There's a scandal boiling over into the national media regarding lawsuits against Rhonda Byrne, the woman who brought The Secret movie and book to the world. It's not yet known whether they will be settled before they go to trial, but whatever path the story takes, it has powerful lessons for all of us who are interested in spirituality, metaphysics and manifestation.
Here's the quick sketch: Drew Heriot, director of The Secret movie (and according to him, co-creator of the project), is suing Rhonda Byrne and her company for $340 million dollars. He claims that Rhonda cheated him out of millions of dollars of profits that are rightfully his. You can get all the details here.
The Bigger Question
Here's the bigger question, stated bluntly:
How did Rhonda Byrne, proponent and chief promulgator of the Law of Attraction, end up attracting such a large number lawsuits and disgruntled former team members? Is it just a case of greed gone wild? Or is it a brilliant confirmation of how the Law of Attraction actually works?
On the surface, it looks like a movie business squabble, but there's a lot more to it. If it were just one movie-type trying to squeeze money out of another, it would be easy to understand. We generally don't expect much in the way of integrity from people in the movie business. A Hollywood wag once said something along the lines of "You can take all the integrity in Hollywood, put it in a gnat's eye, and still have room left over for an agent's heart."
However, most of us have higher standards for those who speak on behalf of God or purport to teach us the laws of the universe. What grips our attention about The Secret lawsuits is the same thing that compels many of us to read stories about preachers who get busted for sexual shenanigans or priests who molest children. Such events remind us of the dangers of hypocrisy and the ever-present possibility of having life turn ironical on us. When a massively successful movie about the Law of Attraction ends up attracting equally massive lawsuits, it blows the lid off the irony-meter, bringing to mind Lily Tomlin's observation that "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."
New Age scandals usually involve sex, not money, and nearly always involve gurus who get busted for fondling more than their beads. For example, Kathlyn and I were once engaged as consultants by a well-known yoga ashram on the East Coast. They brought us in to help their organization regain its footing after the guru got caught doing a highly unorthodox form of the Downward Facing Dog with several devotees. Such transgressions of power always leave a wake of pain behind, but they're so common in spiritual circles that they hardly register more than a flicker of interest these days. "The Secret" scandal is different, and not only because it's about a huge amount of money. At a deeper level it is about the interface of integrity and the power of manifestation, a subject that has truly life-changing consequences.
Hazards Of The Law Of Attraction
In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I had my own issues with Rhonda and The Secret, due to integrity flaws I saw in the project. Kathlyn and I were filmed for The Secret, spending several hours being interviewed by Rhonda and her crew in a suite at the Beverly Hills hotel. One of our close friends, Jack Canfield, had been interviewed and recommended that we meet her. The interview went fine, but it was clear that Rhonda wanted to focus the interview only on the positive side of the Law of Attraction. There were two key points we wanted to make sure got into the movie, but when we tried to bring them up Rhonda steered us away from them.
Here are the key points about the Law of Attraction that didn't make it into the movie: Key point #1 is that unless you combine the Law of Attraction with impeccable integrity, you can attract a peck of troubles along with anything positive that comes your way. The Law of Attraction is very powerful, and if you don't speak honestly and keep your promises while you're practicing it, you can actually cause yourself harm through the use of its techniques. That's why Kathlyn and I, in teaching seminars on the Law of Attraction for thirty years, teach a system that combines techniques of manifestation with a dedication to the practice of integrity.
Key point #2: Using the Law of Attraction is a quick way to trigger your Upper Limit Problem, an issue I describe in detail in my new book, The Big Leap. The Upper Limit Problem is the tendency to sabotage yourself when you experience a rapid upsurge in success. If you haven't built a solid foundation of integrity under you, a rapid upturn in your fortunes can bring forth old self-esteem issues that cause you to bring yourself back down to your more familiar lower level of success. The current lawsuit is a classic example of an Upper Limit Problem. Unfortunately, as I point out in The Big Leap, we humans often don't realize we're in the midst of our own Upper Limit Problem because we're too busy blaming the problem on someone else. Then, when lawyers and dollar signs enter the picture, blame usually escalates into expensive pandemonium.
After the interviews, we didn't hear anything from Rhonda for a while. I began to grow more and more concerned that The Secret was not going to give "air-time" to concepts such as integrity, honesty and the keeping of agreements. Then, we heard that Esther and Jerry Hicks, two people of high integrity whom I admire very much, decided to pull out of the project. At that point Kathlyn and I lost interest in the project and began a two-year process of trying to get our footage back. The good news is that a few months ago we succeeded in getting the footage back and have plans to make it available to everyone who wants to get a more thorough understanding of the Law of Attraction. If you would like to see the footage when it's available, let us know firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, let's all use the legal dramas around The Secret as a good lesson on using the Law of Attraction in the context of a focus on impeccable integrity.