As a Man Thinketh summary
As a Man Thinketh shows us how our thoughts determine who we are, how we act, and ultimately how we experience life—for better or worse. Beneficial thinking develops character, an ordered mind, and a peaceful spirit. Un-beneficial thinking leads to a lack of integrity, harming others and ourselves, and a lack of peace.
As a Man Thinketh notes & quotes
Here are my notes and quotes on As a Man Thinketh by James Allen. My notes are casual and include what I believe are the essential concepts, ideas, and insights from the book, along with direct quotes from the author.
- “I dreamed of writing a book which should help men and women, whether rich or poor, learned or unlearned, worldly or unworldly, to find within themselves the source of all success, all happiness, all accomplishment, all truth.”
Thought and Character
- “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” — The Book of Proverbs (23:7)
- Our character is the sum of all our thoughts.
- “Action is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus do we garner in the sweet and bitter harvest of our own plantings.”
- “If our mind has evil thought, we will suffer pain; if our thoughts are pure, joy will follow.”
- “By linking cause and effect, by patient practice and investigation, and utilizing every experience, even the most trivial everyday occurrence, we will obtain that knowledge of ourselves which is Understanding.”
Effect of Thought on Circumstances
- Our mind is like a garden that can be smartly cultivated or allowed to run amok.
- Outer conditions reflect inner conditions.
- “As the reaper of our own harvest, we learn both by suffering and bliss.”
- We attract what we are, not what we want.
- Thought becomes action, and action can either liberate or imprison us.
- People want to gratify their desires for rich and unnatural foods while having good health, too, without seeing the absurdity.
- Lack of mental harmony causes suffering.
- Happiness, health, and prosperity result when the inner and outer relationships are in harmony.
- We believe thought doesn’t matter, but thought becomes a habit, and habit becomes circumstance.
- Circumstances cannot be chosen, but our thoughts can be selected and indirectly shape circumstances.
Effect of Thought on Health and Body
- “Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought.”
Thought and Purpose
The Thought-Factor In Achievement
- “As we think, so we are; as we continue to think, so we remain.”
- The truth is that oppressors and enslaved people cooperate in ignorance and inflict themselves, not each other.
- “They who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”
Visions and Ideals
- The visible world is sustained by the invisible.
- “You cannot travel within and stand still without.”
- Effort determines results. “Gifts,” powers, material, intellectual, and spiritual possessions are the fruits of action.”
- “Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”
- The more we understand ourselves, the more calm our minds will be.
- Nearly everyone strives for balance, yet few are.
The Path to Prosperity
- Everyone has experienced pain, difficulty, and anguish.
- Men and women try to escape these challenges in innumerable ways hoping to enter into never-ending happiness.
- The path to freedom starts with self-understanding.
- The outer conditions of your life reflect your inner state of consciousness.
- “All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts; it is made up of our thoughts.” — Buddha
- We are affected by our circumstances to the degree we allow.
- The unaware traveler tramples upon a wildflower, while the poet sees a beautiful messenger from the invisible.
- “…the world is a mirror in which each of us sees a reflection of ourselves.”
- The wise person sees all conditions as necessary to self-growth.
- “Be sure, first of all, that you are making the best of what you have. Do not delude yourself into supposing that you can step into greater advantages while overlooking smaller ones, for if you could, the advantage would be impermanent and you would quickly fall back again in order to learn the lesson that you had neglected.”
- Desiring more time is useless when you are wasting the time you already have.
- If you are to complain about the powers that be, are you sure you would not do the same if you were in power?
- A sanctuary of peace forever exists within us in that state of consciousness beyond that which is impermanent.
- “No matter how poor you are, there is room for self-sacrifice.”
- “Make yourself pure and lovable, and you will be loved by all.”
- It’s vital for our wellbeing to go into the silence daily.
- When your thoughts are ordered, your life is ordered.
- “The foolish wish and grumble; the wise work and wait.”
- True power comes from being able to marshal your resources and focus them on a given task.
- You’re not ready to lead others until you can lead yourself.
- Above all, have a clear purpose and devote yourself entirely to it.
- Good health comes from a pure heart and a well-ordered mind.
- “Great is the thirst for happiness, and equally great is the lack of happiness.”
- The ignorant believe happiness is the product of gratifying desire.
- As long as you believe others’ selfishness is robbing you of your joy, you will remain unhappy.
- “Happiness is that inward state of perfect satisfaction which is joy and peace, and from which all desire is eliminated.” [In my experience, not all desire is bad. The desire for someone to travel safely, for example, is a wholesome desire.]
- “Cling to self and you cling to sorrow; relinquish self and you enter into peace.”
- Real happiness is found in that which is impermanent, the divine.
- “Lose yourself in the welfare of others; forget yourself in all that you do; this is the secret of abounding happiness.”
- Prosperity is an inward realization.
The Way of Peace
- Meditation leads to divinity.
- “Meditation…is the secret of all growth in spiritual life and knowledge. Every prophet, sage, and savior became such by the power of meditation.”
- When you forget yourself, you remember that you are only ever seeking the truth.
- Through meditation we acquire knowledge of and trust in the eternal principles so that we become one with the Eternal.
- If you forget the real aim of life and grasp after transient things like pleasure, in time you will envy the person who meditates.
- “There is self and there is truth; where self is, truth is not, where truth is, self is not.” —Buddha
- “Truth is so simple, so absolutely undeviating and uncompromising that it admits of no complexity, no turning, and no qualification. Self is ingenious, crooked, and, governed by subtle and snaky desire, admits of endless turnings and qualifications, and the deluded worshippers of self vainly imagine that they can gratify every worldly desire and at the same time possess the truth.”
- Truth is hidden from those who cling to self.
- Truth has no difficulties and frees one from all sorrow and disappointment.
- The distinction between people of truth and people of self is humility.
- Those immersed in self believe their opinions to be truth, and others’ opinions as error.
- Truth is the only true religion.
- Peace comes from having nothing to attack, nothing to defend, and nothing to conceal.
- All suffering comes from self and ends with truth.
- As long as people have their worldly possessions, it is easy to delude themselves that they are peaceful and loving. But when their luxuries are threatened, they clamor for war, which reveals their real priority.
- “Those who do not desert their principles when threatened with the loss of every earthy thing, even to the loss of reputation of life, are the people of power.”
- “There is no way to the acquisition of spiritual power except by that inward illumination and enlightenment which is the realization of spiritual principles; and those principles can be realized only by constant practice and application.”
Inner harmony is spiritual power, which manifests as increasing dispassion, patience, and equanimity.
- The spirit of divine love is hidden deep in every heart.
- Divine love is different from human love in that it is impartial.
- Divine love is permanent and embraces all that is; human love is perishable.
- Divine, or selfless love, is a state of knowledge.
- People are imprisoned by their possessions believing that giving them up will rob them of all that is real and worth having on this earth.
Intuitively, we are aware of the transient and illusory nature of our material existence yet we go in believing in materialism.
- “While vainly imagining that the pleasures of Earth are real and satisfying, pain and sorrow continually remind us of their unreal and unsatisfying nature. Ever striving to believe that the complete satisfaction is to be found in material things, we are conscious of an inward and persistent revolt against this belief, which revolt is at once a refutation of our essential mortality and an inherent and imperishable proof that only in the immortal, the eternal, the Infinite can we find abiding satisfaction and unbroken peace.”
- “Entering into the Infinite is not a mere theory or sentiment. It is a vital experience that is the result of assiduous practice in inward purification.”
- Jesus “grew in wisdom” and was “perfected by suffering.”
- “A pure heart is the end of all religion and the beginning of divinity.”
- “The holy place within you is your real and eternal self…if you can remain there for one minute, one hour, or one day, it is possible for you to remain there always.”
- Wisdom is the end of sin, sorrow, and suffering.
Here is a list of resources, including authors, books, websites, podcasts, and concepts mentioned in As a Man Thinketh, which might be helpful for further learning.
- Martin Luther
- Benjamin Disraeli
- Saint Paul