Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Nations and Individuals Have Their Characters
Nations and individuals are composed of four characters. To the world, the natural and spiritual man are united in one body, but science can divide and separate them. The natural lives in truth and also in error, and these make two distinct characters; the spiritual man of truth and error, the same. Here we have four distinct characters or identities - the natural man of truth and error and the spiritual man of the same; and the former is, in each case, the shadow of the latter.
I will illustrate how these are combined and show how they are distinct and yet united. Let the United States represent an individual or a union of the four. Two of these are seen in political parties. One seeking to govern the nation by slavery may be called "disease." The other, striving to hold the power over the mind by sympathy for human rights, is like "health." These two powers are like a man and his wife - one wishing to rule the other, who is eager to live in peace.
Slavery is that diseased state of mind governed by passion and has its spiritual counterpart in the devil. The opposite, desiring to live in harmony, is the shadow of a spiritual truth, for they are the offspring of matter. Beyond these, there is yet another being, directing and governing all things for the best - Wisdom (or God), who overrules and provides everything. The government of the United States, I will take as a symbol of this wisdom, and by it I will illustrate how the father (or Wisdom) is bringing about his own ends for the benefit of the world.
Slavery and freedom, like heat and cold, are necessary to bring about some great result. They are represented by man and woman, and when they unite, as in man and wife, it is under a contract, and the agreements to bring about the union is the courtship. Like all marriages, this union was subject to certain contingencies. Between slavery (the man) and freedom (the woman), there was no sympathy, for each was true to its own element. And when new states, like children, were added to the union, they partook of their parents’ ideas; and as there never was harmony between them, it was not strange that the children should disagree and that they should take part in the family jars.
Now the overruling wisdom that I have spoken of is not yet known, but it is in the element which governs the mother - that is love for her children. But the father, not partaking of that element, does not admit it - yet it acts upon both; in one case to destroy and in the other to purify the mind that is to destroy the earth (or ignorance) and bring forth the new man (or science).
The wife (or mother) is the child of wisdom, but the husband is of the earth. For out of the earth, the Lord made man (not woman), and the word "man" refers to that part of every person that must perish. It is error. The marriage is for the life of the man, but the resurrection is to follow death or the fulfillment of the contract.
As the union is now in its last stages, and the old man (or slavery) is about to die, the mother is to come into possession of the estate, and the children, being of age, claim the privilege of deciding their inheritance - and the result is a family quarrel. Those who partake of the mother element are in favor of the union; that is, of holding the property in common - and those who wish it divided are of the father. Meanwhile, the wisdom which governs all things is acting silently in the minds.
At last the children begin to conflict, and the slavery power, finding that freedom (or the mother element) is predominant, becomes wroth and makes war against peace. They fight, and out of the ashes of the quarrel comes a peace, corresponding to the mother. Then liberty and peace, neither containing the element of slavery, will mingle and become one. This wedding will embrace a higher class of mind who are capable of being governed by truth and science. The serpent of slavery will be cast out, and the love of progress and liberty will mingle with the love of the union; the bargain will once more be renewed and cemented by the bonds of friendship - the Constitution. Every individual is like a nation, and every idea going to destroy the progress of happiness must perish.
Sitting by the sick and taking their feelings has led me to investigate the relation of man and wife towards each other. It is often said that certain married couples are not created to live with each other, and if it were not for the law, they would separate. This is the case with half the marriages, but the evil is not attributed to the right cause. It is because of the ignorance of ourselves. Those who feel that they are not mated are in truth mated, but they do not know it, from the fact that they know not themselves.
I will try to explain what I know to be the true relation of man and wife, and also explain the error that enters into their union and makes so much misery. Suppose a lady and gentleman become acquainted with each other, and the acquaintance is of the most happy kind. If both are in their proper element, there will be no discord, but if one or the other makes any sacrifice - for instance, if the lady dislikes the natural turn of the gentleman she thinks she loves, or the gentleman is deceived in the woman whom he thinks he loves - there must be a concession, as with freedom and slavery.
A quarrel follows, and one becomes the slave of the other; and if they are ignorant, they both live in a discord. This discord can be overcome by the theory that makes persons one in wisdom. I will suppose that one of the parties knows this science and knows how to practice it, and I will show in what manner it works. This science of love is not of passion; it is always at work, whether the person knows it or not. When not known, it produces trouble. But if a person knows it, the same trouble is felt - but governed by wisdom, good results follow.
It is like music, the enjoyment of which you wish your friends to share. To compel him with no taste for music to listen would be annoying him, but if he does not listen to the music, it does not follow that he has no taste for it, but for some reason he was not interested.
Individual life is like a book made up of the wisdom and folly of the world, and this science teaches one to read his friend’s book. And if he finds that it contains nothing of importance, let him commence and read from his own book and test the qualities of his friend. He must use his own judgment and not get discouraged if his friend becomes nervous, for this shows there is a vein leading to a fountain of purer water than has ever yet been discovered. Therefore, he must not give up the discovery and fall back and parley, causing a delay, whereby the opposition can make a more desperate effort - for if there is nothing to gain, there will be no opposition.
I have found in curing the sick that ignorance never disturbs itself to fight. I have also found that I can change the mind, so that a person that is hated can become loved - if he has anything to be loved; and also the person that is changed can respect what he never had any respect for.
He who knows this science can read his opponent and see whether his mind is worth working; for some persons are like a mine that is soon exhausted, while there are others where it seems the more you dig into their mine, the richer is the ore.
This desire to develop mind is God working in us, and if man’s senses become attached to this wisdom, his happiness is in the improvement of others. I derive more happiness in developing a person’s mind than in all the scientific pursuits I ever followed.