If the aspirant discovers after several years that Nature is still resistant, that the leopard spots are too deeply dyed to change easily, and that his character keeps its weaknesses despite all his efforts to dislodge them, then the hopes with which he began the quest may begin to fade in this grey dawn. He realizes that they were over-exultant and over-optimistic. He despairs of ever remaking himself successfully. He even has thoughts of abandoning the quest entirely. But does this discovery really call for such defeatism and such despondency? No, it calls for a resigned acceptance of the situation as it is, for a realistic measurement of what can be done within the limits of a single lifetime, for a recognition of the wisdom of Nature in providing him with numerous future reincarnations in which to achieve his purpose. He must refuse to follow the common error and identify himself with this one physical body of the present incarnation. Rather, he must identify himself with his mental being and feel this as something immortal, something reappearing on earth time after time and coming closer and closer, with each appearance, to the goal. He must believe in the truth of evolution, even while he perceives that it takes time, plenty of time, for such evolution to become a fact. He must admit that he is not left without signs by the way, nor without glimpses to inspire him, nor tokens to encourage him. Against the pessimistic moan that the leopard cannot change his spots, there is the optimistic teaching of Socrates that "virtue can be learned." Against the worldling's sneer that the quest sets itself an impossible task, there is the encouragement of every religious prophet and seer history has known. The last gift that lies waiting with cheerful patience in Pandora's box, the voice of hope, is for him. Admit that the discipline is hard, attainment is rare, and few are in a position to turn their minds away from the pressure of environment and circumstance in which they find themselves. However, glimpses, intuitions, uplifts do come at times, even if after long intervals. Most people can and should get a correct sense of general direction for the course of their inner life. This alone is a great gain.
-- Notebooks Category 2: Overview of Practicies Involved > Chapter 3: Uncertainties of Progress > # 172