Have you heard of The Secret? I first saw the movie way back in 2007, when my college teacher showed it to our class. Around 2005, there seemed to be a boom of personal development products, from books to DVD down to various platforms on the Internet.

The ideas presented on The Secret were so new to me. I had always thought that there is no other way for someone to have what he or she wants but to work hard. The movie showed that with the power of thought, one can get what one wishes for. It seemed very incredible for me at the time. I could not believe it.

Some changes in my life in 2010 caused me to find better ways of thinking and looking at life. I watched The Secret again, and I cried at some point when it emphasizes the way I can change my life. I was really lost then and found comfort in the ideas of the movie.

Over time, I read books for personal development and invested in seminars that helped rewire my thinking about life. And at some point, I started to be responsible for my own life and did not look for anyone else to blame. But there was one huge chunk missing in me – a sense of fulfilment.

With personal development and self-help ideas, I lost the sense for others. I started resigning to the thought that if I want to get rich, then, well and good. Never mind the others. They don’t want it anyway. I got what I deserved and it’s no longer my problem if others didn’t. I even started to agree that, maybe, it’s really fine to own so much and not worry about the environment. I’ll just let others worry about it. But I cannot deny something is really missing inside.

Things took a beautiful turn when I attended Mission Courage by Nicanor Perlas, responding to the invitation of late Councilor Leonardo Avila III. The event emphasized on personal development as a way of responding more efficiently to the challenges of our times.

There, I learned that it is no longer workable if we do not engage in inner work and go back to the society with the same way of thinking that created the problem. It would be of no use. We will only (although inadvertently, maybe) become part of the problem instead of the solution.

In hindsight, The Secret and other personal development workshops are great because they awaken those who subscribe to the power of their thoughts and feelings.

Only that the power of thought contains a colossal amount of energy and it should not be used only for egotistical purposes, like solely for having new toys, as it was portrayed in the said movie. The power of thought and personal development should lead us to enact our purpose in this world – mainly, to contribute to the evolution of humanity.

We know so very well that having things will only bring deeper emptiness inside. It is with the sense of service—a sense of knowing that we are setting goals and ideals for our higher development. I’m quite sure on this part that hoarding and consumerism is not part of higher development. It will only strengthen the sense of lack in one’s life.

May our striving for higher development not only serve our own personal whims, but contribute to the change this world is longing for.


Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan is a mother of two and a nurturer at Tuburan Institute. For questions, comments, and suggestions, please feel free to email her at hello@joanmaesoco.com or visit Tuburan Institute at www.tuburaninstitute.org.

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