The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942




MANY different primary phases were mixed in with the first development of the idea of Contact. In addition to the inner citadel, there were, for example, such things as insulation, elimination of undesirables, and a half dozen other technicalities fully treated in The Betty Book, but out of place here. That is what I meant when I said that to me at this time the instruction seemed fragmentary. As far as I was concerned the lack of sequence was maddening. The Invisibles would bring up a brand-new topic of instruction or discussion; would get my interest just nicely started on it; and then drop it in favor of something entirely different. They gave things in dabs. Sometimes they had four or five subjects going at once. Talk about keeping track of a three ringed circus! I have—or had then—a tidy mind.


"Why don't you finish a thing once you've begun it? " I complained, "instead of romping around like the giddy goat!"


I got no exact answer at the time; but I had ceased expecting exact answers to that type of question. To answer would have been, I suppose, to defeat the very


122                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


purpose of the indirection. In other words, arousing too directly the interest of Betty's subconscious mind would have resulted in what we called "coloring"; which means that the said subconscious would take over, more or less, and inject its own ideas. In the early stages of Betty's training this had to be carefully guarded against. After about five years, however, such precaution was no longer necessary. Betty herself had command; and the "sub" had not a look-in. Then, to my satisfaction, the little-dab method was abandoned. That was one answer to my question. There was another, but the Invisibles gave it only after Betty had gone beyond the need for that technique.


"For purposes of study there is over-magnification of a part," they now told me. "To avoid misshapement there must be occasional pauses to contemplate this magnified part in relation to the whole. That is, the part must be shoved back and diminished to its proper relationship. The constant changing of subject to which you have always objected is the only method we could devise of accomplishing this purpose. It allowed the picture to retire to its proper proportions.


That satisfied my mind. An unusual concession on the part of the Invisibles. For a long time they seemed to have almost a contempt for intellect. That proved not to be really so. Merely, for the moment, the intellect was not the appropriate tool; and moreover as a usual thing, in our ordinary processes, we use the intellect


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    123


almost exclusively, forgetting the non-intellectual—shall I say intuitional—equipment which now the Invisibles wished to bring up to correct balance. But, as usual, they did not explain this until the fact was accomplished; and that one thing came nearer throwing me off the whole business than anything else.


My life had been one that required a very active use of the intellect. And if my, mind could not endorse a thing, then it was out, as far as I was concerned. Now, apparently, I was being asked to accept things without that endorsement! I say apparently, for later I found out this was not at all what they were asking. I understood, finally, that I was not to set aside intellectual judgments: but merely to postpone them until the accomplished fact. Then I could use my mind as critically as I pleased. Indeed, the Invisibles wanted me to do so!


The whole thing boiled down to one simple statement: the brain is the executive, not the originating, branch of our personal government.


Why did they not tell me this, in so many words, right at the start? I did not know, and I was annoyed. But that was not the Invisibles' way of doing things. They never told us until after we had experienced. Evidently we were supposed—as the cowboys express it—to "roll our own."


"There is no substance at all in pure intellect," the Invisibles answered one of my protests. "It is just a very


124                                  THE ROAD I KNOW

fine shadow. The simplest achievement is so much more important. Pure intellect is aloof, unrelated."


From her vantage point in the other consciousness Betty accepted this more readily than did I.


"There's such a great difference between your brain and mine," she told me. "Yours is a much better human faculty—so much stronger." But she added, "I can't see why it's so much less absorbent than mine. I don't understand that. It's very puzzling to me—very puzzling. I don't see why brainless instincts like mine are so much easier. . . ."


Neither could I. And even the Invisibles refused help.


"They've gone and left me to puzzle this out," said Betty. "I admire brain so much.... I don't understand. It looks like some nonconducting quality—a sort of gloss, like glass. There's something...."


She broke off for a moment, as if listening. "Where's the catch? " she ventured. Again the listening pause.


"Oh, I see! Looks like a ship running with a very strong starboard light and almost no port light. It's a one-eyed thing. It's the other eye they're trying to develop in me."


She studied this a few moments.


"I am getting to understand it a little now," she concluded. "The brain looks like a petty officer. Whatever it is incapable of handling it denies. Through generations


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    125


of denial it has arrested the development of the wiser inner self, which is adapted to handling the higher world of senses and possibilities, the vitalized world around us, what lies outside human-set limitations. They are not really limitations except as we cramp that inner self."


Betty seemed satisfied. I was not. I wanted to see, with the practical eyes of my mind, where I was planting my feet. The Invisibles were patient.


"Make the leap," they urged. "Dare to do it. Take a chance on our being right. You cannot connect up in an unbroken series of steps with what you know. This reality is not on the outskirts; a gap must be bridged. It is very necessary to employ the measuring stick of your mind ordinarily; but lay it aside intermittently. Hurl yourself into space, as it were. It will not hurt you to go bravely out to pick up a clue or two. You've been trying to creep up on things on the scientific side, but they've got to be boldly taken, artistically, in the present case."


"I see what they want! " cried Betty. "Supposing you had to prepare a turtle to become a lark.... I'm showing you how to break up the inertia. This leaping, hurling business; this releasing—whatever you want to call it—is definitely the only way to take possession of the wider, freer life."


All of which, to me, at that time, tended dangerously near to conventional metaphysical fuzziness; and that


126                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


was something I did not approve at all. I was very difficult at that period; and if I seem to be doing a lot of talking about myself, it is only because I believe my first view was that of the hard-headed, practical, average man in the street. The phrase "Insult to one's intelligence" occurred to me.


"Don't be offended in your intellect," the Invisibles told me. "Give us a chance. Your precious intellect will have its innings. We won't do more harm than present it something to work on for the rest of its natural life. Leave it in soak and keep it flexible, and we can go on. It's bound to be satisfied later. When this other faculty becomes the leader, your intellect must immediately react to it: it must, just as the blood goes through your body to nourish all parts. Do you get the idea, now? Something beyond what you can understand, can explain with the brain? If that is what we want to get to you first, how could we get it through your brain without the slowest of evolution?"


As a statement that made sense.


"Please note," they pressed home their point, "you will not get scientific explanation such as you expect. You will get the reality as we can manage to give it, which you can deduce as theory later. We cannot tell you in words which would convey anything to you, what we must accomplish by molding you to the thing itself."


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    127


The molding, it proved, had a definite and ordered method. Betty was much amused at the process.


"It's like children dressing up and playing lady," she commented. "I'm pretending I'm what I'd like to be. It's absurdly dignified."


She laughed heartily.


"You ought to see me! It's the way I feet when I wear a train. It all still looked fuzzy to me, and I said so.


"Couldn't you just take it on faith?" they urged. "Couldn't you just pretend for a nine, to give it a chance to work? If this reality is ever to be recognized, it must be by something hitherto unrecognized in law. Put your energy and your daring into throwing out to your farthest limits in search of comprehension of the hitherto unknown. You must gain it in imagination first: and then work back through slow steps to connect it with observed facts."


And there I was stopped again! By a word! Imagination. I am a fiction writer and I know something about imagination and its power to conjure elaborate structure out of thin air. Also it had kin-folk, such as "wish­fulfillment" and "compensation fantasies." Even Betty was doubtful.


"I don't think," she objected, "that's a very good word—imagination. It's too cobwebby with unrealities."


128                                  THE ROAD I KNOW

The Invisibles seemed openly astonished.


"Imagination?" they cried. "Why, that is the very gateway of reality! You call it a plaything. You've always called it a plaything. But actually it's the one thing you possess that connects you with the next substance. It's a transmuting chemical."


"It's been the father of a big brood of mistaken ideas," I grumbled.


"Nevertheless," they insisted, "It's the way to get outside yourself. How else could you function beyond your fleshly limitations? But use imagination masterfully—not as an onlooker: as a partaker.


"The whole trouble," they added, astoundingly, "is in using too little. A little imagination has no strength to fight. Instead of freeing, it is captured, a poor little helpless thing. A little, taken and concentrated on, shut off from its source of supply, is devitalized, dead.


They had made one convert.


"One must try harder to get hold of the idea and play with it in symbols," agreed Betty enthusiastically. "You've got actually to be, in imagination, dripping big-leaved plants in the sun against the blue sky. You've actually got to breathe that idea in before you can make it work, because you are not working in our accustomed substance; you are working in a higher creative form that you don't know how to use, except unconsciously and as it were, relaxedly. When you get to a certain age and dignity, you don't play that way. You


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    129


should. I am not at all impressed by any age or dignity. I am just impressed with actual things and the necessity for them."


Whatever my doubts, Betty was completely sold on the idea.


"I want to go on where it is free under the law," she continued. "I want to go on and be more and more the inheritor of these influences. That's it: I want to inherit the law. As soon as you become clean-souled and free­spirited you inherit the law; and that law is a kind of evolution structure. It is what carries you on beyond little man-made experiments. They are so poky!




No discussion of process would be complete were I to omit the exuberant joyousness of the whole performance. This was in no degree damped by the hard and serious work. There was plenty of that, but never did the Invisibles permit it to become portentous or overpowering. Nevertheless it cannot be denied that ordinarily revelation has a certain drag to it. Saints and Holy Men are proverbially grim and uncompromising. Betty's Invisibles were careful to avoid this. And Betty herself was by nature such a gay and chuckly person that she reacted wholesomely against any inadvertent overstress.


For the idea of asceticism they bad nothing but


130                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


scorn. Giving up a thing—anything—instead of using it in its proper proportion is merely an indication—as Betty herself had always maintained—that you are afraid of it. Funny diets; abstinences of any kind; strict physical regimens—all that sort of thing—were definitely out.


"No negations of any kind interact favorably on the higher centers," said they. "That sounds like a dangerous doctrine, but in reality the danger is more apt to occur on the side of damaging the spontaneity of the body's functions—its buoyancy and equilibrium and youthful confidence and carelessness. Only too easily the aspirations of the inner life misinterpret themselves into such restrictions as an over-regulated child would suffer."


Nor would the Invisibles permit either of us to tangle ourselves up in the conventional ideas of "service", "duty", "will-power."


"It's not will-power at all! " they protested. "Everything gets so stiff and painful when you do it from the will-power side. Get at it more from the spirit-power, the desire-power side. There's a lift to happiness and harmony which is so much easier than this painful willpower method. This other is like the hard work you do in play. It's glowing, quickening, a life-begetting thing."


Betty considered this.


"Work...production," she ruminated. "Work is


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    131


painful; production is better. What can I get that is self-acting? Creation is the nearest to it. That is a cleaner, brighter word. People do not create under a lash."


"Above all," said the Invisibles, "don't forget the importance of joyousness through all work. That's the big thing. Think more about that. There is no excuse for dreariness. Dreariness is just contraction."


You must never do things merely from a sense of duty or "service," said they; you must do them because you want to do them. And you'll want to do them when you've developed full consciousness! Better not to do them at all otherwise. And, they added astonishingly, you can give to others effectively only from overflow! Duty-and-will-power has no momentum; what they called "automatic-quickening" carries far. And that accompanies only a real desire, and a real enjoyment in the game.


"Keep your attention on savoring, joyously absorbing what you get with the effort," they advised. "So few people are acquisitive enough—so few absorb all they could after they have made the effort. They take only in proportion to what they spend, when there is so much more to be had with a little more effort on the joyous side instead of the struggle side."


"Oh! " cried Betty delightedly, "I've been given an attribute of bouncing! We don't any of us bounce high enough—not enough recoil. If we want to be far-flung in happiness, we must think more about the end and


132                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


less about the effort. We are too near-sighted: we look too much for what is in clear focus. We should look more to the ultimate reward."


She checked herself. Then with a comic effort at dignity: "That is a very nice swelly idea. It swells me nicely!


"The way to free yourself," concluded the Invisibles, "is by expansion of the heart. It is the only possible instrument for shaping your destiny. Without it, the rest is struggle and suffering and delay. With it, all is an open door!"




This moving forward blindly in a fog, so to speak, had its clear spots of summary. Every so often, when Betty had advanced to a certain completed phase, she was presented with a blue print of the ground over which she had passed. Sometimes this was cast in a formula, but accompanied always with a warning that it was no hard and fast rule, but only a summary of progress. Here is an example, given in early days—in 1920.


1. The relaxation of the body.


2. The inflowing of the living waters of the spirit.


3. In order not to be swept away by them, the making of "stability," which had been symbolized by Betty as her "shaft." (See The Betty Book.)


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    133


4. The exertion of will power just to overcome the dead lift; the effort then to climb out; the pushing against the strong current. Then you are ready to start.


5. The putting on of blinders against the earth mind, and thinking with the heart. That is the first outgoing; all the rest has been incoming.


6. The feeling of union with all created things, the expansion sideways supplementing the upward.


At the time this was given, Betty's experiments were still confined to more or less formal sessions under definite control. But now she glimpsed a different possibility.


"That accomplishes a definite something, as a provisional formula," she commented on the above. "However, I think it can be used, not only in this trance state, but in every-day life. It can be used in the life we live, without a bandage over the eyes. It would become then as inspiration, a long breath."