Understanding the Spirituality of Jack Canfield: (Chicken Soup of the Soul)

Every religion I’ve looked at has some technology … I’ve studied all of them and found what works for me and I’ve tried to make it available to others. What works for me is a combination of disciplines: I do yoga, tai chi which is a Chinese martial art and three kinds of meditation-vipasana, transcendental and mantra (sound) meditation. If you have to pick a yoga for me, I lean towards bhakii in the sense of devotion, adoration, singing, feeling love and joy exist in my heart.”-Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, from “Choosing to Be Happy”

Jack Canfield, one of the top promoters of The Secret, is known by many people as the creator of The Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Millions of books have been sold, and even many Christians have bought the books. That’s easy to tell just by looking at some of the titles in the series:

Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul
Chicken Soup for the Gospel Soul (Songs)
Chicken Soup for the Christian Teenage Soul
Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul II
Chicken Soup for the Christian Women’s Soul
Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul

And of course, there are countless books in many different categories from Chicken Soup for the Dieter’s Soul to Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers Soul. But while the Christian is obviously represented by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen in their series, can the Christian Chicken Soup books be trusted? It is fair to say that would depend on the spirituality of Canfield and Hansen, which Ray Yungen explains:

In recent years, a series of high profile, immensely successful books have impacted the lives of many Christians. They are the Chicken Soup for the Soul books by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Although these books are filled with seemingly charming and uplifting stories, Canfield’s New Age spirituality is quite disturbing from a Christian viewpoint. In understanding the foundational views of these two authors, one must ask, “Can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Luke 6:43)?

In 1981, in the Science of Mind magazine, an interview revealed Canfield was no less than a teacher of the highly occultic “psychosynthesis” method developed by a direct disciple of Alice Bailey. In some of his most recent writings, Canfield openly reveals he had his “spiritual awakening” in a yoga class in college where he felt God “flowing” through all things(Dare to Win, p. 195). Hence, Canfield also promotes many occult writers.

In order to draw a conclusion on the spiritual persuasions of the Chicken Soup for the Soul authors take a look at one particular book they both enthusiastically endorse. The book is called Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul, compiled by Arielle Ford. Its format is identical to that of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series–101 stories by different authors on a particular theme.

Ford’s book permeates with Eastern and New Age metaphysical content. A panoply of psychics, mediums, astrologers, channelers, and especially Hindu mystics present a wide array of stories. One such story is about a psychic who writes of her abilities (pp 244-247). Another story in the book is about a Hindu holy man who manifests “holy ash” out of thin air( pp. 36-39). Yet another involves a man who claims to be the reincarnation of the apostle Paul and writes that the message of Jesus is “God dwells within each one of us [all humanity]”(p. 15). Co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Mark Victor Hansen, agreed with Ford’s book so wholeheartedly that he wrote the foreword. Listen to a few excerpts from this foreword, which reveal Hansen’s view:

[E]nlightening stories will inspire you. They will expand your awareness, … you will think in new exciting and different ways … You will be renewed through the tools, techniques and strategies contained herein … May your mystical soul be united with the mystical magical tour you’ve been wanting and waiting for” (pp. xiii- xiv).

Jack Canfield echoes this praise on the back cover by stating, “They [the stories in the book] will change your beliefs, stretch your mind, open your heart and expand your consciousness.”

In March 2005, Canfield came out with his book, The Success Principles. As can be expected, one of these success principles is about meditation. Canfield relates, “I attended a meditation retreat that permanently changed my entire life” (p. 316). Canfield does a superb job of integrating metaphysics with the needs of business creativity. He emphasizes:

As you meditate and become more spiritually attuned, you can better discern and recognize the sound of your higher self or the voice of God speaking to you through words, images, and sensations. (p. 317)

These books are selling like hotcakes in some evangelical bookstores because they are positive. (from A Time of Departing, chapter 5)

As The Secret continues to climb in popularity in such a short period of time, perhaps Christians need to take a look at their bookshelves at home and in their churches and ask themselves, “Do I really want those I love to read a Chicken Soup for the Soul book?” It is probably safe to say that most homes in America have at least one of them. After all over 80 million have sold. And now with The Secret, Canfield’s spirituality will permeate Western society at even greater measures, and that includes Christendom at large.

For more information on Chicken Soup for the Soul, click here.

For all our articles on The Secret, click here.

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