In listening to my fellow travelers in this Master Key journey, there are many comments about the meaning that this remarkable book is conveying. Charles Haanel wrote the Master Key System in the early part of the twentieth century and in the one hundred plus years since that time, many of the words he used frequently have taken on slightly or even dramatically new meanings. This week, I will share a few examples of this to shed some light on what Mr. Haanel was saying in a way that makes sense to the reader of today.
Perhaps the biggest source of confusion in studying the Master Key System comes form the frequent use of the word ‘creative’. In today’s language, when we think of creative, it is in relation to someone’s originality: their artwork, music, decorating, clothing, architecture, etc. From Google definitions: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. “change unleashes people’s creative energy”
However, The Master Key System, this word has a very different meaning. When we consult The Concise Oxford Dictionary of 1919, we read ‘bring into existence, give rise to, originate’.
So let’s look at a sentence in section 18 through this lens. In 18:12 Haanel states: “Thought is creative….but this creative power does not originate in the individual, but in the universal”.
So it would be easy for a modern reader to assume that thought is imaginative and imagination originates in the universal. However, in studying the words from Mr. Haanel’s era we see that the meaning would have been: thought has the power to bring into existence and the power to manifest does not originate in the individual but in the universal.
In other words, a century ago the term creative had a somewhat different connotation than today.While today’s connotation is one of someone who has an artistic side or flair, the meaning a century ago was one of bringing forth something from nothing: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1) God was (is) creative.
Let’s look at one more word that carries within it a key concept of Part 18. The word is ‘environment’. This word came back into popular usage in the 1970’s in conjunction with Earth Day and growing awareness of the human impact on the planet’s biological systems. “the natural world, as a whole or in a particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity. Synonyms: the natural world, nature
, the earth, the planet,the ecosystem, the biosphere, Mother Nature. Let’s go back to Oxford 1919: Surroundings; surrounding objects, region or circumstances. There we see a very different usage of a familiar word. This word appears twice in the brief introduction to 18. Haanel explains that we exist in relation to others and that these relationships form our environment. And two sentences later he lets us know that our environment is a result of the law of attraction. In other words Haanel’s “environment” was the world which surrounded us, our home, clothing, family, workplace…
After a decade of reading this inspired book, I must admit that I am merely a beginner in understanding and working out all of the magic contained in this brilliant and unique text. But I hope to share with my fellow travelers the value of reading carefully and remembering to look into the words from Mr. Haanel’s perspective. Doing this has helped me glean many more layers of understanding, value, and usefulness from this unrivaled work.