As a Man Thinketh

As a Man Thinketh is a self-help book by James Allen, published in 1903. 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.” – Wikipedia

An original copy of the 1903 edition of James Allen’s remarkable book sat on my father’s bookshelves while I was growing up. The book was thin, the cover was old (nothing like the current cover on Amazon), and the text was written in an old-fashioned style. It took me a long time to discover the book and realize that what is held within it a remarkable prescription. (You can download a free copy here as well as from Project Gutenberg.)

The book, which I’ve mentioned on this blog several times before, contains what used to be called “aphorisms” (suggestions for “right living.”) It can be read that way, that is to say, if you think positive thoughts and avoid negative thoughts, you’ll be a happier, more likeable person.

Or, it can be read literally, as though continued focus on a particular kind of thought will manifest that thought in one’s life. This is the way I read it. Many books, including The Secret and others about the law of attraction, affirmations, and practical meditation owe their existence to this book.

“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.'”

That’s not easy to see because we seem to have been programmed to think a lot of negative thoughts. Maybe they’re rants or gripes or poor me notions or the kind of gossip people used to trade at the barbershop. It’s easier to say something is screwed up than to find hope in the world. So, if we think negative thoughts most of the time, that’s who we are even though from time to time we read a book or go to a lecture and spend a few days thinking positive thoughts.

Peer pressure influences us a lot, I think. If everyone around us is saying things are going to hell in a handbasket, it’d hard to step forward and say, no they’re not. So we don’t say it. Who would believe it if we did say it? It takes a lot of effort to see that thoughts are things and that they control what happens in the physical world. One has to give the notion a try and work with it for a while to see any results.

Suffice it to say, when a friend comes on hard times, it’s best not to say, “You caused this to happen.” It’s easier to say that hard times were caused by fate, bad breaks, or God moving in mysterious ways. That places the responsibility everywhere else. And, it obscures the fact that–to paraphrase Marianne Williamson–we are more powerful than we know.  The sad thing is this: if we have been “programmed” since birth to believe that we believe, it’s difficult to change to a new way of seeing the world, much less expect others to accept it. Those who speak out about this are usually mocked one way or another as (according to the old phrase) being a “goodie-two-shoes” or naive or just plain crazy.

I’m lucky. I can insert my beliefs into my fiction without being put in a home because people assume all that comes from my characters or another reality. If you’re in the insurance business or sell cars for a living, I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. Life insurance salespeople really can’t say, “You’ll die whenever your ready” and car salesmen really can’t say, “The next time you decide to wreck your car, come see me for a new model.”

If I could, I would go door to door handing out copies of James Allen’s book. If people read them, the world would be forever changed,


Malcolm R’ Campbell’s hero’s journey novel “The Sun Singer” and the heroine’s journey novel “Sarabande” are based on the principles in James Allen’s book.





Saturday Natterings: Yard work, Diagon Alley, NPR poetry, and Melinda

A selection of stuff for the blog today because my bad cold makes me too tired to write an exciting post. However, we will be speaking of magic again soon.

  1. Parked in the garage this week.

    The yard is out of control. If you have a yard, you know what this means. My wife and I planned to rein in the unruly grass and encroaching weeds even though we hadn’t yet recovered from our one-week trip with family to Disney World and Universal Studios. But then it rained. Dang, we had to postpone our yard work. Several days ago, somebody didn’t secure the pasture gate and we found our yard full of cattle. Not the first time this has happened. They ate some of the grass before we chased them back into the pasture.

  2. While in the Orlando area, I was lucky to finally meet
    Melinda Clayton of Thomas-Jacob Publishing.

    my publisher whom I’d worked with on line for quite a while but had never met in real life. Great times at a cool restaurant in Sanford. Her husband, my wife, my brother and my brother’s wife were there as well.

  3. Speaking of my publisher, Melinda will be happy to know that I finally ran out of excuses and have added new scenes to Lena, the upcoming third book in my Florida Folk Magic Series. The series begins with Conjure Woman’s Cat.
  4. NPR wants you to fill Twitter with “your haikus, tankas, limericks and the nonsensical, and we’ll feature some of our favorite bite-sized verses online and on the air.” Learn more here.
  5. FROM MY FACEBOOK AUTHOR’S PAGE: Napoleon Hill’s statement that “Whatever The Mind Can Conceive And Believe, The Mind Can Achieve” separates, I think, those who succeed from those
    Original cover. The 1902 book is still in print.

    who don’t–this depends on how one defines “succeed.” Or, as James Allen wrote many hears ago, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” Everything I know about magic can be based upon these and similar statements. Whether one is talking about magic or the processes of daily living, many people limit these statements because they either don’t see that people are more powerful than they know or because both statements force a person to acknowledge his/her responsibility for his/her “lot in life.”

  6. Photo from the trip: Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. There were long lines, of course, but it was fun seeing this re-creation as well as my two granddaughters’ reaction to it. They each bought an interactive wand which, if you used it just right, made things happen in many of the store windows.

Have a good week.


Try Magic: What have you got to lose?

If you’ve read this blog and/or my books for a while, you know that I don’t doubt the reality of magic. Magic is–or should be–an optional subset of mysticism, that is to say, a direct communion with the god of your heart. I have always thought magic worked better within the context of one’s belief system rather than as an end in itself.

When some people read books filled with promises–like “The Secret” they are often inspired to try what they otherwise might not try. Sometimes they succeed. They’re more likely to succeed right after reading the book because they are attuned to the idea that all things are possible. So, before doubts enter into their thoughts, they often see things happen that they might never have expected prior to reading the book.

Magic, and by that, I don’t mean the sleight of hand and illusions of stage magicians, is always part of a larger system of thought, a way of looking at the world that isn’t confined to the limitations of every-day logic. For example, the hoodoo practices I talk about in my Florida Folk Magic novels are part of the culture in which they thrive. One can’t extract the spells and modes of thinking from the culture and expect them to work.

The same could be said about magic within the “old religion” (true witchcraft rather than Wicca), Hawai’ian mysticism (Huna), the practices of shamans in multiple cultures, Celtic (Druid) worldviews, and others. The first problem many people have after they finish a book or a weekend retreat or a class on magic and/or psychic techniques is merging their new knowledge into their own culture.

If you live in, say, Orlando, Florida, it’s difficult to merge, for example, Huna practices into your daily life because Hawai’ian mysticism is not the world view of most people living in Orlando. So, whatever you have learned, you will be at a disadvantage unless you can shield yourself from the mainstream worldview where you live and work.

Magic need to be culturally dependent, that is, it can be eclectic and not an integral part of a specific culture. While the tenants of this magic don’t synchronize well with what most of one’s friends and colleagues believe in, they are easier to pursue than those that are part of a minority group or culture. Nonetheless, the magic is still part of an altered way of looking at truth and the world and the “big picture” and cannot be separated from it. I have found this an easier route than, say, following hoodoo or Huna or Native American belief systems. There is nothing wrong with those systems other than the fact that (for me) I’m not attuned to those cultures. So, my approach is based on my own culture instead of somebody else’s culture.

You can find magic and mysticism at The Rosicrucian Order and The Silva Method that aren’t based on the cultures and rituals of marginalized groups. These are, so to speak, somewhat generic. Or, if you’re looking for inspiration, perhaps you’ll find if at Duirweigh Studios or in the books by Joseph Campbell. These are all routes to magic.

One of the best books–which you can find free on the Internet–about magic is James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh. Really, this old book says it all. For magic to work in your life, your worldview–whether “generic” or based on a particular culture–must accept the tenants and practices of the magic. Seriously, the magic and everything that surrounds it must be part of your life.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty, magic won’t work if you don’t think it will work, or if you have doubts about it. That’s a tall order because we’re expected to believe before we have any proof. I know, that’s not logical, so you must set logic aside before you practice magic. And don’t rush it.