeptic:

And here’s a bonus, written 13 or so years ago but still relevant today. This isn’t about my spiritual adventures; it’s just a little something for anyone who may have been the victim of a New-Wage practitioner:

The point is, I'm not new to any of this stuff. I once enthusiastically embraced some of the ideas and teachings that I now lampoon. I've learned some lessons the hard way, and I'm not finished learning.

But I do think I’m getting a little bit tired of writing about The Secret again, especially since I’ve just recently discovered an even more amazing breakthrough. So stay tuned, because what I am going to reveal next is really going to blow your skirt up. I hope you're wearing underpants.

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Anonymous moi said...

Hey Connie,
After thinking about all this stuff again and reading your post, I realize that some of my criticisms of the secret are not based on the fact they can't prove the LOA, because there are a lot of things people can't prove scientifically, but on the lack of depth of spiritual insight it displays. It is very formulaic, and taken to an extreme, can easily lead to the blame the victim mentality that you've already talked about a lot on this blog. Also, in my own personal experience, I 've had an ex boyfriend become a fundamentalist LOA practitioner. The more he got into it, the less real our conversations seemed to become. Any display of worry, doubt and negativity on my part were quickly countered with "don't think that, you'll just attract it to you". Hearing that only made me feel worse because I felt he was reducing the range of emotion I was able to express and thus reducing my humanity.
That's my story with the Secret, and i'm only putting it out there cause I know from experience how easily it is to get seduced by all sorts of spiritual shananigans in the early stages of a spiritual search.
.....and I am not tired of your blogs about the Secret. For some reason the subject still fascinates me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 6:18:00 PM  
Blogger Citizen Deux said...

Now I have to buy underpants!!!


ver word - sqkmmhg

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 6:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Oh, don't worry, Moi, I'm not finished writing about "The Secret." But there are so many other things in the New Wage world that need my attention too. So I thought I'd blog about them again too, though of course "The Secret" will always have a special place in my affections. :-)

As I've noted before, your experience is so similar to mine in many ways. Through the years I have encountered quite a few people who were "fundies" in one way or another, and their conversations too were quite "unreal." For some, their "path" had become their sole frame of reference, and their conversation was littered with terms and concepts and jargon related to that "path." It's difficult enough to talk to these folks at parties, but to go through the experience of having someone to whom you're close mutate into a droid is really pretty disturbing.

Your LOA story, Moi, is important for the very reasons you state. It is so very easy to get seduced in the early stages of spiritual searching. OTOH, there are people who become so addicted to the "newness" and thrill of "discovery" that they hop about from one spiritual path to another, hoping each time that maybe *this* will be the one. (Of course, we see the same phenomenon in people who repeatedly get into short-term love relationships.)

If you haven't done so already, you might check out that Rick Ross "Secret" forum I linked to in today's post.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 6:34:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

"Now I have to buy underpants!!!

That makes two of us, CD. :-)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007 6:35:00 PM  
Anonymous moi said...

Connie, I did go to the Ron Ross discussion. I especially liked the comments of the person with the moniker 'anticult'. He says it all pretty much in a nutshell.

As for spiritual searches, I myself am done with hopping from one path to another, though to tell you the truth, I never really had a "path". I just read things that make sense to me and go about my business without evaluating people based on their 'spiritual credentials'.
Now I guess I also have to get some underpants.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 8:31:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Sounds like you have a pretty commonsense approach to the spiritual stuff, Moi.

I understand they have underpants at Victoria's Secret, though I usually go there to buy fragrances, not lingerie. I did some research about Victoria and found out that..get this...her big Secret also centers around the Law Of Attraction. In fact, V.S. is all about attraction.

The techniques taught at V.S. are a little more straightforward than those taught in The Secret, though, and are concerned not so much with the spiritual but with the material (generally nylon/Lycra ®).

However, they are apparently involved in angel commmunications at V.S. too, judging from those nearly-nekkid winged wimmen who prance down the runways at their fashion shows...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger RevRon's Rants said...

I summarily reject any belief system which requires that women wear undergarments. If such dictates are followed, it will mean that the spiriterrorists have won! :-)

On a more serious note, I have noticed that on one of the Secret hypermarketers' blog, he never responds to substantive questions or challenges, no matter how civil and reasoned those challenges might be. He's quick to offer a wave of the hand and the trademark condescending dismissal of the more acerbic challenges, but has yet to offer anything in the way of a response to honest questions.

I know that if i were opening a discussion on my own deeply held beliefs, I would be willing to address any reasonable points made, even (especially) those which expressed a misinterpretation of that belief system. Doing so would in no way diminish my beliefs unless those beliefs were built upon falsehoods.

To offer only condescension to challenges - while offering pats on the back for agreement - indicates that the system being touted simply doesn't stand up to any kind of scrutiny. And to brush aside any questions as being merely a "descent into negativity" that must be avoided is pure cowardice, IMHO. A thing becomes true when it is tested and remains intact. To hide from any test is to admit that the system being presented is a sham.

There is much to be gained from approaching life with a positive outlook, and I will grant that there are some points in the LOA/Secret which could improve people's lives. Unfortunately, those points that do have substantive value are tainted by association with wishful thinking claims that run contrary to common sense and real "laws," both physical and spiritual, professed by individuals more notable for their marketing efforts than their spiritual quests.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Not to worry, Ron, at least the spiriterrorists haven't won in our house (nudge-nudge, wink-wink).

I too find it interesting that the person to whom you are referring hasn't answered some of the real challenges on his blog. But give him the benefit of the doubt, why don't ya? Maybe he took the suggestion of one of his supporters and is preoccupied with planning a party in his new mansion for the old friends who have turned against him. If he does this, I suggest he pay their way out to California -- first class tickets, of course, limo pickup at the airport, royal treatment all the way.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 10:52:00 AM  
Anonymous moi said...

Maybe if you(not you literally) concentrate hard enough on one of those winged wonders, that too will materialize from the universal mail order catalogue.
In fact, maybe if I believe in myself enough and write an intention every day, I can become one and get an ass as hot as the one in that picture, (not that I don't alradyy have one (lol)), and attract a soul mate who looks like Harry Connick Jr.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 1:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Or if you're a real professional manifester, you'll ask for all that, "or something better." :-)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007 1:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By John Gravois on slate.com
Posted Wednesday, May 16, 2007, at 2:17 PM ET

"The gaggle of gurus who peddle The Secret's message all over the world are still out there, arguing that it is the answer to every atrocity and tragedy. One went so far as to blame the suffering in Darfur on stinkin' thinkin'.

That's a lot to answer for. But don't worry, Oprah. You still have the power to turn this entire misguided craze into a "teachable moment." And I know how you can do it. Just have your people pick up the phone right now and invite Karen Cerulo on to your show.

Karen Cerulo, a professor at Rutgers University, wrote a book last year called Never Saw It Coming. In it, she argues that we are individually, institutionally, and societally hellbent on wishful thinking. The Secret tells us to visualize best-case scenarios and banish negative ones from our minds. Never Saw It Coming says that's what we've been doing all along—and we get blindsided by even the most foreseeable disasters because of it.

In her research, Cerulo found that when most of us look out at the world and plan for our future, we fuzz out our vision of any failure, fluke, disease, or disaster on the horizon. Instead, we focus on an ideal future, we burnish our best memories, and, well, we watch a lot of your show. Meanwhile, we're inarticulate about worst-case scenarios. Just thinking about them makes us nervous and uncomfortable.

A glance at a few statistics shows that most of us see just what we want. In a national survey of parents by the Public Agenda organization, a hefty majority said their child never stays out too late, never uses bad language, never wears sloppy or revealing clothes, and never does poorly in school. Only a third of American sunbathers use sunscreen, and Californians are almost twice as likely to play the lottery as they are to buy earthquake insurance. When the American Association of Retired Persons asked a sample of adults what they expected from old age, most said they figured they would always have enough money and good health to do what they wanted. And only 30 percent of Americans have written their wills.

How is this working out for us? Think of all the times you've heard the refrain, "I never thought it would happen to me." The American Academy of Dermatology projects that one in five Americans will contract skin cancer sometime in their lives. According to the author of the AARP study, elderly Americans have a "high probability" of eventually falling into poverty, and the surveyed adults had "unrealistic expectations about their physical abilities as they grow older." (Most said they did not have a plan for old age.) And death—the event that really knocks the wind out of The Secret—still has a 100 percent chance of happening to all of us, no matter what we think. "

Friday, May 25, 2007 4:17:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Connie said...

Thanks, Anon. I linked to this fine article by Gravois on my May 19 post.

Friday, May 25, 2007 4:52:00 PM  

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