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The Master Key System is a personal development book by Charles F. Haanel (1866-1949) that was originally published as a 24-week correspondence course in 1912. It was later published in book form in 1916 by Psychology Publishing, St. Louis and The Master Key Institute, New York.
The course is a "practical wrapper" for the seven hermetic principles as laid out in the Kybalion. Each chapter contains a sequentially numbered section to read, which includes an exercise towards the end, followed by a section with questions and answers.
Charles F. Haanel was an American author, millionaire, entrepreneur, and businessman who belonged to the Masonic society, Keystone Lodge No. 243, A.F. & A.M., the American Scientific League, The Author’s League of America, The American Society of Psychical Research, the St. Louis Humane Society, and the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.
Mastery in any subject is about absorbing and distilling new information into knowledge. This knowledge then has to be applied in daily life in order to be of any benefit. "Use is the condition", Haanel says in the book. The Master Key System conveys a great deal of knowledge about universal forces as well as the creative process and its meaning for Man. It explains how Man has - through careful and neutral observation - classified and categorised the results, thus creating "laws" that he's been using to his benefit ever since. For instance, any observation about the periodicity (rhythm) of planetary movements or the utility of certain animal implements has led him to gain certainty in life. From the peace of mind that resulted, intelligent decisions were made, and thus mastery over external circumstances could be achieved.
The Key is symbolic for the male attribute, for it is being inserted into the female lock, which opens the door to whatever Man has paid attention to. The Master Key is representative of the ability to apply mind forces in order to solve any problem at hand. It is representative of one's own careful and truthful thinking, for truthful thoughts lead to truthful words, and consequently to truthful actions - and thus results. This is effected through the hermetic principle of Correspondence (or Analogy), stating that any mental (spiritual) construct will find a corresponding outlet on the lower levels of existence, read: the mental, emotional and physical plane.
The Master Key is not only there to solve problems, but also to become aware of opportunities, and make use of them. It's the key to universal forces, helping Man to change the circumstances on the outside through a respective change in his predominant mental attitude.
The Key is about taking actions where others are still talking about taking action. It's about courage and confidence, aided and guided by the natural laws that keep the Universe in balance and existence.
"Knowledge doesn't apply itself", Haanel is quoted as saying in the Master Key System. He therefore ensured the practical application of the newly gained knowledge through individual exercises. It's those exercises that turn the course into a "system". The increasingly complex sequence goes as follows:
Chapters 11-24 contain concentration exercises, summarised as follows:
Haanel's reasoning was that thought being energy, and concentrated thought being concentrated energy, concentration would be the key to impact on the subconscious mind, thus aligning the Finite (conscious) with the Infinite (subconscious). This way Haanel created a scientific method for creating (not only) material things through the power of creative visualisation, while placing large emphasis on morality, physical and spiritual cleanliness.
Students reading the Master Key System are therefore advised to practice the exercises until full mastery has been accomplished. It's only through the exercises that new skills are obtained, and therefore an ability to effect changes in one's life.
Note, Master Key System and Mental Chemistry, being published prior to 1923, are considered to be in public domain, but several of his other books, being currently in distribution, are still covered by copyright law timeframe.