Mental Treatment for Communities

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As the perversions of the highest things are often the worst, so Mental Science may be made the most selfish of cults. If we feel that, having obtained interior peace ourselves, we may deny the misery of the world or pass it by on the other side, we monopolize and degrade the gift of God; and, thank God, if we do that, the gift of peace will not stay with us: it will shrivel up like our own selfish hearts, and blow away in the wind of adversity. If we are to keep the blessings, we must extend them and give them room to bloom. For this, as for every other need of man, the earth affords an ample field. For there are social as well as individual ailments; and both arise from the same source: Individual ailments from individual selfishness and stupidity—social ailments from collective selfishness and stupidity.

Just as it is not enough to show a man the way of righteousness, unless at the same time the desire arises to walk in it, so it is not enough to show a nation the most enlightened policy unless the nation desires to pursue it. For example, we have shown for years that the tariff is wicked stupidity, and still we get the stupidly wicked answer that "that may be true in theory, but it makes the foreigner pay our taxes."

We address ourselves to the selfishness and the stupidity of persons to cure their ailments, as a means of showing the power and effect of true harmony. Why not, then, make the community a sample of the benefit of Mental Science? Why not concentrate our forces, or at least the forces of this Convention, upon the city of Boston, in order to eliminate the corruption of the city government ? Why, because we know it would not work! It would not be acting in accordance with the nature of things. There are three necessary stages of moral progress: First, to know that the kingdom of heaven, whether interior or exterior, is possible; second, to desire to obtain it; and third, to know the way.

Senator Ingalls expressed the present moral state of the people when he said that "the purification of politics is an iridescent dream." We must show that conditions can be so changed as to make the dream practicable before we can lead men to desire it and then to realize it. By treatment we should aim to bring out what good is in the patient—to put him in the way of helping himself by developing the right mind within him. Here is one of the errors into which mental healers often fall. They try to treat, and often do more or less successfully treat and continue to treat, those that have no right mind, those that have no other wish than to be relieved of the consequence of their own physical, mental, or moral sins—to be relieved of their consequence, only, in order that they may go on in them. Were we to succeed, as possibly we might succeed, in purifying the ways of a community by the exercise of mental power, we would only lift it for a moment into a better state—a state that the community does not believe in, does not desire, and, of course, does not know how to attain. Communities have not seen the ideal, and therefore do not want it and are not going toward it.

Says Edward Carpenter: "When the ideal lights in our streets, we may go home to supper in peace; the rest will be seen to." For no one desires to be bad. Each follows what he thinks is good for him. He strives to get money, no matter how, because he sees the misery and evil to which want would reduce him and those that he loves. He disbelieves terior life; and he sees that, for his individual exterior life, honesty is a bad policy—that he who is dishonest within the limits of the law has the best chance in the game of grab in which we are all engaged. No amount of force, mental or physical, will produce mental or spiritual richness out of such mental and spiritual destitution. "The poor," in this sense, "we have always with us." As Maybell puts it: "It is harder for the Poor to enter the Kingdom of God upon Earth than it is for the Rich." For the poor are guilty of the sins of the rich; for the poor are the many and the rich are the few: and the many make the condition—the few are but a part of it. Their slavery and poverty are their martyrdom for self. They who think for self call it profit, and they who work for self call it wages. For profit they sell their minds, and for wages they sell their bodies. Their profit is the profit of sin, and their wages are the wages of sin.

Yet man tries physically to climb into heaven on earth, with self in him—tries physically to enter heaven on earth by seizing riches, place, and power; by making laws, and by politically arranging society. The struggle of each one to get rich is the struggle of each one to break into heaven on earth physically instead of entering it spiritually. A political Utopia would be a physical heaven concealing a spiritual hell —a monstrosity. Society cannot be prevented from the externalization of its interior character by artificial arrangement of its exterior politics; neither can it be made to present scenes of justice or happiness when the principle is not within the people. Hell is natural to the spirit of self; nevertheless, politics puts reform outside of man, while religion puts heaven outside of the world.

We must hold up the ideal, that men may desire it: in order to do that we must first have a clear idea of it ourselves, and we must hold up first that ideal that the state of men enables them to understand. It is for that reason that, appealing first to the ordinary individual, we show men first how they may be physically healed. We who understand this must take the next step; we must accept our part in the sins of the world, and show that we are primarily to blame if the kingdom is not realized on earth so far as our influence extends; not that we may attend to the salvation of our own "measly little soul," and leave the world to work out its own slow salvation. Our souls cannot be saved by neglecting the condition of our fellows; and, if they could be saved in that way, they would not be worth the trouble. The beginning of this social salvation must be with the physical basis and means of life. As Professor Herron says:

"If you study the great religious initiators, whether Buddha or Jesus, Middle Age mystics or the early fathers of the Church, Moses or the prophets, you will find that, by some instinct, the initiator sees a relation between the land and the soul of man. You will find great religious teachers forced to say that free souls must stand upon free land. You will find that they reiterate, in strange out-of-the-way places, where you would suppose they had nothing to do with economics, that it is man's inalienable right to build his own life according to the highest ideal that can come to him; that it is the inalienable right of every man to be born into a world adapted to his highest individual development. Against every soul born to-night—and thousands will be born to-night—a crime is committed by civilization, because these souls are born into a world in which they have no environment adapted to the free development of their life and their individuality. It is every man's right to be born into a world in which every resource, every environment, shall immediately press him to the unfolding of his life according to the highest conceivable aspirations and ideals. If men are born into a world in which the land is preempted, in which the face of the earth is owned, in which there is such a system of things that they have no standing-ground upon the earth, then, at the outset, the foundation for their lives is taken from under their feet. Men are born to live on the earth, but after all they have no earth to live on. Life, liberty, land, equality of opportunity, the pursuit of his highest ideals and happiness—all these are the inalienable right of every soul. All the resources of the collective life should be such as to build up the soul when it enters this sphere of development. But, as you find things here, all the resources of collective life are so possessed and administered that the moment a soul comes to self-consciousness it begins a desperate and damning conflict with the collective life of the world in order to maintain itself. The moment a soul begins to reflect and to act, it finds itself in a world so organized and owned that it has to struggle for life, struggle to escape economic destruction, struggle with a desperation that blights and consumes, in a desperate battle against a civilization that is the enemy of the soul. For no man can be wholly right unless he has his rights upon which to stand. No man can ever be wholly true unless he has a foundation of truth to stand upon in the collective life: just as no man can ever have his rights except they be founded in righteousness."

Source: Mind, Volume 5, p. 204.