James Allen is not recognised as a mystic, but as far as my perspective is concerned, I consider James Allen to be nothing less than a mystic. Certainly, when compared to the mystics that were born in the east, James Allen may not stand a chance of being titled as a mystic at all, but yet James Allen is one of those few individuals in the world that had come to discover truth without a spiritual background.
I have always believed that every individual is born as a mystic, and every individual continues to be a mystic as long as he remains uncorrupted by the society in which he is raised. James Allen is one of those few men who has managed to remain uncorrupted, and that is what makes him a mystic.
Any individual who has known even a fragment of the truth is a mystic. A person may not have experienced God, enlightenment, moksha, nirvana or things similar to these, but this world is so ugly that if an individual in the midst of such profound and deep darkness can still manage to catch a small glimpse of light – this much is quite big of an achievement.
James Allen was one of those few men who not only caught a glimpse of the light but also among those rare human beings that lived the life of a mystic. He lived a life of creativity, love, joy, and purity and that is what makes him a mystic. I always say that a mystic is not necessarily an enlightened person, but a person whose heart is constantly longing to touch higher peaks of consciousness.
I do not know whether James Allen ever touched the highest peak of consciousness which Jesus refers to as The Kingdom of God, or which Buddha refers to as Nirvana or which the Hindu’s refer to as Moksha; but from his writings I can clearly say that James Allen was certainly on his way towards becoming one with this entire cosmos. To me, a man who aspires to have any understanding as far as the spirituality is concerned has taken the first step towards understanding his mystic nature.
Years ago when I was first introduced to spiritual teachings, As a Man Thinketh was the first book of James Allen that I had read. Time and again, I keep coming back to re-read what I may have read hundreds of times. I was never interested in reading books until the age of twenty-four. Until the age of twenty-four, my mind was basically on autopilot. It would think whatever it wanted to and rarely did I think anything creative. Many masters say that thinking can never be creative. In fact, according to them thinking is a barrier to creativity, and they are absolutely right, but for individuals that live in the mind, the first step towards getting in touch with the being is to get the mind fixed.
It is important to understand this because when you’re on the spiritual path, a lot of people say that thinking is a barrier, and certainly thinking is a barrier but only when your thoughts are filled with garbage. When you think creatively, your mind has attained its highest peak. When you read a beautiful book, or when you listen to the words of an enlightened man – for the first time, your mind has tasted something which it has always longed for.
To help you understand this better, let me give you an analogy. Let us take the body for example. You won’t be able to meditate if you are hungry. The moment you nourish yourself with good food, your stomach feels satisfied. Now it does not bother you anymore, or at least for a couple of hours, you can continue to work creatively.
The mind is the same too. The mind as well needs food, but not any kind of food. Just like there are foods which harm the body, there are foods which harm the mind as well. You gossip with your colleagues at work, you spend time watching daily soaps, you chat with random people on social media and so on. Your mind is rarely being fed with something which can really be termed as a “treat”.
For the first time when you read a good book or do anything that provokes your thinking your mind has been treated well. When you have provided good food to the mind, it will no longer disturb you.
My mind until the age of twenty-four was basically filled with garbage. It may seem rude of me to say that my mind was full of garbage, but I have to admit the facts.
When I first read James Allen’s book it was a treat to my mind. It is a similar feeling that a beggar has when he is given food from a five-star hotel. I was basically that beggar who had been starving as far as my intellect was concerned.
Therefore, when I first read As a Man Thinketh, I couldn’t stop reading the book for days simply because my mind had never thought anything creative before. For the first time, I started to think, and not just think anything, but think about my life.
For the first time, I realised how much of my life I had wasted. Since then there was no looking back. I began reading books that helped me think better and more creatively. Nowadays! I do not read as much as I write because two years of reading has satisfied my mind in such a way that I am finally able to sit silently for hours. Yes, thoughts do arise in my mind, but rarely is my mind on autopilot.
One thing that I have learnt over the years is that until the mind has not tasted something really profound, it is almost impossible to meditate or attain any heights as far as spirituality is concerned. You will rarely come across an enlightened beggar because beggars do not read poetry, philosophy or literature. Beggars are concerned about food for the body. Therefore the mind remains almost unused for many years.
In that sense, we are all beggars because more than 70 percent or perhaps even more than 90 percent of the world is concerned only with survival. People are only bothered about their daily bread, and so they continually remain slaves of their minds. Because their minds do not get any nourishment, it is almost as though they are going insane. The more troubled they become with their thoughts, the more they seek to nourish their bodies with food.
Therefore, almost all religious traditions have made fasting a necessary aspect towards spiritual growth. There is nothing great about fasting but because man has become so obsessed with food, fasting had to be made a rule.
James Allen helped me shift my entire focus from the body to the mind. Therefore, I respect him and his work. He may not be useful to people who are already evolved spiritually, but he is certainly one of those people who can get you started on your spiritual journey.
Thinking creatively is the first step towards annihilating the mind. When your mind has had a taste of beautiful words, it can finally relax. With the mind relaxed, even you can relax – this is the first step towards meditation.
That is why James Allen to me is a mystic. Perhaps he wasn’t enlightened, but I am sure that the man, wherever he is at the moment is certainly progressing towards enlightenment. For anybody just starting out on the spiritual path, James Allen is the author that I highly recommend. I have read a few other books of James Allen and they are all profound and deeply insightful, but if you are not much of a reader, As a Man Thinketh will definitely get you started.
Do share your comments and opinions in the comment section down below. Let me know how you first got introduced to spirituality, and how has your life changed since then.