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The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942

 

CHAPTER VIII
THE INNER CITADEL

 

SHRINKING 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."


 

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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


 

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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 KNOW                                    107

 

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 did not


 

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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 silly!"

 

IN-FLOODING STRENGTH