It may be called "The Secret," but with nearly 4 million copies in print, the country's No. 1 advice book isn't much of a mystery anymore. The DVD version is also wildly popular, with more than 2 million copies sold so far.
The "Secret's" premise is simple. Love, money, health -- you can have them all, simply by thinking it.
"Thoughts are sending out that magnetic signal that is drawing the parallel back to you," says Joe Vitale, a metaphysician and contributor to "The Secret." "See yourself living in abundance and you will attract it. It always works. It works every time with every person."
"The Secret" is the brainchild of Rhonda Byrne, an Australian television producer who says she stumbled upon it while going through rough times.
To help uncover "The Secret," Byrne enlisted two dozen writers and teachers of diverse backgrounds, including a visionary, a feng shui expert, and a physicist. The book's founding principle is based on what is called the "law of attraction," which they claim is scientifically proved.
"The law of attraction is really obedient," says Lisa Nicholls, one of the contributors. "When you think of things that you want, and you focus on them with all your attention, the law of attraction will give you what you want, every time."
"And this is really fun," says Joe Vitale. "This is like having the universe as your catalog and you flip through it and you go, 'Well, I'd like to have this experience, and I'd like to have that product and I'd like to have a person like that.' It is you just placing your order with the universe. It is really just that easy."
The age-old philosophy of ask and you shall receive has readers flocking to "The Secret." It was even featured for a precious two hours on Oprah Winfrey's program in early February, gaining the endorsement of the powerful host herself.
When Oprah speaks, readers buy, and "The Secret" publisher Simon and Schuster tells "Nightline" the book's sales spiked after Oprah's endorsement, compelling the publisher to request 2 million more volumes, the largest reorder in the company's history.
But with growing popularity comes increased criticism and, in this case, there is a great deal of it. Critics say "The Secret" is not only wrong, it is dangerous, leading people to believe you can get what you want, whether it's getting rich, curing disease, losing weight simply by thinking positively about it. .
I find it amusing that anybody would criticize it," says Bob Proctor, who "The Secret" identifies as a philosopher. "Do you know, it's always been around? The law of attraction is always working. That's like saying the sun's not shining. The sun's always shining. You may not see it, but it's always shining. The law of attraction is always working."
Critics, however, are quick to share their doubts. In the DVD version of "The Secret," for example, a woman claims she healed herself of breast cancer simply by seeing herself as healthy.
"I believed in my heart that I was healed. I saw myself as if cancer was never in my body. One of the things I did to heal myself was to watch really funny movies," she said in the video. "From the time I was diagnosed to the time I was healed, totally, was approximately three months. And that is without radiation and chemotherapy."