The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942




I MUST confess that the early period of Betty's instruction was a tough one for me. I see now that she was being given the basic foundations, and that some of them—like the "Inner citadel," for example—had to be given content before they could become practical. But at the time the teaching was—to me—merely a point of view. It was fragmentary; it was vague; it came slowly. For her part Betty was enthusiastic. But she was having the experiences; I wasn't. All I did was to sit there for an hour or so, with pencil and paper, taking down what little there was to take down. A great deal of the time nothing was said by anybody. I patted myself on the back for being so long suffering. Now I see I might have made a positive contribution through some kind of enthusiasm of my own; but the Invisibles themselves realized that this was a good deal to ask on the basis of what was offered me.


"You are very patient," they told me appreciatively one day, "—and that is all," they added dryly.


My job was distinctly side-line sitter; and recorder; of course. I listened to directions given Betty as to processes unseen by me—


110                                  THE ROAD I KNOW "Too expectant—not enough relaxed."


"You are striving so much to make your mind receptive that you defeat our purpose and open your mind to other sources."


"We have decided on a slight change of plan for you. We are going to make you put in practice as nearly as possible each phase as you acquire it. Roughly the plan is this: we will lead you into our world for your lessons, but in order to obtain any further instruction you must do your practicing at home. We are not trying to lead you away from world experience, only to strengthen and enlighten you about it."


"Open up more naturally, and do not keep such a stem hand on yourself and your emotions. It won't harm you if you go to the opposite extreme for a while until balance is gained."


"Now try to regulate your breathing: several short quick breaths and a long one, and then let go. One after the other. When you breathe do not strain for anything. Try to forget that part. Just go in and out with the tide."


"We are putting you through a time of slow preparation, and you are not standing still, as you think.... At present you are necessarily muscle­bound in your mind with too much effort."


"Push. Push through as you would in walking against a strong wind." That sort of thing. Stage directions. Of a drama that


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I, in the wings, could not see. Once in a long while the Invisibles tossed me something personal, a bit of "evidential," a brief explanation. As a fish is tossed to a trained seal.


Betty herself realized that her reports back were incomplete.


"Are these words right?" she asked me, rather anxiously. "They did not get laid just right.... Words! Words! Words! " she cried, exasperated. "We have to string boundaries of them around even the dimmest comprehension. And more is there than can ever be contained!"


But right then the Invisibles apparently did not care whether or not there was any mental comprehension—in either of us. They weren't interested in our minds. Minds came in later, they assured us.


"It is the amateur method to seek growth or spiritual freedom," said they, "by an intense concentration of mind; but this must be replaced by expansion of the heart. That reestablishes the proportion of spirit over the material, and welds the being into a new functioning body capable of volition. There is a great difference between the terrible diffusions of seeking occult power and the expansion of the heart which arranges your proportions and makes you a workable reality. You are past the first danger posts. Do not wonder at silences on our part. Daily strengthening of purpose by silent contemplation of your intention, that is what we have


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been trying to lead you to, not to daily seeking for adventure." 2.


Nevertheless even I could perceive certain definite steps of instruction.


The first thing Betty was to accomplish was permeability to the invisible spiritual forces, or Contact with the Source. The result of this was to be spiritual consciousness. At first she gained it only in touches, flashes.


Next she must extend the duration of spiritual consciousness until it became habitual. Once she was able to transfer her headquarters for living from her old limited, earth consciousness to this expanded consciousness, she must learn how to utilize her new vantage point, and her new powers and insight, in her ordinary conduct of life and her relations to the people about her.


That, stripped of all technique, was the program. And its emphasis on mundane utilization; the immediate application to life, not to some impractical mysticism, gave it common sense to me. The ultimate aim, the fashioning of Betty as an instrument for work after she had left earth life, was not then apparent to us.


None of this burst upon Betty all at once, as an "illumination." The idea and the practice of Contact was


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introduced to her gradually, as one might teach a beginner to swim. One day she had been quiet for much longer than usual. I began to get restless.


"What are you up to?" I demanded at last.


"Getting porous," Betty replied. "Porosity. . . ." She paused to savour this, then chuckled. "That's a nice fat juicy word! It sucks in and out.


"When you are cold and enter a room, a warm room, you say to yourself that you are in a different atmosphere, and instantly expand to it. That is the difference between ordinary life and the element I'm in."


"What element? " I tried for even a glimpse of understanding.


"It's a new medium of sensation," she explained, "the most relaxing and yet vigorous state you can imagine—so abounding in beauty and vitality. It's too wonderful for me to grasp just yet."


"Can't you tell me more of this new medium?"


"Could you imagine a substance made out of Spring? " she replied. "Not of individual fresh willows and buds and blossoms and tender greens and bursting colors—not those details, but the very sweep of an entire world decked out; the substance of Spring. Don't you see how fresh, delicious, exciting, exalting it would be compared to ordinary things? I am in this superlative beauty and freshness and exquisite delicacy. It is hard to describe in clumsy terms, or name anything but just the 'substance of Spring."'


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Which sounded pleasant and poetic, but those were the days when I was pragmatic and still somewhat skeptical. For satisfaction I wanted both reasons and results. Nevertheless I held my fire and awaited developments. Much instruction followed, whose purpose I fathomed not at all. For example:


"We would like you," the Invisibles speaking through Betty told her, "to cultivate to the utmost your instinct for beauty: form, poems—anything that has been achieved by man in his brief moments of triumph and contact with the over-soul. It is the biggest uplifting material thing you can possess.... Do not be afraid to drink deep of beauty. It is an open door through which you can glimpse what is to come: beauty, all that is harmony and in opposition to discord. Beauty is a great and quiet teacher. Detailed education is very important, but it is beset with many restrictions and pitfalls. It is a wise teacher who keeps his pupils looking at the end of the vista instead of watching their feet on the narrow path they walk."


To me, sitting on the sidelines, that sounded a good deal like urging Betty to be Betty! But day after day they kept her at whatever lay behind their words.


"Beauty and love," they insisted. "You hear us say love so often that the word ceases to convey any idea to you; but it is the all-containing, permeating essence which will unite your world to ours. We wish we had another word for it. But we see it as the first principle


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of growth. Open the flood gates, let the great current of the universe pour through you to others, if you would live."




Much of Betty's instruction was given in this mood of poetic imagery. Again the Invisibles would express themselves in what seemed to me more practical terms.


"Don't try for anything," said they on one occasion, "but just the feeling of a substance as physically permeating as ether or gas or something like that. Try simply, in relaxing, to feel that this substance permeates every inch of your body. Accustom yourself to the feel of it. You will find it will rest you and bring happiness even in the very beginning. You have tried it before; but this will visualize it. Do it at any time; momentarily. It's an actual fact, this inlet of strength."


There was a pause, evidently for experiment.


"Anybody could do it," said Betty presently. "It is a matter-of-fact law. I don't see anything 'psychic' about it. I am just studying the law; and little by little I am demonstrating it. The biggest thing you can study is this permeating strength, and how much of it you can take. I lie here and strive according to the poor little rules I have discovered already, and something like a slight chemical change takes place that makes me


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aware of my own possibility. I am just a poor feeble beginner, but I can see so much ahead."


"Here are the only tasks we give you now," concluded the Invisibles, "first, love—attract unselfishly; second, as we told you before, walk through your days as a creature with folded wings, conscious of the possession of another element and of your ability to enter it; third, Eve enough in spirit to invite inspiration, and act promptly without questioning on what comes to you.


For a while Betty seemed to be considering this. Then she said:


"I feel like Columbus after weeks and weeks of travel, holding fast to the faith that it's there on the other side. I mustn't relax that faith."




Betty's faith was not ill-founded, but also its fulfillment was not immediate. Other things in her makeup delayed matters for a time. Notably caution. Betty was far from being credulous or an easy mark. Her long line of Scotch ancestors had given her a certain hard-headed skepticism. At the time it seemed to me a mighty useful trait in this kind of a job. It still does. But also its use could be overdone. The Invisibles pointed this out.


"Don't be afraid to accept your dreamland," they advised her. "You have enough ingrained practical,


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habits to bring you back to balance whenever necessary, but unless you let go your present control you will never be able to do our work. The fact that you have that control is your greatest asset if you can turn it off at will and control it. Do you see what we are doing? Step by step we are trying to break the bonds which tic you down to your earthly village and help you to enter the wider world we live in. Yes, it is like getting you off sticky flypaper. You want to do it, but you must conquer your bodily instincts and habits first. You have the imagination and control but the abandon must be acquired."


Betty must have been able to obey orders, for shortly she reported:


"I am being taken along with some Strong Ones. Their association invigorates me so. I am going through some kind of an experience on a higher level. Before, I was like a little skinny chickabiddy thing that refused to come out of its shell—crouched in its little shell because that was all it knew that was comfortable. Now someone is helping me to step bravely out and I am feeling strong and sure, and not regretting the sacrifice of my shell."


"You can have little conception now of the intense happiness toward which you are progressing," the Invisibles encouraged her. "We don't want to entice you with statements that—misconceived—would endanger a simple approach to the reality. But no inner


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vision must ever have a wall instead of a horizon." For some little time Betty was silent. Then she announced:


"I've always before stuck my head up through a hatchway and tried to look around; but now I've climbed up. I'm all here but I don't know what to do."


She chuckled.


"This is a great game—a great game, I tell you what! Like a fairy story.... My, but this is the life!


Again she was silent.


"Well, I've got to do something about it now. I can't just stand and say how nice it is. All the old ideas and sensations are under-foot, as though I had taken off my clothes and were standing on them ready to swim.... But what'll I do?"


"Never mind," said the Invisibles, "just go on."


"You must have brought me here for some reason," Betty insisted. "What is it? I'm listening."


Once more the interval of silence. Then she laughed.


"Supposing," she began, "just supposing you suddenly found yourself free as air, released into the bigness of the solar system as compared with the earth. Supposing you were just jumping with energy and eagerness and enthusiasm, and the only danger seemed to be spreading out too wide and maybe dissolving yourself. And if you had no plan about what you'd accomplish with all that bursting energy—That's just my trouble now. Generally people make plans first.


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Then, when the plan is big enough, energy is meted out. But here I am, all dressed up in energy, and no place to go! I don't know what to do first. It's too big. . My inwardness isn't big enough for it. I want to give it to you— lots of it. Maybe that's the reason it is given to me."


She contemplated this for a moment.


"If I could only thicken it up a little," she mused, "so you could use it." There was a short pause. Then, sadly:


"I can't thicken it up enough!"


"The general trend is toward a more spiritual life," hinted the Invisibles. "All right," I put in my oar, "what is 'spiritual'?"


"It is just daily life carried on by a self with higher associations," was the answer. "That daily life can either go on growing, or be dwarfed and stand still. When it is dwarfed, you are not conscious of it, just as you are not conscious of an atrophied organ. When it begins to grow it takes possession of you and pushes other things aside.


"You'll see the point, in time," said the Invisibles, addressing Betty. "All you can do at present is to embody, in your daily life, your aspiration and kinship with the stars. Above all be patient. Go about your affairs and do not expect us unless we manifest. We are lifting you. Play and laugh and love and work to rise. Cannot you feel even now that you have set a little


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harder task for yourself and that you can see a little farther?"


In other words, she must first absorb the concept—whatever it was— and then understand it. But understanding, in the Invisibles' definition, seemed to be something more than mere mental appraisal and judgment. It was a kind of incorporation into the substance of one's self. The Invisibles called this "make-it-so," borrowing the phrase by which a navy officer makes official a happening aboard ship. "You must not only understand it, but you must make-it-so before it is your possession," the Invisibles summed it up.