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Most accounts of James Allen state that he is a literary mystery man. Some say this is due to the fact that he wished to live much as Tolstoy, yet in truth, we find that James Allen was a simple loving man who was born in Leicester, England on November 28, 1864. When he was fifteen, the family business failed and his father left for America to find work. In a tragic turn of events, his father was murdered before he could send for the family and subsequently, James left school and worked as a personal secretary for various executives of large English corporations until his volitional retirement in 1902. His literary career lasted only ten years until his death in 1912. "As A Man Thinketh" was his second book. In fact, it was only upon his wife Lily's insistence that he published the book.
Links to James Allen's Works:
The above inspirational writings have influenced millions for good. Yet today he remains almost unknown...... None of his twenty-two books give a clue to his life other than to mention his place of residence - Ilfracombe, England. His name cannot be found in a major reference work. Not even the Library of Congress or the British Museum has much to say about him.
Who was this man who believed in the power of thought to bring fame, fortune and happiness? Was he, as some say, not only a contemporary of Leo Tolstoy but also a kindred spirit? Or did he, in the words of Henry David Thoreau" march to the beat of a different drummer?" Allen was a quiet, unrewarded genius never gaining fame or fortune, yet in contrast to Tolstoy, who died two years before he did, he lived out the end of his days happily married. He retired to Ilfracombe, on England's southwest coast, a little resort town with seafront Victorian hotels, rolling hills and winding lanes which offered a quiet atmosphere that facilitated his pursuit of New Thought philosophical studies.
Unfortunately, Allen's literary career was short, lasting approximately ten years, until his death, two years after Tolstoy in 1912. During this brief period he wrote twenty-two books, the most famous being As A Man Thinketh. Today, Allen's treasury of thought is inspiring more people than he may have thought possible. His ideas are quoted and expounded upon throughout the world.
After the completion of his first book, From Poverty To Power, Allen moved to Ilfracombe and began work on As A Man Thinketh, his second book. Despite its subsequent popularity he was dissatisfied with it. Even though many feel that it his most concise and eloquent work embodying the finest ideas and highest values he somehow failed to recognize its importance. Upon its completion, his wife Lily had to persuade him to publish it.
As previously stated, some say that Allen strove to live the ascetic life idealized by Russia¹s great novelist and mystic Count Leo Tolstoy - a life of voluntary poverty, manual labor and ascetic self-discipline, but whereas Tolstoy renounced his early work in 1879 writing Conversion to explain his doctrines. Allen advocated a simpler approach through self improvement, happiness and mastery of core virtues.
His day in Ilfracombe began with a predawn walk up to the Cairn, where he would meditate for an hour on the hillside overlooking his home and the sea. After his morning meditation, he would return to the house and spend the morning writing. His afternoons were devoted to gardening and his evenings were spent in conversation with his wife Lily and others who were interested in his work.
A friend described Allen as "a frail-looking little man, Christ-like, with a mass of flowing black hair...... I think of him especially in the black velvet suit he always wore in the evenings, the friend wrote. He would talk quietly to a small group of us then - English, French, Austrian and Indian - of meditation, of philosophy, of Tolstoy or Buddha, and of killing nothing, not even a mouse in the garden."
"He overawed us all a little because of his appearance, his gentle conversation, and especially because he went out to commune with God on the hills before dawn."
James Allen's philosophy was rooted in a wide spectrum of spiritual understanding and its popularity may have been due to the evolution of contemporary Christian dogmatism which was being discarded as Christianity returned to its roots of compassionate intelligence. Allen unveils the highest truths in a New Thought exploration rooted in the understanding of humanities innate goodness and divine reflection.
This return to the deepest truths of Christianity was in the words of William James, "the greatest revolution of the 19th Century." One of the impetus of this return to higher truth was the desire to reconcile science and religion following Darwin's publication The Origin of Species.
Charles Darwin himself hinted at the change in belief in The Descent of Man. In that book he writes, "the highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts..."
Allen's work combines incisive Christian insights with the Buddhist truth that precided Christianity and Mohammadanism: "All that we are is the result of our thoughts." Allen's Biblical quote is "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
Allen insists upon the power of the individual to form and reform his own character and to create his own happiness. He writes: "Thought and character are one and as character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man's circumstances at any given time are an indication of his entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital thought element within him that, for the time being, they are indispensable to his development."
Allen's works impel us to think- even when we would rather be doing something else. He describes how how thought leads to action showing us how to turn our dreams into realities. His philosophy has brought success and happiness to millions around the world. Later writers such as Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking) and Joshua Liebman (Peace of Mind) would build upon his legacy to create followings of millions.
"We become spiritually rich when we discover the adventure within; when we are conscious of the oneness of all life; when we know the power of meditation; when we experience kinship with nature." ~ Allen
Allen's message is one of hope even in the midst of confusion: "Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him."
"Tempest-tossed souls, wherever you may be, under whatsoever conditions you may life, know this - in the ocean of life the isles of blessedness are smiling and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming."
Thus Allen transmits two essential truths:
1. Today we are where our thoughts have taken us; 2. We are the architects - for better or worse - of our futures.
The works of James Allen are eminently practical. He never wrote theories, or for the sake of writing, or to simply to get some cash. According to his Lily, Allen "wrote when he had a message, and it became a message only when he had lived it in his own life, and knew that it was good. " Allen created a spiritual practice, utlized it peace and happiness and then shared his insights into these highest truths after they had been proven by practice.
At this time we have are serving several of James Allen's works. We will be happy to process more of them if you contact us.
All of James Allen's books are in the public domain and should be free to all who wish to read them so beware of people who are charging you for his work and promising more. Do a little research and you will find all of his work for free online. In book form his work naturally costs a few dollars.