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As a Man Thinketh is a self-help [1] 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." [2] 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." [3]


Basis of the bookEdit

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.[4]

About the bookEdit

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.

Quotes From As a Man ThinkethEdit

  • "Men do not attract what they want, but what they are."[citation needed]
  • "A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts."[citation needed]
  • "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, of these, if you but remain true to them your world will at last be built."[citation needed]
  • "The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors, that which it loves, and also that which it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations. It falls to the level of its unchastened desires,– and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own." [4]
  • "Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves, they therefore remain bound."[citation needed]
  • "Every action and feeling is preceded by a thought."[citation needed]
  • "Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves."[citation needed]
  • "Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself."[citation needed]
  • "You cannot travel within and stand still without."[citation needed]
  • "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."[citation needed]
  • "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, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err."[citation needed]
  • "The thoughtless, the ignorant, and indolent, seeing only the apparent effects of things and not the things themselves, talk of law, of fortune, and chance. Seeing a man grow rich, they say, 'How lucky he is!' Observing another become intellectual they exclaim, 'How highly favored he is!' And noting the saintly character and wide influence of another, they remark, 'How chance aids him at every turn!' They don't see the trials and failures and the struggles which these men have voluntarily encountered in order to gain their experience; have no knowledge of the sacrifices they have made, of the undaunted efforts they have put forth, of the faith they have exercised, that they might overcome the apparently insurmountable, and realize the vision of their heart. They do not know the darkness and the heart aches; they only see the light and the Joy, and they call it 'luck'; do not see the longing arduous journey, but only behold the pleasant goal, and call it 'good fortune'; do not understand the process, but only perceive the result, and call it 'chance'.”
  • "The circumstances which a man encounters with suffering are the result of his own mental inharmony".
  • "The human Will, that force unseen. The offspring of a deathless Soul, can hew a way to any goal though walls of granite intervene. Be not impatient in delay, but wait as one who understands; When spirit rises and commands, the Gods are ready to obey."[5]

In popular cultureEdit

The lyrics to the song "Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts" by Funkadelic are loosely based on this book.[citation needed]

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

Rapper Gucci Mane cites this book as his inspiration for achieving sobriety and losing weight.

In Marilyn Manson’s song, “Slave only dreams to be King”, from the album ‘The Pale Emperor’ (2015), he references Allen’s quote “The human Will, that force unseen, The offspring of a deathless Soul, Can hew a way to any goal, Though walls of granite intervene. Be not impatient in delay...”, in the beginning of the song.

In the song ‘Heaven upside down’ from Manson’s (2017) album also titled ‘Heaven upside down’, Manson sings “I don’t attract what I want, I attract what I am”, which seems like a reference to Allen’s “Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are”.


  1. ^ "10 Best Self-Help-Books of All Time" at the Christian Science Monitor [1]
  2. ^ As a Man Thinketh announcement in the July 1903 edition of The Light of Reason. [2]
  3. ^ "As a Man Thinketh" page at The James Allen Library [3]
  4. ^ "As a Man Thinketh by James Allen". Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  5. ^ Goffin, Louise (January 20, 2015). "Louise Goffin Talks Marilyn Manson's The Pale Emperor". The Talk House. Retrieved March 18, 2016.

External linksEdit