All that you achieve and all that you fail to achieve is the direct result of your own thoughts. In a justly ordered universe, where loss of equipoise would mean total destruction, individual responsibility must be absolute.
Your weakness and strength, purity and impurity, are your own, and not another persons; they are brought about by yourself, and not by another; and they can only be altered by yourself, never by another. Your condition is also your own, and not another persons. Your sufferings and your happiness are evolved from within. As you think, so you are; as you continue to think, so you remain.
A strong person cannot help a weaker unless the weaker is willing to be helped, and even then the weak person must become strong of themselves; they must, by their own efforts, develop the strength which they admire in another. None but yourself can alter your condition.
It has been usual for people to think and to say, "Many people 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 person 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.
When you have conquered weakness, and have put away all selfish thoughts, you belong neither to oppressor nor oppressed. You are free.
You can only rise, conquer, and achieve by lifting up your thoughts. You can only remain weak, and abject, and miserable by refusing to lift up your thoughts.
Before you can achieve anything, even in worldly things, you must lift your thoughts above slavish animal indulgence. You 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 person whose first thought is bestial indulgence could neither think clearly nor plan methodically; they could not find and develop their latent resources, and would fail in any undertaking. Not having commenced bravely to control their thoughts, they are not in a position to control affairs and to adopt serious responsibilities. They are not fit to act independently and stand alone. But they limited only by the thoughts which they choose.
There can be no progress, no achievement without sacrifice, and your worldly success will be in the measure that you sacrifice your confused animal thoughts, and fix your mind on the development of your plans, and the strengthening of your resolution and self reliance. And the higher you lift your thoughts, the more upright and righteous you become, the greater will be your success, the more blessed and enduring will be your 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 person has but to persist in making themselves more and more virtuous by lifting up their 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. Those who live 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, you ascend; by the aid of animality, indolence, impurity, corruption, and confusion of thought you will descend.
You 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 you.
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.
Those who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; those who would achieve much must sacrifice much; those who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.
Chapter Five - Quotations & Excerpts