Classic Books

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Rhonda Byrne says that her principle source of inspiration for “The Secret” was the New Thought book “The Science of Getting Rich” written by Wallace Wattles which was first published in 1910. Thomas Troward’s work on mental science is also credited in the opening sequence and Charles Haanel is quoted in the book.

“The Science of Getting Rich” was preceded by numerous other New Thought books, including the 1906 book “Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World” by William Walker Atkinson, editor of New Thought magazine. Other New Thought books Rhonda Byrne has apparently read, include classic self-help authors such Prentice Mulford’s 19th-century “Thoughts Are Things” and Robert Collier’s “Secret of the Ages” from 1926. The New Thought movement began in the late 19th century and marks the historical basis for the vast majority of these ideas.

However, the opening sequence of the dvd suggests that “The Secret was buried… coveted… and suppressed”. We see the text of the Emerald Tablet, from the 3000 BC, being copied on to a scroll and given to a priest and then buried near the Pyramids of Giza. This is followed by an image of the title page of the 1906 book “The Life Power and How To Use It” by Elizabeth Towne. A Knight Templar gives the scroll to a Catholic priest which is then analysed by St. Germain and finally we see a series of short scenes of elite business men, meeting in a traditional board room.

Since watching “The Secret” I have read a number of these classic authors and found their material to be really interesting. It can sometimes be difficult to read because the style of writing 100 years ago was very formal. Nevertheless, the content is clearly the basis for today’s leading positive-thought, success and motivation coaches.

Bob Proctor often talks about his time with Earl Nightingale, who in turn learned from Napoleon Hill, who was introduced to this work by Andrew Carnegie. In “The Success Puzzle” he often quotes Thomas Troward and “The 11 Forgotten Laws” are based on the work of Raymond Holliwell.

Jack Canfield often attributes his own introduction to this material and the foundations of his own “Success Principles” to W. Clement Stone.  Jim Rohn, who passed away in 2009, mentored Tony Robbins and influenced Brian Tracy, Mark Victor Hansen and T. Harv Eker..

Books Can Be Dangerous

The really good ones should be labelled "This could change your life"

Master Key System

Charles F. Haanel – 1912

This book is powerful, yet concise. Haanel’s approach is direct and to the point. Each of the 24 chapters begins with a summary of what can be expected from it, with the next few pages explaining an exercise in easy to apply details. A summary of what has been learnt ends each chapter and it recommends that it is read several times before moving onto the next. It covers meditation, discusses the theory of thought and control over our every day thoughts which can bring about your best possible life.

The Strangest Secret

Earl Nightingale – 1956

Originally a recording, the book has now sold over a million copies. It provides a powerful definition of success. It is “the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal.” He is considered to be one of the deans of personal development. His message is powerful but simple. It has changed the lives of many people, but only if they believe and follow what he suggests. Our thoughts really do have tremendous power over us. Despite it’s years, it remains one of the most popular messages in personal development.

Subconscious Mind

Joseph Murphy – 1963

This book suggests that your external reality is made manifest by your inward thinking. If you think negatively, negative things will happen. If you think positively, positive things will happen. Your mind has two parts, conscious and subconscious. The conscious part is action, and the subconscious part is reaction. If you consciously project thoughts of love, health and happiness to your subconscious, your subconscious will do everything in it’s infinite power to bring about the perfect experience that fulfils your deepest desire.

Positive Thinking

Norman Vincent Peale – 1952

The phenomenal and inspiring bestseller by the “father of positive thinking”. This book is a practical, direct-action application of spiritual techniques to overcome defeat and win confidence, success and joy. This widely read inspirational writer shares his famous formula of faith and optimism which millions of people have taken as their own simple and effective philosophy of living. His gentle guidance helps to eliminate defeatist attitudes, to know the power you possess. It’s particularly good if you’re a fan of the Bible.

As A Man Thinketh

James Allen – 1903

Described by Allen as “dealing with the power of thought, and particularly with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues. He tried to make the book simple, so that all can easily grasp and follow its teaching, and put into practice the methods which it advises. It shows how, in his own thought world, each man holds the key to every condition, good or bad, that enters into his life, and that, by working patiently and intelligently upon his thoughts, he may remake his life, and transform his circumstances.

Getting Rich

Wallace D. Wattes – 1910

The phenomenal “The Science of Getting Rich” is a classic work of the New Thought movement which describes the process by which one can focus one’s mental energies towards the attraction of financial success. The book is pragmatical, not philosophical; a practical manual not a treatise upon theories. It is intended for men and women whose most pressing need is for money; who wish to get rich first, and philosophise afterward. It is for those who are willing to take the conclusions of the science as a basis for action.

Three Magic Words

U. S. Andersen – 1954

Learn of the unlimited power that is yours and how you can have it work for you. Three Magic Words is not a religion or a sect or a society. In its entirety it is a series of essays aimed at revealing to you your power over all things. You will learn that there is only one mover in all creation and that mover is thought. You will learn that there is only one creator and that creator is the Universal Subconscious Mind, or God. You will be shown how you can control your thoughts to obtain answers to your problems and create what you desire.

Your Forces

Prentice Mulford – 1887

This is one of the first and more profound books produced by the whole of the New Thought movement. Many were inspired by “Master Mulford” and continued in the search for the inner forces that are part of every single human being, and which, well used, can take us to success, prosperity, fulfilment and happiness. This collection includes all six volumes, each volume originally a book itself. You will find in it phrases, advice and wisdom that is the base for all modern writers. Mulford is the source of sources.

Earl Nightingale

People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.

Charles Haanel

We are the result of our past thinking.


We are more often frightened than hurt, and we suffer more from imagination than reality.

Marcus Aurelius

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

Feeling is the Secret

Neville Goddard – 1944

This book resounds with the power of Goddard’s vision, demonstrating how the world without reflects the world within. It is concerned with the art of realising your desire, giving an account of the mechanism used in the production of the visible world. The small book clearly defines the road to the realisation of your dreams, challenging the open-minded reader to practice the law of consciousness. Your personal success will prove far more convincing than simply reading books on the matter.

Think and Grow Rich

Napoleon Hill – 1937

One of the most famous teachers of success, draws upon stories of Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and other millionaires of his generation to illustrate the principles. The book teaches the “secrets” which could bring you a fortune. It shows not only what do do, but how to do it. Money and material things are essential for freedom of body and mind, but there are some who will feel that the greatest of all riches can be evaluated only in terms of lasting friendships, family relationships and introspective harmony.

Your Forces

Christian D. Larson – 1910

A seminal book in self-help literature, this classic was written by an original proponent of the power of positive thinking. The purpose of this book is to discuss the greater powers and possibilities in man, and present practical methods through which they may be applied. It encourages all that read it to study and apply these greater powers within them so that they may not only become richer and more worthy as individuals, but may also become the forerunners of a more wonderful race of human beings.

The Game of Life

Florence Schovel Schinn – 1925

In this classic bestseller, Shinn helped to define the personal success genre. Written in the new thought tradition, her message is simple yet transformative – we receive back what we put into the world through our actions, energy, and attitudes. Negativity and pessimism are returned in kind, but by switching the script in favor of positive attitudes and affirmations, we are able to manifest success and joy in everything we do. With a timeless message and the ability to explain success principles, these writings are still useful today.

Magic in Your Mind

U.S. Andersen – 1961

Many people have locked themselves in prisons of their own making that have made them unsuccessful. This book teaches the magic by which men become free and begin to grow into the image they are meant to be. A man changes the state of his outer world by first changing the state of his inner world. Everything that comes to him from outside is the result of his own consciouness. By understanding the process and effect of mental imagery, he goes directly along the correct path to his goal.

Secret of the Ages

Robert Collier – 1926

This book provides the tools needed to have a happier and more successful life. Collier shows you how the way you think and the decisions you make have a direct influence on how successful and happy you are. Almost 100 years old, the foundations that Collier lays within his book, are now revisited by modern philosophies such as “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. Many modern teachers are clearly influenced by these works and remind the world just how effective the power of positive thinking can be.

Letters from a Stoic

Seneca – AD63-65

For several years of his turbulent life, in which he was dogged by ill health, exile and danger, Seneca was the guiding hand of the Roman Empire. Seneca’s letters show him upholding the ideals of Stoicism – the wisdom of the self-possessed person immune to life’s setbacks – while valuing friendship and courage, and criticizing the harsh treatment of slaves and the cruelties in the gladiatorial arena. The humanity and wit revealed in Seneca’s interpretation of Stoicism is an inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind.

Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu – 300BC

The first great classic of the Chinese school of philosophy called Taoism. Within its pages is summed up a complete view of the cosmos and how human beings should respond to it. A profound mystical insight into the nature of things forms the basis for a humane morality and vision of political utopia. The ideas in this work constitute one of the main shaping forces behind Chinese spirituality, art and science, so much so that no understanding of Chinese civilisation is possible without a grasp of Taoism.

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