It is widely rumored that the basis of the mysterious TV show "What is the Secret?" is the work of
self-made millionaire Charles Haanel. The picture displayed on the show's intriguing promo is of Charles
Haanel, so it is a logical conclusion. Haanel was an entrepreneur at the turn of the 20th century who supposedly
influenced many wealthy captains of industry. His main teaching, sent out in a course of letters over a period of
several weeks, was published in a book entitled The Master Key System. This book apparently influenced
famed positive thinker Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, as well as many other writers of
like-minded books. Legend also has it that Bill Gates read Haanel's Key book during his days at Harvard, which in
part precipitated him dropping out of that august institution to go on to found one of the greatest empires the
world has ever seen. This rumor remains unsubstantiated, however.
What is clear is that there is a certain eternal thirst for this kind of knowledge, a "key" to how
people become "successful" in whatever endeavors they attempt and by the typical standards they may be
judged. Is there really such a "key?" Maybe not. But maybe.
The entire premise of "think and grow rich" - however we define "rich," whether it be in material
wealth or general happiness - is that everything depends on us, how we think, how we project ourselves, what
opinions we hold of ourselves, others and the world at large. In this regard, there is truth to this "system"
or "key." Great emphasis is made on "controlling" our thoughts. In Eastern mysticism, such control is viewed as a
pinnacle of human accomplishment, and it is taught in some schools that to be able to rid oneself entirely of
thought for a period of time will provoke the non-thinker into the mystical state of "enlightenment." What is the
reality here? Is "enlightenment" the key to happiness? Maybe and maybe not. It is possible to be
both "enlightened" and absolutely miserable, as enlightenment leads to the recognition of the world's suffering, an
experience classically reported of "the Buddha," who was said felt compelled out of compassion to return from
Nirvana to help dispel such suffering.
There is no question that our thoughts influence our lives, profoundly and otherwise. But can we
"think and grow rich?" In a sense, yes, we can. There are those fortunates who seem to have an indomitably happy
and positive outlook on life - and they are already rich. Do they wear blinders to the "real world," which in
its gritty, surly and noisome nakedness can surely grind someone down to a state of anxiety and despair? Perhaps.
The human mind is so complex that it is almost impossible to ferret out a solid "reality" when it comes right down
Here's where a "key" becomes so fascinating, and where it is certainly worth the time to
contemplate what great thinkers have to say about thought itself. In this regard, following are quotes from Charles
Haanel's The Master Key System, which some may find illuminating. It may be useful to keep in mind that
nothing is as definite as is put forth in these quotes, and that beating oneself up because one has failed to
"think positively enough" or to create those "riches," whatever they may be, is unnecessary and counterproductive.
Nobody's perfect, and we cannot be expected to accomplish everything - or even anything. Charles Haanel
himself died at 83; thus, he did not become immortal or superhuman merely because of his thoughts. On the other
hand, there is no question that a positive outlook on life can extend human longevity, whereas the opposite is also
true. One of the keys expounded by the world's oldest documented person, France's Jeanne
Calment, who lived to be 122, was that she felt happy much of her life. And, that is perhaps the
only single key to life, although it is not always easy, especially in light of the world's never-ending
suffering. Yet, the enlightened can lead by example.
Mind is creative. Conditions, environment, and all experiences in life are the result of our
habitual, or predominant, mental attitude.
There is a world within - a world of thought and feeling and power; of light and life and
beauty; and, although invisible, its forces are mighty.
The world within is a reflection of the world within. What appears without is what has been
found within. In the world within may be found infinite Wisdom, infinite Power, infinite Supply of all that is
necessary, waiting for unfoldment, development, and expression. If we recognize these potentialities in the
world within they will take form in the world without.
Harmony in the world within will be reflected in the world without by harmonious conditions,
agreeable surroundings, the best of everything. It is the foundation of health and a necessary essential to all
greatness, all power, all attainment, all achievement, and all success.
We are related to the world within by the subconscious mind. The solar plexus is the organ of
this mind. The sympathetic system of nerves presides over all subjective sensations, such as joy, fear, love,
emotion, respiration, imagination, and all other subconscious phenomena. It is through the subconscious that we
are connected with the Universal Mind and brought into relation with the Infinite constructive forces of the
All agree that there is but one Principle or Consciousness pervading the entire Universe,
occupying all space, and being essentially the same in kind at every point of its presence. It is all powerful,
all wisdom, and always present. All thoughts and things are within Itself. It is all in all.
There is but one consciousness in the universe able to think, and when it thinks its thoughts
become objective things to it. As this Consciousness is omnipresent it must be present within every individual;
each individual must be a manifestation of that Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent Consciousness.
The consciousness that focuses in your brain cells is the same consciousness which focuses in
the brain cells of every other individual. Each individual is but the individualization of the Universal, the
The Universal Mind is static, or potential, energy. It simply is. It can manifest only through
the individual, and the individual can manifest only through the Universal. They are one.
The Universal Mind is the life principle of every atom which is in existence; every atom is
continually striving to manifest more life; all are intelligent; and all are seeking to carry out the purpose
for which they were created.
We live in a fathomless sea of plastic mind substance. This substance is ever alive and active.
It is sensitive to the highest degree. It takes form according to the mental demand. Thought forms the mold, or
matrix, from which the substance expresses.
The value of the subconscious is enormous: It inspires us; it warns us; it furnishes us with
names, facts, and scenes from the storehouse of memory. It directs our thoughts, tastes, and accomplishes tasks
so intricate that no conscious mind, even if it had the power, has the capacity.
The subconscious mind is the Seat of our principles and our aspirations. It is the fount of our
artistic and altruistic ideals. These instincts can only be overthrown by an elaborate and gradual process of
undermining the innate principles.
The Solar Plexus has been likened to the sun of the body, because it is in the central point of
distribution for the energy which the body is constantly generating. This energy is very real energy, and this
sun is a very real sun, and the energy is being distributed by very real nerves to all parts of the body, and
is thrown off in an atmosphere which envelopes the body.
When the Solar Plexus is in active operation and is radiating life energy, and vitality to
every part of the body and to every one whom he meets, the sensations are pleasant. The body is filled with
health and all with whom he comes in contact experiences a pleasant sensation.
When you find that you are really one with the Infinite power, and when you can consciously
realize this power by a practical demonstration of your ability to overcome any adverse condition by the power
of your thought, you will have nothing to fear; fear will have been destroyed and you will have come into
possession of your birthright.
But the man who knows he has a Solar Plexus will not fear criticism or anything else; he will
be too busy radiating courage, confidence, and power; he will anticipate success by his mental attitude; he
will pound barriers to pieces and leap over the chasm of doubt and hesitation which fear places in his
A knowledge of our ability to consciously radiate health, strength, and harmony will bring us
into a realization that there is nothing to fear because we are in touch with Infinite Strength.
The subconscious mind is a part of the Universal Mind. The Universal is the creative principle
of the Universe. A part must be the same in kind and quality as the whole. This means that this creative power
is absolutely unlimited; it is not bound by precedent of any kind, and consequently has no prior existing
pattern by which to apply its constructive principle.
We have found that the subconscious mind is responsive to our conscious will, which means that
the unlimited creative power of the Universal Mind is within the control of the conscious mind of the
Your personality is made up of countless individual characteristics, peculiarities,
habits, and traits of character. These are the result of your former method of thinking, but they have nothing
to do with the real "I."
When you say, "I think" the "I" tells the mind what it shall think; when you say "I go" the "I"
tells the physical body where it shall go; the real nature of this "I" is spiritual, and is the source of the
power which comes to men and women when they come into a realization of their true nature.
The Universal cannot express through you as long as you are busy with your plans, your own
purposes; quiet the sense, seek inspiration, focus the mental activity on the within, dwell in the
consciousness of your unity with Omnipotence. "Still water runs deep." Contemplate the multitudinous
opportunities to which you have spiritual access by the Omnipresence of power.
Visualize the events, circumstances and conditions which these spiritual connections may assist
in manifesting. Realize the fact that the essence and soul of all things is spiritual and that the spiritual is
the real, because it is the life of all there is. When the spirit is gone, the life is gone; it is dead - it
has ceased to exist.
The subconscious can and will solve any problem for us if we know how to direct it. 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,
the dangers to be avoided, or shall we simply drift?
I built up an affirmation for myself, taking the qualities I most needed, and affirming for
myself over and over again, "I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, and happy." I kept up
this affirmation, always the same, never varying, till I could wake up in the night and find myself repeating,
"I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, and happy." It was the last thing on my lips at
night and the first thing in the morning.
Not only did I affirm it for myself, but for others that I knew needed it. I want to emphasize
this point. Whatever you desire for yourself, affirm it for others and it will help you both. We reap what we
sow. If we send out thoughts of love and health, they return to us like bread cast upon the waters; but if we
send out thoughts of fear, worry, jealousy, anger, hate, etc., we will reap the results in our own lives.
If you wish to eliminate fear, then concentrate on courage.
If you wish to eliminate lack, then concentrate on abundance.
If you wish to eliminate disease, then concentrate on health.