The Secret

Rhonda Byrne's book The Secret has literally helped hundreds of millions of people achieve their goals and deepest desires. Here's one such man's tale of positive visualization, which he's shared for us on The Secret's Amazon.com customer reviews page:
1,385 of 1,406 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars The Secret saved my life!, December 4, 2007
Please allow me to share with you how "The Secret" changed my life and in a very real and substantive way allowed me to overcome a severe crisis in my personal life. It is well known that the premise of "The Secret" is the science of attracting the things in life that you desire and need and in removing from your life those things that you don't want. Before finding this book, I knew nothing of these principles, the process of positive visualization, and had actually engaged in reckless behaviors to the point of endangering my own life and wellbeing.

At age 36, I found myself in a medium security prison serving 3-5 years for destruction of government property and public intoxication. This was stiff punishment for drunkenly defecating in a mailbox but as the judge pointed out, this was my third conviction for the exact same crime. I obviously had an alcohol problem and a deep and intense disrespect for the postal system, but even more importantly I was ignoring the very fabric of our metaphysical reality and inviting destructive influences into my life.

My fourth day in prison was the first day that I was allowed in general population and while in the recreation yard I was approached by a prisoner named Marcus who calmly informed me that as a new prisoner I had been purchased by him for three packs of Winston cigarettes and 8 ounces of Pruno (prison wine). Marcus elaborated further that I could expect to be [...] raped by him on a daily basis and that I had pretty eyes.

Needless to say, I was deeply shocked that my life had sunk to this level. Although I've never been homophobic I was discovering that I was very rape phobic and dismayed by my overall personal street value of roughly $15. I returned to my cell and sat very quietly, searching myself for answers on how I could improve my life and distance myself from harmful outside influences. At that point, in what I consider to be a miraculous moment, my cell mate Jim Norton informed me that he knew about the Marcus situation and that he had something that could solve my problems. He handed me a copy of "The Secret". Normally I wouldn't have turned to a self help book to resolve such a severe and immediate threat but I literally didn't have any other available alternatives. I immediately opened the book and began to read.

The first few chapters deal with the essence of something called the "Law of Attraction" in which a primal universal force is available to us and can be harnessed for the betterment of our lives. The theoretical nature of the first few chapters wasn't exactly putting me at peace. In fact, I had never meditated and had great difficulty with closing out the chaotic noises of the prison and visualizing the positive changes that I so dearly needed. It was when I reached Chapter 6 "The Secret to Relationships" that I realized how this book could help me distance myself from Marcus and his negative intentions. Starting with chapter six there was a cavity carved into the book and in that cavity was a prison shiv. This particular shiv was a toothbrush with a handle that had been repeatedly melted and ground into a razor sharp point.

The next day in the exercise yard I carried "The Secret" with me and when Marcus approached me I opened the book and stabbed him in the neck. The next eight weeks in solitary confinement provided ample time to practice positive visualization and the 16 hours per day of absolute darkness actually made visualization about the only thing that I actually could do. I'm not sure that everybody's life will be changed in such a dramatic way by this book but I'm very thankful to have found it and will continue to recommend it heartily.

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The comments, by the way, are great, too.

Thanks to Larry Shallenberger for finding this!


  1. um, jordan, thank you for posting this. amazing!

  2. um.. Jordan... what am I missing?

    Is this supposed to be a rhetorical tongue-in-cheek poke at a pop-culture phenomenon?

    That's something I expect, and enjoy, about burnside.

    But... Burnside also has a healthy habit of digging a little deeper. So my shock with this post is that there's no social commentary. No food-for-thought summary. No, not even an open-ended question or invitation to conversation.

    (Did I miss a post where this is happening/has already been done?)

    The fact of the matter is that this is a huge part of our culture. This is the new Religion. Back in the day, everyone was at least a catholic. Then, everyone became an atheist. While I think that's still "trendy" in some circles... "The Law of Attraction" -- i feel -- is the religion we are going to have to have answers to today.

    Unsure? I just read a book that attempted to wrap the message and story of Jesus around the Secret's Law of Attraction.
    Title? "The Secret According to Jesus: No One will be Left Behind" (No, the author is -not- Brian McLaren)

    This was a small, nearly pamphlet sized publication, but the fact remains... The story you posted proves one thing. And to many, it is considered a heart-warming Testimony.

    The Secret is the new trend for people who are looking to find answers.

    What are we going to say to them?

  3. I think the Amazon review needs no commentary.

    As for The Secret According to Jesus: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." and "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

    Let's see who's attracted to that.

  4. Secrets don't make friends.

    Especially with Jesus.

    My captcha word: reveme

    Used in a sentence: You sure do reveme engine!

  5. Chase, this post was meant to simply amuse. Sorry for the guilty indulgence.

    I think the strongest critique of the Law of Attraction would be to hold it up against a newspaper.

    How would we explain the bombings in Gaza...

    Or a deranged shooter massacring in a daycare...

    Or Columbine...

    Or the VT Massacre...

    It would be absolutely offensive to attribute the deaths of the innocent people in these tragedies to "The Law of Attraction." (Well, you folk were too negative and brought this upon yourselves.) It's offensive for me to even type that.

    There's a nugget of truth in the secret-- our attitudes and expectations influence our outcomes. But it's distorted to the point where the reader is told that he or she can be the sovereign self-ruler of their lives.And that just ain't so.

    (If you can't find humor in the word "shiv", you just aren't trying.)

  6. Larry, I appreciate the response.

    I've lately been hyper-saturated with people that carry this thinking lately, and was excited to see "Burnside..: 'The Secret'" come across my Feed. I was let down when there wasn't the weighty-insight I'd hoped for... but I should have taken my dirt-kicking to somewhere other than the comment form.

    On that note, I thoroughly agree with what you said. I feel the half-truthed logic of "The Law of Attraction" seems plausible up until you apply it to any situation outside of yourself.

    ...Maybe we're just not supposed to tell Gaza or Africa about it. And that's why it's called the Secret...

    What appears common sense to some (us) doesn't quite make it in our self-indulged, quick-fix culture.

    Nonetheless, I don't think this topic will be disappearing from our sights any time too soon.

    Thank you again for your comments. I'll stop kicking rocks now. :)

    (are we sharing captcha's? Mine's "wartant". Yeah: wartant.)

  7. Chase,

    While I appreciate your expectation of trenchant social commentary from us at all times, this blog is also about being entertaining.

    In the case of this post, I felt the parody of it (basically, saying "the secret" is stupid) was good enough.


  8. Jordan,
    I understand. (And let it be said, I am also a fan of Burnside's humor laden posts.)

    My Bad.

    (had to try it for myself. you're right again, Larry)

  9. I don't know what was more shocking, stabbing Marcus in the neck or his surprise at the discovery of "rape-phobia."

  10. ...okay. I like to practice repentance and confession best I can.

    I have something to confess:

    I some how missed the glorious moment when Our Favorite Jail-Bird stabbed his new [would it be inappropriate to say "Partner in Crime" here?]. Admittedly, I think I was skimming to the end for commentary.

    Nonetheless, I have to tell you. The second-time 'round definitely provoked an irony-induced chuckle from me.

    ...shiv *giggle* now I get it...
    My bad.