Women and the Science of Belief – Magic of Believing
As ideas for this book occurred to me, I frequently thought of the many famous women who had used the power of belief. Once Ben Hur Lampman specifically suggested that I write about them:
“Many women may not realize they can use your science just as advantageously as men, and you should be specific in your message to them. Once they understand and apply what you give, they’ll find themselves in a position to turn the world figuratively upside down. If there were some way for women of all nationalities to unite and use this science, there would be no future wars.
“Women are supreme egotists – when they get the idea they can do something, and that idea becomes thoroughly embedded in their consciousness, they will stop at nothing to achieve their purpose. You know the old saying, ‘The female of the species is more deadly than the male.’ That is true, and once women understand their power – and you can give them the clue – they may actually run this whole world. Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,’ and once they are aroused and understand what they can accomplish, there will be no stopping them. Women are more versatile, more adaptable. Even though Napoleon declared that he made circumstances, most men are its victims, while women by their very nature of thinking make circumstances serve them.”
It seems to me that today’s women have the means of getting everything they set their minds to.
Certainly, opportunities are all around them. In fact, never before in history was the world so open to women as it is today. Among those fields formerly restricted to men there are comparatively few in which women are not now represented. Today you’ll find women in science, the fine arts, journalism, publicity, and various branches of government, all working intelligently, with full knowledge of their duties, and aware of their new opportunities and responsibilities.
When I read an article by a woman complaining that American women don’t get a break, it dawned on me that if today’s women don’t get a break, it is the fault of no one but themselves. All they have to do is follow the examples of their sisters who have preceded them and made their own “breaks.”
Therefore, in the following pages I shall give examples of women who have used this science with great effectiveness.
Let us realize that women are going to play a more vital part than ever in the affairs of the world.
Even before World War II, American women, although they may not be aware of it, were in a position to have things pretty much their own way, for they actually controlled the wealth of this country! Statistics showed that of the country’s total wealth of approximately 300 billion dollars, about 70 per cent, or the huge sum of 210 billions, was in the possession of women.
During the war, women welders, women riveters, and the Wacs, Waves, and Spars, all had a taste of performing tasks heretofore handled only by men. To thousands of single girls and housewives who had never had an opportunity to do anything outside the home, those experiences should have pointed out opportunities for taking a more active part in the world.
As a former newspaper man, naturally I had to follow the feminist movement, and for nearly forty years I have seen the power of outstanding women. Many of the greatest reforms in America have been the ideas of women; and women were the driving force behind the ideas. Mrs. R. E. Bondurant was active in women’s work, charities, the inauguration of child labor laws, the building of homes and hospitals for delinquent girls, numerous legislative measures to further the interest of women and children, and public movements to aid the blind and other handicapped people. Her nationally known record of nearly forty years was outstanding, and at seventy-one, even though a partial cripple, she was just as enthusiastic as ever and was seeking new worlds to conquer.
In her later years, Mrs. Bondurant was an ardent worker in the cause of the Chin-Uppers, an organization consisting of blind, crippled, and otherwise partly disabled men. In 1948, she planned to open a store where articles made by these people would be sold, with the cooperation of a number of business men. Mrs. Bondurant told me that if necessary, she was going to pay the rent out of her own pocket, but that all the profit would go to the Chin-Uppers. I spent a Sunday afternoon with her in her sitting room among her books and flowers. A pair of crutches stood in a corner near the door. (Even at her advanced age, Mrs. Bondurant got around on trolley cars, buses, and in and out of automobiles without help.) We discussed at length this matter of believing, and Mrs. Bondurant said:
“There is no question about it. I can speak from a pretty full life of seventy-one years, during which time I not only raised a family, but have taken part in various movements and activities you have long been familiar with. There is certainly something – call it power, God, or anything you wish – which is always there to sustain us in time of need. I have never seen it fail. We’ve just got to believe. When I look back through the years, I recall the fine women I was associated with when we were working for legislation to bring about better working conditions for women and children.
It was the indomitable spirit of these women, who thoroughly believed in the righteousness of their cause, that made the legislation possible and effective.
“I am astounded that the average woman doesn’t realize her tremendous power. I don’t call it stupidity, because I would never admit that women are stupid. Rather, they lack interest. In talking to women’s groups, I am amazed that many of them never knew that these great reform movements to help them were initiated by women. Once women become aware of their strength and power, they can do more to bring about lasting peace and make this world a better place than all the famous male warriors and would-be peacemakers.
“All the great forward movements, all the great things in this world, have been done by men who were dreamers and believers in their dreams coming true. They could not have accomplished things otherwise. It’s like the old story about climbing to the top of the mountain in search of that indefinable something. It makes no difference from which side the approach is made – those who steadfastly climb reach the top. So it is with this matter of believing. It isn’t so much what the real or imaginary object of our belief may be, it’s the belief and following through that makes the thing possible.
“I don’t want to appear critical, but people don’t have sufficient action or driving force behind their beliefs. For example, some women’s organizations will pass resolutions in favor of or against this and that, and think that settles the matter. The resolutions are no good unless the sentiments expressed are actually brought to the attention of the powers that be.
“I don’t know of any greater thing in life than the satisfaction that comes through serving. During the many years I spent in sponsoring various causes and getting legislation adopted, I never received a penny to cover my expenses. While it may sound like Pollyanna business to many people, bread tossed upon the waters does come back. In illustration, I might tell you that during the Depression my husband lost $80,000. He was sick in bed at home, and I would go to the office daily to get the mail and check the routine. Sometimes it looked as if we wouldn’t have money to meet imperative needs, but just when we had to meet the obligations, checks would appear in the mail from people to whom Mr. Bondurant had lent money or from long-overdue accounts. We had some pretty hard times, but help always came through just in time, and I never lost my belief.”
As I listened to Mrs. Bondurant, I realized that I was in the presence of no ordinary woman, but rather of a human dynamo who had the great belief, spirit, and determination to get things done.
She had been credited with having had more laws in the interest of women and children passed than any other woman or organization in the state. What it would mean to the world if all women with her vision and driving force undertook to use this science?
In common with many men who have reached great heights, Grace Moore, she with the beautiful singing voice, won her success in the face of difficulties that would have stopped some of the strongest men. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a great opera singer. The little girl went out to win the hearts of people everywhere. Even as a penniless runaway in New York, where often she had to sing for her supper in small Greenwich Village cafe’s, Grace Moore never lost her courage. She made her debut at seventeen and was close to the zenith of her career at forty-five.
Again and again when she appeared hopelessly defeated, she, with unquenchable courage, emerged victorious. When she lost her voice and a throat specialist told her she would never sing again, she put up a tremendous battle and emerged from a years rest, singing more beautifully than ever.
Her glorious voice brought her great fame, and up to the time of her death in an airplane crash in Copenhagen in 1947, Grace Moore continued to believe in her dreams. She was one of the few stars who believed in helping other talented people to achieve their objectives, and her timely aid assisted many unknown aspiring singers. When one of her protégées, who had achieved success, became temperamental about her part in a performance, Miss Moore passed along another famous singer’s advice: that to great artists, there was no such thing as a small part; and to small artists, there were no big parts.
Ellen Wilkinson, the fiery British Minister of Education, was a tiny, red-haired woman who drove her way upward through her persistence. Less than five feet tall, she was never cowed by the biggest of the British leaders. It is said that she made a career of annoyance, first as a school teacher, than as a suffragist, novelist, newspaper writer, and finally cabinet minister. Someone said of her that no woman in the whole of Britain had been more active, more persistent, or more annoying. She was pleased! Probably her greatest contribution was her campaign to raise the age of leaving school from fourteen to fifteen. She won this fight in the face of stiff opposition of fellow ministers and the great demand for youth in British industry.
From the time of Cleopatra, thousands of women, relying on their inmost convictions, have shaped the lives of millions. It may not be historically correct that behind every great ruler was a woman, but certainly women have had very much of a guiding hand in history-making, achieving success through their beliefs.
One was Eugenia de Montijo, who married Napoleon the Third. When a small child in Spain, she had fallen against a banister and bruised her body. Her gypsy nurse told her not to cry, that she would be a queen and live to be a hundred. She believed in gypsies, and her fortune materialized nearly as prophesied. She became Empress Eugenia and lived until she was ninety-four, just six years less than the age fixed by her gypsy nurse.
Madame Marie Curie was the co-discoverer of radium. As a child in Warsaw, Marja Sklodowska (later to be known as Madame Curie) was running to join a group of playmates when an old gypsy woman stopped her, demanding that the girl show her hand. The other children did not want Marja to listen to the gypsy, but the gypsy woman held on to the little hand, excitedly commenting on the remarkable lines in her palm and telling the child she would be famous.
The desire to discover what lay behind that strange phenomenon known as radioactivity, literally drove Professor Pierre Curie and his wife Marie to the epochal discovery of radium. Perhaps history will never know whether the old gypsy fortune-teller inspired Madame Curie’s career. But that conclusion would appear obvious, for early in her girlhood Madame Curie made up her mind to become a scientist. She was refused permission to study science at the University of Cracow (the secretary told her that women should not concern themselves with science and suggested that she enter cookery classes). She went to Paris and entered the Sorbonne, supporting herself by teaching and working in the laboratories. There she met Pierre Curie and, once embarked with him on the task of tracking down at least one source of radioactivity, nothing stopped her. She had two daughters, a household to manage, as well as the problem of ill health, but she refused to give up laboratory work, even when her husband begged her to. Few women have been so greatly honored as Madame Curie, who certainly made those childhood prophecies come true.
Perhaps one of the strangest stories proving the great power in believing, is found in that of Opal Whiteley. This astounding historical case clearly shows that (as Professor William James pointed out) belief creates its verification in fact; and affords unmistakable proof that often events are influenced by our very great desires. According to those who knew her in her childhood, the girl was the daughter of an American family named Whiteley, headed by an Oregon logger. She, however, believed herself to be the daughter of Henri d’Orléans, heir to the Bourbon claim to the Crown of France. She was credited with having written a diary when she was six or seven years old, which told about her “angel” father and “angel” mother of royal blood. Printed in 1920 under the auspices of the Atlantic Monthly, it created a sensation and precipitated a huge literary controversy that drew in psychologists, scientists, astrologers, psychics, editors, clergymen, literary critics, and almost every person who had known Opal at any time.
In Alfred Powers’ History of Oregon Literature, there is a chapter by Elbert Bede, in which he says, “I haven’t the least doubt that a large part of Opal’s diary is a hoax and a large part plagiarism, and I have presented facts that show the foster parentage claim impossible.” But even though Opal Whiteley may not have been born of royalty, she was actually accepted as such in later years.
The diary was printed when Opal was about twenty-two years of age. In 1933, some thirteen years after, newspapers carried a story about an American woman traveling in India. While in the state of Udaipur, she had a remarkable experience. Sitting in her carriage, she was astounded to see another carriage, coming toward her, led by a half troop of cavalry. In the other carriage was Opal Whiteley, the girl from the logging camp of Oregon. Investigators later disclosed that Opal Whiteley was actually residing in the household of the Maharaja of Udaipur, the ruling Indian prince. The same newspaper stories told how Ellery Sedgwick (editor of the Atlantic Monthly when her diary was printed) verified that the girl was actually residing in the royal household. They further related that Mr. Sedgwick had received substantiation of this story from the secretaries of two maharaja’s courts. In his book, The Happy Profession, Mr. Sedgwick devotes a chapter to this strange tale.
I have had several talks with Mr. Bede (for many years a well-known Oregon newspaper man, who became editor of the Oregon Mason) regarding the remarkable way Opal molded her destiny. Bede said to me, “It was uncanny, almost supernatural, the way circumstances suited themselves to her plans.”
Like most people who knew the girl in her childhood, Bede is absolutely convinced that Opal was born of American parents, the Whiteleys. He had known her quite well, and she had frequently been in his home in Cottage Grove. “My first knowledge of Opal came when I was reporting a Junior Christian Endeavor convention in Cottage Grove, and I was informed that a seventeen-year- old girl from a nearby logging camp had been elected president. On first impression, Opal was a vibrant, fluttery, exotic, whimsical person, informed strangely beyond her years, eager, deeply earnest, and seriously religious. She later became to me an inexplicable enigma.
“She was always planning well in advance anything she would undertake. In preparation of her nature book, The Fairyland Around Us, it was most amazing how she solicited contributions from such persons as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, and actually got money from some of them. A leaflet advertising the book carried expressions of wondering admiration from such persons as Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, Theodore Roosevelt, Nicholas Murray Butler, Gene Stratton Porter, and others of equal prominence.”
I was struck by one paragraph in Mr. Bede’s story: “With all these plans so well laid so long before Opal’s jaunt to Massachusetts’ center of culture, I have often wondered what plans she had made to give the diary to the publishers – and then how Ellery Sedgwick should accidentally ask for this diary.”
Studying these words, I wondered if it really was an accident that Mr. Sedgwick asked for the diary, and whether this strange girl had not telepathically given the thought to Mr. Sedgwick. I did not discuss this point with Mr. Bede, but if Opal Whiteley knew how mentally to transmit her thoughts to others in advance, then it explains how Mr. Sedgwick “happened” to ask if she had kept a diary.
For years I have been convinced that people close to nature and those intimately associated with wild and domesticated animals have an understanding or insight that lets them see far beyond the horizons of most who live in city penthouses. I have always believed that to these people, Nature reveals many secrets withheld from those who never get nearer to a cow than a milk bottle. Is telepathy, the ability to transmit our thoughts silently so that others catch them, one of the secrets Nature reveals to those close to her? That is something I cannot answer, although it is common knowledge that primitive people in all quarters of the world have used the secret of telepathy for centuries. There are numerous books on telepathy among primitives; as a famous editor once said to me, “To accept the idea that these natives don’t use it would put us in the class of the uninformed.”
Now, let me recount what Mr. Bede had to say about Opal’s closeness to nature: “A volume would hardly suffice to summarize the personality of the nature-tutored child, who had at the age of six – as her diary would have us believe – confided her most intimate secrets to Michael Angelo Sanzio Raphael (a fir tree), and whose associates instead of people were Lars Porsena of Clusium (a crow), Thomas Chatterton Jupiter Zeus (a wood rat), Brave Horatius (a shepherd dog), Peter Paul Rubens (a pet pig), and other characters with equally classical appellations.
“In her adolescent years, Opal gathered geological specimens by the barrel, and bugs and worms by the thousands. She garnered chrysalises by the bucketful and watched how God restored life to his fairies of the great outdoors. Somewhere, somehow, she gained a prodigious amount of knowledge about these things. Without having completed a high school course, this mysterious girl presented herself at the University of Oregon, where entrance requirements were waived because of her knowledge of geology, astronomy, and biology.”
According to Bede and others who knew Opal as a girl, no one ever mentioned anything that would indicate that the Whiteleys had adopted her. Bede says that only with the publication of the diary in the Atlantic Monthly did relatives and friends receive the first intimation that Opal claimed foster-parentage. Mr. Bede told me that what Mr. Whiteley (Opal’s real or foster father) thought was that “his daughter” had been caught in the meshes of some wily promoters.
Shortly after her diary was printed, Opal Whiteley left the United States very secretly, traveling with a confidential document – not an ordinary passport – signed by our Secretary of State and Sir Edward Grey of the British Foreign Office. Just how she was able to do this amazes Mr. Bede and others who knew her in childhood. But if she was the bona fide daughter of American parents and not of Indian royal blood, we obviously have here evidences of the workings of the strange powers of the human mind, of which (I repeat!) we know little.
In 1947, Opal Whiteley was reported to be living in England. But when Mr. Bede wrote his article a number of years ago, he said, “When last definitely heard of, she had been accepted as a princess of India, through an alleged marriage of Henri d’Orléans, the ‘angel’ father of the diary.” I asked him how Opal had been accepted as a princess of India, if she was not in fact born one. He said he couldn’t explain it. Then I asked him if he thought her constant thinking so – her very deep belief – had anything to do with it.
“Frankly, I do not know. It may be, for we haven’t probed to the depths of the mind and don’t know the extent of its powers.”
Reading Mr. Sedgwick’s own story of this strange girl, he also appears convinced that Opal’s real parents were the Whiteleys, and that her claim of being of royal blood was pure fantasy. But she was accepted by royalty, because Opal obviously knew a lot of secrets unknown to the average person. Here, in his own words, is Sedgwick’s theory of how this child from Oregon made her vision come true:
“I have a theory and hold to it. Among an infinity of letters came one written by an American of French parentage, whose father, he told me, was a sergeant in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. The colonel or perhaps the general of this sergeant’s division was Prince Henry of Bourbon. Toward the close of his life, the Prince, traveling across America, stopped in Oregon to chat with his old soldier. Whether or not this is fact, I cannot say, but my correspondent had no doubt of it: first among his childhood memories, was the prince’s arrival at his father’s cottage door. ‘I sat on his knee,’ he told me, and I believed him.
“Now according to my theory, the visit of a Prince of the Blood to an Oregon hamlet was an event. The truth and legend of it spread through the lumber camps. What is more likely than that such a tale captivated the mind of a lonely and imaginative child, and that her daydreams centered about it? At the heart of every little girl, Cinderella sits enthroned. With Opal, the legend grew to be true.
“The truth magnified with the years, and finally permeated her entire mind, her fancy, and her life.
“Such is my theory of Opal’s childhood. In after years, the story becomes and attested record of fact and yet, to my thinking, loses nothing of its wonder thereby. Opal, who had come to be petted and patronized by many notable people in New York and Washington grew sick of it all. She went to England, always making friends, took up the faith of her “father,” and established herself in a Catholic community at Oxford.
“Then one day I had startling news of her. A friend of my youth, Mrs. Rostra Emmet Sherwood, wrote me asking if it was possible to believe a correspondent of hers who stated that she had seen Opal sitting like the princess of the story in an open barouche driving in state down the streets of Allahabad, royal outriders clearing the way for H.R.H Mile. Franchise de Bourbon!
“The story was credible, for it was true – I verified it beyond conjecture! First I wrote to Opal, who sent me a collection of photographs of her Indian tour.
“There she was, perched in a howdah on an elephant’s back, ready for a tiger hunt. (Henri de Bourbon was famous for his bag of thirty-six tigers, and I recalled Opal chanting French verses in honor of his victory). There she stood, the center of many another turbaned group.
“Photographs can be liars, and many of them stem from Hollywood, which hardly contradicts the term. I was not satisfied. Since Opal’s narrative claimed that two of the greatest maharajas had been her hosts, I wrote to both their courts. In due time two letters, emplazoned with regal crests, each informed me the writer’s royal master bade the secretary reply that it had been his high privilege to entertain H.R.H. Mile. Francoise de Bourbon, and that a series of fetes had been given in her honor.
“The wander of all this had not subsided when an unsolicited letter arrived from a lieutenant colonel of His Majesty’s forces occupied with maneuvers at Aldershot, informing me with some asperity that the colonel himself had been honored by an order to attend an official garden party given for Her Royal Highness’ entertainment. Further, he begged to ask who had questioned the authenticity of the lady who had graced the occasion.
“‘I close this account on a melancholy note. In the journal Opal sent to accompany her photographs, no vestige remained of the contagious fascination of an earlier day. She described things as they are. The dew of the morning had vanished. The hard sunlight of middle age beat down upon a world that everybody sees only too clearly. The fairy kingdom was now the playground of other children. Its gates were closed, and Opal stood outside.
“But while she was still the Opal of the “Journal of an Understanding Heart”, she had had her vision, and the vision was true. No truth is more certain than that which brightens the heart of childhood.”*
*From “The Happy Profession” by Ellery Sedgwick.
Some readers may question this weird story, but those are the facts. Obviously, as Sedgwick states, “The child who wrote Opal’s diary believed in it. She knew it for her own.”
From early Biblical times, there have been prophets, oracles, soothsayers, astrologers, and fortune-tellers. As a hard-boiled newspaper man, I have investigated a number of so-called seers. While some were obviously charlatans of the first water, others mystified me. Certainly many of these fortune-tellers believe in their ability to foretell the future. Materialists will say that that is impossible. Having spent years in research work, I am not so positive, for some of the great prophecies of the past have actually been fulfilled.
Even though many deride the ability of astrologers, fortunetellers, and the like, millions of people in this world believe in prophecies, including some of our greatest financiers, statesmen, actors and actresses, and people in all walks of life. No matter what my views about the ability of anyone to foretell the future, I have long thought that it wasn’t so much what the prophets foretold as it was the subjects’ reliance on what the soothsayer predicted for them that brought certain things to pass.
In other words, the seer planted a suggestion in the form of a prophecy in the individual’s subconscious mind, which immediately went to work to make it come true. I believe that in the cases I have cited, the power of suggestion, working in the individual to make the prophecy a reality, finally produced the outcome.
Marie Dressler, the silent screen actress, probably evoked more laughter than any other actress of her time. Those who saw her in Tillie’s Nightmare, and Tugboat Annie, will never forget that great personality. But Marie Dressier had a very hard time, suffering many privations before she became a screen star known to millions. Whether true or not, I have heard that the advice and prediction of astrologers landed Marie Dressier at the top.
In this connection, I had a strange experience shortly before Miss Dressler’s death. In explanation, I firmly believe that when people get on a certain plane of thinking or are attuned with their subconscious minds, they automatically become en rapport with one another. Shortly after I had written my book, T.N.T. – It Rocks the Earth, it hit me in a flash that all great men had been using what I had outlined. I set out to verify this by writing to outstanding men for their views and comments.
Marie Dressler was one of the first women I selected, probably because I was her ardent admirer. I heard her on the radio one night and knew instantly that she had a grip on that “something” which many people seek and seldom find. It is common knowledge that very few great screen stars personally acknowledge letters from unknowns. But I knew if I wrote Miss Dressler, I would get a reply. When I dictated the letter, my secretary volunteered that Marie Dressler would never acknowledge it. We even made a small wager, as I did later with several others.
While I felt that Miss Dressler would respond immediately, I was astounded at the sight of her enclosure – a check for twenty copies of my brochure. In her letter she said:
“Thank you so much. Oh! what a book, if used rightly. As I read through it – and look back, which I very seldom do, and check up on my own life – it looks as though I had been going down the right path.”
Now that this great woman is long dead, her letter is among my cherished possessions. I never had personal correspondence with a woman who had put so much heart and soul into her work to cheer up humanity, yet who had had more personal trouble or who had put up a greater fight to reach the pinnacle of success.
Incidentally, there are two fine thoughts in her letter. First, it is futile to dwell on the past. It is apparent Miss Dressier discovered this a number of years before her death, realizing that she couldn’t give full thought to future accomplishments if she cluttered up her mind with thoughts of the past.
Second, as she indicated in ordering extra copies of my brochure, she was always trying to help people. That may be a forlorn gesture in many instances; but she must have realized that extending such help brings its own reward.
Helen Keller was a marvel to me. As the world knows, she was deprived of her sight, hearing, and speech when she was twenty months old. Yet through her talks and her many articles and books, she became an inspiration to thousands less handicapped than she. When Helen Keller, through stupendous effort, learned to speak, she gave to the world a new vision of what the handicapped could do once they believed in their ability to achieve.
It is interesting that Helen Keller was a confirmed Swedenborgian. As many readers may know, Swedenborg lived in the early days of the eighteenth century and was a very unusual man, perhaps one of the world’s greatest mystics. He too, could foresee the future, anticipating the submarine, the machine gun, flying machines, and the horseless carriage that would go twenty miles an hour. I don’t know whether Swedenborg could be called a spiritualist, but he certainly had something far beyond the ken of the average person. He believed greatly in the power of the mind and had trances, visions, and strange dreams which must have come via his subconscious.
Another outstanding woman was the subject of much controversy (and her name is known to millions because a motion picture depicting her life was shown throughout the world). In 1940, Sister Elizabeth Kenny brought from Australia an idea for treating polio victims. As a nurse, she had discovered what is known as the “hot pack system,” a method of applying hot-water packs to the afflicted portions of the victim’s body. Although she was ridiculed by many people professional and unprofessional, Sister Kenny persistently, forcefully brought her principles of treatment to the American public’s attention and through her efforts established the Sister Kenny Institute at Minneapolis.
One has only to study a photograph of Sister Kenny’s rugged features to see the reflection of a powerful mind, which – aided by a ready tongue – ultimately help her force her way to victory. In her native Australia she was fought at every turn, and only through the woman’s sheer persistence did the American medical profession finally give her recognition.
Few women have been the subject of more controversy. From what one reads about Sister Kenny, she was convinced to the nth degree that her methods were right and practicable. Even though the world might attempt to discredit her, she could go marching bravely on. Here is an example of a woman with an idea, a singleness of purpose, and the utmost belief in the efficacy of her methods of treatment who brought new hope for many polio sufferers.
The dynamic power in some women can continue into their later years. Captain Mary Converse’s exploits were given in newspaper articles early in 1947. Mrs. Converse at seventy-five, a veteran of nearly 34,000 seafaring miles, wanted to go to sea again. Born in Boston, she learned seafaring from her late husband, Harry E. Converse, owner of a steam yacht. As a junior navigator, she sailed the seven seas, obtained her second pilot’s license in 1935 and her captain’s license in 1940.
Approximately 2,600 navy officers learned navigation from Mrs. Converse. She taught them in the dining room of her Denver home! Who’s Who lists biographical sketches of outstanding women in business and the professions, including a number of executives making more than $150,000 a year. But our history recognizes no greater business woman than Lydia E. Pinkham. Her name may not be so well known today as in 1900, but the business she established and its product, Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, became household words. From a single idea, she built a huge business that brought a return of millions.
I know nothing about the efficacy of Mrs. Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound, but as a boy I can remember often seeing a bottle of it in the family medicine chest. Mrs. Pinkham and her business associates really modernized advertising, for she was one of the greatest of all advertisers. Ideas used in many later advertisements were originally voiced by Mrs. Pinkham. With much of her advertising she tied in a sort of homely philosophy embodying emotional appeals to women, which resulted in millions of dollars in sales of her vegetable compound and brought tons of enthusiastic testimonials to her laboratory at Lynn, Massachusetts.
Once more, this remarkable woman demonstrated what belief in personal achievement can accomplish. During Lydia Pinkham’s early life, many people were interested in the manufacture of home remedies, and she, too, started making her compound in her kitchen. For some time, she gave the mixture away to ailing women neighbors, only to realize later that it could be sold. Then she began promoting it. Like most people who start with a new idea, she had many discouragements – lack of finances, the opposition of others, and manufacturing and sales difficulties. But nothing daunted this New England woman. Her tremendous driving force and enthusiasm reached and engulfed every member of her family – especially after her business really got going! No book documenting the great power of believing would be complete without mention of Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, another New England woman who built up that huge religious organization known as Christian Science. As almost everyone knows, Mrs. Eddy was faced with discouragement, strife, and the bitterest ridicule. But after she gave to the world her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, based on the writings of Phineas P. Quimby, she began to develop powerful leadership, a tremendous and unshaken belief in her teachings, and a dynamic personality which has left its imprint upon millions throughout the world. Few writings have done so much to influence the sciences of medicine and theology as hers. Christian Science is another practical demonstration of the power of believing.
The world will always be indebted to Florence Nightingale, who was greatly instrumental in saving the lives of thousands and brought the nursing profession to the high standard now recognized by the entire world. Here again is a woman who knew early in life what she wanted and who set out to realize her ambition. She came from one of the richest families in England, but was born with a passion to nurse the wounded and the sick. At the time she undertook her great work, nursing was not even recognized as a profession. She started in by scrubbing the corridor floor at the Fliedner Nursing School in Germany. She soon showed that she could not only scrub floors but bind wounds, and revive patients’ hopes with her encouraging talk. She, too, was fought at every turn, but being inspired with the vision of the destiny which she thought was hers, obstacles meant nothing to her. She hated bigots, believing that all should be cared for, regardless of faith, color, or creed, and she had a quick tongue when aroused.
During the Crimean War, the British War Office scoffed that Florence Nightingale’s work would only result in failure. Reluctantly they let the “madcap” have her own way. At her own expense, she organized a private expedition of nurses and took them to Scutari. Even though the officers in charge of the hospital there wanted no woman to interfere with their work, interfere she did. Under her leadership, the women took over the handling of the hospital. Throughout her stay in the Crimea, her iron will constantly fought against a stone wall of opposition. Some of the most powerful statesmen of Great Britain ridiculed this astonishing woman’s work and did everything possible to stop her reforms. But her letters, “filled with dynamite,” awakened her countrymen until she was adored everywhere. Something had to give way, and this time it was the stone wall.
When, at the age of eighty-two, she became sick, her nurse tucked her into bed, only to have Florence Nightingale get out of her own bed and tuck in her nurse. At the age of ninety, just before she died, a friend asked her if she knew where she was. She replied, “I am watching at the altar of murdered men and I shall be fighting their cause.”
When we think of martyrs, most people have in mind men who have died or been jailed for espousing causes in which they believed. Let us remember that many outstanding women of history have suffered martyrdom as much as men, from Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake to women of modern times who were jailed because of their efforts in furthering civil rights and protesting nuclear proliferation.
The name of Carrie Nation is probably fading in the memory of many, but during the years around the turn of the century, she was one of the greatest of women martyrs. Convinced that she was “divinely” appointed to destroy the Saloons, Carrie Nation set out to end the illegal sale of liquor in her own state of Kansas. Aided by some of her followers, Mrs. Nation succeeded in closing many illicit bar-rooms by public prayer and denunciation. When she saw this method was slow in its effectiveness, she took to wielding a hatchet, smashing bottles and beer kegs and demolishing bar fixtures. She was constantly ridiculed and frequently jailed, but so thoroughly was she convinced of the righteousness of her cause that she gladly accepted her sentences.
The legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt had the temper of a tigress, yet history records her as one of the greatest emotional actresses of all times. She suffered innumerable failures in her early days on the stage, but she had a passion to make good, and by the time she was twenty-four she was famous. A woman who smoked cigars and drank strong drinks, she was a creature of extraordinary moods. An individualist in the highest sense, she would visit cemeteries and sit on tombstones as if in grief for the departed and later took to sleeping in a coffin. Sarah Bernhardt never appeared concerned with what people thought about her, though as a matter of fact, she reveled in their comment. Even though she had to wear an artificial leg toward the end of her life, she continued her stage work, for nothing could change her lifelong belief that she was a supremely great dramatic actress – and she was to the end of her life in 1923.
The dynamic Madame Schumann-Heink was an exemplification of what belief can do, once the mind gets into action. She was inspired early in life, giving to the world her beautiful voice when she became an opera singer at the age of fifteen. She too became famous in the Old World, but when she came to America, it was the fulfillment of a dream that had burned within her for many years. Her heart was torn many times, but even in the face of overwhelming odds, Madame Schumann-Heink always came smiling through. Here was a woman whose oldest son had gone off in World War I to fight for the Kaiser, while her other four boys were in the opposite trenches. But among those who heard her sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in her quaint, foreign accent, many took off their hats and wept. Over a national radio hookup, her voice became known to millions.
She was beloved by everyone and she had that basic thing – born in most people but seldom aroused – the spirit of never quitting. It was at the age of seventy-two, when she was signed up as a successor to Marie Dressier, that the curtain rang down on this great performer.
Who has heard Marian Anderson’s wonderful contralto voice without being charmed and deeply moved? Yet few realize this great artist’s very humble background. As a child of six she wanted a violin; at the time, she could earn five or ten cents by scrubbing doorsteps in Philadelphia. If ever a woman believed in her dreams and made them come true, it was Marian Anderson; she climbed to world fame and yet had to overcome – especially in our country – many handicaps and prejudices.
Her triumph is one of the most dramatic in musical history. In Washington, D.C., on Easter Sunday 1939, this black woman of humble origin, standing before the Lincoln Memorial, thrilled an audience of 75,000 people studded with cabinet members, senators, congressmen, and famous people in business and society. I am convinced that Marian Anderson, too, succeeded through her belief, and that the great source of her inspiration came from her subconscious mind.
Let me introduce here a well-known woman who tells how her subconscious mind was directly responsible for her success. Angela Lansbury, the Tony Award-winning actress of stage and screen, was interviewed by Mildred Mesirow for Reach Magazine. The interviewer tells us:
“The brilliant young screen star, aside from having beauty and dramatic ability, Angela Lansbury, was also a girl with an exceptionally good brain. During a rest interval here [Hollywood] she launched forth upon one of her favorite themes – her faith in her own destiny …
“‘Ah,’she amended quickly, ‘I think perhaps I’ve phrased that badly. I Don’t mean anything magical or occult. Perhaps faith in the power of the subconscious mind would be a better way of saying it.’
“‘In the manner of Tennyson, perhaps, or Stevenson?’ I suggested.
“‘Exactly! Not that I think my abilities in any way resemble their genius, you understand. But I think I’ve learned how to tap the resources of the subconscious. Everyone knows that the subconscious mind stores all sorts of abilities, memories, and aptitudes we don’t ordinarily utilize … What I’m trying to say is that, when you’ve learned how to draw on your subconscious powers, there’s really no limit to what you can accomplish.’
“Angela has schooled herself in the technique of self-suggestion. Since she first chose acting as a career, she has constantly held in her mind a picture of what she aspires to achieve. From time to time she has even written down the goals she wants to reach. Within the subconscious lie the materials of genius itself; of powers which, when properly recognized, may burst into the mental field of activity in patterns which surpass our conscious abilities.
“‘And how do you go about tapping into your subconscious mind?’ I asked.
“‘Heavens! I don’t want to sound stuffy and highbrow, but it’s really awfully simple. If you tell yourself over and over again that there’s no limit to the creative power within you, that’s about all there is to it. Honestly, I believe that’s true. Whatever intelligence or creative force, or whatever it is, that resides in the world is like … ‘ she waves a strong, beautiful hand expressively … ‘oh, like light or air, or something of that sort. It doesn’t belong to me, especially. It’s there, to be tapped and expressed by anyone who knows how to get at it.
“‘This isn’t a cut-and-dried formula for success by any means,’ she continued. ‘It doesn’t let you off hard work. You’ve got to keep plugging like mad, perfecting whatever kind of expression you’ve got; adding constantly to your skill, whether it’s in acting or painting, or even making a dress. So that, when the chance for self-expression does come, when the time arrives for you to call on your subconscious power to express itself, you have a good set of tools for it to work with; a proper medium through which your creative urge can be portrayed … Catch on?’ she added with typical humor.
“‘About the suggestibility of the subconscious?’ I prompted.
“‘Oh that! Well, when you’re about to drop off to sleep, just tell yourself that tomorrow’s the day you’ve got to surpass anything you did today. That, whatever demands are made upon you, all your abilities, all you’ve learned, perhaps things you’ve forgotten you ever knew – all these will be available to you …
“‘Bearing in mind an actual mental picture of the situation is even better. If you’ve scheduled to do a screen test, for example, you see yourself acting out that test better than anyone’s ever done it before. Act it like mad in your mind! Be Duse; be Bernhardt! In your mental picture, be the best there is! And when the actual test comes off, you find, often to your surprise, that you’re acting better than you know how.
“‘The subconscious is a pretty dramatic factor in personality, I believe. It likes to act and sing and paint and express itself. It likes having to surpass in anything it’s called on to do. Your responsibility is to equip it with tools for expression, to give it a chance, and then make it an ally behind the scenes.'”
Many famous women, including the Bronte sisters, Elizabeth Browning, Susan B. Anthony, Evangeline Booth, Jane Addams, attained niches in the hall of fame. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which many claim brought on the War Between the States, was written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, a wisp of a woman whose name will be remembered as long as there is American history. In 1850 Mrs. Stowe swore a solemn oath that she would write something “that would make the whole nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is.” For two months she tried in vain to think of a story. In February, 1851, while she was attending communion service at the college church, there came to her mind the picture of Uncle Tom and of his death. Mrs. Stowe went home in tears and when she had written out the scene of Uncle Tom’s death and read it to her family, they, too, were weeping.
She did a great deal of research in trying to secure factual material, but when she actually sat down to write, she needed none of it. The story obsessed her and literally wrote itself. Out of her subconscious mind surged long-forgotten memories and photographic impressions, arranging themselves almost automatically in proper sequence on paper. Mrs. Stowe didn’t think out these incidents and their background, she actually saw them. To her dying day, Mrs. Stowe insisted that God, and not she, had written this book. While little was known of the subconscious mind in her time it is obvious that it was the source of this novel.
While it is too early to tell the complete story, there are three women whose names will probably go down in history as having shaped the destinies of millions of Chinese. These are the famous Soong sisters, perhaps the best known of whom is Madame Chiang Kai-shek; the others married respectively Dr. H. H. Kung and Dr. Sun Yat-sen, both Chinese leaders.
As we come down to the present day, we run across such people as Mrs. Matthew Astor Wilks, one of the richest women in the world and the daughter of the late Hetty Green who herself amassed a fortune of over $67,000,000. Mrs. Wilks followed in the footsteps of her famous mother.
The account of Vera Nyman is literally another story of rags to riches. An idea, fifteen dollars, and a bathtub put her into a business for which Mrs. Nyman once refused a million dollars. When she married her husband, Bernard, in 1920, she had the belief that she and her husband were going to make a million dollars. Mrs. Nyman rang doorbells selling a liquid cleaner and later, by cooking chemical stews night after night in her own home, hit upon a combination of ingredients that would clean 90 percent of painted surfaces. Her product became known to millions of housewives and in 1947 alone, her sales topped $2,500,000. Mrs. Nyman, who day after day of making personal calls encountered more than 50,000 housewives, knew what it meant to face discouragement. But her belief that she would ultimately make a million dollars never faltered. It took her twenty-seven years to achieve her objective, but she had it within her grasp when a drug concern offered her $1,000,000 for her plant.
Success stories embrace dozens of women, such as Mary Dillon, president of the Brooklyn Borough Gas Company, who started in as a six-dollar-a-week office helper in the $5,000,000 corporation which she came to head. Before World War I, Mrs. Ora H. Snyder of Chicago, with a capital of only five cents, began building up a candy business centered around several shops and which was, at one time, worth more than a million dollars.
For a number of years Bertha Brainard was program director of the National Broadcasting System.
With a salary that ran into five figures; she was said to be one of the highest paid women radio executives. It all came about through her getting an idea for feature radio programs. That was in 1922 and her first effort brought her a return of $50. Indeed an entire book could be written about women who have achieved fame and fortune in the field of radio and motion pictures as artists, writers, and executives.
The whole world knows the story of Amelia Earhart, famous American aviatrix who was lost with her plane in the South Pacific. While a teacher and a social worker, she became interested in aviation and became the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane. In 1931, she made a solo flight across the Atlantic and four years later flew the Pacific alone from Honolulu to California.
One writer has said that the vast majority of American men do not believe that women are even their equals. But when we stop to examine the record, the list of women who have achieved success in every line of endeavor is an impressive one. Now, since the Women’s Liberation movement, there are thousands of outstanding women – from great educators to bankers and industrialists, to say nothing of the numerous writers, editors, and other professionals.
Here is the story of a woman who scored a double success – as a homemaker and a career woman.
She is Mary Roberts Rinehart, who thrilled mystery fans for more than fifty years. Necessity forced her to make some money to retrieve the family fortunes which she and her doctor-husband had lost in a stock-market crash. With one hand, she wrote those great works of fiction which gained her more than ten million readers, while with the other hand, she tended her children and handled the details of housekeeping.
Many women remain single simply because they feel deeply about their careers and are not willing to marry any man who is not supportive. But surely if this science of creative thinking can work for men, it can work also for women – even to the point of woman’s actually creating an image of the man of her desires and literally bringing him into reality. In other words, if a “liberated” woman visualizes the kind of man she wants and steadfastly holds to the thought, in accordance with the principles of this science, she can bring into her presence the object of her mental picture.
This may sound silly to some readers, but I have given this science to many women who have used it most effectively. Therefore, if you want a certain type of man to walk into your life, merely picture him – not necessarily in physical form but in the abstract, setting forth in your thought projection the attributes that you would like your man to have. The day will surely come when you will meet him.
In a way, it is perhaps superfluous for me to call women’s attention to the advantage of using their subconscious mind, for they have always used it. As a matter of fact, they are experts in its use – only they have always thought of it as woman’s intuition. My point is that the subconscious is much more than intuition. It possesses great forces which can be set in motion for the benefit of men through the application of the power of dynamic believing. As I pointed out earlier, wonderful results are brought about by the conscious mind’s conveying the will-to-do through believing to the subconscious. This immediately sets the subconscious in action to carry out the individual’s desires.
Now the women of modern times have a unique twofold mental advantage. The skilled use of their subconscious mind, characteristic of their sex, has been highly developed and has been their unconscious, though intuitive, guide through the ages. In addition, their conscious minds have been specially developed by the scientific method of modern education. I think this combination accounts for the speed with which women have acquired proficiency in so many of the so-called masculine subjects; for women’s emerging from the traditional life within the home. As they enter into the world, their view of people and practical affairs is broadened and made more objective.
Even women in the home have a better comprehension of how men work as well as a deeper interest in their children’s future careers.
My fundamental aim is to show how each person can develop their plus-powers, the seeds of which lie within their subconscious mind. These plus-powers will enable you to obtain the things you want and become what you would like to be – in addition to what you have and are already. By this new co-operation of the conscious and subconscious minds, you can gain things deeply necessary to your life and happiness, and also keep undergoing personal development, no matter how long you live.
Always remember that the subconscious mind, besides being the seat of intuition, is a repository of great power and inexhaustible resources. The more you call upon these resources the more are placed at your disposal. Remember also: the subconscious is ageless. It can never grow old or tired, and you can draw upon it all your life. The only thing you need is the power of believing – sincerely, strongly, and completely. Once the subconscious receives your message and understands your desires and ambitions, it will be only a short time before your desire will be fulfilled and your ambition achieved.
I want to impress upon my women readers that they have the same two minds, conscious and subconscious, and that through co-operation of the two minds, they can use this science and succeed just as men have. It is all a matter of believing, according to the principles here set forth.
The magic that comes from believing is real, for it has been demonstrated in the lives of some of the most successful. It can be demonstrated in your life – by your own personal believing.
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