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A reader with half a brain ought to drop the book instantly, if only because anyone who believes they have the right to perpetual happiness is destined for a life of perpetual dissatisfaction. No one should be grinning inanely for 80 years - it is the nature of life that we ought sometimes to be regretful, contemplative, guilty, pressured, sad or grieving. The mass birth of inner children, dropped into the '70s like the Midwich Cuckoos, has much to answer for in this tradition of promoting self-gratification, but while the New Age vernacular has faded from the current crop of Bibles, the sentiments remain surprisingly unchanged. Instead, hippy vibes have been repackaged in pseudo-scientific "evidence".

Back to Ms Grabhorn, who took time out of her busy schedule researching "the physics of manifesting" in order to share her wisdom. "Remember that nothing - nothing - is more important than feeling good," she advises. But since when did eternal and unceasing bliss become a human right? America, whence many of these fonts of wisdom spring, may well have included the pursuit of happiness as an inalienable right in the Declaration of Independence, but the right to the pursuit of something is very different from the right to have it. Nor will striving for it make anyone any happier. If we ever experience anything remotely uncomfortable, the logic follows, we've failed. Civic duty, morality and consideration are instantly dispatched. The very concept of society goes the same way. Delayed gratification and selflessness are impossible because it's all about me, feeling good, all the time.

But what these books do offer, as well as a licence for near-bottomless self-absorption, is a sense of control, and it is this that is so very seductive. To acknowledge our roles as smaller components in an infinitely complex scheme is frightening. We cannot make someone love us, keep all our family from harm, make the train come or stop it raining on our wedding day. We might well be hit by a bendy bus tomorrow, and while there are always a moronic few who cite this possibility as a liberation, most find that degree of helplessness in the universe unsettling. Grabhorn and her competitors have recognised this insecurity and offer the antidote to the human condition by promising that "you are in absolute control". Learn to master your energy and you can cross Oxford Street without hesitation, because every car accident, promotion, marriage proposal or sexual rejection comes directly from the way in which you're vibrating.

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May 30th, 2012
5:05 AM
Smart, but not wise. My inclination is that you would rather rely on, and put faith in, the elite Harvard/Oxford education you received. At least that puts YOU ahead of the game. You use your intelligence and priveledge unwisely when you use it to dash the hopes of those less fortunate. You are certainly intelligent, but it is wisdom you lack at the tender age of thirty.

January 21st, 2009
9:01 PM
I have heard otherwise good Christians tout this philosophy as wonderful, when in fact, it is heresy.

January 5th, 2009
4:01 PM Amusing sketch on The Secret

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