It’s one of those words that people are using a lot thanks to the slew of new books, infomercials, and movies that proclaim that nothing is earned and nothing is worked for, rather things “manifest” in one’s life – as long as they “ask” or “think” the right things.
Want a car? Visualize it. Think about it. Feel it. And then … *BAM* … It will “manifest” in your life.
How about a million dollars? No problem! Once again, visualize it and feel it, and then … *POOF* … Buy that lottery ticket and get ready to drive to get your winnings.
Does that sound silly? I hope that it does. Unfortunately, that is what is being taught as personal development nowadays.
I hate the word “manifest” or “manifesting” – at least the way it is used in today’s personal development lexicon. Instead of working for something or earning something, many people today are being tricked into thinking that they can “manifest” anything merely by thinking about it. Unfortunately, it’s not merely a silly notion, it is one that is seriously ruining many peoples’ chances at a successful and happy life.
I surprise a lot of people when I say that I don’t read many self-help books. When I do read one, I tend to stick with the old ones – the classics. Of course Haanel is at the top of the list, but so are Napoleon Hill, W. Clement Stone, Claude M. Bristol, and a few others.
When you read the classics, you’ll find that work and service are integral parts of being successful. Yes, having a positive mindset and thinking good thoughts are important, but not nearly as important as getting out there and doing it. It is only in the doing and the serving of others that one can achieve any kind of success, be it in business, a career, or a relationship.
In The Master Key System, Haanel used the word “manifest” (and its derivatives) 111 times. Does he mean that you will materialize your wants and desires out of thin air like the modern day dreck-slingers profess?
The short answer is no, he doesn’t. The first instance of the word “manifest” in The Master Key System appears in Week One –
13. If we find wisdom in the world within, we shall have the understanding to discern the marvelous possibilities that are latent in this world within, and we shall be given the power to make these possibilities manifest in the world without.
Basically, Haanel writes that what we dream about, we can make in the world. We all have within us more potential than what we give ourselves credit for. For one reason or another, we sometimes think that we cannot do something. “I’m not good at math.” “I’ll never get that promotion because I don’t know how to do what my boss does.” “She’s too good for me.” Whatever. When we overcome those shibboleths and begin to instead strive for our goals, then we become somewhat like an Edison, who with barely a grammar school education proceeded to change the world with his inventions and discoveries, the light bulb being but one of the many hundreds of inventions that came from his mind.
Work is involved, though. Edison, even though he visualized and planned and believed that he could do it, did not await the Universe to answer his beck and call for a light bulb. Hell, no! He performed over 12,000 (that’s twelve thousand!) experiments until he hit upon the one that worked. He “manifested” what was in his mind; but that “manifestation” only came about because of his actions. It wasn’t a “gift” from the Universe; it was a reward for his years of toil. He earned it.
(Just so you know, the whole concept of the Universe giving “gifts” is a pretty dumb one, too. It’s another word in the new self-help lexicon that really needs to be flushed.)
According to the definition of manifest, manifest means “to display or show or to be evidence of something.” For example, when you have too much of a virus in your body, they will manifest themselves as you having a cold – stuffy nose, fever, aches and pains. A person with generally nice thoughts will more than likely manifest those thoughts by doing nice things, such as holding doors open for others.
Let’s get back to Edison. He was a smart person. How do we know that? His inventions and discoveries made manifest his intelligent thinking.
Along the same lines, a courageous person is known to be courageous because he does courageous things – his courage becomes manifest in his actions.
In Week Seven, Haanel wrote this –
4. This is another psychological fact which is well known, but unfortunately reading about it will not bring about any result which you may have in mind; it will not even help you to form the mental image, much less bring it into manifestation. Work is necessary – labor, hard mental labor, the kind of effort which so few are willing to put forth.
I’ve been veritably flogged at the stake for using the term “hard work.” Of course, those verbal barbs come from the wealth-without-work crowd. But here is Haanel saying exactly what I say – hard work is necessary, otherwise, don’t even try it!
Here’s how Haanel describes “manifesting” in no uncertain terms –
You must see the picture more and more complete, see the detail, and, as the details begin to unfold the ways and means for bringing it into manifestation will develop. One thing will lead to another. Thought will lead to action, action will develop methods, methods will develop friends, and friends will bring about circumstances, and finally, the third step, or Materialization, will have been accomplished.
Note that Haanel wrote that thought will lead to action. That methods will be developed. That friends will bring about circumstances.
Does this sound like the Universe bestowing a gift? Does this sound like something materializing out of thin air? Does this sound anything like the drivel espoused in the latest books and movies?
Perhaps some confusion develops when people read lines like this in The Master Key System –
27. If our thought is constructive and harmonious we manifest good; if it is destructive and discordant we manifest evil.
What this actually means is that means that if we are “at heart” a good person, we’ll do good things. Likewise, a bad person will probably do not good things, such as Charlie Manson, Osama bin Laden, or the schizophrenic who mutilated his family while they slept. Once again, we see thoughts leading action – not thoughts creating a rip in the fabric of the Universe to bring into reality that which you thought.
Finally, to quote Haanel one more time, this time from the “Questions & Answers” of The Master Key System –
To labor is to serve and all service is honorable. But a “hewer of wood” contemplates blind service instead of intelligent service. Labor is the creative instinct in manifestation. Owing to the changes which have taken place in the industrial world, the creative instinct no longer finds expression. A man cannot build his own house, he cannot even make his own garden, he can by no means direct his own labor. He is therefore deprived of the greatest joy which can come to man, the joy of achieving, of creating, of accomplishing, and so this great power is perverted and turned into destructive channels. He can construct nothing for himself so he begins to destroy the works of his more fortunate fellows. Labor is however, finding that the Universe is not a chaos but a cosmos, that it is governed by immutable laws, that every condition is the result of a cause and that the same cause invariably produces the same effect. It is finding that these causes are mental, that thought predetermines action. It is finding that constructive thought brings about constructive conditions and destructive thought brings about destructive conditions.
Haanel finds labor (read that as work) to be of the highest and most noble nature. He finds that as men do less work, they turn their thoughts to bringing down the work of great men. One only needs to read Haanel’s biography to know that he worked – and worked hard – to accomplish what he did. He didn’t materialize it from the sky. His thoughts lead to plans that lead to actions that lead to his success.
The point I am trying to make with this article is that the self-help world has become infected with a plethora of terms that promise much but deliver little – the main term being “manifest” or “manifesting.” I believe that these words were manufactured and/or perverted by a new generation of snake oil salesmen to attract the wealth-without-work crowd or to play on the hopes of people who are weak but want more. That is their business – and their business has always been good and booming. And that has never been more evident than it is now.
But when these authors and “teachers” delude people into thinking that the life of their dreams is but a thought away because the Universe wants nothing more than to bestow gifts upon us, that enters into an almost diabolical arena. While the wealth-without-work crowd will fall prey to these “ideas” as they usually do to anything or anyone that promises something for nothing, it’s the people whose hopes are played and eventually dashed that get hurt the worst. Instead of giving the hungry man a fishing pole or even a fish, they are telling him that his hunger can be assuaged permanently – merely by wishing for it.
The end result is that he starves when he could be thriving were it not for the bad information he was taught.
So, I propose an end to the vapid and inane use of the word “manifesting.” In its place, let’s bring back some terms that make sense – and really work.
How about bringing back “work” and “service”? Those are two words that have been forgotten for far too long. I say a return to “goals” would be most healthy. Along with goals, “plan” should be revived. No more of this letting the Universe take care of a person shlock. And the word “earn.” There’s a word one seldom hears anymore. People feel “entitled”; they also believe that they receive “gifts”; but oh so few people actually go out and earn anything. Let’s let them know that they can!
I think that would be a good start. If you don’t know those words now, then get familiar with them. I can guarantee that once you do, you will be more successful than you ever imagined because you’ll discover that work yields results while wishing and “manifesting” yields … nothing.
Remember, that while Rome wasn’t built in a day – it was built, and not manifested.