In this short essay, New Thought author and publisher Mitch Horowitz discusses how, while preparing to narrate an audio edition of Joseph Murphy’s pamphlet How to Attract Money, he came into a new and deeper appreciation of the book’s possibilities. This is adapted from Mitch’s introduction.
BY MITCH HOROWITZ
I am often asked: If I were to select one New Thought book to recommend to someone approaching the philosophy of mental causation for the first time, or maybe someone who is willing to sample one, and just one book, which would it be?
The answer has eluded me. I have been uncertain whether to recommend a “mainstream” work like Earl Nightingale’s wonderful lecture The Strangest Secret, which lays out New Thought in a precise, businesslike manner, omitting most mystical themes. For someone from a strictly nonreligious background, I might recommend surgeon Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics, which is a secular, psychological exploration of the mind’s formative abilities. Or, finally, if I see that someone has a key goal in mind, and is open to both spiritual and psychological language, I would recommend Napoleon Hill’s evergreen Think and Grow Rich.
But in writing these words, I realize that the book I should be recommending—and that I plan to from now on—is one that I’ve been reading for years, but never fully appreciated: Joseph Murphy’s slender 1955 masterpiece, How to Attract Money.
I think that I have previously resisted recommending How to Attract Money because I felt slightly embarrassed by its acquisitive-sounding title. Thoughtful people are taught to believe that overt expressions of money-getting are vulgar or “unspiritual.” Reading this book with fresh eyes, however, I am disabused of that notion. First of all, money—in whatever form it takes, whether bills, goods, or commodities—is part of the natural human exchange, and is indelibly tied to all phases of our lives. More importantly, Murphy, in his genius as a communicator, uses the topic of money, something that we all need, as a metaphor for the point he’s really making: which is that we are generative, causative beings who channel the power of higher creativity through the medium of our thoughts, which take form in the overt circumstances of our lives.
Not everyone approaching New Thought, or this book, must be spiritual in outlook. One could venture psychological explanations for the link between thoughts and events, something that Maltz does compellingly in Psycho-Cybernetics, where he compares the mind to a homing device, like a heat-seeking missile, which is programed by our subconscious beliefs. And that is valid. But New Thought, at its heart, is spiritual, by which I mean it posits a non-material, extra-physical basis for life. In this short volume, Joseph Murphy explains this perspective, and provides precise techniques for using your thoughts, prayers, mental images, and affirmations in a manner that exerts and channels the creative intelligence of cosmos, or what we call God.
When Murphy writes about using the powers of your mind while in a drowsy, pre-sleep state, and when he asserts that the Bible is a symbolical book of inner development, his ideas converge with those of his contemporary seeker, spiritual teacher Neville Goddard. Murphy recalled studying with Neville (who wrote under his first name) when the two men—Murphy a recent immigrant from Ireland and Neville from the West Indies—were coming up as metaphysical teachers on the New York scene in the 1930s. In interviews toward the end of his life in 1981, Murphy said that he and Neville shared the same teacher: a mysterious, turbaned black rabbi named Abdullah.
If all that is a little too mystical for you, don’t worry. Murphy’s philosophy doesn’t require credulity; it requires experimentation. And the experiments in this book are exquisitely private—they are yours alone. They require no membership or label. And, most especially, there is no need to disclose what you’re doing to anyone else. In fact, it’s better not to. These ideas don’t need another’s approval or approbation—only your engagement.
This short book, written eight years before the 1963 publication of Murphy’s worldwide bestseller The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, captured his philosophy in its totality. Murphy’s communicative powers, always considerable, are at their peak. His words here are effective, truthful, and, I think, demonstrably good and beneficent.
I have been reading New Thought literature for about 20 years, and yet something—I cannot quite say what—awakened in me when I recently reread this little book in the early morning hours, while my home in New York City remained covered in predawn darkness and the activity of the streets was briefly stilled. I wish a similar experience for you. And if you, like me, come to feel that you want to share this book with friends and curious people, you will be spreading seeds of mental creativity, which may grow in your life and in the lives of others in ways that surprise you. That, too, I wish for all who approach this volume.
Mitch Horowitz is the PEN Award-winning author of Occult America and One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life. His latest book for is The Miracle of a Definite Chief Aim. Visit him at MitchHorowitz.com.