Monthly Archives: February 2015

Week 20 – Encouragement from Charles and Og

I want to use this blog as an encouragement to myself (and us others in my situation) to reaffirm my commitment to my Definite Major Purpose and to place it back where it belongs: at the core of my intention and a daily focus in my life.

It has taken only a few weeks of unusual activities in my working and private life to disrupt my usual pattern and to take away the multitude of benefits I’ve gained from the Master Keys Experience. As my life is getting busier, so my priorities are now getting wrong I need to get back in step with my Dharma.

The chapter from Haanel’s Master Keys (Part 20) we read this week has been really useful in making it clear to me about my situation. In paragraph 4, Haanel asks,

“Thinking is the true business of life, power is the result. What results can you expect so long as you remain oblivious to the power which has been placed within your control?”

So I’ve taken my ‘eye off the ball’ and the advances I’ve gained have slipped back somewhat through a lack of continual effort to the practise of keeping my priorities in mind. The clock has taken over my life’s compass in recent times.

But, I am not kicking myself and while I draw breath, there always hope. In Scroll Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman, which we have been reading and re-reading in February encourages us to make the most of today and not to linger on the past:

“”I waste not a moment mourning over yesterday’s misfortunes, yesterday’s defeats, yesterday’s aches of the heart, for why should I throw god after bad?”

Yesterday is gone and all I can do is seize THIS moment to do the right thing for me. And so, I do.

I have been reminded this week of the importance of the “Sit”, or as Haanel calls it the “Silence” this apparently simple, but deceptive task of sitting still (controlling the body) and concentrating (controlling thought in the mind) is the fundamental core of the Master Keys Experience. This is where the rubber hits the road – all else in the Master Keys Experience is designed for us to get our minds to be the most effective it can be for when our conscious mind moulds and edits the subconscious mind’s creativity and aligns itself with Universal thought. The immediate effect is inspiration, the prolonged effect is a purposeful life.

Haanel describes the mechanism of the Silence perfectly in paragraph 18 of Part 20,

“Inspiration is from within. The Silence is necessary, the senses must be stilled, the muscles relaxed, repose cultivated. When you have thus come into possession of a sense of poise and power you will be ready to receive the information or inspiration or wisdom which may be necessary for the development of your Purpose.”

And why is the Silence the fundamental core? Because in the Silence we create the conditions which encourage powerful thought. It is the activity of the world within that will change us from within. Paragraph 27 of Master Keys part 20 holds the phrase that for me, is the crux of Haanel’s book:

‘Thought is creative vibration and the quality of the conditions created will depend on the quality of our thought, because we cannot express powers which we do not possess. We must “be” before we can “do” and we can “do” only to the extent to which we “are”, and so what we do will necessarily coincide with what we “are” and that depends on what we “think”. ‘

So now, what I need to do is to get back to the routine of planning and executing my outer world to nourish my inner world, then to doing the requirements for the day. As Haanel said, “knowledge does not apply itself”.



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Week 19 and 18 – Living Life to the Full

As part of the Master Keys Experience, we have been learning from Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman” Scroll V – To live each day as if it our last; to “seal-up its container of life so that not one drop spills itself upon the sand”. We are to make the very best of our days and in order to do that we need to make the very best of ourselves. We are 19 weeks into our Master Keys journey and we have learned so much and experienced so much. This blog is devoted to some aspects of greatness of character that will enable us to live or days to the full.

  1. Look at life objectively.
    Many of us have entered the MKE course with so much “stuff” we have to deal with that we can’t see “the wood for the trees”. In the course we have referred to this “stuff” in many different this ways – the concrete cast of the Golden Buddha, Mark J’s “River of (other peoples’) Dreams”, the Tower of Babylon (depicting the Tower as the errant attitudes we may have to treating one another and our environment in our working or personal life i.e. dehumanising people as commodities to be used and abused). A large part of the problem is that we don’t register this because we’re too busy to stand back and take a look at ourselves and what we do. This is the first blessing in the MK Experience.
    In week 8 of the course we learned from Emmet Fox’s book “The 7 Day Mental Diet” to make our thoughts the most important thing in our lives and for 1 week, to hold thoughts objectively and reject negative ones before attaching an inappropriate emotion to them. This is of fundamental importance, because we cannot control the other aspects of living life to the full if we cannot control our minds. And we cannot control our minds if we cannot disengage our egos and our reflex emotions from the situation. We cannot control the maelstrom of our lives if our minds are permanently placed in its centre.
    To help us, Charles Haanel has given us his book “The Master Keys” the mental exercises to achieve this. The “sit” is designed to control first our bodies then our minds to be controlled. The fundamental objective of the “sit” is to bring the participant to her / his inner world and not to be distracted by the persistent vagaries of the outer world. This is the key to creating the ideal conditions for objective thought.
  2. Think
    The beauty of objectifying the mind is that it sets it for powerful thought. Look around us. Unless we are walking naked and unencumbered through a wilderness, we are surrounded by objects which at some point have originated as a thought. And it is somebody’s thought that put it there. At almost all times in our lives, we are completely engulfed by the effects of peoples’ thoughts. We all think, but few of us have harnessed this power to help us reach our true potential. It takes concentrated, directed and persistent thought to drive our desires to completion, for it is these very thoughts that put us on the path to greatness but the path is neither straight nor flat. Only this type of thought, in concert with Universal Thought can bring about the conditions for our healthy desires to take root and flourish in the most astonishing ways you can (and cannot) imagine.
  3. Don’t Think – Do
    Haanel states that such thought is tiring and, unlike physical exercise, continuous mental exercise can be detrimental to the thinker.  This may be one reason not to think too much, but there is a much better reason. Many of us (I’m definitely in this group!) find our thoughts difficult to put into action. Perhaps the greatest reason for this is that at the point of execution, we think too much. It may be a deep-seated fear of failure, a feeling of being out of control or out of our comfort zone, but whatever it may be, nothing will change until the task is done. You may be wondering what your purpose is in life and, like me, you’re only certain of what you don’t want to do. One thing is certain you will never find your purpose in life if you don’t do something. Even by trying something that you find you don’t like, means that you at least know more of what you don’t want and eventually the amalgamation of things you don’t like will teach you enough about yourself to make that change in direction – and it may be a big one.
    To add light to the subject, here is a passage from the apostle James, chapter 2 which I’ve translated slightly into MKE language:

    What good is it, my friends, if a person claims to have understanding of the power of thought and universal mind but has no actions? Who understands the cause and does not implement the effect? Can such understanding benefit him or her?
    Suppose someone knows a person in need. If one of you says to that person, “Go, I wish you well; I hope you find what you need,” but does nothing about their needs, what good is it?
    In the same way, by itself understanding and belief in the way the inner world works, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “They have action; I have understanding.” Show people your understanding without action, and those with greater understanding will demonstrate it by what they do.
    Is further evidence that understanding without doing is useless required? Are not writers such as Hill, Mandino, Nightengale and Haanel considered great for what they did and not just for what they thought?  You see that their thoughts and their actions were working together, and their faith was made complete by what he did.
    A person is justified by what they do and not by understanding alone. ~
    As the body without the spirit is dead, so understanding without action is dead.

    You may think that thinking and not thinking are opposites and I’ve been contradicting myself, but the fact is that they are two sides of one coin – the one stimulates the other into being. This brings me neatly to my next point…

    4. Balance
    Part 19 of Haanel’s The Master Key has shown us that opposites are merely the polar extremes of the same thing. For example, you could define the South Pole as the point where the effects and characteristics of the North Pole is least on the planet. Or vice versa.
    In the last 5 years or so, it has been a joy and an excitement for me to discover that life consists of circles and cycles. My hobbies / passions of astronomy and Tai Chi are replete with this axiom:
    In astronomy, [perfectly formed] planets are round and so are moons stars, black holes. Galaxies are flat but round, moons cycle around planets, planets cycle around the stars and the stars cycle around the centre of the galaxy. Scientist are trying to find the extent to which the galaxies may rotate around some point in the Universe.
    At the opposite end of the scale electrons cycle around the nucleus of an atom at amazing speeds – about 600 miles per second and the nucleus itself rotates at ¼ the speed of light! Rotation is in itself self-cycling and all heavenly bodies seem to obey this rule. Our lives are ruled by cycles: daily, weekly and yearly cycles as the sun and moon, relative to the earth, cycle around our skies. We eat and sleep in daily cycles – our boy is made for them. I am sure you can think of many more and it is with this knowledge that I place my faith in life after death. Death of my body is part of its recycling into the material universe and similarly, I believe that the mind is more than the material parts and will return to its origin, and perhaps turn the cycle again.
    Tai Chi ‘s symbol is the archetypal cycle of the yin and the yang (black and white) which depict all perceived opposites which are in reality a whole which is in perfect balance.
    The point for my above ramble is that a circle or a sphere has perfect balance (however you look at it, it’s in symmetry) and the Universe is replete with balance. In physical science, without balance, the universe and our little planet would not exist as it is. In politics, where there is an imbalance of thought or ideology, without a respect for a higher ideology (e.g. constitutions) or people of exceptionally high moral and spiritual energy (e.g. Ghandi, Mandela), there is war.
    Thus, balance in our lives is a fundamental part of living life to the full because it is a Universal truth. We must have work balanced with play, we must balance the kindness for our children with discipline. We must balance exercise of our spiritual side with that of our mental and physical sides. As Haanel’s 19th chapter said, we need physical food to sustain thought, which operates on the physical world, but that diet of food should be balanced. Also, we may choose our balance to be “polar”e.g. as in The Greatest Salesman Scroll IV [I keep my life in the marketplace away from my family and vice versa] or may be an “integrated” balance (e.g. I have a family-run business and my family shares in the triumphs and disasters of it).


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Week 17a – The Importance of Loss

Two significant events of this week have had a large impact on my thinking this week. The death of one of my aunts and the 700 hundred miles of journeying to visit Universities who wanted to interview my daughter for a degree course in Animation and Design.

The loss of a family member with its associative reminders of my mortality and the looming fact that my daughter will soon fly from the nest and I will no longer be in a daily close proximity to her has raised deep-seated emotions of loss. I have been preparing for the impact of the latter for a considerable time.

I’ve reached an age where loss is not a new thing to me – like many of us, I have suffered death of close family, divorce, broken long-term relationships and disappointments in working life and private life. Through my spirituality, I’ve gained comfort – not by using it as a crutch, but using it as a map. My spirituality has taught me the importance of loss and the key to greatness of character.

One of our Master Keys Experience heroes, John Wooden, one of the most revered coaches in the history of sports, said that he infused into his players the attitude on court that if they lost, they would not show their disappointment; such that if someone had just entered the arena, they would not be able to distinguish who had won. Wooden’s philosophy was to build greatness into his players and to be great, you must first have to act great. In Scroll 1 of Og Mandino’s “Greatest Salesman in the World”, the formation of a good habit, through constant and frequent repetition, will replace a bad one. Contrast this with the attitude of soccer players of our time whose psyches are geared so desperately to avoid loss that they will bite members of the opposition, deliberately handle the ball or risk injuring an opposing player. The truly great players of past generations are lost to the financial monster that is the high-performing professional arm of the world’s most popular game. What is being taught to our children and even many adults with regard to loss?

Loss is an important factor in life because it is unavoidable. The only thing we can change with loss in our lives is our attitude to it. If we can do that, we can (as Scroll 4 of Mandino’s book describes so well) recognise that “…all our problems, discouragements, and heartaches [i.e. losses] are, in truth, great opportunities in disguise”. The way we respond to our losses is a litmus test for our character.

There are two important factors in our attitudes to loss: our emotion and our ego – our conscious thought. The ego is what Charles Haanel in his book The Master Keys describes as the “I” in us – that which is not the body for  the “I” controls it, nor is it the mind, for the “I” uses it to think.

Our emotions can have serious impacts on our ego; such that those who have not sufficiently educated their egos may be at the complete mercy of them. Emotions are a great servant: to light-up our thought and energise them into acts of creativity, as Haanel has shown us in previous weeks; but they can also be a bad master. Controlling emotions can be difficult, but if we treat our emotions with a detached mind and regard them all – even the bad ones – as old friends, we begin to see them for what they really are, and their sting on us is thwarted. This method has certainly helped me with the emotional misery that is depression.

Our ego, our core, conscious self can be a force for good or bad – both in the world and ourselves. Principles or vices attach themselves to our egos through the medium of habitual practices. They will make us heroes or villains according to our choice. Our true possessions of value are the principles to which we attach our egos – we live intimately with them and they stay with us to the moment of our death.

So, when we encounter loss, we must deal with our emotional response and our ego attachments, and they may well be intertwined. The Master Key Experience has taught us many things regarding the power of concentrated, emotive thought and Haanel’s The Master Keys is replete with the positive outcomes that it will achieve. It is with concentrated, emotive thought that we can find our hidden vices by asking ourselves “”What am I pretending not to know?” This simple question repeated regularly seeps into our subconscious to eventually enlighten us with multitude of answers – including showing ourselves for who we really are. When known, it is thought which, when properly applied, will dig beneath our ego attachments to life and collapse them.

So when it comes to thought, what do we think? Emmet Fox’s “Seven Day Mental Diet” showed us the principle of holding a thought objectively and letting it go. It is this principle of letting go that is paramount to the release of emotion and ego attachment alike. It is also perhaps THE most fundamental principle to the mystery that is life for Haanel’s work explains mainly (but not exclusively) of how the Laws of the Mind and the Universe work but not why.

We are each an eternal spark in a mortal body. Our spirit is meant to grow as our bodies bloom and then decay. This is our purpose. Our character (the ego surrounded by its attachments) grows as our spirit grows and develops and we move through life understanding and appreciating what we encounter within a spiritual context. And we let go. We let go of the need to be admired by the people we want to impress, to always be right, to be given respect because we think we deserve it, to nit-pick, to think that we need a gamut of “stuff”, to compete at any level. We let go of envy, jealousy, selfishness and cynicism (as Napoleon Hill encourages us), we let go of anger and bitterness, pride and prejudice (even Jane Austen gets a mention!), petty vendettas, impatience, intolerance, procrastination and a host of other vices that may attach themselves to our egos. And as time passes we let go of more and more that holds us back until one day, with even our greatest fears released from our inner world, we may let go of life itself with peace. We lose the baggage of this world as we embrace eternity.

There is one more insight I have to give on loss. As I was preparing the outline for this blog, the story of the Prodigal Son came into my mind. It took me a little time to work out why. My first thought was that it was because it is also known as the Lost Son. However, shortly after, I got the message…

When I was younger, I have heard many people’s sermons and expositions on the meaning of the story. They were all based on the love of the father in the story and the wayward son as a parable of God’s love, forgiveness and acceptance and our sinfulness. It hit me that this could just as easily be interpreted as a lesson on our response to loss: the father’s loss of his son, the lost son’s loss of his inheritance and the elder son’s loss of position as the cherished son that did the right thing and deserved more love than his prodigal sibling (note the elder son’s ego attachments).

See if this makes sense to you…

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. ‘ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. 25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ 31 ” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”

Courtesy of


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