For all his brilliance, Jim Carrey made a statement in his 2014 commencement address to the graduates of his alma mater, Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, that could have come from the lips of his character “Lloyd” in Dumb and Dumber:
Fear is going to be a player in life, but you get to decide how much. So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really want seems impossibly out of reach and ridiculous to expect, so we never dare to ask the universe for it.
Can you spot the two problematic words? Easy-peasy: “the universe.” This is actually good commencement advice except for those two words. “Ask the universe for it”! Why would Carrey say such a thing? Simple: Hindu philosophy. If you believe there is no personal God as revealed in Scripture, then the biggest thing left to appeal to is the universe.
Actually, this philosophy is quite popular today. Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 bestseller, The Secret, advocates an amorphous spirituality “where you can have, be, or do anything you want.” Just ask the universe for it.
Jafree Ozwald and Margot Zaher explain in detail how to ask the universe for what you want:
Now it is time to ask the Universe for what you want. When you get clear on what this is, simply ask the Universe to support you in manifesting this. Make your request out loud in a strong powerful affirming voice. Say something like, “Universe, I ask that you support me in manifesting (put your request here). I ask that this be done to this highest good of all concerned. Thank you for fulfilling my request.” Continue to make this request any time you doubt your ability to manifest this desire, or feel contracted emotion around its manifestation such as fear or anger. Soon you will notice that the Universe is indeed answering your request.
Well . . . ok.
But unfortunately the universe is blind, deaf, and dumb, except for the fact that “the heavens [the universe] are telling of the glory of God and the sky displays His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night unto night shows forth knowledge” Psalm 19:1–2. The universe is not God. God is God.
“Asking the universe” is merely a euphemism for turning something else into a false god. There is a word for that: idolatry. Calvin got it right when he said our human nature is “a perpetual factory for idols.” In fact, “asking the universe” is ultimately a euphemism for making yourself out to be a god.
In another one of Carrey’s movies, Bruce Almighty, Carrey’s character, Bruce, blames God for all his woes. God shows up and temporarily grants Bruce divine powers. In one scene, standing atop a skyscraper in a storm, Bruce says: “I am Bruce Almighty! My will be done!” That is essentially what Carrey was saying in his commencement address. You can ask the universe for what you want. You can be the god of your life.
If I had the opportunity to follow-up Carrey’s address to those graduates, I would have encouraged them, as John Wesley expressed in one of his sentence prayers, “As the shadows flee before the sun, so let all my idols vanish at thy presence.” In other words, you better know God and ask him what he wants for your life, not the universe. That’s how you eliminate fear as a player in your life. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
Bottom line: don’t get high on anything but God.