Quick Summary: Be Your Own Sunshine by James Allen will teach you about various spiritual aspects and thus help you learn why you should be willing to learn about yourself and about your mind to rise higher and higher. You will also learn why spiritual progress is a constant hustle of climbing up and falling down, and climbing up over and over again…
Who should read this book summary and why?
People who wish to rise high spiritually and go beyond their material desires should read this book summary.
Or people who want to improve themselves, in general, should also read this book summary.
Don’t worry though. It’s not about what you are thinking.
You won’t be asked to go on the Himalayas and leave your home.
James Allen was one of the greatest philosophers of all time.
His book “As A Man Thinketh” has been quite popular.
I guess you must have also heard about it.
Or perhaps you might have heard this popular quote:
“As a man thinketh, so is he.“
This is one of the jewels of wisdom.
Now, why you should read this book summary?
In this book summary, you’ll get philosophical insights.
You’ll learn ideas that you should keep in mind to live a life of purpose.
This book summary will help you transcend to a higher level- no matter at what stage you are on in your life right now.
Be Your Own Sunshine Summary & Quotes
Have you ever wondered about how you should live your life?
Well, chances are, if you are even 1% self-aware, you must have asked yourself this question: What should I do with my life?
Most of such questions which are related to life are complex.
Put simply, they are hard to answer.
What’s worse, it’s hard to find people who can answer those questions correctly.
In this book, James Allen has thrown lots of golden nuggets of wisdom that fall in the domain of spirituality. Which deals with perplexing life issues.
Since this book is way too broad to be summarized, I’ve written this summary in a different style.
I’ve picked up some of the best quotes from this book and have elaborated on them.
You are going to enjoy it.
But wait… Before you dive in, I just wanted to make it clear that all the quoted sentences are directly from the book.
And the rest is my commentary on that.
Alrighty, so let’s not waste any more time and get started with this book summary.
Here are the best quotes from Be Your Own Sunshine by James Allen:
Quote #1: “Those who have no central purpose in their life fall prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pitying, all of which are indications of weakness…”
The author means that one should have a central purpose. Note the word ‘central purpose’ here.
The author isn’t talking about any purpose here.
Allow me to explain.
We all might have different purposes every day.
For instance, at one moment, your purpose could be to buy a house.
Or it might be something entirely different.
Since our life is too broad, our purposes keep changing.
Most people are not clear about their purpose.
So they make goals depending on their circumstances.
The author isn’t talking about goals here. He is talking about a central purpose.
You must have a central purpose.
A purpose that is above every little purpose you might have at any time.
That central purpose should guide you in your life.
But why having a central purpose is so important?
Why should we dedicate our time to deciding our central purpose?
What if we just ignore it altogether and live like everybody else? Won’t it be easy?
From previous books, I have learned that all meaning is human-made.
But the question still remains: why should one have a central purpose?
The answer is:
When you have a central purpose, you don’t get distracted in life.
And since you don’t get distracted, you don’t fall into traps.
For instance, often people get addicted to bad stuff because they have a void in their life.
They don’t find any meaning, so they catch bad habits.
Which further makes them fall deeper down the hell of suffering.
And as they fall deep down, they get things to worry about.
They attract troubles.
They start self-pitying.
And ultimately they become weak.
They become so weak that they don’t feel like living at all.
They just wish that they could revert their life. And rebuild it.
But unfortunately, nobody can turn back time.
Do you understand now?
Having a central purpose isn’t just a choice. It’s a necessity if you want to live a meaningful life.
By having a core purpose, you stay on track.
You are able to organize your life.
You automatically avoid unwanted circumstances. Indeed, you can’t always control your circumstances.
But you can always set yourself up to create the best opportunities.
This also makes you stronger.
It makes you impenetrable. You become tough.
A purpose aligns you with freedom and harmony.
It also allows you to see how beautiful can life be amid all the chaos.
So if you haven’t already made a clear purpose, make one.
I mean a central purpose. Not the ones that change with time.
A central purpose should be timeless. It shouldn’t change at its core.
For instance, my purpose is to educate everyone in this world with true knowledge and empower everybody.
It can change slightly over time. But at its core, it’ll always be to educate and empower people.
So what’s your central purpose?
Feel free to write it down in the comments.
Remember, writing down your purpose is also important.
It has a magical effect.
When you write something down, you take it seriously.
But when you just think about something, you tend to forget it. Because thoughts keep changing all the time. They are not rigid.
They come and go.
So write down what is your core purpose of life?
You’ll need to dig deeper within yourself and increase your self-knowledge to be able to define a clear central purpose for yourself.
Again, remember that the idea is not to have many purposes.
You can have multiple purposes. But remember all those little purposes should be in harmony with your bigger core purpose.
Quote #2: “A strong man cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped, and even then the weak man must become strong of himself… None but himself can alter his condition.”
That’s the sad truth.
You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to get helped.
Let’s try to dig deeper and understand what the author means by that.
Is the author talking about economical help?
What does ‘help’ mean here?
Since this book is about spiritual progress, I’m assuming the author isn’t talking about helping with materialistic needs like food, money, etc.
The real help is when you help someone become strong enough so that he could not only help himself but also others.
That’s only possible through knowledge, and later, understanding.
You can teach a person something if he doesn’t realize the value of what he is being taught.
We just talked about setting a clear central purpose, right?
Most people won’t even care to do that.
You may ask “Why is it so?”
That’s because most people don’t even realize that they need help.
So you can’t help those people who don’t think they need help. Such people would say “Who cares about setting a purpose? My life is good enough. Thank You.”
You may feel bad about it.
You may still want to help those people by shifting their beliefs and changing their mindset for good.
But unfortunately, they won’t realize your efforts.
The reason is:
They don’t want to receive any help.
And therefore the author says: “You can’t help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped.”
Now that was just the first part.
Let’s say, the strong person helped a weaker one.
So will the weaker one become strong just after receiving help?
For instance, you just understood what I’m talking about here. Now has that knowledge changed your life? I doubt so.
Because unless you apply the knowledge in your life and see yourself if it works, you won’t be able to change anything.
And before you do so, you must realize that there is something (your mind) that needs to be changed.
That’s because it has been conditioned to bring problems and worries in your life.
So who will be doing most of the work here? It’s you.
Yes, it’s you who will learn and apply.
And so the author has said: “…None but himself can alter his condition.”
You first need to realize that you need help.
Second, you must learn about the problem that needs to be solved.
Third, you must use your knowledge to actually solve that problem.
Learning can come from anywhere.
Either you read this summary or watch a video on Youtube or take counseling from a Guru.
It doesn’t really matter.
Unless you realize that you need to change things around to enhance your potential, you won’t be able to give your best.
And become strong.
Not just in theory. But in reality.
Quote #3: “A man may rise to high success in the world, and even to lofty altitudes in the spiritual realm, and again descend into weakness and wretchedness by allowing arrogant, selfish, and corrupt thoughts to take possession of him.”
Life is never static. It’s moving.
It’s like a roller coaster ride.
It’s thrilling, right?
Sometimes it feels good. The other times, it feels like shit.
But that’s not the point here.
What the author is talking about is something else entirely.
It’s about something more than us.
The author says, a man may rise to high success in the world. What the author is trying to say is, you can become so successful in this world.
You can build capitals. You can become rich like Elon Musk or Bill Gates.
You can achieve fame like Hollywood celebrities.
You can hold power by being in the government.
You can also rise high when it comes to self-knowledge.
In short: You can do lots of things… You can have the best of the best.
But don’t think that it will stay the same all the time.
When it comes to your mind, it can be in both the high or low state.
Let me explain.
When motivational, knowledgeable thoughts fill your mind, you are something else. And when arrogant, selfish, and corrupt thoughts fill your mind, then you are something else.
So your mind can fall or rise based on your mental state.
Also, when it comes to spirituality, your state of consciousness matters a lot.
When it’s in the best form, it’s of the divine nature. But when it’s in the worst form, it’s demonic in nature.
(Don’t get confused with the words here. I used the words ‘divine’ and ‘demonic’ just to explain it to you. And also because they sound cool! Spirituality has nothing to do with these things. It’s all about self-knowledge.)
The point is:
You can either pull yourself up or you can also pull yourself down.
That will depend on how much you have self-awareness.
When you are fully self-aware, you can observe the movement of your thoughts.
You are above them.
In that very state, your thoughts are in your full control. They are not controlling you.
But when bad thoughts like arrogant or selfish ones take over your mind, they pull you down.
They corrupt you. They take away your freedom.
They start controlling you.
In that state, you are in control of your thoughts.
It doesn’t matter how much name, fame, or money you have. When your thoughts take over you, are in no control. Period.
You lose your freedom.
You become weak.
The key here is self-awareness.
You can’t develop it quickly. It takes time to develop.
Here is how you can start developing self-awareness:
Every day, observe your thoughts. Notice their nature. Don’t try to force them.
Simply observe your mind.
Yes, it’s that easy in theory.
But in practice, it’s hard. That’s why you’ll also need patience.
And if you do it right, over time, you’ll become more self-aware.
It’s a constant struggle. It won’t stop.
Or maybe it will. But that’s a distant thing.
The interesting thing here is: You can increase your self-awareness the first day and lose it on the second. Then you’ll have to practice to improve it again.
The nature your mind will try its best to pull you back.
But you have to stick to it.
Quote #4: “Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”
So we just talked about self-awareness.
Now, why the author is calling the calmness of mind one of the jewels of wisdom?
Wisdom is something that comes with a peaceful mind.
What is wisdom? In general, it’s the ability to see things clearly.
When and how can you see things clearly?
You can only do so when your mind is calm and peaceful, right?
Why does the author call it a beautiful jewel of wisdom?
That’s because when your mind is calm, everything seems beautiful.
Life seems beautiful.
Not because there are no problems.
But because you have gained the ability to see through.
That’s the true wisdom after all. The true wisdom is when you know yourself. And then whatever you do is the pure expression of joy and love.
So how can you achieve a calm mind?
Again it’s the same process. You will have to learn about your mind first.
Then sit and observe what happens every day inside your mind.
You’ll have to see how your mind or your thoughts keep dancing in your head.
Although, it sounds like a real tough thingy. It’s not.
Surprisingly, it’s a fun activity. Once you get the hang of it, it’s one of the most pleasurable activities.
But remember, you don’t have to do it because it’s pleasurable. Because then you might fall into another trap.
You just have to observe and embrace. And finally, appreciate the wonders of the mind.
Then you will realize that you are not your mind. And everything you see in this world is a mere projection of mind.
It’s not easy to understand all this.
So don’t expect quick results here.
It’s a game of patience!
There are lots of things you can learn about your mind.
Quote #5: “The foolish man accuses others and justifies himself, but he who is becoming wise justifies others and accuses himself.”
This brings us back to the debate of what is foolish and what is wise.
Often foolish people think that they know everything. While on the flip side, wiser people think that they need to learn more.
And as the author says, foolish people keep accusing others.
Because they don’t know that their own foolishness has brought them troubles and worries.
But as the light of knowledge falls on them, they realize that they were too foolish to realize that they were wrong.
So how should one decide whether he or she is making a foolish act or a wise one?
I believe that one shouldn’t blame others for his own misery.
One should accept that he or she is the reason for his own circumstances.
Sometimes, this also boils down to ego. Egoistic people don’t accept the truth.
They keep believing that they are wise without any self-questioning.
So if you want to understand whether you are on right track or not, just ask yourself a simple question: “Do I really make wise decisions?”
The answer isn’t much important here. The more important thing is honesty.
If you are honest and true to yourself, you will find the right answer.
Do you understand now?
Honesty and simplicity are some of the most underrated things in this world.
Dishonesty and lies only make you weaker.
Although you might look stronger externally, you will lose touch with your values over time.
And all this will further push you down the hell of worries and struggles.
So no matter how hard the circumstances are, take responsibility.
Accept that you are the in-charge of your life. Nobody else.
Don’t blame others for bad things.
We tend to have a self-serving bias. We love to take credit for all the good things. And blame others for the bad things.
We cleverly hide the truth that most of our problems are self-created.
So instead of finding our own faults, we simply put the blame on others.
We say that the world itself is suffering.
We say those good people always get hurt by the bad ones.
I want you to question your assumptions. I want you to investigate your beliefs.
Instead of blaming others, try to look within yourself.
Ask yourself honestly whether or not you created a particular problem for yourself or not.
Most people tend to jump to the conclusion that they are the victim. And that they are never wrong.
They believe that not accepting the responsibility would help them. But instead, it only makes them weaker.
Watch yourself. Look how you behave when something bad happens.
If you justify other people and try to find your faults instead of others, you are on your way to becoming wiser.
Remember, wisdom is all about knowing yourself and your relationship with others with the focus on improving yourself as well as others. And not just blaming the world.
The moment you say that it’s not your fault, you limit the opportunities for growth and self-improvement.
Also, you don’t have to unnecessarily accuse yourself of things that you haven’t done.
Stay honest. Simply, be true to yourself.
Do this and you’ll have a much easier time raising the level of your mind and increasing the quality of your life.
Quote #6: “Man of passion strive mightily to achieve little things – things which speedily perish, and, in the place where they were, leave nothing to be remembered.”
What does ‘passion’ mean?
According to Wikipedia, passion is a strong or compelling desire for someone or something.
Spiritually speaking, this is one of the lowest stages of awareness.
People who are too attached to material objects are supposed to transcend and leave all their desires behind.
A mind that has no desire is free from anxiety.
It’s only when you attach yourself to an object or objects that you create suffering for yourself.
You think that you will become happy after getting so and so.
In the spirituality domain, this is known as ignorance.
It’s also called ego,
When you let go of that ego, you become joyful. All your troubles and worries vanish from your life gradually.
But most people do exactly the opposite, right?
They strive to achieve or possess objects made by humans or born out of the resources of the earth.
The problem with this is:
All the objects of this world are perishable. That means, they can’t exist forever.
Instead, you should look for something permanent.
Why be passionate about something which can’t last forever? Right?
Also, when they are destroyed, they leave nothing behind.
You don’t get remembered by anyone for possessing those objects.
In other words, wise people understand very well that running after objects of pleasure is foolish. And therefore they invest their energies and time in achieving things that are far beyond those materialistic objects.
They focus on attaining bliss. They focus on achieving transcendence.
They live their lives with joy.
There is no one answer here.
Just understand that your passions might not be worth striving for when you talk spiritually.
Again, spirituality isn’t about heavenly gods and demons.
It’s a way of living where you leave behind all unnecessary desires and try to understand various aspects of your mind.
And ultimately try to go beyond your own mind.
Discussing it would be beyond the context of this summary.
And it’d make your head heavy.
So let’s move on to another beautiful quote…
Quote #7: “Before the mind can contemplate pure things, it must be lifted up to them; it must rise above impure things…”
What the author calls impure things is selfish thoughts, lust, gratification, etc.
And he calls things such as love, joy, beauty, etc. pure things.
In spirituality, rising from petty thoughts to divinely or beautiful thoughts is called transcendence. It’s the progress from the lower level of your mind to the higher level.
Only when you leave those petty thoughts behind that you rise above them.
To rise above them is simply to leave their companion and simply ignore them.
For example, thoughts of passion and lust for material objects can drive you crazy. But people who have developed inner wisdom understand that they need to ignore those thoughts.
Why? Because those thoughts have no power over them. They simply can be ignored.
Spiritually enlightened people know that they don’t need to pay attention to such foolish and impure thoughts.
So they simply ignore them.
The goal here shouldn’t be to attain pure thoughts. The goal should be to somehow get rid of impure thoughts.
When you get rid of such impure thoughts, what remains is the pure mind itself.
You see? The second part of the quote is more important than the first part.
You have to become self-aware and rise above unproductive and impure thoughts to be able to contemplate pure divine thoughts.
Practically, having pure thoughts seems impossible. So you should at least get rid of bad thoughts.
Although, it’s also hard to do in real-life.
But it is possible. You have to look at your mind and understand its structure first.
Only then will you be able to get rid of those impure thoughts that eat away your mental energy.
Be Your Own Sunshine Review
This book took me 2-3 days to finish.
And still, I can’t say that I understand it fully.
This was way too broad. It touched various philosophical aspects.
I won’t recommend this book to beginners.
I recommend that you pick this book only after reading a few basic books on spirituality.
Plus, it demands patience and perseverance from the reader, which I believe not many readers have as they are looking for exciting things that provide instant gratification.
Talking about quality, the author has brilliantly put together so much wisdom in such a small book.
At first, the book looks as if it’s easy to finish.
But as you read further, you realize that it’s a lot more challenging than you first thought.
After everything I said, I highly recommend that you read this at least once in your life.
But make sure you read it when you are young, otherwise, it might be too late for you to understand and apply all the concepts.
Now It’s Your Turn
I hope you got extreme value from this summary.
And I hope I was able to entertain and educate you at the same time.
Now, it’s your turn:
What do you think about the summary above? Did I do it right?
Were you able to learn something new?
Which idea did you like the most?
Let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.
And as always, don’t forget to share this summary with other people by hitting one of the share buttons in the sidebar or at the end of the post.
Thanks in advance!