Yoga and ‘The Secret’… How to heal your ‘Attitude of Platitude’…


Everything is in YOUR Power.

All you need to do is believe.

How intoxicating to be told that YOU have all the power. You just never realized it. You were struggling through life with your mundane Muggle problems, your bills, your debts, your crappy job, your crappy relationships and all the time the solution was there all along. You just didn’t believe it is all.

Thats ‘The Secret’ in a nutshell. The universe is bountiful and to tap into its inexhaustible supply of bounty all you have to do is BELIEVE and IMAGINE. It’s based on Physics and everything!!!! Apparently the Universe wants you to be rich, rich, rich.

All you need to do is buy the book. Actually to get it right you should buy them all. And if its not working you probably need to ‘invest’ in a workshop.

This blog is about ‘The Secret’ and all those New Age platitudes posted on Facebook. I’ve tried not to use sarcasm but I was unsuccessful.

The success of ‘The Secret’ is understandable. Especially living in a society where the cement faced Kardashians whining at each other on TV are considered inspirational. Where we are constantly on the edge of ruin or at least being told we are. We live in fear. Fear of terrorism. Fear of ageing. Fear of toxins. Fear of cancer. Fending off our fears with distractions, with comforts we can buy. With reality TV. With gossip. With mad diets. With alcohol. And if you find yourself in a bookshop, or search online for a way out, or a path you will find ‘The Secret’ as well as numerous spin offs. It’s not uncommon to find ‘The Secret’ in the same section as Yoga in a bookshop.

A real danger of The Secret is that there is a grain of truth in it. That is that the way you perceive the world affects your behaviour -which in turn affects how people (and the world in general) relate to you- which affects how you are treated- which can affect that which may or may not come your way. Behaving with genuine warmth, openness and charm can often bring more good your way. But relationship building skills are just that. No great esoteric ‘Secret’ there. Human beings tend to respond positively to that which makes them feel good. We’re lazy that way. The success of ‘The Secret’ being just one example of that. Oh, and Class A drugs are fairly popular for similar reasons. Expensive Tarot phone lines and cheesecake too. I could go on.

Conversely if you walk around with a face like a smacked arse, being vindictive and fearful because you believe the world is a terrible place and people are all out to get you then your belief will most likely be vindicated. No one will be much inclined to give you a break. However that’s Positive Versus Negative thinking. Nothing mystical about that. Perception can be a very powerful thing and whether your own perception works in your favour could be purely down to chance given your own life circumstances. I believe in the power of belief and visualisation but having a focussed mind is not necessarily mystical either. In the past I have visualised events and they have had an uncanny way of coming to fruition, but to an extent we do create the world around us daily anew through the lenses we are given/choose.

As I travel a lot I often look down from plane windows and I am always struck by just how huge the world is. How most of this planet is in actual fact empty of humans. Looking down over central Asia when flying back from India and the endless steppes and forests I wonder if there are hidden communities. And wonder how much we really do know of this world. Certainly if statistics are to be believed the world in which ‘The Secret’ flourishes is just a small bubble when less than a quarter of people in the world have regular access to a computer. The Secret is intended for, and marketed towards those who have the means to stop and ruminate. The Secret is a business and the target market is those with money.

Let me propose an empirical experiment –TO PROVE WHETHER OR NOT THIS SHIT ACTUALLY WORKS. How about ‘The Secret’ being translated into Swahili and Yoruba and packages of the books getting air dropped on to the areas of famine in Sub Saharan Africa? If literacy is an issue the Tribal Elders can get together with Relief workers to spread its teachings in the areas where the people nearly dying of starvation just need to get over their ‘Poverty Mentality’. How quickly would the fields turn green and fatted calves of Biblical proportions appear? Because the Universe should want this surely?

Or, while we are on the subject – because I am not just limiting myself to ‘The Secret’ here but New Age platitudes in general- how about that old favourite ‘Everything happens for a reason’ or ‘ This is all part of YOUR Sacred journey’? Would you say that to someone that had just been gang raped in a war zone? Because you might then want to give them a chirpy little lecture on the importance of ‘boundaries’ and how ‘no one will love you until you love yourself’.

Do I sound a little angry?! Well it does make me angry. Because all this Pseudo Spirituality is nothing more than marketing. Nothing more than manipulation.

‘The Secret’ is also a perfect reason for people to be selfish. Selfishness with a hallmark of spiritual approval. ‘I am just where I need to be’. ‘Good things come to me’. It absolves you of social responsibility as it is all about you. All about what you want. Well actually it’s all about letting your ego get into the driving seat and take the reins. And like that popular image of the charioteer in India which is to illustrate how our egos and senses can drive us in our lifes journey, if we believe ‘The Secret’ then our horses are blinkered too. Living completely up one’s own arse ensures Tunnel Vision Extraordinaire… If the Universe wants anything, does it not want us to be better people? Would it not want us to prioritise taking better care of the planet? To love more? To stop wasting our energy and focus buying the next thing and the next thing?

So how can we look at this in the context of Yoga? In the first section of The Yoga Sutra we can find the origins of ‘The Secret’. This kind of thinking is based on 1.4 ‘Vrtti Sarupyam Itaratra’ which Satchidananda translates as when we have ‘lost sight of our Original Selves’ and so we are obsessed with our thoughts and our bodies. . The Sutras give clear guidelines as to what we are aiming for right from the word go. This is to still the mind. Overcome disturbed thinking. To sink into the depths of a clear pool. To not be led astray by the senses .When you still experience the kind of cravings which mean you spend your spare time making wish lists for more, more, more , well that is not liberation.

The Sutras outline the different causes of misery. Namely incorrect understanding and misconception. That we don’t necessarily perceive truth as it is but accept inferred versions of it. Or we see our own fantasies or nightmares peering back at us. As we journey toward liberation we must accept that our vision is often skewed. That we do not have all the understanding yet. We need to have humility. We need to let go of everything in order to truly receive. And receive that which is, in the end, the only thing worth having. If we want to be truly powerful we must become a vessel through which something else can flow.

I love the Yoga Sutras for their relative simplicity. The emphasis on living more simply. Of not getting so entangled in drama, in desire, of raging. Of being in this world but not of it. Of still engaging with the world but being useful. Like that St Francis verse, of being a channel of peace.

I love the Yoga Sutras because when you reflect on them, truths start to emerge. That is that human nature is not inherently noble as some would love to believe. That Man is not the superhero and blueprint for all existence as the Classical writers loved to think. The truth is that human nature can be warped. It can be skewed and it can be ugly. We hear about the Concentration Camp survivors after World War Two and how full of love they are for that experience. We don’t hear so much about the ones who didn’t survive because it all got too much and they started to murder each other. To even practice cannibalism as they were so desperate. So hungry. Maybe some of them were just more fragile mentally and physically than the Heros and Heroines we are so addicted to. Human nature can be low, fearful, desperate, cowardly and deeply selfish. And somehow Divine Love has to find its way through this nature. Like trying to get through a sewer.

And so the Yoga Sutras are a sensible guide. What we need to do to be a better vessel for the divine.Realize our shortcomings and move beyond them without getting trapped in the labels or the stories. How to source strength. When I read them I believe that through these teachings we can realize our Shadow as it tends to reside in what we see and perceive. It is incredibly powerful to realize we can let go. And that is a different kind of choice. To choose the path of Yoga and to view the world in that context is a choice that cannot be taken from you. And you can choose integrity. You can choose to live with eyes wide open.

But believing that we are ultimately responsible for EVERYTHING in our life. How very arrogant. And this belief will give us more Kleshas to deal with. More obstacles. Accepting our own nature is key. As is accepting the events around you. Accepting that which happens to you. Accepting that Life plays out as it will and fate kicks in regardless. Even accepting that whilst we can often choose our actions, controlling our reactions may be a lifelong labour. That doesn’t mean we should be passive either. It just means we need to learn to interact better with the events of our lives rather than live in denial and push everything away. Build relationships with all the events rather than just the ones you asked for.

As human beings, like it or not we are part of a greater whole. A Network. The Web of Wyrd. Separation is illusory. Our choices are limited as we are bound in space and time and we do have a shelf life. Like it or not you do not get to choose whether or not you get ill. You can do all that you can to stay healthy but if illness comes anyway, well, it comes. Likewise with redundancy. Or war. Or random violence. And we should not live our lives in denial. New Age platitudes are the energetic equivalent of sticking your thumbs in your ears and singing loudly to avoid the uncomfortable truth of what is. New Age platitudes are so much about avoiding pain by pretending we can make sense of it all. Pretending, with a sage nod that we are the wise ones who ‘get it’ and therefore somehow above everyone else. Because vulnerability is scary and we don’t want to be like everyone else.

If you are in the happy situation of being one of those people who can meditate on the spurious teachings of ‘The Secret’ why not instead meditate on just how blessed you are, to be so privileged. And then go out and share your blessings rather than brattishly demanding more. Get out into the world and help people. You might learn something real. You might come to know that all is not as it seems and that we are regularly being lied to from all angles. You might discover Truth without needing an intermediary of any kind.

Things can come, and they can be taken away. We may not like to think ourselves vulnerable but the truth is we are, and we always have been.
What choices do we have?

We can choose to hold ourselves and each other
We can choose Compassion
We can choose Creativity
And to Love

And to work at being loving

I believe the Power we can tap into through Yoga is so much more than anything ‘The Secret’ has to offer. But it doesn’t come easily. We need courage (heart strength) to live our Truth and keep our faith and stay on the path. To be loving regardless of what you are dealt. And its hard. Very hard. To live with your heart wide open. Not all salmons make it upstream. When we realize how fragile we actually are the miracle of our own existence in this present moment could overwhelm you completely. I hope that doesn’t sound like a Platitude. Cars, houses, people, dreams, goals, your physique, these are all things that can be taken away from you. True realization can’t be taken away from you. Let’s move towards something worth having. Let’s not let our desires grab the reigns but live from a different place entirely. Lets not be so blind.

Love Is The Law.

2 thoughts on “Yoga and ‘The Secret’… How to heal your ‘Attitude of Platitude’…”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *