Title: As a man thinketh

Author: James Allen (1864-1912)

Published: 1902

Type: Inspirational book

My rate: ****

As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay and book by James Allen, published in 1902. It was described by Allen as “… [dealing] with the power of thought, and particularly with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues. I have tried to make the book simple, so that all can easily grasp and follow its teaching, and put into practice the methods which it advises. It shows how, in his own thought-world, each man holds the key to every condition, good or bad, that enters into his life, and that, by working patiently and intelligently upon his thoughts, he may remake his life, and transform his circumstances. The price of the book is only one shilling, and it can be carried in the pocket.”  It was also described by Allen as “A book that will help you to help yourself”, “A pocket companion for thoughtful people”, and “A book on the power and right application of thought.”

Basis of the book

The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 23, verse 7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. The full passage, taken from the King James Version, is as follows:

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:
Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

While the passage suggests that one should consider the true motivations of a person who is being uncharacteristically generous before accepting his generosity, the title and content of Allen’s work refer to the reader himself.

Allen’s essay is now in the public domain within the United States and most other countries. It was released October 1, 2003 as a Project Gutenberg e-text edition.

About the book

This book, written in terms of the responsibility assumption, opens with the statement:

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.

Chapter 1 starts with the quote from Dhammapada that explains the effect of karma.

My favourite quotes from the book:

  • “Men do not attract what they want, but what they are.”
  • “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”
  • “Every action and feeling is preceded by a thought.”
  • “Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves.”
  • “As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts, can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.”
  • “The circumstances which a man encounters with suffering are the result of his own mental inharmony”

Two verses from the book appear on “Slave Only Dreams to Be King”, a track found on Marilyn Manson’s ninth studio album The Pale Emperor (2015). The verses are recited by actor Walton Goggins. The lyrics to the song “Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts” by Funkadelic are loosely based on this book.

In the film Rumble Fish the character ‘Motorcycle Boy’ is reading pages 36–7 in the kitchen.

I think is amazing that a 114 years old book is still successful today and is accurate for those days. I bought this book at an online sale for $2.25 and I was surprised to see it this small and I didn’t thought I would find something interesting in it, but actually I had a few aha moments reading it. Another proof that strong essences are kept in small bottles 🙂

I recommend you all to read this little book and you can read it for free HERE on digital format.

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