The Kybalion was first published in 1908 by the Yogi Publication Society in Chicago, Illinois and has been in the public domain since 1977.
Purportedly based upon ancient Hermeticism, its philosophies became founding pillars within the New Thought movement of the early 1910s.
The book early on makes the claim that it makes its appearance in one's life when the time is appropriate and includes axioms and insights similar to those found in the Book of Proverbs.
The "Three Initiates" who authored The Kybalion chose to remain anonymous
The book devotes a chapter to each of its seven "Principles", or axioms:
Principle of Mentalism - The Principle of Mentalism embodies the idea that "All is Mind." Everything that happens has to be a result of a mental state which precedes it. For anything to exist, thoughts had to form first, which then form physical reality or manifestation.
"Your thoughts are seeds, plant positive seeds in your mind garden."
Principle of Correspondence - The Principle of Correspondence expresses the idea that there is always a correspondence between the laws of phenomena of the various "planes" of being and life;
As above, so below; as below, so above.
This principle states that there is a harmony which can be made, agreement and correspondence between these planes, delineated as:
- The Great Physical Plane
- The Great Mental Plane
- The Great Spiritual Plane
Principle of Vibration - This expounds the idea that motion is manifest in everything in the Universe,
that nothing rests, and everything moves, vibrates and circles.
This principle explains that the distinction between manifestations of Matter, Energy, Mind, and even Spirit, are the result of only different "vibrations". The higher a person is on the scale, the higher the rate of vibration will be.
Here, The All is said to be at an infinite level of vibration, almost to the point of being at rest.
There are said to be millions upon millions of varying degrees between the highest level, The All, and the objects of the lowest vibration.
Mental Transmutation is described as the practical application of this principle. To change one's mental state is to change vibration. One may do this by an effort of Will, by means of deliberately "fixing the attention" upon a more desirable state.
Principle of Polarity -The Principle of Polarity embodies the idea that
everything is dual, everything has two poles, and everything has its opposite.
All manifested things have two sides, two aspects, or two poles. Everything "is" and "isn't" at the same time,
all truths are but half truths and every truth is half false,
there are two sides to everything, opposites are identical in nature yet different in degree, extremes meet, and all paradoxes may be reconciled.
Principle of Rhythm - The Principle of Rhythm expresses the idea that in everything there is manifested a measured motion,
a to and from, a flow and inflow, a swing backward and forward,
a pendulum-like movement. There is rhythm between every pair of opposites, or poles, and is closely related to the Principle of Polarity. It can be seen that this Principle enables transition from one pole to the other, and not necessarily poles of extreme opposites.
Principle of Cause and Effect - It explains that
there is a cause for every effect, and an effect for every cause.
It also states that there is no such thing as chance, that chance is merely a term indicating extant causes not recognized or perceived.[The Principle is clarified in the chapter Causation.
Principle of Gender - The Principle of Gender embodies the idea that gender is manifested in everything. The authors state that this does not relate explicitly to the commonly understood notion of sex, but rather "... to beget; to procreate, to generate, to create, or to produce..." in general.
Gender manifests itself on all planes as the Feminine and Masculine principles.
Mental Gender is described as a Hermetic concept which relates to the feminine and masculine principles. It does not refer to someone's physical sex, nor does it suggest that someone of a certain sex necessarily has a matching mental gender. Ideally, one wants to have a balanced mental gender. The concept put forth in The Kybalion states that gender exists on all planes of existence (Physical, Mental and Spiritual), and represents different aspects on different planes.
Everything and everyone contains these two elements or principles.
The Feminine principle is always in the direction of receiving impressions, and has a much more varied field of operation than the Masculine. The Feminine conducts the work of generating new thoughts, concepts and ideas, including the work of the imagination.
The Masculine principle is always in the direction of giving out or expressing, and contents itself with the "Will" in its varied phases.
is said that there must be a balance in these two forces.
Without the Feminine, the Masculine is apt to act without restraint, order, or reason, resulting in chaos.
The Feminine alone, on the other hand, is apt to constantly reflect and fail to actually do anything, resulting in stagnation.
With both the Masculine and Feminine working in conjunction, there is thoughtful action that breeds success, which points out that both
the Feminine and the Masculine fulfill each other.
The works of the English philosopher Herbert Spencer are referred to approvingly in The Kybalion as showing an understanding of hermetic principles; and Spencer himself is eulogised as a reincarnation of the 5th century BCE Greek philosopher Heraclitus; who is in turn described as being a reincarnation of a still more ancient, Egyptian philosopher. No other writers are similarly referenced or endorsed within the text