The Master Key System

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The Master Key System
book cover with title and art
AuthorCharles F. Haanel
CountryUnited States
PublisherPsychology Publishing
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover, Paperback, E-Book)

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, and then in book form in 1916.[1] The ideas it describes and explains come mostly from New Thought philosophy. It was one of the main sources of inspiration for Rhonda Byrne's film and book The Secret (2006).

General description[edit]

The book describes many New Thought beliefs such as the law of attraction,[2] creative visualization and man's unity with God, and teaches the importance of truth, harmonious thinking and the ability to concentrate.[3][4] Each of the 24 chapters contains an introduction, followed by a sequentially numbered section which includes an exercise towards the end, followed by a section with questions and answers. At the beginning of the book is a Psychological Chart which readers are encouraged to complete, providing a self-evaluation of their creative power, time efficiency, health, mental ability and capacity to concentrate.[5] The book ends with a glossary and general question-and-answers section. Every chapter includes a quotation from people such as Jonathan Edwards, Lilian Whiting and Amos Bronson Alcott.[6]


Each chapter ends with an exercise which the reader is encouraged to undertake every day for the following 4–7 days. The exercises are meditations[7] that require the reader to first sit comfortably in a chair.

The sequence of exercises in each chapter is as follows:

  1. Sitting still
  2. Inhibiting all thought combined with previous exercise
  3. Releasing physical tension combined with previous exercises
  4. Letting go of all negative emotions combined with previous exercises
  5. Visualising a pleasant place
  6. Remembering details from a photo of someone
  7. Visualising positive facial expressions on the face of a friend
  8. Visualising everything that leads to the construction of a battleship
  9. Visualising a flower growing from seed
  10. Visualising certain geometric forms
  11. Concentrating on a quote from the Bible; Mark 11:24
  12. Contemplating your unity with Omnipotence
  13. Contemplating being part of the Whole
  14. Focusing on harmony
  15. Contemplating the fact that knowledge needs to be applied to be useful
  16. Contemplating that happiness and harmony are states of consciousness
  17. Focusing on the object of your desire
  18. Focusing on your power to create – create a logical basis for your faith
  19. Total concentration on what you want
  20. Focusing on "In Him we live and move and have our being"
  21. Focusing on truth
  22. 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."
  23. Contemplating the fact that man is a spirit with a body
  24. Realising that this is a wonderful world


The ideas behind the book mainly come from New Thought philosophy, but there are influences from other sources such as Hinduism, Masonism and Rosicrucian teachings, Theosophy, and the Bible.[8]


Along with The Science of Getting Rich, by Wallace D. Wattles, The Master Key System inspired much of the content of Rhonda Byrne's film The Secret (2006), which was later followed by a book of the same name.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

It is claimed on the website that Charles Haanel received a letter in 1919 from Napoleon Hill, who later went on to write one of the best-selling books of all time, Think and Grow Rich, saying that his own success was due to the principles laid down in The Master Key System.[14][15]

Terry Crews has described The Master Key System as his favorite book among hundreds of personal development books, saying that it showed him "how to visualize, contemplate, and focus on what I really wanted" and that he rereads it "probably once a month to keep my vision clear".[16]


There are many editions of the book. Modern editions mostly do not include the three-part introduction, the psychological chart, the question-and-answers section at the end of the book, or the glossary. Some modern editions also include 4 additional chapters which come from chapters 11-14 of another book Haanel wrote called A book about you. The first British Empire edition, printed in 1933 by The Master Key Publishing Company, is called The Master Key with no mention of the word "system".[17]


The book contains many quotations. Some are printed at the end of chapters while others are in the main body of the text. This list shows all the people quoted in the 1919 edition, and the chapter or part of the book in which the quotes are found.[18] Some editions arrange the quotations in slightly different orders and some have quotes that do not appear in the 1919 edition; for example, many have a quote by Benjamin Disraeli at the end of chapter 23.[19][20]

In addition to these quotations, the book quotes the Bible 23 times.

Derivative works[edit]

  • Abundance and Prosperity - The Master Key System Decoded, by Prof. C. W. Haanel Mentz ISBN 1-4257-1035-2 [21]
  • The Electronic Master Key System in 24 Parts - Re-Edited, by Anthony R. Michalski.[22]
  • Master Key Arcana, by Anthony R. Michalski.[23]
  • Master Key System (28 Part Complete Deluxe Edition) - Ishtar Publishing (July 2007) ISBN 978-0-9780535-8-1
  • The Master Key System 2012 Centenary Edition, edited, illustrated and annotated by Helmar Rudolph (January 2011) ISBN 978-1-4563360-4-2.[24]
  • Tapping the Source (2010), by William Gladstone, Richard Greninger, John Selby and Jack Canfield,[25]
  • The Master Key System Summarized & the Science of Getting Rich Decoded, by George Mentz.[26]
  • Masters of the Secrets Expanded, by Wallace Wattles, Charles Haanel, Thomas Troward, C. Wattles Haanel Mentz.[27]

Other books by Haanel[edit]

Note, Master Key System and Mental Chemistry, being published prior to 1923, are considered to be in public domain,[28] but several of his other books, being currently in distribution, are still covered by copyright law timeframe.[29]

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

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Charles F. Haanel (1866 – 1949)". Kallisti publishing. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  2. ^ Ruark, Margo (2010-06-04). Where´d He Get That, by Margo Ruark, page 210. ISBN 9780615742625. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of Visualization Techniques". Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  4. ^ "C.F Haanel, retired author buried". Unknown newspaper, 12 January 1949. Archived from the original on January 4, 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  5. ^ Michalski, Anthony R. (2004). Master Key Arcana, by Anthony R. Michalsk. ISBN 978-0967851440. ISBN 9780967851440. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  6. ^ "The Master Key System" (PDF). New Thought Library. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Interview: Kevin Gates Talks 'By Any Mean,' Jail Time and Slanging The D'". Vibe magazine, 8 April 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b "The History of The Master Key System and Its Influence on Future Generations". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  9. ^ "$150 million battle to keep The Secret". The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 May 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  10. ^ "The Master Key System". Waterstones. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  11. ^ "The Secret Behind Many Law of Attraction Experts – The Master Key System". Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  12. ^ "'The Secret' author Rhonda Byrne's Montecito estate to hit market for $23.5 million". Realty Today. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  13. ^ The Secret of The Secret: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Runaway Bestseller, page 91 (2007) Kelly, Karen, Macmillan,ISBN 0-312-37790-8
  14. ^ "Napoleon Hill letter". Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  15. ^ The Secret of The Secret: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Runaway Bestseller, page 186 (2007) Kelly, Karen, Macmillan,ISBN 0-312-37790-8
  16. ^ Timothy, Ferriss (2017). Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-328-99496-7.
  17. ^ The Master Key (First British Empire ed.). The Master Key Publishing Company. 1933.
  18. ^ Haanel, Charles (1919). The Master Key System. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  19. ^ "The Master Key System" (PDF). New Thought Library. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  20. ^ Haanel, Charles (2009). El Sistema de la llave maestra. Selector. ISBN 978-607-453-008-7.
  21. ^ How to Master Abundance And Prosperity. March 2006. ISBN 9781425710354. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  22. ^ Haanel, Charles F. (December 2002). The Electronic Master Key System. ISBN 9780967851402. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  23. ^ Michalski, Anthony R. (2004). Master Key Arcana. ISBN 9780967851440. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  24. ^ "The Master Key System Centenary Edition" (PDF). Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  25. ^ "Tapping the Source: Using The Master Key System for Abundance and Happiness". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  26. ^ Mentz, George (August 2007). The Master Key System Summarized & the Science of Getting Rich Decoded. ISBN 9780615159881. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  27. ^ Haanel, Wallace Wattles Charles; Troward, Thomas; Wattles Haanel Mentz, C. (May 2007). Masters of the Secrets Expanded -. ISBN 9780615148137. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  28. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  29. ^ "Cornell University notes on copyright laws and public domain time frame". Retrieved 2013-01-26.