Book Review: As a Man Thinketh

If you are like me, tend to classify your readings as the kind of books that are perfect partners during commuting, good choices for night reading, and nice- to-have every once in a while, then this book, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen is the kind of book that you will have to give yourself the space to read, pause, and then to decide whether to agree or disagree with the author.

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It was not an easy read. The language was very difficult and some ideas were not fully expressed, yet, there is something in the book.

Personally, as much as I believe in the power of our thoughts and how much they can shape our lives; I am totally against blaming the victim and the criminal. The author believes that:

“A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of fate or circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling thoughts and base desires. Nor does a pure-minded man fall suddenly into crime by stress of any mere external force; the criminal thought had long been secretly fostered in the heart, and the hour of opportunity revealed its gathered power.  Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself No such conditions can exist as descending into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations, or ascending into virtue and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of virtuous aspirations; and man, therefore, as the lord and master of thought, is the maker of himself the shaper and author of environment”.

With respect to that, what is the role of the policy men, the decision makers and the activists in changing these circumstances? We can’t just assume that a human being is capable to choose the right thoughts/ actions/ reactions all the time. There must be tools/ laws/ regulations to make these circumstances as controlled as they could be.

I always believed in the idea of The Law of Attraction that was thoroughly illustrated in The Secret Book, but, in some situations, we are putting too much burdens on ourselves.  In some part of the book, I felt like if the author was talking directly to me, I won’t be able to complete the conversation as some ideas were totally misleading. For example, if I am in a deep pain, then the last advice that I would like to here is the following:

“Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with himself, with the Law of his being…The circumstances, which a man encounters with suffering, are the result of his own mental in harmony…. A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances”.

It would be better if the author acknowledge the huge mental energy that is needed to do that shift in mindset and hence, to choose the right thoughts. The idea would be more helpful if the author could express how to do that shift.

Nevertheless, the Law of Thoughts, which is the main idea of the book, is a powerful reminder to continuously monitor our mental energy. The miracle of life is that we learn equally from the good and the bad experiences . At the end, this advice still 100% applies:

“The outer world of circumstance shapes itself to the inner world of thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are factors, which make for the ultimate good of the individual. As the reaper of his own harvest, man learns both by suffering and bliss”.

A nice book but be prepared for a lot of confusion and thinking.

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