All that a woman achieves and all that she fails to achieve is the direct result of her own thoughts. In a justly ordered universe, where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual responsibility must be absolute. A woman's weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are her own, and not another woman's; they are brought about by herself, and not by another; and they can only be altered by herself, never by another. Her condition is also her own, and not another woman's. Her sufferings and her happiness are evolved from within. As she thinks, so she is; as she continues to think, so she remains.
A strong woman cannot help a weaker unless the weaker is willing to be helped, and even then the weak woman must become strong of herself; she must, by her own efforts, develop the strength which she admires in another. None but herself can alter her condition.
It has been usual for women to think and to say, "Many women are slaves because one is an oppressor; let us hate the oppressor." Now, however, there is among an increasing few a tendency to reverse this judgment, and to say, "One woman is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the slaves." The truth is that oppressor and slave are co-operators in ignorance, and, while seeming to afflict each other, are in reality afflicting themselves. A perfect Knowledge perceives the action of law in the weakness of the oppressed and the misapplied power of the oppressor; a perfect Love, seeing the suffering which both states entail, condemns neither; a perfect Compassion embraces both oppressor and oppressed.
She who has conquered weakness, and has put away all selfish thoughts, belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed. She is free.
A woman can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up her thoughts. She can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by refusing to lift up her thoughts.
Before a woman can achieve anything, even in worldly things, she must lift her thoughts above slavish animal indulgence. She may not, in order to succeed, give up all animality and selfishness, by any means; but a portion of it must, at least, be sacrificed. A woman whose first thought is bestial indulgence could neither think clearly nor plan methodically; she could not find and develop her latent resources, and would fail in any undertaking. Not having commenced womanfully to control her thoughts, she is not in a position to control affairs and to adopt serious responsibilities. She is not fit to act independently and stand alone. But she is limited only by the thoughts which she chooses.
There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice, and a woman's worldly success will be in the measure that she sacrifices her confused animal thoughts, and fixes her mind on the development of her plans, and the strengthening of her resolution and self reliance. And the higher she lifts her thoughts, the more womanly, upright, and righteous she becomes, the greater will be her success, the more blessed and enduring will be her achievements.
The universe does not favor the greedy, the dishonest, the vicious, although on the mere surface it may sometimes appear to do so; it helps the honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous. All the great Teachers of the ages have declared this in varying forms, and to prove and know it a woman has but to persist in making herself more and more virtuous by lifting up her thoughts.
Intellectual achievements are the result of thought consecrated to the search for knowledge, or for the beautiful and true in life and nature. Such achievements may be sometimes connected with vanity and ambition but they are not the outcome of those characteristics; they are the natural outgrowth of long and arduous effort, and of pure and unselfish thoughts.
Spiritual achievements are the consummation of holy aspirations. She who lives constantly in the conception of noble and lofty thoughts, who dwells upon all that is pure and unselfish, will, as surely as the sun reaches its zenith and the moon its full, become wise and noble in character, and rise into a position of influence and blessedness.
Achievement, of whatever kind, is the crown of effort, the diadem of thought. By the aid of self-control, resolution, purity, righteousness, and well-directed thought, a woman ascends; by the aid of animality, indolence, impurity, corruption, and confusion of thought a woman descends.
A woman 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 her.
Victories attained by right thought can only be maintained by watchfulness. Many give way when success is assured, and rapidly fall back into failure.
All achievements, whether in the business, intellectual, or spiritual world, are the result of definitely directed thought, are governed by the same law and are of the same method; the only difference lies in the object of attainment.
She who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; she who would achieve much must sacrifice much; she who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
Chapter Five - Quotations & Excerpts