THE INNER CITADEL
from being misunderstood may be only
one way of thinking too much of one's self.
"The first line of attack here," said
the Invisibles when in due course they did get around to suggestions,
"has to be in the direction of elimination. And that implies a
deliberate inspection of egoism and coming to terms with it. Always you
are dealing with the ego. You desire generous and spontaneous blending
with other lives, but there is a toughened membrane—call it the
ego—which obstructs that blending.
"Now in place of this toughened
membrane of an ego—which can be wounded, and is sadly scarred by
contacts with life—we substitute an indestructible self, a self held
together by intention, and by cooperation with universal force; a self
vastly more flexible, permeable and selfcontrolled."
This substitution of a non-ego self
proved to be no mere figure of speech.
At the next session the Invisibles
resumed the discussion. It was in process very simple, they protested. You do withdraw yourself, in a
sense. There is in every
individual, they told Betty, an inner citadel, a "Psychic core."
"It is his enduring center, his seed
that will endure."
THE ROAD I
Search yourself, they urged her, for
this constant within. And then consciously establish it.
"You will not find it in your brain,"
they said. "Look for it rather in the region of the heart; or more
accurately the intangible sensations that have no organic position. This
is the great security, the foundation for any superstructure of effort
you may want to build.
"The first step in control is the
recognition of such an inner fortress for protection and refreshment.
There is nothing more important than creating this abode of emotional
security, spiritual order and demonstrable strength.
"You see, the great question is: how
are you going to stabilize yourself among all the shifting pursuits of
the world, the varied points of view, the conflicts and uncertainties?
How are you going to reach reality in the midst of them? And the only
answer is, first to make within yourself an individual bit of reality
over which you have complete jurisdiction. That is your one method of approach to the
ultimate attainment of complete reality."
A fine blueprint but a large order,
thought I. Very simple. For Betty! First you establish the inner citadel, and then establish yourself in
it. Then from it, as
headquarters, you act.
"The top layer is much the nicest
place to establish yourself," Betty volunteered. "You can look at all
your troubles, humorously and in proportion, as most objectionable
THE ROAD I KNOW
mosquitoes, but still as only
mosquitoes, and yourself as outlasting them. That's the way to live."
"Things surge beneath, picking and
battering and fuming, but cannot destroy you," the Invisibles took it
up. "As long as you have this inner power you needn't mind what is
battering against you, nor what tools or dynamite are used. Such can be only a surface nuisance. The shell may be
scarred, but you have
withdrawn the part of you that can be hurt.
"Take your moments of discord and
entanglement," they challenged. "How are you going to possess yourself?
"There is only one way, but you must
have prepared it beforehand and practiced it: let go your hold of
everything and withdraw into the magicworking center of life within
yourself. It is always possible to check your nervous reactions
momentarily by suddenly commanding a relaxation, like making yourself
stop shivering. Then quickly combine this momentary release with a swift
retreat to your inner citadel. Go apart in it and rest the tensions.
Stay in peace and quiet of volition, acquiescing in your whole being to
the reharmonizing power of your higher consciousness. It is to your
ordinary faculties as is an adult sympathetic mind to a child's
troubles. It helps you clarify your vision and gather strength to make your decisions and
plan your actions."
THE ROAD I
And, they added, it is a sure refuge
when outside pressure threatens really to overwhelm. Then is justified
the complete withdrawal for recuperation. Betty caught at this aspect,
considering it for some time before reporting it to me.
"When too weak for aspiration, too
sick for effort," she said at last, "what would I do to get buoyant
again? Huddled down, hating my own darkness; the divine spark
imprisoned, held captive; the physical shackled—I don't like it, but
what to do?
"I'll burrow down still further
inside myself. I'll lie in close to the divine spark imprisoned there.
Weary-hearted, I'll acknowledge my plight. Achingly I'll unite with the
light that I know is there. Nothing else. No expectancy; no hurry. To my
quiet relief, even amid aching inharmony, harmony must rush to succor.
"That sounds pretty abstract, I know,
but it really is the process in zero conditions."
"But," Warned the Invisibles, "do not
forget that if you would progress, you must inevitably go forth again to
take your full share of the buffeting of the elements. This, however, does
not mean that you are called upon to plunge heedlessly into the muck and
mire. Do what comes, bear what comes in natural course, but do not
overweight beyond what your serenity is capable of floating. Distinguish
between withdrawal and hearty but undamaged living."
The session was about over, so Betty
THE ROAD I KNOW
pursue the subject then; but she caught
the point. "I am coming out now," said she, "and the reality is getting
thinner and paler. As I drift away from it, all I can be sure of is that
it is not enough to say with great dignity: I withdraw my consciousness.
That is no good. A dignified withdrawal from earth frets looks rather