This is a summary and review of my experience reading and applying the second chapter of Charles Haanel’s The Master Key System (free pdf download). This book was originally intended to be a weekly correspondence course, with each chapter being the focus of one week. I am following this original intention of the author. You can read my reflections on week one here.
The second chapter of The Master Key System was even more profound than the first and Haanel continues his explanation of the nature of reality and our place in it.
In the introduction to the chapter, there is a sentence which appears to have influenced Napoleon Hill (who credits much of his own success to Haanel) and is a core theme in his most famous work Think and Grow Rich. He states, “Thought concentrated on a definite purpose becomes power.”
In my opinion, this sentence is worth re-reading and contemplating deeply. Within this sentence is one of the great Truths of life and sums up the formula for all of the great successes in history. If, upon reading this sentence, its truth is not obvious and evident to you, I recommend you reflect upon it. The time and effort you spend contemplating this will bring back to you more reward than you can imagine.
Multi-tasking and doing something with a divided mind reduces the quality and efficiency of any task. And devoting all of your focus and attention to a single goal will make the accomplishment of that goal much more likely to be achieved than if your concentration is distracted by multiple different purposes. Observing and studying the men and women who accomplish great things we notice a pattern: they were wholly devoted to, focused on and determined to achieve their goal.
In the first chapter, Haanel explains the two aspects of our being: the conscious and subconscious minds and states that the connecting of these is the great task of our lives. And, in doing so, we are able to unleash an infinite supply of strength, ability and power. In the second chapter he further clarifies this and expands on this.
He describes the subconscious as a “benevolent stranger [who], works and makes provision for our benefit, pouring only the mature fruit into our lap.” In other words, the universe is friendly to us and there is something within us working on our behalf. He illustrates this by pointing out that there is something, whose origin we do not know, which keeps our heart beating, our lungs breathing and our blood pumping.
While we have conscious control over some functions, such as walking at will, lifting up an arm, etc., we cannot stop the beating of our heart or the formation of nerve and muscle tissue. When we get a cut, we simply know that it will be healed.
If we were offered conscious control of everything that our subconscious does for us, Haanel says, our entire being would fail because we simply could not handle the immensity of the task. The subconscious mind, or whatever this friendly stranger is, carries out immensely intricate and complicated tasks in a way that is far beyond our comprehension. And it never sleeps; the heart keeps beating and the blood keeps flowing throughout our entire life.
Yet, as mighty as the subconscious mind is, it still relies on the conscious mind for a very important purpose. It is our job, the job of our consciousness, to be the guard or the watchman at the gate of the subconscious mind. And this, he says, is the “high function which can completely reverse conditions in your life.”
The subconscious mind constantly absorbs information at an astonishing rate, much of which we are not even aware of. However, the subconscious mind does not engage in the process of analyzing and proving if something is correct or not. With repetition, it simply takes something as fact.
Advertisers certainly know this and effectively exploit it. If you don’t guard your mind, you will find yourself buying something you don’t really need or want. Have you ever found yourself unconsciously chanting a commercial or advertising slogan?
But this goes way beyond being programmed to buy something.
Worry, fear, anger, frustration, disease and all negative aspects of life are caused by “false suggestions accepted by the unguarded subconscious mind.” Incorrect or destructive ideas which are allowed to take root in our minds are the cause of our sufferings and discontent (ie: why the heck did I buy this thing? Or…How did our relationship turn into this?).Whether we like it or not, we have been given the task of being the intelligent watchman of our minds.
Therefore, the single most important way to improve our lives is to practice directing and controlling our thoughts. I know from personal experience that this can be very difficult, but I also know that, like any habit, it gets easier the more you practice.
When I first tried to think the way I wanted to think, I struggled immensely and thoughts that I didn’t want continuously crept in. But, just like learning to ride a bike or how to swin, it has become easier and easier the more you do it. Today, I can summon positive thoughts and emotions at will. It is a feeling of pure bliss to know that I have the ability, at any time, to change my thoughts and emotions. Everyone has this same ability, it just needs to be practiced like any other skill.
It is when we begin to intelligently direct and guard our minds, Haanel says, that we have placed ourselves in harmony with the Universal Mind. When we have this harmony, we set in motion the mightiest force in existence, the creative power of this Universal Mind. This, as with everything, is governed by the law of attraction (Haanel talked about this law a hundred years before the movie The Secret did).
The law of attraction, like the law of gravity, is fixed and consistent and can be summed up as “like attracts like.” Haanel describes the law of attraction in this way: “Mind is creative, and will automatically correlate with its object and bring it into manifestation.”
He finishes that chapter again with an exercise. Last week the exercise was simply to keep your body still for at least 15 minutes. This week the task is a bit more difficult: begin to control your thoughts.
Haanel instructs the reader to take the same place and position as the week before and continues:
“Now be perfectly still as before, but inhibit all thought; this will give you control over thoughts of care, worry and fear, and will enable you to entertain only the kind of thoughts you desire. Continue this exercise until you gain complete mastery. You will not be able to do this for more than a few moments at a time, but the exercise is valuable, because it will be a very practical demonstration of the great number of thoughts which are constantly trying to gain access to your mental world.”
When I did this, I found it to be a much more difficult task than the first week. And Haanel was certainly right that I was not able to inhibit my thoughts for more than a few moments. On my first attempt, I struggled greatly, though by the third day I was able to stop my thoughts at will for a few moments before a new thought would creep up.
I was amazed at how quickly this ability developed. A little bit of practice truly goes a long way.
In the room where I meditated, there was a clock ticking, and I found that I could simply listen to the clock for a while and prevent thoughts from popping up. But, eventually, a thought worked its way into my mind and I gently inhibited my thought again. This is similar to the common practice of candle meditation, where a person focuses on a burning flame.
After a while however, I no longer needed this external focus and could simply stop my thoughts temporarily.
While Haanel admits that it is not possible to completely halt your thoughts, that is not the goal here. The purpose is to begin to truly realize the enormous number of thoughts which are constantly trying to enter our minds, as well as, to start to practice consciously directing our thought. By doing so, Haanel says, we begin to perform the most important task of our existence and enter upon a path which will dramatically transform our lives for the better.