Dissecting "The Secret"
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|This is the fifth in a series of articles that examines a craze called "The Secret." If you've thought that The Secret offers something Good or even Great, then what I will share in these articles will be even Greater — not because I say so, but because the weight of evidence supports this conclusion.|
| 1 - When the Head is Out of Harmony with the Heart
2 - Getting The Universe to Book Your Appearance on Oprah
3 - Hedonism Hiding In Sheep's Clothing: Twisting True Principles
4 - Faith as Feeling-Filled Visualization of what You Want
5- As a Man Thinketh in his Heart, not his Head
The difference between Heart and Head has vital application to the much misunderstood meaning of a familiar proverb:
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverb 23: 7).
Skipping the crucial connection between "thinking" and "heart," the common misapplication of this scripture goes straight to the popular yet erroneous assumption that the Mind functions like a programmable computer. The associated conclusion is thus:
"Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."
This statement by W. Clement Stone is actually half right and half wrong — which I will explain later. Truth is, when we endeavor to "conceive" and "believe" with mind-power only, the goals we can "achieve" are limited. Ask yourself why King Solomon's most prominent proverb cautions against heeding the wisdom of one's Head?
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and
Solomon suggests that productive thinking flows from a trusting heart, and NOT a haughty head; and in the very next verse the perspicacious King adds:
Be not wise in thine own eyes (Proverb 3: 7).
In the next chapter of Proverbs, King Solomon records this key principle:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it
Different from what King Solomon advised, "The Secret" asserts that Life's issues are solved by the power of a magnificent mind — a mind that knows and uses The Secret. Given the excitement that surrounds The Secret and its Head-heavy emphasis on vivid visualizations and positive affirmations, it appears the wise insights of Solomon have been forgotten.
The contrast between Heart versus Head comes clear as we let the Bible explain the meaning of the "heart" metaphor.
Disciples of The Secret say that "heart" represents emotion; thus, it is only emotion-filled thinking that puts the Law of Attraction into action! While such seems a reasonable interpretation of "as he thinketh in his heart," this conclusion can ONLY be arrived at by interpreting the meaning of the proverb out of context. As we pay attention to Bible teachings and Bible context, the Lord's intended meaning for Proverb 23: 7 is clarified.
What does the Bible teach about the Heart?
The scriptures make a vital distinction between living life from the Heart versus living life from the Head — the former is explicitly encouraged and the latter is firmly discouraged. Consider the contrast between thoughts that flow from a "contrite heart" (Psalm 51: 17) versus thinking that is guided by a "high-minded" head (2 Tim. 3: 4).
The Apostle Paul uses the word "heady" to describe a way of thinking and living that grinds against heartfelt ways that please the Lord. Further, the "heady" and "highminded" are condemned to this consequence: "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3: 7)
Being "heady" correlates to a condition called "hardhearted" (Ezekiel 3: 7). By paying attention to Biblical context, the meaning of words comes clear. For example, the word "hardhearted" points to a person's persistent failure to "hearken" to the word of God. Consider Pharaoh's hard heart as he repetitively pushed aside a prophet's persuasions (Exodus 9: 35).
Having a hard heart means stubbornly resisting the way of truth. Stubbornness of heart is also called: a "stony heart" (Ezekial 11: 19), "haughtiness of . . . heart" (Jeremiah 48: 29), "perverse heart" (Proverbs 12: 8), "proud in heart" (Proverbs 16: 5), and "double heart" (1 Chron. 12: 33).
The Bible also describes the "heart" condition that pleases the Lord with these words: "willing heart" (Exodus 35: 5), "wise hearted" (Exodus 35: 10), "uprightness of heart" (Psalm 119: 7), "whole heart" (Psalm 119: 145), "perfect heart" (1 Chron. 29: 9), "clean heart" (Psalm 73: 1), and "integrity of . . . heart" (Psalm 78: 72).
Interpreted within context, all these positive terms of "heart" point to a harmonious regard for the Law and the LawGiver. A you live with harmony of heart, particular promises unfold: God is your partner—David wrote "God is the strength of my heart" (Psalm 73: 26); God is your protector — Solomon records "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him" (Prov. 30: 5); and God is your provider— Moses taught "Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do" (Deut. 29: 9).
The dividing difference between those of with a haughty heart versus a humble heart comes down to a very simple test:
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in
In his proverb "as he thinketh in his heart," King Solomon wisely connected "thinking" with one's condition of "heart" — a condition manifest by a willingness to honor and obey the way of the Lord. The collective implication of all Bible passages that speak of "heart," suggest that the metaphor means one's communion and close connection with God — or not! The meaning of "heart" also indicates a truth revealed to Jeremiah:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make . . .
Would an infinitely wise and loving God simply create, and then leave His creations clueless as to life's meaning and purpose? Of course, He wouldn't! Because God is wise and loving beyond mortal comprehension, He has written upon the hearts of all humanity the way to fulfillment, and the way to overcome every challenging issue of life — which is precisely why Solomon penned this proverb:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it
Keeping one's heart with all diligence means hearing and heeding the subtle yet consistent impressions of the heart; a heart whereon the Lord has written His law—a law that leads to happiness and prosperity.
The Bible teaches that thinking continually occurs within two contrasting conditions of heart--humble versus hard. The condition of one's heart is of fundamental importance, for thinking flows from the Heart as water from a fountain.
Pay Attention: The previous statement flies in the face of the undergirding premise of The Secret and Cognitive Psychology, which is: The creative conjurings of Mind are the starting point from which human action and alternatives are initiated. This is simply NOT so! The truth is . . . each person's thinking and core identity is determined by, and is a reflection of, conditions of heart — this is a primary meaning of: "as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."
But the more common interpretation of the proverb is also valid: As a man thinketh in his heart, so will he become!
The Heart determines whether thoughts, words, and deeds will either flounder or flourish! It is the Heart that is foundational and primary, and not the Head. Failing to acknowledge the Heart and its rich Biblical meaning, a person might proceed to live like a boastful Toaster, who pridefully primps its magnificent toasting ability — while failing to acknowledge its own electrical cord and the electricity supplied by a nearby outlet. You see, with NO electricity, the Toaster can boast of nothing!
Isaiah expressed this same point through these analogies:
Shall the ax boast itself against him that heweth therewith? Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood! (Isaiah 10: 15).
Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding? (Isaiah 29: 16)
It is vital to remember that The Heart represents our connection to the Creator; this connection and communion is vastly more important and fundamental than the machinations of mind alone—a truth taught by Jesus:
I am the true vine, . . . abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing (John 15: 1, 4, 5).
While contemporary cognitive psychology, and The Secret, have made "the mind" supreme, the truth is "the heart" is the fountain from which thoughts, words, and deeds flow; again, Jesus taught:
This passage of scripture firmly establishes the directional flow of idea initiation; and contrary to the pervasive rhetoric of The Secret and cognitive psychology, that directional flow is . . . Heart to Head — not vice versa. And if anyone stubbornly insists that it is Head to Heart, such an assumption parallels the logic of a Boastful Toaster, who fails to acknowledge the Source of electricity that makes toasting possible in the first place.
The importance of this truth has a stunning application: You cannot directly choose to be happy!
Happiness is not something you can create within the cognitive realms of mental will. You can't simply awake one morning (as the popular rhetoric reasons) and say to your self . . . "Today, I'm going to be happy!" No, life doesn't work that way. You can no more choose to be happy of your own positive mental will, than a Boastful Toaster can make magnificent toast—without being plugged into electricity!
Instead, what you can do — just like the boastful Toaster should — is humbly acknowledge the electrical source that makes all toasting possible. And as you acknowledge the Source of all Life, Love, and Light, it is then that happiness will spontaneously flow to you, and through you, without taking any thought to create this happiness via your Head.
With the God-given gift of free will, you can choose to attach yourself to the True Vine, and as you do, you will grow and flourish according to Divine Design; in contrast, as you fail to attach yourself to the True Vine, you can still toast toast—and even boast of your toasting — but you cannot do anything of eternal importance.
And just as you cannot directly conjure up happiness within your Head, neither can you directly change the condition of your heart through mental machinations alone! Why so? Because of the following inspired truths declared by Ezekiel and the Apostle Paul:
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:
And so we come full circle, back to the metaphor of the "heart," and what it means to experience a Change of Heart. Again, the Heart metaphor represents one's close communion with the Creator—or a lack of closeness symbolized by a "hard heart."
Contrary to the conclusions of Cognitive Psychology and The Secret, if you desire to change the core of your character, you cannot directly do so through feeling-filled visualizations, seeing yourself "as if" you are already a person of higher character, and reinforcing this mental image with the chanting of positive self-affirmations! This is a Boastful-Toaster mentality; it is the erroneous reasoning of "clay" saying to the potter, "thou made me not."
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? (Matt. 6: 27).
You can only increase in the stature of your character through Christ—the True Vine. You experience a change of heart by honoring and obeying the way of the Creator (John 1: 3, 10) and then, He changes the core of your character; He makes you a new creature from the Heart. The prophet Ezekiel records:
"A new heart also will I give you, . . . and I will take away
Human beings are completely incapable of adding to the stature of their character through positive will power and emotion-filled, mental imaging. This truth helps clarify what I previously said about the "half right/half wrong" statement: "what the mind can conceive, it can achieve." Let me explain:
Here's the half-right idea:
Even a Boastful Toaster that fails to acknowledge its own electrical cord and the outlet from which it receives electricity, can still produce some mighty fine toast, anyway. In like manner, by using emotion-filled visualizing techniques you can accomplish many things:
* You can become a better bowler and a more dazzling dancer.
And here's the half-wrong part of the mind-power paradigm:
By using The Secret alone: You absolutely cannot change the inner core of your character — even an inch! The implications of this true conclusion has earth-shaking applications:
Changing the inner core of your character is the key to overcoming every nagging habit, and every emprisoning addiction; through this "mighty change of heart" all abusive behaviors disappear, all crime comes to an end, and all wars cease.
But to "plug in" to the electricity that makes this miracle possible, you must first move beyond the mindset that "the universe" is a magic genie to satisfy your wants; you must also understand the real existence of The Creator of the Universe and tune your heart to be in harmony with His will and way.
The popular assumption that Mind Power can make all things possible is shattered into a million pieces! The illusion that Mind Power can create anything of eternal importance evaporates like a mirage in the desert! Most significant to remember is this: Through Mind Power alone:
* You cannot directly
change your heart, and
Only the Creator can make you a new creature and give you a new heart and a new spirit. The Creator is the exclusive Source of all healing and happiness; only by obeying the Creator can you and I receive the promised blessings of happy living and fundamental change from our core.
While we can't directly choose to be happy, we CAN make choices that will result in happiness. Happiness is the natural consequence that comes as we live in harmony with our own intuitions of truth. Hence, choosing to be true to the Truth results in happiness. The Creator designed mortal life in such a way that when we live true, we know that we are living true, because the reinforcing result called "happiness" is our possession.
Likewise when we are not happy, the Creator intentionally designed the consequences of anxiety and depression, that we might know that we are not living in harmony with His Truth. Thus, being unhappy causes us to take personally inventory: "what am I doing that is leading to this undesirable condition?"
And now to a paradigm that complements and reinforces true principles that come from the Creator. Here is an excerpt from my book, Changing Your Stripes. It speaks of two opposing approaches: The Head versus The Heart. This excerpt further clarifies the meaning of "the heart" metaphor.
Satisfying Solutions: Head vs. Heart. All human beings are in urgent need of a good "exit strategy" from the ditch in which they dwell. This is where beginning right, and asking the best questions will lead to superior solutions. Two basic beginning points are thus:
Solutions contrived by the Head,
When facing Life’s most perplexing problems, seeking solutions via figuring and facts will just keep you stuck in Einstein’s Mind Bind: where the defective head that created a problem is used to solve that same problem—an exercise in futility. Additionally, superior solutions will not focus upon changing others or altering circumstance, but upon changing you to meet the challenge of circumstance.
Cognitive therapies of “mental programming” may alter outward appearances, but who you are from the heart remains unchanged. Like ripples that undulate from a pebble cast in a pond, leaving the pond unaltered at its depths, the superficial effects of mind power eventually dissipate and disappear. It is true that positive attitude and vivid visualizing may raise your bowling score, improve your golf swing, or make you a dazzling dancer—but the same cognitive conjurings cannot increase your character or bring peace to a troubled soul. By using Head remedies only, even the strongest mental determinations to be a better person will not work.
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“Heart” is not really something in you, rather it is an activity you are in. Self-introspection of the body-self in not something you can actually do; this look "inside" yourself is just a way of talking (words playing tricks again). If you take a literal look “inside” you will only find a couple of kidneys and a lung or two; hence, personal guidance and fulfillment is not really found inside of you. In contrast, the look “inside” the self as be-ing can be accomplished, literally — it is an examination of your relations with others, and your relations with every aspect of the world, its geographic contours and its plants & animals.
This article addresses the Head-heavy notion of "as a man thinketh" — which is a misconception and misapplication of the true Biblical teaching of "as he thinketh in his heart." The "heart" metaphor does NOT mean emotion-filled, positive visualizations. The Bible is crystal clear as to the meaning of the "heart" metaphor.
Complementary to the meaing of the "heart" metaphor, Dr Matt has completed a comprehensive scriptural review of what the Bible teaches as to faith, belief, works, good works, grace, salvation, and eternal life; and has written a summary of this review entitled: Salvation by Grace through Faith: A Covenant Context.
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