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Not too long ago, a best-selling book called The Secret staked a claim that one of the secrets of life has to do with using your intention to manifest your desires. If you seek love, health and wealth, simply stop wanting it and start living it. Be the abundance, be the love and be the health and wealth that you desire.
This Vedic premise is based on the concept of Ritam — where what you put your attention on manifests. Thus the saying, “What you see, you become.” There is good science behind this notion now, as we watch our microbiome and mindset morph in response to exposure to stress and fear via the gut-brain axis. (1)
Also, in both pre- and post-natal humans, environmental stressors have been shown to alter the epigenome and determine how one copes with stress later in life, and even with how future generations cope. (2) It is true that what we see or expose ourselves to on a regular basis can literally change or re-program us for the better or worse. (2) So, the idea of Ritam is not far away from these breadcrumbs that science is providing.
There is, however, a risk of misinterpretation and possible abuse of this concept, if it is simply used to fulfill one’s desires. In fact, simply fulfilling all of your desires, much like the lessons we learned from Aladdin and his lamp, can never actually fulfill you. As it turns out, there is no shortcut to happiness, and wealth is more commonly a trap rather than a tool when it comes to one’s happiness.
Ritam, the concept from which The Secret is based on, has more to do with a flow of life that, like a river running downstream, effortlessly finds the ocean. If the ocean is fulfillment, then the river will naturally experience it, but without desiring it along the way. At the level or state of consciousness where Ritam works, one generally is free of desire, much like the river. To use Ritam to manipulate the world we live in, even for the better, is a tricky business.
While I think the book, The Secret, is sharing deep insight into this Vedic concept, we already live in a world where we are being baited by desire, and bombarded by a world that promises to make us happy, healthy or wealthy from the outside.
Facebook has made this famous of late, as our self-worth, success in business and approval from friends is based on how many “likes” we get. Teenagers are so addicted to being “liked” that some are actually buying likes to impress their friends!
The trick of the mind, or the great illusion, is that we think that if we are liked, loved, approved of or special in some way, that will make us happy.
Ask yourself, how much time, energy and effort each day goes into trying to get the approval of others — the way you look, how you act, the clothes you wear, the car you drive. Teenagers are consumed by this illusion, and I venture to say that we, as adults, have just become better at hiding it.
The Vedic Secret
The “Secret” that I want to share with you is the actual premise of all the Vedas — which are thought to be the oldest and perhaps most profound historical written texts. Simply put, while we are all trying to get the attention and approval from others, everyone else is doing the same thing, trying to get you to “like” or approve of them. So while you are engaging so much effort to impress your boss, a potential partner or group of friends or co-workers, you may find yourself waiting endlessly for all the attention and “likes.” While you have put yourself so totally together and now are waiting for their love, they are also all put together waiting for your love, attention and “likes.” The result all too often is that we find ourselves waiting for the world to recognize how wonderful we are, and we remain confused as to why we are not getting the attention we deserve.
The metaphor here is the sun. It shines fully, 24/7 even when no one is watching. It does not care if the flowers blossom or if you chop down it’s trees. It does not have the ability to be something else. When the sun shines however, the flowers typically feel safe enough to open their delicate petals and let their most vulnerable self out — their truth, their essence.
If we were to realize that it is not the love and approval from others that we seek, but the ability to be the sun — to be the love, give the light and the attention — we would finally find the happiness we all seek. The “Secret” is not about fulfilling a desire or manifesting wealth or health, but acting on the very truth of who you are and what drives the trillions of cells that make you who you are. Here, we can take a lesson from the sun, who gives warmth, love and light because it is it’s nature to do so.
I have recently written more about the science that suggests that we are actually, scientifically and spiritually, love. Please read more on that here.
This Vedic secret is the message of an epic Vedic story, called The Bhagavad Gita, where it encourages us to become still and silent — access our essence of love and then, most importantly, act on it. Stop waiting to be loved, liked, appreciated or approved of and take a risk to “like” them — not because they did something to deserve it, do it because it is who you are. Only when you start doing you without the desire to do so or an expectation of some return on that investment, will you ever be fully content.