REST ON ATTAINMENT
ALL of Betty's instructions, and
all of the work she was called upon to do, conformed to the law of
rhythm. That is to say, she had alternate periods of activity and of
rest. But the usual notion of rest as semi-comatose loafing was promptly
knocked from under us. After a prolonged period of what she termed
"striving," Betty considered herself entitled to what she called a
"The way you sag back when boresome
callers go at last," she explained.
And at once she made an astounding
"Why!" she cried, "that's funny! It
certainly is! I hunted and hunted, and there is not any place in the whole
universe where you can slump!—I fell behind looking for it. Now
somebody's helping me catch up just to see what it feels like, the
difference. No place to slump! Not even when you catch up! It is less
strain to keep your place, it's a more comfortable feeling there's no
standing still—You can stand still, if you want to," she decided after further investigation,
"but you can't sit down."
THE ROAD I KNOW
This paradox puzzled her. She retired
into another of those inner experiences of hers which I always hoped was
going to mean something or other to me—in time.
"They straightened me out in fine
shape," she confided presently. "I had lost my equilibrium and sat down.
It's a funny thing, but you can't do that; you've got to keep going when
you once start. It's as if you were to decide that your heart had beat long enough,
and you thought you'd stop it a while."
It was only later, and after several
sessions of gropings, that she again reported anything to me.
"After every great spiritual effort
I've always been left with a slightly vacuum-like spent feeling," said
she. "As if I'd put in my all and was entitled to a vacation, a slight
reaction, a slump,—getting back to a comfortable and ordinary level.
That's the way I've been doing, the way everybody does. Well now,
there's another kind of relaxation, another kind of rest. Instead of
going back each time to your own starting place, which is merely an
unnecessary habit, discard that idea, and enjoy resting on the She
stumbled for a word or phrase.
"Rest on attainment," supplied the
Invisibles, cryptically. Here
was a new concept for Betty to absorb and to clarify.
THE ROAD I
KNOW 143 2.
"The only relaxation is in
accustomedness," the Invisibles tried to explain. "When you get accustomed to
a thing it does not tire you; you can
rest in your attainment. You may just
as well give up right now any idea of slumping, because you never can,
unless you back out. All you can do
is to work so hard you get used to
it, so that it doesn't tire you. There's great joy in it, though, when
you get there."
It did not sound very restful to me.
I said so.*
"They say I mustn't think of being
wracked and spent and tired," said Betty. "I must rest in what I have
attained. That is the real refreshment. It
doesn't tire you so much when you
start expanding if you rest on what you've attained. That's quite nice!
It transfers your center of
consciousness. Such a new way of
With an air of discovery she
announced that this
* "But you missed
the point," Joan writes me, in comment on this part of the MS. "Of
course you 'rest on attainment'! Take mere physical dexterity, like
learning to knit, which I did not do until about five years ago. My
stiff and clumsy; I lost stitches off my needle; it was very hard for
this old dog to team new tricks. I
was about to give up in despair. Then suddenly I could knit! Now when I
am weary I rest myself by knitting. Work one knows how to do is never
wearying when pursued normally. We rest on that attainment, and only
tire over some new process of learning. Transfer this fact from the
physical into Betty's spiritual, and you'll understand."
I think Joan is
THE ROAD I KNOW
feeling-tired-business is largely a
matter of what the body seems to expect of us.
"I am apt to think I am tired when I
come back," said she, "but it's only a peevish kind of resentment of my
body. I'll just ignore that. I'm not tired: I'm just
used,—like a slate. I
can brush it off and fix it.
"I must never," she continued, "admit
a weak or tired thought at that stage. If I do, it dilutes the
impression; like leaving something unstoppered. It runs out."
"Stay up on your hilltop; make
yourself at home there," advised the Invisibles. "No sense in you—the
real you—coming back. Rest up there and have a new starting point. This
going back every time is just poor technique. You can do it, but it's clumsy and laborious."
"It's nice to stay up," admitted
Betty, after she had considered this, "but it's new-nice. I still want to go
back and slump; that's old-nice.—Well, I'll try it—
"It's a stronger kind of rest," she
reported to me. "Sort of leaving your consciousness on the top shelf
instead of bringing it back to rest on unpadded nerves." She was silent
so long that I asked her what she was doing. "I'm tidying up to come
back," said she.
THE ROAD I
KNOW 145 3.
"Now listen," said the Invisibles,
"there's no restless feeling of perpetual motion about it. It's more
a feeling of warm existence, like quiet and very active rays. It's like the
sun growing things—that kind of life. It keeps you living outside, in
advance of yourself, instead of occupied with your physical self."
"I'll try it," agreed Betty, "I won't
allow myself to
think when I'm tired. When I'm tired I'll be in a derrick and lift
automatically without thinking. It will probably work, if you say
so." She sounded doubtful. "I see—it will be outside of
It'll take some doing! " She chuckled. "Me a derrick! Make it mechanical.
I see: instead of damaging my real substance by drawing on it. All right; come on,
we'll go try it."
on what your mechanism can do,"
supplemented the Invisibles.
"I know lots of things but I can't
teach myself them," observed Betty quaintly, "I want to go now with
myself that knows lots of things. It's nice not to try to understand, just to
know." Ensued a long pause. "I did not come all the way back!" she cried
distinctly did not come
all the way back today. I may
not be able to stay there—"
"The main thing is not to slump back
automatically. You can be at ease without being out of formation,"
said the Invisibles.
THE ROAD I KNOW
"What was that expression?" queried
Betty. "Rest in attainment. At first I thought that a terrible idea. But
there is rest to it. Only, I don't get it unless I've attained. It's the
rest you find in being, unconscious of your struggle because you are
strong enough for it."
Apparently she eventually surrounded
the technique to her own and the Invisibles' satisfaction. Years later she
had this to say:
"It used to be such an effort to keep
going: now it's such a discomfort to stop. My being seems to consist
entirely of the feeling of a machine in action. I'm set in action; wound up; my
machinery is going. It's the feeling of the next stratum of energy above us
which they talked about."
There is indeed, said she, a rhythm of
rest and accomplishment. It is the rest of incoming and outgoing.
"I wish I could find a name for it
all. There is a poised well-being about this thing. It is a vigorous rest. I'm
enthusiastic and vigorous; yet I'm resting—without slumping. How would I
say that? Rest isn't the word: it's a pause of consciousness. It's a kind
of radiation, which is a sort of worship. There ought to be some name for
that pause in application that
sort of shoots out. It ought to be done lots, to fill up the gaps, to
heal. Lots of it is needed
everywhere, all through life; it's a kind of ventilation. I'll just do it a while and see if some word
comes up to claim it."