If you are looking for a clear plan to develop your potential, to become what you want to be and do and have what you want to do and have, I greatly recommend you enter on the path of The Master Key System. It will change your life, guaranteed.
This is a summary and review of my experience reading and applying the 5th & 6th chapters 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 the summary of each chapter and my reflections here.
Week 5 begins with a question which, when asked seriously, can be a pivotal and transformative moment in our lives: “The subconscious processes are always at work; the only question is, are we to be simply passive recipients of this activity, or are we to consciously direct the work? Shall we have a vision of the destination to be reached…or shall we simply drift?”
In other words, you have a choice to make. If you do not put forth the effort to direct and control your thoughts, then you will be controlled by them. This sounds scary and overwhelming at first, but with a little bit of practice, it becomes clear that the potential to control our thoughts is very much within us, waiting to be polished and used. When I first began trying to consciously direct my thoughts it was intensely difficult, however, like anything else that we learn, a little practice makes it easier and easier.
We have, Haanel states, inherited the thoughts, habits and instincts of thousands of generations and we can decide which are desirable and to be cultivated and which we should eliminate from our lives. Heredity helps us, but it is up to us to take over as wise master of our minds and actions.
Constantly, our subconscious is receiving information, accepting it as truth and setting about to change how you think and act immediately. Therefore, it is in our interest to take stock of what we are thinking to see if our thoughts are ones that we have chosen to think or have been given by advertisers, parents or ancestors. Then, decide if they are true, if they are beneficial and helpful. This is a mental housecleaning, and should be done regularly, as we would do to keep our homes clean and healthy.
The evolution of humanity depends on you to do this. Evolution has given us our brains, our upright posture and our hands which can use tools. However, not everything is flawless and it is our job to sift through the negative and detrimental and to cast it aside. The progress and evolution of life depends on each of us improving our minds.
All power comes from within, but we cannot get it unless we give. All strength and ability is the result of use. No professional athlete honed their skill by sitting on the couch all day. We are a channel, through which Power flows, but it cannot flow if it is obstructed and not kept in good working order. The way we keep the channel flowing is to use what you have been given. Allow yourself to be a vessel through which Power can work to better the world. To keep the Power flowing through you requires intelligent and careful directing of our thoughts. It requires practice.
The exercise for week 5 is as follows:
“Take the same seat, the same position as heretofore, and mentally select a place which has pleasant associations. Make a complete mental picture of it, see the buildings, the grounds, the trees, friends, associations, everything complete. At first you will find yourself thinking of everything under the sun, except the ideal upon which you desire to concentrate. But do not let that discourage you. Persistence will win, but persistence requires that you practice these exercises every day without fail.”
This mental exercise helps to hone two important skills: concentration and imagination, both of which are essential to success.
I have never been a visual person. On all the tests I am strong in auditory and kinesthetic learning, but never visual. When I dream, there are rarely images involved. When I close my eyes and visualize a face, I do not really see the face, I feel the face. Many people think this is strange when I tell them this. I think it is because most people are very visual.
Therefore, this exercise was a challenge for me, but I am committed, and therefore will persist. For the first few days, I struggled to create any sort of visual picture in my mind. Then, suddenly, on the fourth day, I could see a tree. There it was, in front of me as I closed my eyes. I could actually see it and begin to make out the details. I am certain now that this skill can be developed in anyone.
Haanel reminds us that mind is cause and the external world is the effect and he asks, “What effect can be produced by thought?” His answer is, “it depends entirely on the mechanism we attach.” In other words, our brain.
The brain is the organ through which we think. We exist within our mind, this is where we have our being and in this world is omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. And this Power will “respond to our desire in direct ratio to our purpose and faith.” If we know what we want, know why we want it and believe it to be ours, we have provided all that is necessary for its realization.
It is by looking within that we can begin to have greater conscious control over our brain and thoughts. We can call our brain into action by directing its thoughts. For example, ask yourself, “What are 5 things I am truly grateful for?” And answer the question. You have just directed your mind. The more you do it, the better you will become. Practice, use your brain.
The power of attention, Haanel tells us, is essential to mental development. He compares attention to a magnifying glass in which rays of sunlight are focused. The rays have no strength or power if the magnifying glass is moved about and the rays are directed all over the place. However, if you focus the rays on one spot without moving it, its power and strength become obvious. You can create enough heat to make fire.
So it is with the power of your thoughts. By default your thoughts will be all over the place. It is by focusing your thoughts on one particular purpose that you unleash real power. I am reminded of Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, whose chicken recipe was turned down again and again, but his focus was fixed and he was determined. Or Sylvester Stallone, with his script for the movie Rocky. He was rejected over and over, but persisted unwaveringly. Persistence overcomes all. But to persist in something, we must maintain our focus on it.
Therefore, the exercise for the week is designed to cultivate the power of attention. This time you are to bring a photograph with you and:
“Examine it closely at least ten minutes, note the expression of the eyes, the form of the features, the clothing, the way the hair is arranged; in fact, note every detail shown on the photograph carefully. Now cover it and close your eyes and try to see it mentally.”
Haanel instructs us to repeat the process until we are able to do this. Not being a very visual person, I had to do this over and over. Throughout the week, in addition to the time I set aside daily for this, I used spare moments throughout the days to practice this. I used a picture of my wife’s face.
At first, I felt discouraged, but I swept this feeling aside because I know that we can learn anything with persistence. And I persisted, and I am glad I did, because towards the end of the week, for the first time in my life, I finally became able to close my eyes and visually look at a clear mental picture. And this mental picture is of my wife’s face. I have created for myself a treasure that, whenever I close my eyes, I can enjoy. I am grateful for this and excited by the development and improvement of my focus and imagination.
I can feel the soil of my mind being prepared for further and greater growth and flowering.