Have it all, right now!

Observations on "The Secret"

Move over, Scientology. Cancel those Kabbalah classes. Make way for the philosophy that will change your life: The Secret. As a book and DVD, this latest new philosophy has sold more than two million copies in the United States and is earnestly endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. The Secret is hard to resist: "If you think positively enough, you'll attract good things into your life." Want a great cup of coffee or to see a feather fall out of the sky? Think of it and somehow it will appear. There is no limit to The Secret's power: "It is as easy to attract one dollar as it is $10,000."

This beautiful simplicity must come as blessed relief to celebrities who once dabbled in complicated Scientology. Nicole Kidman is already a fan of The Secret's life-changing properties after her new husband Keith Urban discovered the philosophy in rehab recently. She credits The Secret with saving their marriage. The singer Brandy has apparently turned to The Secret for succour since her involvement in a fatal car crash last year. Ellen DeGeneres and Larry King have featured the book on their shows.

The Secret's website modestly promises "a new era for mankind". It is, according to its creator, the culmination of the work of many great thinkers, scientists, artists and philosophers. It seems somehow fitting, though, that in these media-driven times, the universe chose to reveal its greatest mystery - the secret of happiness - to an Australian reality television producer, Rhonda Byrne, 55.

The knowledge came to her one day in 2004: "Almost immediately, her life was transformed." Before, Byrne's finest moments included the creation of shows such as The World's Greatest Commercials. As the visionary behind The Secret, she is now a multimillionaire.

It seems almost churlish to point out that Byrne is not the sole proponent of the awesome power of positive thinking. She is in the excellent company of the Deal or No Deal presenter, Noel Edmonds, famous for his cosmic wish-lists (ask the cosmos for what you want - eg, a hit TV show - and it will be delivered to you). And Mark Victor Hansen, one of the authors behind the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, has long extolled the virtues of "reverse paranoia": believing that the universe is conspiring to help you.

The Secret's magic power has undeniably worked for its creator. You can't argue with two million copies sold. Byrne is candid about the fact that she decided life was going to make her rich beyond her wildest dreams when a book entitled The Science of Getting Rich fell into her hands. Since then, the abundance of the universe has revealed itself many times over.

But let's not forget that this has been all about working for the joy of billions of others, OK? As Byrne says: "I want to share this gift with every person. It's up to them to choose to believe." Watch out for that feather.