As A Man Thinketh: You Are What You Believe

silhouette of a man wearing shorts and hoodie facing the colored dim sky

The Vision that you glorify in your mind, the Ideal that you enthrone in your heart-this you will build your life by, this you will become – James Allen

Concise and poetic, this book is packed with gems of wisdom. You probably have come across quotes from James Allen’s work presented here.

As the title suggests, As A Man Thinketh is all about the power of thoughts in creating our reality. He said that our mind is the master-weaver of the garments of our inner character and outer circumstance. And his aim with the book is so that we can shift from weaving through ignorance and pain to enlightenment and happiness.

The Treasure

Of all the beautiful truths pertaining to the soul which have been restored and brought to light in this age, none is more gladdening or fruitful of divine promise and confidence than this–that man is the master of thought, the moulder of character, and the maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.

A Godlike character, in James’ words, is a being of Power, Intelligence, and Love. It is not a thing of favor or chance, but is the result of continued effort in right thinking. It is the effect of continued association with Godlike thoughts. This is what we often refer to as alignment with Source (God).

James compares this searching for truth to the mining of gold and diamonds. And only by digging deep into our souls can we discover these treasures.

One can prove the Truth to himself if he can watch, control and change his thoughts, and trace their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon the circumstances of his life. He can link the cause, which are his thoughts, and effect, the manifested things, by practice and investigation. And the means of obtaining this knowledge is through our every experience, even to the most trivial day-to-day events.

The beauty in this is that we no longer need to be “stuck” in whatever situation we’re in. We now have a tool, a feedback loop we can always look into. We can examine and identify our thought patterns that led to particular events.

We are also aware that our present experience is only the manifestation of our past thoughts. We can change and create future events through the thoughts we have in the present. That’s where the treasures are.

As A Man Thinketh

The Law

Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are… Not what he wishes and prays for does a man get, but what he justly earns. His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.

You do not attract what you want. You attract what you are.

Want love? Be love.

Want abundance? Be abundance.

How? Think love. Think abundance. Think Godlike thoughts, as we have previously mentioned.

James observed that most people want to change their circumstances, the effect, all the while preserving and nourishing the cause in their hearts.

And how do we often strive to change our circumstances? Through action, through struggle, and “hard work” hoping that it would compensate for the vibrational alignment that we can only achieve through the power of thoughts.

James gifted us with this knowledge and there’s a reason why he didn’t name the book As a Man Doth, nor As a Man Acts. It’s “As a Man Thinketh” because he knows that we create and shape our reality primarily through our thoughts.

As A Man Thinketh

Soul Detox

It is pleasing to human vanity to believe that one suffers because of one’s virtue; but not until a man has extirpated every sickly, bitter, and impure thought from his mind, and washed every sinful stain from his soul, can he be in a position to know and declare that his sufferings are the result of his good, and not of his bad qualities; and on the way to, yet long before he has reached, that supreme perfection, he will have found, working in his mind and life, the Great Law which is absolutely just, and which cannot, therefore, give good for evil, evil for good. Possessed of such knowledge, he will then know, looking back upon his past ignorance and blindness, that his life is, and always was, justly ordered, and that all his past experiences, good and bad, were the equitable outworking of his evolving, yet unevolved self.

I love this! Personally, it resonated with what I’ve been experiencing. And I know that maybe you too who are on a similar path could be asking, after all the spiritual inner work, when it’s going to turn around? It’s like you’ve been waiting for that BIG breakthrough in your life, but it’s not yet manifesting.

The truth is, it actually is! But it is manifesting first all those deep-seated beliefs that we’ve held onto for so long. I call this “soul detox,” when the soul is purging thoughts that no longer serve you.

It is part of what is called the “healing crisis” — getting worse before it gets better. It’s when all hell breaks loose!

When this happens, just step back with awareness and stay focused on your alignment as you let these momentary events pass. They too will pass. It’s a process. Trust the process.

Find comfort in this particular passage from James that your momentary sufferings are the result of working on your good qualities. He further emphasized that the sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure. Remember the work of the alchemist?

Keep doing the inner work. You are on your way to supreme perfection. We all are.

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Last Judgment

A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.

Once you are able to understand through experience, which by then the Truth will become self-evident to you, that there truly is a Universal Law that governs life, you will no longer find it reasonable to blame others for the circumstances you encounter. You are learning to take responsibility for your life.

As you progress and learn more, you will find yourself complaining less and appreciate more. You will even appreciate those events that don’t please you because you are aware that behind the seeming failures or misfortunes, they are serving a greater purpose.

First, you grow from these experiences. Second, you use them to gain more clarity about the direction you want to take in your life.

That’s the true meaning of last judgment — you no longer judge the circumstances as good or bad, or the people as right or wrong. You no longer judge life for what it is. You just love it as it is.

The end of judgment is the beginning of love.

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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.

James wrote that man cannot keep his thoughts as a secret because they crystallize into a habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance.

We can keep our secrets from other people, but we cannot hide them from ourselves. The world will reveal these secret thoughts back to us as direct life experiences. Until we become aware and conscious, we remain unconscious victims suffering from our own delusions.

The world is your kaleidoscope, as James put it, and it presents to you your ever-moving thoughts as the pictures of your life.

As A Man Thinketh

Now you have access to the script, what would you like to change and what new would you like life to play out for you?

Think Healthy

The body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the operations of the mind, whether they be deliberately chosen or automatically expressed. At the bidding of unlawful thoughts the body sinks rapidly into disease and decay; at the command of glad and beautiful thoughts it becomes clothed with youthfulness and beauty.

One important purpose of the body is it acts as our health messenger. It sends us physical manifestation and symptoms of dis-ease.

Ease is what we feel when we are in vibrational alignment and harmony with our Inner Being. That is when we think Godlike thoughts, when we think as God thinks.

Knowing this, should we treat the symptoms manifested by the physical body, or should we deal with the root of the dis-ease, which is more likely psychological and spiritual in nature?

James even pointed out that a change of diet will not help a man who will not change his thoughts. What he’s implying is that change must first happen in your mind, and then the changes in other areas of life like diet or exercise will naturally follow.

As A Man Thinketh

Did you know that foods have a vibration too? Google “Kirlian Photography”. It’s the reason why we are attracted to some foods while to others not. And that their vibration changes too in the way they are prepared and how they are taken. Google “The Psychology of Eating” and see the works of Marc David if you want to go further with this.

Here’s how James beautifully sums it up:

If you would protect your body, guard your mind. If you would renew your body, beautify your mind.

Thoughts are expressed through the body. Think healthy.

As A Man Thinks

A man’s weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are his own, and not another man’s; they are brought about by himself, and not by another; and they can only be altered by himself, never by another. His condition is also his own, and not another man’s. His suffering and his happiness are evolved from within. As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.

A strong man cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped, and even then the weak man must become strong of himself; he must, by his own efforts, develop the strength which he admires in another. None but himself can alter his condition.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” Henry Ford, one of the most successful individuals who helped shaped our world, provided us the insight that success or failure is a state of mind.

We are what we think. And we can only think for ourselves. We cannot think for another. Mind (is) your own business. That’s why it’s called “self-help.”

As A Man Thinketh

It may sound arrogant, but even Abraham Hicks strongly advises us to be self-ish enough because we cannot really offer anything unless we are tuned in, tapped in, turned on (meaning aligned and connected with Source).

James eloquently illustrated the case of the oppressor and the slaves. It’s easy to despise either the oppressor or the slaves, but the truth is that both are co-operators in ignorance. And while seeming to afflict each other, are in reality afflicting themselves.

In other words, the oppressor and the slaves are only different roles played by the same ego. No matter the appearance or form, it’s still ego — the ignorance, unconsciousness in us.

It’s also important to include in our awareness the form of help we are providing others. Is it from the ego, who offers help because “I’m special” or “I’m better than you”? Or is it from the love that says “we are in this together”?


There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice, and a man’s worldly success will be in the measure that he sacrifices his confused animal thoughts, and fixes his mind on the development of his plans, and the strengthening of his resolution and self-reliance. And the higher he lifts his thoughts, the more manly, upright, and righteous he becomes, the greater will be his success, the more blessed and enduring will be his achievements.

At first, it would feel like a sacrifice. You would feel like you’re losing everything. That’s why most people wouldn’t take the spiritual path, consciously.

More often than not, the spiritual path is perceived by many as a path that requires a lot of giving up, even to the preconceived notion of “self-denial.” But the self that it asks of denying, of giving up, of sacrifice is the lower-self — the ego, which is attached to everything, especially worldly pleasures.

The spiritual path does not need giving up your material possessions and worldly pleasures, although that is usually the natural side effect, because you will become less and less attracted to them. In fact, the “need” is what is being given up.

You can still be, do, and have anything you want — but now you come from a higher consciousness, one with uplifting thoughts.

The ego is nothing but an illusion. Love, your Being, and who you are becoming is everything.

Where is the sacrifice in giving up nothing in exchange for everything?

wisdom quotes

The Seedling

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. 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.

Everything was first created in the mind. What we can see in our mind, we can hold in our hands. All that we can see was born of the unseen. Abraham Hicks always talks about the “Vortex,” which is the invisible vibrational reality that exists, and where all our desires are conceived, ready to give birth into the visible physical world.

This vortex of creation is the soil where we plant thoughts as seedlings that will one day sprout and grow fully into reality. What kind of thoughts are you planting?

When you plant a good thought-seedling today, you can’t expect them to grow and bear fruits right away the following day. You won’t question tomorrow why they haven’t grown yet. And you won’t stamp your feet on the ground and get mad why they’re not growing. They’re there. You’ve done your part of the job, but you also have to let Nature take its course.

You wouldn’t also compare your garden with others. They probably have planted their seedlings long before you’ve planted yours. It’s harvest time already for them. But yours will come too when the time is right. There is Divine timing for everything. Its timing is always perfect.

As A Man Thinketh

The Final Lesson

The last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold–yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money seeking looks in comparison with a serene life–a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the Eternal Calm!

The more awesome you become, the calmer you are.

Observe the awesomeness of the ocean. At the surface, it might be raging and turbulent waters. But the deeper you get, the calmer it becomes. And at its deepest depth, there is stillness.

Waves of thoughts are also endlessly drifting on the ocean of your consciousness. But in the depth of your Being, there is also stillness. That’s where the Eternal Calm is.

James said that calmness of mind is one of the jewels of wisdom. It is an indication of ripened experience, and of an extraordinary knowledge of the laws of thought. He added that the more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence and power for good.

As A Man Thinketh

Quoting Marianne Williamson, “Ego says, “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace.” Spirit says, “Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.”

We cannot find peace where it cannot be found. It’s not anything of this world. It is, was, and always will be where it is — in you.

As a Man Thinketh


JAMES ALLEN (28 November 1864 – 24 January 1912) was a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement. His best known work, As a Man Thinketh, has been mass-produced since its publication in 1903. It has been a source of inspiration to motivational and self-help authors.

Other Books by James Allen

Mind is the Master: The Complete James Allen Treasury

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