Ever since the self-help industry clued us in on The Secret to happiness via the phenomenally successful DVD and book by Rhonda Byrne, it seems everyone knows someone who is attempting to manifest their desires through, what amounts to positive thinking.

Based on what they refer to as the “law of attraction,” a panel of self-help gurus and New Age philosophers taught us that everything we are experiencing is a direct result of our thought patterns. It’s a tempting flavor of Kool-Aid  that even Oprah couldn’t resist tasting.

The Rev. Michael Beckwith, founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, put it in layman’s terms on the CBS program Eye to Eye. “Your chronic thoughts, the thoughts you hold in your awareness,” he said, “tend to become your experiences. What you think about, you bring about.”

In the film, a boy begins to yearn for a particular bicycle. His desire consumes his thoughts and he imagines himself riding it. Later, the bike shows up at his door, a gift from a grandfatherly figure who, we can only imagine, was mysteriously compelled to seek out this exact bike and deliver it to the boy.

Sounds simple enough in theory, but attempts at life application have proved fruitless and frustrating for many of the newly initiated. We get the feeling from wealthy entrepreneurs like Jack Canfield, creator of the “Chicken Soup” book series, that the law of attraction is innate to successful people. But for the rest of us, summoning the “feeling” that we’re rich when the reality is we’re not sure we can pay our utility bills, is like a yoga position for the mind: it’s a stretch.

As it turns out, once the fairy dust settled and the hype about The Secret lessened, people began to admit it wasn’t working for them. Some people even felt ashamed of their inability to manifest their dreams or even just a good parking space.

Others felt they were somehow responsible for unfortunate events in their lives and abusive experiences. The Secret also came under scrutiny for its blatant materialism and self-serving edict. When writer and producer Rhonda Byrne was sued for nonpayment by the marketing genius whose viral campaign turned The Secret into a $300 million success story, the warm fuzzies around the film were replaced with bad vibes.

Despite the negativity surrounding the law of attraction (wait, what?), people still can’t stop talking about it, regardless of their inability to make it work. Many of the thinkers who participated in the making of The Secret have decided to fill in the blanks with their own law of attraction user’s guides. Beckwith and self-help author Joe Vitale are launching in-depth programs for implementing the concepts laid out in The Secret.

Bob Proctor, motivational speaker and author of You Were Born Rich, has assembled a brand new group of experts on the law of attraction for the upcoming DVD Beyond the Secret, a sort of Law of Attraction for Dummies. A special live event to launch the DVD will be streamed into movie theaters across the U.S. on Thursday, Jan. 15. The program, which will be hosted by CNN’s Larry King, will not be aired on television. If you want to see it, you must attend the live event.

Charles Adelman, producer of the Beyond the Secret live event, told the Reporter that the original film The Secret was only the opening of the door. “A lot of people, including Bob Proctor, saw that people wanted more,” he said.  “How do we use it in everyday life?” The unscripted live event will be filmed in front of a live audience of 1,700 and promises to unveil new revelations about the law of attraction. “It’s a night of discussion,” said Adelman. “We’re on different paths, [we have] different ideologies but we’re all on this journey together. There are answers we all want and need to find.”  

Adelman, a successful practitioner of the law of attraction, believes the world is ripe for exploration of concepts that can make it a better place. Where The Secret was a little focused on material acquisition, Beyond the Secret will touch more on the shared responsibility of humanity to improve our collective circumstances. “It’s the perfect time to do it,” he said.  “The culture, the economy, you name it; there’s just this black abyss of negativity [in the world].” Adelman said the economic crisis will be addressed as well as ways to turn it around through individual and collective consciousness.

As for The Secret  being such a big secret . . . not so much. The original filmmakers played up the notion that the Powers That Be, Those Who Pull the Strings, the Illuminati, The Man, the great Them, had conspired over countless centuries to withhold this potent information from the Masses, the Little Guy, the Average Joes, Us. For if “Us” was empowered, “Us” would become a threat to “Them”. According to Adelman, it was nothing more than a slick marketing ploy. But, he said, if it got people interested in something that could turn their lives around, then it’s all good.                                      

The Beyond the Secret two-hour live event will be streamed on Thursday, Jan. 15, 8 p.m. at the Century 16. 2875 Elba St.,Ventura. 644-7331.

michel@vcreporter.com