James Allen.

As a Man Thinketh online

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Produced by Charles Aldarondo. HTML version by Al Haines.




Author of "From Passion to Peace"

_Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: -
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass._

Authorized Edition

New York










THIS little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not
intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject
of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory,
its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and
perception of the truth that -

"They themselves are makers of themselves."

by virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and encourage; that
mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character
and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have
hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in
enlightenment and happiness.







THE aphorism, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he," not only
embraces the whole of a man's being, but is so comprehensive as to
reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is
literally _what he thinks,_ his character being the complete sum of
all his thoughts.

As the plant springs from, and could not be without, the seed, so
every act of a man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and
could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those
acts called "spontaneous" and "unpremeditated" as to those, which
are deliberately executed.

Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits;
thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own

"Thought in the mind hath made us, What we are
By thought was wrought and built. If a man's mind
Hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes
The wheel the ox behind....

..If one endure
In purity of thought, joy follows him
As his own shadow - sure."

Man is a growth by law, and not a creation by artifice, and cause
and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of
thought as in the world of visible and material things. A noble and
Godlike character is not a thing of favour or chance, but is the
natural result of continued effort in right thinking, the effect of
long-cherished association with Godlike thoughts. An ignoble and
bestial character, by the same process, is the result of the
continued harbouring of grovelling thoughts.

Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he
forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions
the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy
and strength and peace. By the right choice and true application of
thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and
wrong application of thought, he descends below the level of the
beast. Between these two extremes are all the grades of character,
and man is their maker and master.

Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been
restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening
or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this - that man is
the master of thought, the moulder of character, and the maker and
shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.

As a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love, and the lord of his own
thoughts, man holds the key to every situation, and contains within
himself that transforming and regenerative agency by which he may
make himself what he wills.

Man is always the master, even in his weaker and most abandoned
state; but in his weakness and degradation he is the foolish master
who misgoverns his "household." When he begins to reflect upon his
condition, and to search diligently for the Law upon which his being
is established, he then becomes the wise master, directing his
energies with intelligence, and fashioning his thoughts to fruitful
issues. Such is the _conscious_ master, and man can only thus become
by discovering _within himself_ the laws of thought; which discovery
is totally a matter of application, self analysis, and experience.

Only by much searching and mining, are gold and diamonds obtained,
and man can find every truth connected with his being, if he will
dig deep into the mine of his soul; and that he is the maker of his
character, the moulder of his life, and the builder of his destiny,
he may unerringly prove, if he will watch, control, and alter his
thoughts, tracing their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon
his life and circumstances, linking cause and effect by patient
practice and investigation, and utilizing his every experience, even
to the most trivial, everyday occurrence, as a means of obtaining
that knowledge of himself which is Understanding, Wisdom, Power. In
this direction, as in no other, is the law absolute that "He that
seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened;" for
only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can a man
enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.


MAN'S mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently
cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or
neglected, it must, and will, _bring forth._ If no useful seeds are
_put_ into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will _fall_
therein, and will continue to produce their kind.

Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds,
and growing the flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man
tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and
impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and
fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this
process, a man sooner or later discovers that he is the
master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. He also
reveals, within himself, the laws of thought, and understands, with
ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought-forces and mind elements
operate in the shaping of his character, circumstances, and destiny.

Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest
and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer
conditions of a person's life will always be found to be
harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a
man's circumstances at any given time are an indication of his
_entire_ character, but that those circumstances are so intimately
connected with some vital thought-element within himself that, for
the time being, they are indispensable to his development.

Every man is where he is by the law of his being; the thoughts which
he has built into his character have brought him there, and in the
arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is
the result of a law which cannot err. This is just as true of those
who feel "out of harmony" with their surroundings as of those who
are contented with them.

As a progressive and evolving being, man is where he is that he may
learn that he may grow; and as he learns the spiritual lesson which
any circumstance contains for him, it passes away and gives place to
other circumstances.

Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to
be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he
is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and
seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow, he then becomes
the rightful master of himself.

That circumstances grow out of thought every man knows who has for
any length of time practised self-control and self-purification, for
he will have noticed that the alteration in his circumstances has
been in exact ratio with his altered mental condition. So true is
this that when a man earnestly applies himself to remedy the defects
in his character, and makes swift and marked progress, he passes
rapidly through a succession of vicissitudes.

The soul attracts that which it secretly harbours; that which it
loves, and also that which it fears; it reaches the height of its
cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened
desires, - and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives
its own.

Every thought-seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind, and to
take root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or later into
act, and bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstance.
Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.

The outer world of circumstance shapes itself to the inner world of
thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are
factors, which make for the ultimate good of the individual. As the
reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss.

Following the inmost desires, aspirations, thoughts, by which he
allows himself to be dominated, (pursuing the will-o'-the-wisps of
impure imaginings or steadfastly walking the highway of strong and
high endeavour), a man at last arrives at their fruition and
fulfilment in the outer conditions of his life. The laws of growth
and adjustment everywhere obtains.

A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of
fate or circumstance, but by the pathway of grovelling thoughts and
base desires. Nor does a pure-minded man fall suddenly into crime by
stress of any mere external force; the criminal thought had long
been secretly fostered in the heart, and the hour of opportunity
revealed its gathered power. Circumstance does not make the man; it
reveals him to himself No such conditions can exist as descending
into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from vicious
inclinations, or ascending into virtue and its pure happiness
without the continued cultivation of virtuous aspirations; and man,
therefore, as the lord and master of thought, is the maker of
himself the shaper and author of environment. Even at birth the soul
comes to its own and through every step of its earthly pilgrimage it
attracts those combinations of conditions which reveal itself, which
are the reflections of its own purity and, impurity, its strength
and weakness.

Men do not attract that which they _want,_ but that which they _are._
Their whims, fancies, and ambitions are thwarted at every step, but
their inmost thoughts and desires are fed with their own food, be it
foul or clean. The "divinity that shapes our ends" is in ourselves;
it is our very self. Only himself manacles man: thought and action
are the gaolers of Fate - they imprison, being base; they are also
the angels of Freedom - they liberate, being noble. Not what he
wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he justly earns. His
wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they
harmonize with his thoughts and actions.

In the light of this truth, what, then, is the meaning of "fighting
against circumstances?" It means that a man is continually revolting
against an _effect_ without, while all the time he is nourishing and
preserving its _cause_ in his heart. That cause may take the form of
a conscious vice or an unconscious weakness; but whatever it is, it
stubbornly retards the efforts of its possessor, and thus calls
aloud for remedy.

Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to
improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does
not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the
object upon which his heart is set. This is as true of earthly as of
heavenly things. Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth
must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can
accomplish his object; and how much more so he who would realize a
strong and well-poised life?

Here is a man who is wretchedly poor. He is extremely anxious that
his surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the
time he shirks his work, and considers he is justified in trying to
deceive his employer on the ground of the insufficiency of his
wages. Such a man does not understand the simplest rudiments of
those principles which are the basis of true prosperity, and is not
only totally unfitted to rise out of his wretchedness, but is
actually attracting to himself a still deeper wretchedness by
dwelling in, and acting out, indolent, deceptive, and unmanly

Here is a rich man who is the victim of a painful and persistent
disease as the result of gluttony. He is willing to give large sums
of money to get rid of it, but he will not sacrifice his gluttonous
desires. He wants to gratify his taste for rich and unnatural viands
and have his health as well. Such a man is totally unfit to have
health, because he has not yet learned the first principles of a
healthy life.

Here is an employer of labour who adopts crooked measures to avoid
paying the regulation wage, and, in the hope of making larger
profits, reduces the wages of his workpeople. Such a man is
altogether unfitted for prosperity, and when he finds himself
bankrupt, both as regards reputation and riches, he blames
circumstances, not knowing that he is the sole author of his

I have introduced these three cases merely as illustrative of the
truth that man is the causer (though nearly always is unconsciously)
of his circumstances, and that, whilst aiming at a good end, he is
continually frustrating its accomplishment by encouraging thoughts
and desires which cannot possibly harmonize with that end. Such
cases could be multiplied and varied almost indefinitely, but this
is not necessary, as the reader can, if he so resolves, trace the
action of the laws of thought in his own mind and life, and until
this is done, mere external facts cannot serve as a ground of

Circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply
rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so, vastly with
individuals, that a man's entire soul-condition (although it may be
known to himself) cannot be judged by another from the external
aspect of his life alone. A man may be honest in certain directions,
yet suffer privations; a man may be dishonest in certain directions,
yet acquire wealth; but the conclusion usually formed that the one
man fails _because of his particular honesty,_ and that the other
_prospers because of his particular dishonesty,_ is the result of a
superficial judgment, which assumes that the dishonest man is almost
totally corrupt, and the honest man almost entirely virtuous. In the
light of a deeper knowledge and wider experience such judgment is
found to be erroneous. The dishonest man may have some admirable
virtues, which the other does, not possess; and the honest man
obnoxious vices which are absent in the other. The honest man reaps
the good results of his honest thoughts and acts; he also brings
upon himself the sufferings, which his vices produce. The dishonest
man likewise garners his own suffering and happiness.

It is pleasing to human vanity to believe that one suffers because
of one's virtue; but not until a man has extirpated every sickly,
bitter, and impure thought from his mind, and washed every sinful
stain from his soul, can he be in a position to know and declare
that his sufferings are the result of his good, and not of his bad
qualities; and on the way to, yet long before he has reached, that
supreme perfection, he will have found, working in his mind and
life, the Great Law which is absolutely just, and which cannot,
therefore, give good for evil, evil for good. Possessed of such
knowledge, he will then know, looking back upon his past ignorance
and blindness, that his life is, and always was, justly ordered, and
that all his past experiences, good and bad, were the equitable
outworking of his evolving, yet unevolved self.

Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad
thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but
saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from
nettles but nettles. Men understand this law in the natural world,
and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral
world (though its operation there is just as simple and
undeviating), and they, therefore, do not co-operate with it.

Suffering is _always_ the effect of wrong thought in some direction.
It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with
himself, with the Law of his being. The sole and supreme use of
suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure.
Suffering ceases for him who is pure. There could be no object in
burning gold after the dross had been removed, and a perfectly pure
and enlightened being could not suffer.

The circumstances, which a man encounters with suffering, are the
result of his own mental in harmony. The circumstances, which a man
encounters with blessedness, are the result of his own mental
harmony. Blessedness, not material possessions, is the measure of
right thought; wretchedness, not lack of material possessions, is
the measure of wrong thought. A man may be cursed and rich; he may
be blessed and poor. Blessedness and riches are only joined together
when the riches are rightly and wisely used; and the poor man only
descends into wretchedness when he regards his lot as a burden
unjustly imposed.

Indigence and indulgence are the two extremes of wretchedness. They
are both equally unnatural and the result of mental disorder. A man
is not rightly conditioned until he is a happy, healthy, and
prosperous being; and happiness, health, and prosperity are the
result of a harmonious adjustment of the inner with the outer, of
the man with his surroundings.

A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile,
and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his
life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases
to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself
up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against
circumstances, but begins to _use_ them as aids to his more rapid
progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and
possibilities within himself.

Law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the universe;
justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life; and
righteousness, not corruption, is the moulding and moving force in
the spiritual government of the world. This being so, man has but to
right himself to find that the universe is right; and during the
process of putting himself right he will find that as he alters his
thoughts towards things and other people, things and other people
will alter towards him.

The proof of this truth is in every person, and it therefore admits
of easy investigation by systematic introspection and self-analysis.
Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at
the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions
of his life. Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it
cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies
into circumstance. Bestial thoughts crystallize into habits of
drunkenness and sensuality, which solidify into circumstances of
destitution and disease: impure thoughts of every kind crystallize
into enervating and confusing habits, which solidify into
distracting and adverse circumstances: thoughts of fear, doubt, and
indecision crystallize into weak, unmanly, and irresolute habits,
which solidify into circumstances of failure, indigence, and slavish
dependence: lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of uncleanliness
and dishonesty, which solidify into circumstances of foulness and
beggary: hateful and condemnatory thoughts crystallize into habits
of accusation and violence, which solidify into circumstances of
injury and persecution: selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallize
into habits of self-seeking, which solidify into circumstances more
or less distressing. On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all
kinds crystallize into habits of grace and kindliness, which
solidify into genial and sunny circumstances: pure thoughts
crystallize into habits of temperance and self-control, which
solidify into circumstances of repose and peace: thoughts of
courage, self-reliance, and decision crystallize into manly habits,
which solidify into circumstances of success, plenty, and freedom:
energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of cleanliness and
industry, which solidify into circumstances of pleasantness: gentle
and forgiving thoughts crystallize into habits of gentleness, which
solidify into protective and preservative circumstances: loving and
unselfish thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for
others, which solidify into circumstances of sure and abiding
prosperity and true riches.

A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad,
cannot fail to produce its results on the character and
circumstances. A man cannot _directly_ choose his circumstances, but
he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his

Nature helps every man to the gratification of the thoughts, which
he most encourages, and opportunities are presented which will most
speedily bring to the surface both the good and evil thoughts.

Let a man cease from his sinful thoughts, and all the world will
soften towards him, and be ready to help him; let him put away his
weakly and sickly thoughts, and lo, opportunities will spring up on
every hand to aid his strong resolves; let him encourage good
thoughts, and no hard fate shall bind him down to wretchedness and
shame. The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations
of colours, which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are
the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.

"So You will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, 'environment,'
But spirit scorns it, and is free.

"It masters time, it conquers space;
It cowes that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
Uncrown, and fill a servant's place.

"The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.

"Be not impatient in delays
But wait as one who understands;
When spirit rises and commands
The gods are ready to obey."


THE body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the
mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically
expressed. At the bidding of unlawful thoughts the body sinks
rapidly into disease and decay; at the command of glad and beautiful
thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty.

Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought.
Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body.
Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a
bullet, and they are continually killing thousands of people just as
surely though less rapidly. The people who live in fear of disease
are the people who get it. Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole
body, and lays it open to the entrance of disease; while impure
thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon shatter the
nervous system.

Strong, pure, and happy thoughts build up the body in vigour and
grace. The body is a delicate and plastic instrument, which responds
readily to the thoughts by which it is impressed, and habits of
thought will produce their own effects, good or bad, upon it.

Men will continue to have impure and poisoned blood, so long as they
propagate unclean thoughts. Out of a clean heart comes a clean life
and a clean body. Out of a defiled mind proceeds a defiled life and
a corrupt body. Thought is the fount of action, life, and
manifestation; make the fountain pure, and all will be pure.

Change of diet will not help a man who will not change his thoughts.
When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure

Clean thoughts make clean habits. The so-called saint who does not
wash his body is not a saint. He who has strengthened and purified
his thoughts does not need to consider the malevolent microbe.

If you would protect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew


Online LibraryJames AllenAs a Man Thinketh → online text (page 1 of 2)