The Master Key System

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New Thought

The Master Key System is a personal development book by Charles F. Haanel (1866-1949) that was originally published as a 24-week correspondence course in 1912. It was later published in book form in 1916 by Psychology Publishing, St. Louis and The Master Key Institute, New York.

The course is a "practical wrapper" for the seven hermetic principles as laid out in the Kybalion. Each chapter contains a sequentially numbered section to read, which includes an exercise towards the end, followed by a section with questions and answers.

Along with "The Science of Getting Rich", by Wallace D. Wattles, the Master Key System is the source of Rhonda Byrne's inspiration for the book and the film "The Secret" (2006).[1][2]

Charles F. Haanel was an American author, millionaire, entrepreneur, and businessman who belonged to the Masonic society, Keystone Lodge No. 243, A.F. & A.M., the American Scientific League, The Author’s League of America, The American Society of Psychical Research, the St. Louis Humane Society, and the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.

The Master Key System explained[edit]

M for Master[edit]

Mastery in any subject is about absorbing and distilling new information into knowledge. This knowledge then has to be applied in daily life in order to be of any benefit. "Use is the condition", Haanel says in the book. The Master Key System conveys a great deal of knowledge about universal forces as well as the creative process and its meaning for Man. It explains how Man has - through careful and neutral observation - classified and categorised the results, thus creating "laws" that he's been using to his benefit ever since. For instance, any observation about the periodicity (rhythm) of planetary movements or the utility of certain animal implements has led him to gain certainty in life. From the peace of mind that resulted, intelligent decisions were made, and thus mastery over external circumstances could be achieved.

K for Key[edit]

The Key is symbolic for the male attribute, for it is being inserted into the female lock, which opens the door to whatever Man has paid attention to. The Master Key is representative of the ability to apply mind forces in order to solve any problem at hand. It is representative of one's own careful and truthful thinking, for truthful thoughts lead to truthful words, and consequently to truthful actions - and thus results. This is effected through the hermetic principle of Correspondence (or Analogy), stating that any mental (spiritual) construct will find a corresponding outlet on the lower levels of existence, read: the mental, emotional and physical plane.

The Master Key is not only there to solve problems, but also to become aware of opportunities, and make use of them. It's the key to universal forces, helping Man to change the circumstances on the outside through a respective change in his predominant mental attitude.

The Key is about taking actions where others are still talking about taking action. It's about courage and confidence, aided and guided by the natural laws that keep the Universe in balance and existence.

S for System[edit]

"Knowledge doesn't apply itself", Haanel is quoted as saying in the Master Key System. He therefore ensured the practical application of the newly gained knowledge through individual exercises. It's those exercises that turn the course into a "system". The increasingly complex sequence goes as follows:

  1. Physical control (sitting still)
  2. Mental control (inhibiting all thought combined with previous exercise)
  3. Physical relaxation (releasing physical tension combined with previous exercises)
  4. Mental relaxation (letting go of all negative emotions combined with previous exercises)
  5. Visualisation: a past event
  6. Visualisation: a photo of someone
  7. Visualisation: a conversation with a friend
  8. Visualisation: a battleship (trace the effect back to the cause)
  9. Visualisation: a flower (cause to effect)
  10. Visualisation: geometric forms (highly symbolic!)

Chapters 11-24 contain concentration exercises, summarised as follows:

  • Bible Quote, Mark 11:24
  • Your unity with Omnipotence
  • Your being part of the Whole
  • Harmony
  • Insight
  • Happiness and harmony are states of consciousness
  • Complete identification of the thought with the object of desire
  • Your power to create – create a logical basis for your faith
  • Total concentration
  • Focus on "In Him we live and move and have our being"
  • Truth
  • Concentration on a Tennyson quote: "Speak to Him, thou, for He hears, and spirit with spirit can meet, Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet."
  • Spirit with a body
  • A wonderful world

Haanel's reasoning was that thought being energy, and concentrated thought being concentrated energy, concentration would be the key to impact on the subconscious mind, thus aligning the Finite (conscious) with the Infinite (subconscious). This way Haanel created a scientific method for creating (not only) material things through the power of creative visualisation, while placing large emphasis on morality, physical and spiritual cleanliness.

Students reading the Master Key System are therefore advised to practice the exercises until full mastery has been accomplished. It's only through the exercises that new skills are obtained, and therefore an ability to effect changes in one's life.

Other books based on it[edit]

Other books by Haanel[edit]

Note, Master Key System and Mental Chemistry, being published prior to 1923, are considered to be in public domain,[3] but several of his other books, being currently in distribution, are still covered by copyright law timeframe.[4]

  • Mental Chemistry
  • The New Psychology
  • A book about You
  • The Amazing Secrets of the Yogi



  1. ^ The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Atria Books, New York. 2006 ISBN 978-1-5827017-0-7
  2. ^ "The Secret, TS Productions LLC, 2006". 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  3. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  4. ^ "Cornell University notes on copyright laws and public domain time frame". Retrieved 2013-01-26. 

External links[edit]