Home

 

The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942

 

CHAPTER XIII
THE NEAR COUNTRY

 

WHEN Betty first set out on her Road, it seemed to her—and hence to me—that she journeyed far to touch even the first contact with these new and strange "forces". And when she came actually to that phase in which she "left the body" in order to explore or to follow wheresoever in the "other consciousness" she was led, the impression of distance was deepened. She so expressed her experience.—"I'm going away off now." "My! I'm going deep!... Still farther?" "I'm being taken away now." Always the impression of travel to some remote destination. And when she faced back the return trip seemed to her as long.

 

This impression, astoundingly, proved to be an illusion. It arose, I think, partly from Betty's own sense of radical change of environment, which in our world ordinarily means distance; and partly from mankind's age-long mental habit of considering heaven "up" and hell "down," and the heavenly messengers descending to us on ladders or beams of light. After Betty had gone to her Unobstructed Universe, she showed an amusing impatience over this idea. She was talking, through Joan, to a young woman she had known well in our life. Something was said that indicated confusion in the


 

* I quoted this incident in The Unobstructed Universe, but it is worth repetition here.

148                                  THE ROAD I KNOW

 

latter's mind. Betty stopped the discussion with the abrupt question: "What is your idea of where I am now, anyway?

 

"Why," replied the young woman, rather vaguely, " why, I just think of you as suspended somehow, in space."

 

"I am right here!" stated Betty vigorously. "There is only one universe. There is no separate 'heaven.' My world is your world plus."*

 

Even while here, she grew to understand that the two phrases, "leaving the body" and "going far", were only a manner of speaking, and that she could modify them to advantage. Leaving the body became more a matter of withdrawing—completely—attention from the body. And the "journey" simply did not exist!

 

"It makes the world seem so small," she commented, " when you reach out for people, and the space between somehow shuts up like a telescope. I don't understand that. Got to do some experimenting around. I don't see how you can pull out and push in space like that. . . ."

 

The following long pause was obviously occupied in the "experimenting around."

 

"Why, how astonishingly near that brings things!" she burst out. "Isn't that astonishing! Why, isn't that astonishing! Even the distance to the other consciousness is not a distance of space; it's a slowness or torpidity


 

THE ROAD I KNOW                                    149

 

in penetrating. It's just lack of the right combination that makes it seem distant. It is so near when you clear that intervening denseness which is not space. . . .

 

"How can I tell this? Supposing I was in a dark room, and then a bright light was turned on. The darkness and the light occupy the same area, don't they? One overcomes the other and reveals what the other did not. Well, instead of being in the dark substance of consciousness, I'm in the brighter revealing one. Density is gone. I'm in the same place I was, but with greater vision.

 

"It is all one; here; now. All the heavens and bells and universes superimposed. Why, that is perfectly tremendous! It gets nearer and nearer until it all seems right on top of me! More and more revealing light! ...

 

"I can't pierce it further. I'm not big enough: it would overwhelm me and burst me. I can't do it....

 

This was enormously interesting to me at the time. It is more so today, for now it appears as the first inkling of the brilliant exposition of Space and Time Betty was to give us, fifteen years later through Joan, in her book, The Unobstructed Universe.

 

In the immediately subsequent sessions the concept was further developed.

 

"I see!" she began, after a long interval of silent investigation, "space is only an imaginary boundary, not a definite reality. How curious it looks! There isn't


 

150                                  THE ROAD I KNOW

 

any such thing as that word-pattern we call space. It's altogether different! . .

 

She paused to examine further.

 

"This is too much for me! " she resumed. "My goodness! There's no use trying to figure it out while you're living. You couldn't hold on to the idea when you brought it back! I don't believe I could stand an idea like that and get back and live again sensibly. But I'll try to tell you. I'm gasping over it, and I'll spoil it; but I'll try—

 

"Yesterday when I looked at a pebble under the microscope, I looked down into a deep canon of space. I can walk on that pebble; and yet, by the magic of concentration, a tiny crevice in it can be refracted to the illusion of a real canon with true immensity. How can you measure space? How can you give anything so elastic and changing the name of space? Don't you see, space is not real at all. It is contained in an attribute of your consciousness."

 

"Consider," suggested the Invisibles, "the magnitude of your own illusion of space as compared with the space of an unrefracted pebble. Now raise it again to an incomprehensible magnitude such as you can only guess at."

 

Betty thought this over awhile. Then, in a puzzled tone:

 

"We are all apparently occupying the same space. It doesn't seem to be a case of distance at all.... This


 

THE ROAD I KNOW                                    151

 

is quite new to me and very satisfactory; because I never could see how they'd have room for everything and everybody who'd ever died. This is much better; only I can't understand it clearly....

 

"Well, anyhow, I'm never going to have any respect for space again, because I know now it's altogether too unreliable. It depends utterly on who is looking at it. I'm sorry I did not get that intelligently, but anyway it was a grand muckraking and exposure of space! You see, it's a word that hasn't any standing at all, except with us. It represents only what we think about it. But I must say it's rather exhausting to struggle with, since I don't seem to have much influence with it, and yet have work to do in it!"

 

"Space is not distance," concluded the Invisibles. "Space is degrees of perception. Distance is only slowness in getting there."

 

"How can one speak of 'life beyond'," cried Betty, "when there is here!"

 

GATES BEYOND GATES