As a Man Thinketh
Assessment by Sky Schulz (USA)
1. What is the main idea that the author is trying to convey in the book?
The main idea James Allen is trying to convey in As a Man Thinketh, is the responsibility of every individual for his or her own life through the use of the mind.
2. What were the seven ideas which were personally most important to you and why? List these seven ideas followed by an explanation after each one as to why it was important to you. Use personal examples from your own life.
The book is divided into seven sections, each describing a specific aspect of thought. As well as being the most prominent, they are also the seven most important concepts to me.
i. Thought and Character.
It refers to the effect of thought on man’s character describing the ways in which the effect of harmful thought can destroy a man’s integrity and his pure thought can cleanse and rectify him. This concept strikes me as meaningful because it calls for clear intention in the manner in which we utilize our minds. If my goal is to be a source of light and inspiration to not only myself but also others, it is my responsibility to keep my own thoughts in check. The quality of control we exercise over our minds determines our character.
ii. Effects of Thought on Circumstance
This refers to the as ye sow so ye shall reap law of the universe. It focuses not only on the natural world, but the mental and moral world as well. I have seen this concept play out clearly in my life many times. One strong example that comes to mind is of a conversation I had with a grumpy old family friend at a funeral of a distant relative of mine. I didn’t know the man but I almost immediately disliked him. He required my full attention in discussing in a one-sided manner the worst of politics, religion, etc. I was becoming very frustrated with the belief I held that we had nothing in common and that he was polluting my energy and mood with ignorance and hatred. I remembered something I had read in A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman that all people are brothers and any interaction lacking love is a call for love. Without any other escape route, I decided to give it a shot; I focused on my heart chakra and when I felt it full of love I began sharing it with him without saying a word. Instantaneously, mid-hateful-sentence, he stopped, took a breath and started talking with the same velocity but suddenly in a friendly, open manner about the esoteric experiences he had when he was in his twenties! It was amazing. I was baffled. We exchanged email addresses and I later left the conversation and funeral feeling genuinely inspired by this “grumpy old man.” It was the power of my own mind that effectively determined the circumstances. I attracted love with love.
iii. Effect of Thought on Health and Body
This idea describes just that. Our own inner stance determines our physical health more than any diet can. This is a concept I am especially interested in because of a long-standing physical “dis-ease” I have in my spine. I firmly believe the curve developed when I was between the ages of ten and twelve and my parents were struggling with a horrendous separation, tearing their children back and forth between them and between continents. At the time I was not aware of the power or responsibility I hold and my spine followed my thoughts, leaning back and forth, yearning for both parents but only being able to please, and prove my love to one of them at a time. I am working on changing my physical structure by clearing old habit patterns of the mind and consciously processing past traumas, replacing them with love and forgiveness.
iv. Thought and Purpose.
It describes the power of having an aim towards which to direct ones thought. “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,” describes the effect of intentionality and Vision on our lives.
v. The Thought Factor in Achievement
This is the fifth concept and calls for vigilance in attainment of one’s Vision. It is not enough to purify ones intentions once or twice but rather requires constant maintenance and strong will. Watchfulness is called for in order not to lose clear sight of one’s goal. Recently, I had to leave a partner whom I love deeply. It was an overdue break-up but I had lost clear vision of my priorities. When we first decided to commit to one another, I told him honestly my priorities which were first my own personal growth and second a loving reciprocal relationship with him. Over the course of the relationship I put my own growth on the backburner many times to accommodate my second priority. Eventually it caught up to us both and I no longer felt authentically about my commitment to him. I believe that if I had not lost sight of my Vision, it would have been possible to stay connected to both of my priorities. However, I also am grateful for the way in which everything played out and honor completely the perfection of this circumstance.
vi. Visions and Ideals
The sixth concept is Visions and Ideals, which spoke the strongest to me. It honors artists and dreamers for the creative power they channel. Creativity is literally the force of creation. What one can dream, one can do. A beautiful quote in this chapter reads as follows, “The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird waits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.” It rings to me of conscious manifestation, something I often operate by. Earlier this year I was lying on the floor of my cold basement studio with a fever, hallucinations, and visceral thoughts of suicide. I prayed hard for a change. When the fever subsided and I began thinking more clearly, I made a list of everything I want to attract. My journal entry to this experience reads:
01/26/15 I want:
To live near/ in nature harmoniously
To work outside with plants, my body, and craft
To have the mentorship of authentic, loving healers
To be with Ben in a conscious loving relationship
To have a community of young but mature seekers
To express myself creatively
To have access to hiking woods and hills very near by
Very shortly after this, I found the Mountain Light Sanctuary, where I now live in and near nature harmoniously with a beautiful mountainous hiking trail only about 30 yards from where I wake up, where I work in the gardens, and have a constant flow of young seekers to converse with, as well as a painting set-up on the front porch; I met and connected with Margie – my mentor; I got a job working with troubled teens in the wilderness; made substantial improvements to my relationship with Ben, and was able to leave this and find an effortlessly loving and conscious relationship with another man completely unexpectedly and naturally. My Vision and Ideals were specific and from the heart. I held them dear and they all came true within four months.
Lastly, Serenity is important to me because it emphasizes the ultimate goal: to reside in “the ocean of Eternal Calm”. To me, it is a trust in life itself. To trust in the laws of the universe that if properly understood and the understanding maintained, will always respond according to our intentions. Serenity to me is knowing that as long as I am doing the best I can, I can rest assured that I am taken care of and that everything that happens is ultimately in line with my own intention – which is to be the best that I can.
3. How will these ideas or lessons help you in a practical way, both in your daily personal life and in helping you to create a better world? If so, how?
In order to live in serenity and inspire this in others, it is crucial for me to clearly understand and cultivate the laws of the universe. Allen differentiates between desire and dream; a desire is empty and unproductive because it lacks the internal affirmation whereas a dream inherently holds the potential of reality. To achieve greatness, I must dream and to dream I must understand the rippling effects of my mind.
4. Quotes: Are there any statements which the author made that particularly got your attention? If so, please quote them and comment as to why they were important to you.
“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently 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.”
As a gardener, the imagery of this metaphor speaks to me clearly. It is a strong reminder to be intentional with what we do or put into our minds. Each thought has a repercussion so if we act carelessly with our minds, we will wake up hungry staring at a poisonous jungle.
5. Is there anything in the book that you do not understand or are unclear about, or are there ideas which you disagree with and, if so, why?
6. Did the book contain exercises for the reader to complete? If so, did you complete all of the exercises and did you find them helpful?
7. Was there anything you read in the book that you would like to comment on that was not covered in the previous questions? If so, please comment.
I feel as though this book is a genuine and insightful philosophy on the laws that govern the universe. It inspires remembrance and agreement in me, however, if I were not already rooted deeply in these principles I would wonder how to purify the mind, how to achieve self-control and discipline, how to stay focused and keep my mind free of negative or unproductive thoughts.
Please rate the following questions on a scale from 1 to 10. Ten is good and one is poor.
A. How interesting was it to read? 6
B. How helpful were the contents? 7
C. How easy was it to understand? 7
D. Would you recommend it to others? 7
E. What is the overall rating you would give it? 6.5