by Terry Melanson ©, Apr. 11, 2007

Though the demonism of the Middle Ages seems to have disappeared, there is abundant evidence that in many forms of modern thought – especially the so-called “prosperity” psychology, “willpower-building” metaphysics, and systems of “high-pressure” salesmanship – black magic has merely passed through a metamorphosis, and although its name be changed its nature remains the same.

– Manly P. Hall, Secret Teachings of All Ages, pp. 101-2

Screenshots from the movie, The SecretThe foregoing quote reads like an excerpt from a review of the movie, The Secret. This is not the case, however. Manly P. Hall wrote those words in the late 1920s when New Thought metaphysics was in full swing, and the original self-help gurus combined the burgeoning science of applied psychology with that of Bernays-like manipulative advertising. An eager public was caught unaware and would consume mass market “willpower-building” manuals, by the millions. Each successive generation has had its own purveyors, and the Oprah-inspired phenomenon that is The Secret, as we shall see, stems from the same fount.

Self-Help Popular Religion and the New Thought Movement

Pray! In other words, get an urgent, insistent desire. The first principle of success is DESIRE – knowing what you want. Desire is the planting of your seed.

– Robert Collier (1885-1950), The God in You, p. 7

There is no limit, you know, to Mind. Visualize this thing that you want. See it, feel it, BELIEVE in it. Make your mental blue-print, and begin to build!

– Robert Collier, The Law of Higher Potential, p. 368 (1947)

The creative power of thought is now receiving increasing acceptance in the West, which is in some cases taking over, and in others, discovering anew, for itself, what was thought by the ancients in India. Because they have discovered it anew, they call it “New Thought”; but its fundamental principle is as old as the Upanishads which said, “what you think that you become”. All recognize this principle in the limited form that a man who thinks good becomes good, and he who is ever harboring bad thought becomes bad. But the Indian and “New Thought” doctrine is more profound than this. In Vedantic India, thought has been ever held creative. The world is a creation of the thought (Cit Shakti associated with Maya Shakti) of the Lord (Ishvara and Ishvari). Her and His thought is the aggregate, with almighty powers of all thought. But each man is Shiva and can attain His powers to the degree of his ability to consciously realize himself as such. Thought now works in man’s small magic just as it first worked in the grand magical display of the World-Creator. Each man is in various degrees a creator. Thought is as real as any form of gross matter.

– Arthur Avalon, “Shakti as Mantra,” Shakti and Shâkta, 1918