How to Read (and Study) The Master Key System

One of the most asked questions about The Master Key System sounds silly, but it is not as silly as it sounds. The question is –

How does one read The Master Key System?

You see, it does sound silly, until you realize that the book is divided into twenty-four chapters (weeks) and each chapter ends with an exercise, which Haanel implores you to practice for a week or so.

The confusion about how to read this book comes from the fact that originally The Master Key System was a correspondence course of sorts. In his “General Instructions to Students”, Haanel wrote –

The Master Key System consists of twenty-four parts, names of students are placed on an addressing machine and one part is mailed each week. They go forward automatically, and cannot be sent more frequently nor can they be held back.

Haanel implored his students to read each part at least once per day until the next part arrived. Then –

… write the replies to the questions in the first part, cut off and mail to me.

The completion and the sending to Haanel of the questions at the end of each chapter was necessary. These papers were returned to the student “with the correct replies for comparison.”

It should also be noted that Haanel at this time did not sell a bound volume (book) of The Master Key System. One had to complete the correspondence course before a book of all the lessons would be sent.

The bound volume is never sold to any one at any price, unless they have completed the study and made payment in full.

So, should one, when first encountering The Master Key System, approach the book as directed by Haanel?

While Haanel’s method is good, I have found that in some ways the times have changed and a somewhat different method is required.

If a person is approaching the book for the first time, I encourage them to read through it just as if they were reading a novel or any other book. I tell them to go from cover to cover and read, don’t pay too much (if any) attention to doing the exercises, and just get acclimated to the work.

Once the person has done this, then – and only then – have I found that he or she is ready to actually study the book with an emphasis on the exercises.

In my experience, far too many begin studying the book before they are ready – and within a few chapters they find themselves burned out or worse … Bored. I’ve found that when a person reads through the book and becomes familiar with Haanel’s jargon and style, then that person sees where the book is headed. They don’t get caught up in the minutiae. They’re not “excited” about what’s coming next because they already know. They’ve got the gist of it and now they are ready to truly experience the book and the exercises.

Think of it this way: It’s much like going somewhere for the first time. When you get there that very first time, you basically want to do everything at once. Your mind is running a million miles per minute and you are constantly distracted by everything because it is all new to you. Thus, you miss out on a lot – and you never really enjoy yourself.

But by the second or third time going there, you get to know your way around. You are calmer. You know what to expect and what you are going to see, so you can keep your eyes open to what truly interests you. And you can take it all in calmly and decidedly.

If this is your fist experience with The Master Key System, then read it from cover to cover. See what it is about. Then, when you are ready, take the time to study it as Haanel instructed – going week by week, reading each lesson once per day for a week, and practicing the exercises.

Most of all, when you commit to studying it, don’t quit. Finish your study. The Master Key System is the most cogent system of study for developing your mental powers of concentration and visualization ever written. The real value in the book is not necessarily what Haanel wrote regarding his philosophy and metaphysics, it is in the exercises. Take your time with them and truly work to master them as best you can.

The Master Key System is a powerful book, but it must be approached properly. Take your time with it. There is no need to hurry. As I often say, you must keep in mind that this is a race of endurance, not speed.

Or as Haanel would put it-

If a part comes before you are ready for it, put it aside until you are ready. There is no occasion for haste.

There is no occasion for haste – only understanding.

The Power of Concentration

Focusing our thoughts to one specific purpose or aim is paramount to achieving anything of lasting value. More often than not, many of us “scatter” our thoughts, never concentrating on one goal and following it through. When we learn to keep our thoughts focused on one aim, then – and only then – will we see results.

Need proof of this? Listen to or read about what people say when they describe the people who “made it.” Every time those people are described by friends or associates, the words, “focused”, “driven”, and “single-minded” are used. In The Master Key Workbook, I quoted Larry Ellison, the billionaire CEO of Oracle, speaking about Bill Gates.

“Bill Gates wants people to think he’s Edison, when he’s really Rockefeller. Referring to Gates as the smartest man in America isn’t right … wealth isn’t the same thing as intelligence. One thing everyone will say about Mr. Gates, though, is the fact that he is driven and has a laser-like focus when he sets to do something.”

Being successful does not require lots of intelligence. If one focuses what one has to a certain definite aim, then one can accomplish anything! As it is said in the Bible: “Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.”

Here is how Haanel described the power of concentration in Week Twelve of The Master Key System:

Week Twelve is enclosed herewith. In the fourth paragraph you will find the following statement: “You must first have the knowledge of your power; second, the courage to dare; third, the faith to do.”

If you concentrate upon the thoughts given, if you give them your entire attention, you will find a world of meaning in each sentence and will attract to yourself other thoughts in harmony with them, and you will soon grasp the full significance of the vital knowledge upon which you are concentrating.

Knowledge does not apply itself; we as individuals must make the application, and the application consists in fertilizing the thought with a living purpose.

The time and thought which most persons waste in aimless effort would accomplish wonders if properly directed with some special object in view. In order to do this, it is necessary to center your mental force upon a specific thought and hold it there to the exclusion of all other thoughts. If you have ever looked through the focusing screen of a camera, you found that when the object was not in focus, the impression was indistinct and possibly blurred; but when the proper focus was obtained the picture was clear and distinct. This illustrates the power of concentration. Unless you can concentrate upon the object which you have in view, you will have but a hazy, indifferent, vague, indistinct, and blurred outline of your ideal and the results will be in accordance with your mental picture.

An example of concentration or focus is to think of sunlight. As the sun pours its light onto the Earth, it gets scattered by the atmosphere. We can gather that light with a lens, though, and focus it into a ray that will readily and easily start a fire.

In The Master Key Workbook, I devised a little exercise to help you exercise the power of concentration. It’s fun and a little rewarding.

This week, you are going to have some fun – and make some money! You are going to put into action what you have been learning. By the end of this exercise, you may be a few dollars wealthier than when you started. Sound good? Good.

Visualize a quarter in your mind. Imagine it vividly and in detail. Keep it ingrained in your mind. Take as long as you want to visualize that quarter, perhaps a few minutes or so.

Next, vividly visualize that you are going to find that quarter on the street. 

Imagine the scene of you taking a walk and finding a quarter somewhere, perhaps when you are walking the dog or maybe strolling through the mall.

Look for the quarter when you are walking. Every time you are taking a walk, visualize the quarter.

How long did it take you to find the quarter?

You can use this exercise for just about anything! How about finding a parking space in a crowded mall parking lot? Or traversing heavy crosstown traffic? When I use this technique to find a parking space or to get through traffic, I visualize a warm knife sliding easily through butter and I say to myself “I will move through this traffic like a hot knife through butter.” I then mentally (and sometimes physically) repeat the word butter, almost performing a mantra.

It usually works! I do have great “luck” with finding parking spaces. And getting through traffic easily happens with a decent regularity. (Another time I will explain to you how I think this actually works. Believe or not, I do not think that it is the “Law of Attraction” per se.)

So, give these exercises a shot. A true, honest shot. Concentrate. Visualize.

Get for yourself the best of everything.