Think, believe and you shall receive.
This is the essential idea conveyed in The Secret – the best-selling self-help book written by Rhonda Byrne and backed by the power that is Oprah herself.
Despite the fact that this book peaked in popularity about four years ago, I picked it up for the first time last week. I was in a perpetual funk. Feeling bummed, stressed from work, and moping on the couch for no good reason, I decided that maybe it was the right time to start reading the book that had been gifted to me almost two years ago. So I picked up The Secret and began to read. And then I began to wonder…
Does The Secret align itself with Judaism or is it mostly sacrilegious nonsense? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.
In the book, the author reveals that the secret to obtaining all of your hopes and dreams is the Law of Attraction. The law states that like attracts like. If you think negative thoughts you’ll attract negative things and vice versa. If you think about what you want, believe you already have it, and have unwavering faith that the Universe will provide it for you, than it will. It can be money, weight loss, the significant other you’ve been dreaming of. Anything really.
This law in some ways mirrors the Chassidic idea of “Think good and it will be good”. As the Rebbe taught, in order for the previous statement to work we need to have bitachon, or trust in G-d. This means we need to understand that if something happens that appears to be bad, on an unseen level G-d’s intent is for our good. That good may become apparent to us in this physical world or we may never fully see or understand the good that came from it. But we trust in G-d and we trust that it’s there.
Despite some basic similarities, the Secret differs from Judaism in several ways. While Judaism focuses on tzedakah (charity), tikkun olam (repairing the world), and treating others as you wish to be treated, the Secret focuses on the wants and desires of the self. The book even claims that you should treat yourself as you want others to treat you. While Judaism is focused on a larger community, the Secret is focused on the individual.
The Secret also strays from Judaism’s core principle: I am the Lord your G-d. Judaism is a monotheistic religion. By believing that we, as individuals, have the ability and wisdom to dictate how the world operates and to discern what is truly “good” we are essentially calling ourselves gods.
Although The Secret doesn’t exactly align itself with the Jewish beliefs of looking outside oneself for happiness by trusting G-d and bettering the world through mitzvot, the overarching message of the book is one I think Judaism would completely agree with: Be a positive person, be a grateful person, and have a little faith that good is coming your way.
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