Book Review: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

Book Review: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

The Book In 3 Sentences

  1. Man is the master of thought, the molder of character and the maker and shaper of condition, environment and destiny or in other words, man is literally what he thinks and nature manifests these thoughts of man.
  2. Men do not attract which they want but that which they are as thoughts crystallize into habits and habits solidify into circumstance and therefore, the predominant thoughts of being manifest in the form of circumstance.
  3. Humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and storms of the soul obey him.

My 411

An absolute classic in the world of accessible occult books was such a worthwhile read! Ignoring the sexist title and language as it was written at a time where the more colloquial word "people" was encompassed in the word "Man", this book is rife with wisdom, apt aphorisms and concise advice. An exposition of the Principle of Mentalism, this short read (or listen as in my case) left me in goosebumps as it's filled with some incredible lessons that I have encountered before however due to the concision of the text, the wisdom imparted intuitively was grasped more lucidly.

My recommendation is to take your time with this book, enjoy it, reread it and imbibe the lessons in your daily life. Reading this book was unequivocally uplifting and now has been added to my list of books to read when to escape from the hounds of existential nihilism.


1. Thoughts and Character

  1. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
  2. Act is the blossom of thoughts and joy and suffering are its fruits.
  3. If a man hath evil thoughts, pain comes on him as comes the wheel the ox behind.
  4. Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armory 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, strength and peace.
  5. Man is always the master even in his weakened state.
  6. In his weakened state, he is the foolish master who misgoverns his household.
  7. Only by practice, patience and ceaseless importunity can man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.

2. Effect of Thought on Circumstances

  1. Thoughts and character are one.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. There is no chance but all is a result of a law that cannot err.
  5. When man realizes 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.
  6. The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves, and also that which it fears; it reachest the height of it cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened desires.
  7. Circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.
  8. Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.
  9. As the reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss.
  10. Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.
  11. Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.
  12. Not what he wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he justly earns.
  13. His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.
  14. Men are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.
  15. Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object.
  16. Man is the causer (though nearly always unconsciously) of his circumstances.
  17. The Great Law is absolutely just and therefore cannot give good for evil and evil for good.
  18. Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results and bad thoughts and actoins can never produce good results.
  19. Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It's an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself, with the Law of his being.
  20. A man may be cursed and rich and he may be blessed and poor.
  21. Blessedness and riches are only joined together when the riches are rightly and wisely used.
  22. The power man descends into wretchedness when he regards his lot as a burden unjustly imposed.
  23. Happiness, health and propsperity are the result of a harmonious adjustment of the inner with the outer.
  24. Thoughts rapidly crystallize into habit and habit solidies into circumstance.
  25. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances but he can choose his thoughts and indirectly so, yet surely, shape his circumstances.
  26. 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.

3. Effect of Thought on Health and Body

  1. The body is the servant of the mind and it obeys the operation of the mind.
  2. 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.
  3. The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it.
  4. Strong, pure and happy thoughts build up the body in vigor and grace.
  5. The body is 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Thought is the fountain of action, life and manifestation. Make the fountain pure  and all will be pure.
  8. A sour face is made by sour thoughts.

4. Thought and Purpose

  1. Until thought is linked with purpose, there is no intelligent accomplishment.
  2. Aimlessness is a vice and those who have no central purpose fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles and self-pitying which all lead to unhappiness and sorrow.
  3. A man should conceive of a legitimate purpose in his heart, and set out to accomplish it. He should make this purpose the centralizing point of his thoughts.
  4. He should make his purpose his supreme duty and should devote himself to its attainment not allowing his thoughts to wander away into ephemeral fancies, longings and imaginings.
  5. Even if man fails again and again to accomplish his purpose, the strength of character gained will be measured of his true success and this will form a new starting point for future power and triumph.
  6. Strength can only be developed by effort and practice. Adding effort to effort, patience to patience and strength to strength, will never cease to develop and will at last grow divinely strong.
  7. To put away aimlessness and weakness, and to begin to think with purpose, is to enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment. Who make all conditions serve them and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly and accomplish masterfully.
  8. Having conceived of his purpose, a man should mentally mark out a straight pathway to its achievement, looking neither to the right nor the left.
  9. Doubts and fears should be rigorously excluded; they are disintegrating elements which break up the straight line of effort, rendering it crooked, ineffectual, useless.
  10. Thoughts of doubt and fear never accomplished anything and never can! They always lead to failure.
  11. The will to do springs from the knowledge that we CAN do.
  12. Doubt and fear are the great enemies of knowledge and he who encourages them, who doesn't slay them, thwarts himself at every step.
  13. He who has conquered doubt and fear has conquered failure.
  14. Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force.

5. The Thought-Factor in Achievement

  1. All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.
  2. A strong man cannot help a weaker unless the weaker is willing to be helped and even then the weak man must become strong of himself. None but himself can alter his condition.
  3. "One man is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the slaves".
  4. A perfect compassion embraces both oppressor and oppressed.
  5. He is free who has conquered weakness.
  6. A man can only rise, conquer and achieve by lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by refusing to lift up his thoughts.
  7. Before a man can achieve anything, even in wordly things, he must lift his thoughts above slavish animal indulgence.
  8. He may not, in order to succeed, give up all animality and selfishness, by any means but a portion of it must, at least, be sacrificed.
  9. A man whose first thought is bestial indulgence could neither think clearly nor plan methodically.
  10. Man is only limited by the thoughts he chooses.
  11. There can be no  progress, no achievement without sacrifice, and a man's worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his confused animal thoughts, and fixes his mind on the development of his plans and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance.
  12. And the higher he lights his thoughts, the more manly, upright and righteous he becomes, the greater will be his success, the more blessed and enduring will be his achievements.
  13. Intellectual achievements are the result of thought consecrated to the search for knowledge, or for the beautiful and true in life and nature.
  14. Spiritual achievements are the consummation of holy aspirations.
  15. Victories attained by right thought can only be maintained by watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured and rapidly fall back into failure.
  16. He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly much sacrifice greatly.

6. Visions and Ideals

  1. Cherish your visions, cherish your ideals, cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment. If you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
  2. To desire is to obtain; to aspire to achieve.
  3. Dream lofty dream and as you dream, so shall you become.
  4. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.
  5. Non-believers, non-dreams attribute success to luck or good fortune but don't take into account the trials and tribulations associated with getting somewhere.
  6. The strength of the efforts is the measure of result.
  7. "Gifts", powers, material , intellectual and spiritual possessions are the fruit of effort; they are thoughts completed objects accomplished, visions realized.
  8. The vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart - this you will  build your life by, this you will become.

7. Serenity

  1. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort.
  2. Calmness's presence is an indication of ripened experience and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.
  3. The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good.
  4. Even the ordinary trader will find his business prosperity increase as he develops a greater self-control and equanimity.
  5. The strong, calm man is always loved and revered.
  6. Serenity is as precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold - yea, than even fine gold.
  7. How insignificant mere money-seeking looks in comparison with a serene life - a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves,  beyond the reach of tempest in the Eternal Calm!
  8. Humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and storms of the soul obey him.
  9. Whatever your circumstances may be, in the ocean of life the isles of blessedness are smiling, and teh sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming.
  10. Self-control is strength, Right Thought is mastery, calmness is power.


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