A woman's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.
Just as a gardener cultivates her plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing the flowers and fruits which she requires, so may a woman tend the garden of her mind, weeding out all the wrong, useless, and impure thoughts, and cultivating toward perfection the flowers and fruits of right, useful, and pure thoughts. By pursuing this process, a woman sooner or later discovers that she is the master-gardener of her soul, the director of her life. She also reveals, within herself, the laws of thought, and understands, with ever-increasing accuracy, how the thought forces and mind-elements operate in the shaping of her character, circumstances, and destiny.
Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of a woman's life will always be found to be harmoniously related to her inner state. This does not mean that a woman's circumstances at any given time are an indication of her entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital thought-element within herself that, for the time being, they are indispensable to her development.
Every woman is where she is by the law of her being; the thoughts which she has built into her character have brought her there, and in the arrangement of her life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err. This is just as true of those who feel "out of harmony" with their surroundings as of those who are contented with them.
As the progressive and evolving being, woman is where she is that she may learn that she may grow; and as she learns the spiritual lesson which any circumstance contains for her, it passes away and gives place to other circumstances.
Woman is buffeted by circumstances so long as she believes herself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when she realizes that she is a creative power, and that she may command the hidden soil and seeds of her being out of which circumstances grow, she then becomes the rightful master of herself.
That circumstances grow out of thought every woman knows who has for any length of time practiced self-control and self-purification, for she will have noticed that the alteration in her circumstances has been in exact ratio with her altered mental condition. So true is this that when a woman earnestly applies herself to remedy the defects in her character, and makes swift and marked progress, she passes rapidly through a succession of vicissitudes.
The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors; that which it loves, and also that which it fears; it reaches the height of its cherished aspirations; it falls to the level of its unchastened desires; and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.
Every thought-seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind, and to take root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or later into act, and bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstances. Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.
The outer world of circumstance shapes itself to the inner world of thought, and both pleasant and unpleasant external conditions are factors which make for the ultimate good of the individual. As the reaper of her own harvest, woman learns both by suffering and bliss.
Following the inmost desires, aspirations, thoughts, by which she allows herself to be dominated (pursuing the will-o'-the-wisp of impure imagining or steadfastly walking the highway of strong and high endeavor), a woman at last arrives at their fruition and fulfillment in the outer condition of her life.
The laws of growth and adjustment everywhere obtain.
A woman does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny of fate or circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling thoughts and base desires. Nor does a pure-minded woman fall suddenly into crime by stress of any mere external force; the criminal thought had long been secretly fostered in the heart, and the hour of opportunity revealed its gathered power.
Circumstance does not make the woman; it reveals her to herself. No such conditions can exist as descending into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations; or ascending into virtue and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of virtuous aspirations; and woman, therefore, as the lord and master of thought, is the maker of herself, the shaper and author of environment. Even at birth the soul comes to its own, and through every step of its earthly pilgrimage it attracts those combinations of conditions which reveal itself, which are the reflections of its own purity and impurity, its strength and weakness.
Women do not attract that which they want, but that which they are. Their whims, fancies, and ambitions are thwarted at every step, but their inmost thoughts and desires are fed with their own food, be it foul or clean. The "divinity that shapes our ends" is in ourselves; it is our very Self. Woman is manacled only by herself. Thought and action are the jailers of Fate - they imprison, being base; they are also the angels of Freedom - they liberate, being noble.
Not what she wishes and prays for does a woman get, but what she justly earns. Her wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with her thoughts and actions.
In the light of this truth, what, then, is the meaning of "fighting against circumstances"? It means that a woman is continually revolting against an effect without, while all the time she is nourishing and preserving its cause in her heart.
That cause may take the form of a conscious vice or an unconscious weakness; but whatever it is, it stubbornly retards the efforts of its possessor, and thus calls aloud for remedy.
Women are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The woman who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which her heart is set. This is as true of earthly as of heavenly things. Even the woman whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before she can accomplish her object; and how much more so she who would realize a strong and well-poised life?
Here is a woman who is wretchedly poor. She is extremely anxious that her surroundings and home comforts should be improved, yet all the time she shirks her work, and considers she is justified in trying to deceive her employer on the ground of the insufficiency of her wages. Such a woman does not understand the simplest rudiments of those principles which are the basis of true prosperity, and is not only totally unfitted to rise out of her wretchedness, but is actually attracting to herself a still deeper wretchedness by dwelling in, and acting out, indolent, deceptive, and unwomanly thoughts.
Here is a rich woman who is the victim of a painful and persistent disease as the result of gluttony. She is willing to give large sums of money to get rid of it, but she will not sacrifice her gluttonous desires. She wants to gratify her taste for rich and unnatural viands and have her health as well. Such a woman is totally unfit to have health, because she has not yet learned the first principles of a healthy life.
Here is an employer of labor who adopts crooked measures to avoid paying the regulation wage, and, in the hope of making larger profits, reduces the wages of her work-people. Such a woman is altogether unfitted for prosperity, and when she finds herself bankrupt, both as regards reputation and riches, she blames circumstances, not knowing that she is the sole author of her condition.
I have introduced these three cases merely as illustrative of the truth that woman is the cause (though nearly always unconsciously) of her circumstances, and that, whilst aiming at a good end, she is continually frustrating its accomplishment by encouraging thoughts and desires which cannot possibly harmonize with that end. Such cases could be multiplied and varied almost indefinitely, but this is not necessary, as the reader can, if she so resolves, trace the action of the laws of thought in her own mind and life, and until this is done, mere external facts cannot serve as a ground of reasoning.
Circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so vastly with individuals, that a woman's entire soul condition (although it may be known to herself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect of her life alone.
A woman may be honest in certain directions, yet suffer privations; a woman may be dishonest in certain directions, yet acquire wealth; but the conclusion usually formed that the one woman fails because of her particular honesty, and that the other prospers because of her particular dishonesty, is the result of a superficial judgment, which assumes that the dishonest woman is almost totally corrupt, and honest woman almost entirely virtuous. In the light of a deeper knowledge and wider experience, such judgment is found to be erroneous. The dishonest woman may have some admirable virtues which the other does not possess; and the honest woman obnoxious vices which are absent in the other. The honest woman reaps the good results of her honest thoughts and acts; she also brings upon herself the sufferings which her vices produce. The dishonest woman likewise garners her own suffering and happiness.
It is pleasing to human vanity to believe that one suffers because of one's virtue; but not until a woman has extirpated every sickly, bitter, and impure thought from her mind, and washed every sinful stain from her soul, can she be in a position to know and declare that her sufferings are the result of her good, and not of her bad qualities; and on the way to that supreme perfection, she will have found working in her mind and life, the Great Law which is absolutely just, and which cannot give good for evil, evil for good. Possessed of such knowledge, she will then know, looking back upon her past ignorance and blindness, that her life is, and always was, justly ordered, and that all her past experiences, good and bad, were the equitable outworking of her evolving, yet unevolved self.
Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles. Women understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just as simple and undeviating), and they, therefore, do not cooperate with it.
Suffering is always the effect of wrong thought in some direction. It is an indication that the individual is out of harmony with herself, with the Law of her being. The sole and supreme use of suffering is to purify, to burn out all that is useless and impure. Suffering ceases for her who is pure. There could be not object in burning gold after the dross had been removed, and a perfectly pure and enlightened being could not suffer.
The circumstances which a woman encounters with suffering are the result of her own mental inharmony. The circumstances which a woman encounters with blessedness are the result of her own mental harmony. Blessedness, not material possessions, is the measure of right thought; wretchedness, not lack of material possessions, is the measure of wrong thought. A woman may be cursed and rich; she may be blessed and poor. Blessedness and riches are only joined together when the riches are rightly and wisely used; and the poor woman only descends into wretchedness when she regards her lot as a burden unjustly imposed.
Indigence and indulgence are the two extremes of wretchedness. They are both equally unnatural and the result of mental disorder. A woman is not rightly conditioned until she is a happy, healthy, and prosperous being; and happiness, health, and prosperity are the result of a harmonious adjustment of the inner with the outer, of the woman with her surroundings.
A woman only begins to be a woman when she ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates her life. And as she adapts her mind to that regulating factor, she ceases to accuse others as the cause of her condition, and builds herself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to her more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within herself.
Law, not confusion, is the dominating principle in the universe; justice, not injustice, is the soul and substance of life; and righteousness, not corruption, is the molding and moving force in the spiritual government of the world. This being so, woman has but to right herself to find that the universe is right, and during the process of putting herself right, she will find that as she alters her thoughts toward things and other people, things and other people will alter toward her.
The proof of this truth is in every person, and it therefore admits of easy investigation by systematic introspection and self-analysis. Let a woman radically alter her thoughts, and she will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of her life.
Women imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance. Bestial thoughts crystallize into habits of drunkenness and sensuality, which solidify into circumstances of destruction and disease: impure thoughts of every kind crystallize into enervating and confusing habits, which solidify into distracting and adverse circumstances: thoughts of fear, doubt, and indecision crystallize into weak, unwomanly, and irresolute habits, which solidify into circumstances of failure, indigence, and slavish dependence: lazy thoughts crystallize into habits of uncleanliness and dishonesty, which solidify into circumstances of foulness and beggary: hateful and condemnatory thoughts crystallize into habits of accusation and violence, which solidify into circumstances of injury and persecution: selfish thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of self-seeking, which solidify into circumstances more of less distressing.
On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of grace and kindliness, which solidify into genial and sunny circumstances: pure thoughts crystallize into habits of temperance and self-control, which solidify into circumstances of repose and peace: thoughts of courage, self-reliance, and decision crystallize into womanly habits, which solidify into circumstances of success, plenty, and freedom: energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of cleanliness and industry, which solidify into circumstances of pleasantness: gentle and forgiving thoughts crystallize into habits of gentleness, which solidify into protective and preservative circumstances: loving and unselfish thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for others, which solidify into circumstances of sure and abiding prosperity and true riches.
A particular train of thought persisted in, be it good or bad, cannot fail to produce its results on the character and circumstances. A woman cannot directly choose her circumstances, but she can choose her thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape her circumstances.
Nature helps every woman to the gratification of the thoughts which she most encourages, and opportunities are presented which will most speedily bring to the surface both the good and evil thoughts.
Let a woman cease from her sinful thoughts, and all the world will soften toward her, and be ready to help her; let her put away her weakly and sickly thoughts, and lo! opportunities will spring up on every hand to aid her strong resolves; let her encourage good thoughts, and no hard fate shall bind her down to wretchedness and shame.
The world is your kaleidoscope, and the varying combinations of colors which at every succeeding moment it presents to you are the exquisitely adjusted pictures of your ever-moving thoughts.
You will be what you will to be;
Let failure find its false content
In that poor word, "environment,"
But spirit scorns it, and is free.
It masters time, it conquers space;
It cows that boastful trickster, Chance,
And bids the tyrant Circumstance
Uncrown, and fill a servant's place.
The human Will, that force unseen,
The offspring of a deathless Soul,
Can hew a way to any goal,
Though walls of granite intervene.
Be not impatient in delay,
But wait as one who understands;
When spirit rises and commands,
The gods are ready to obey.
Chapter Two - Quotations & Excerpts