The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942




"THIS is difficult," was Betty's rather puzzled comment one day. "No more inspiration poured in. I am up against a curious kind of waiting for some acts of mine. I see that clearly, but can't seem to make the effort.


"I feel as if my hands and feet were bound," said she, "and yet I was told to make my first experiment


"At first I fussed and objected at being thrust so soon, so unprepared, as it were, into the stream of workers in spiritual force. But then I realized I was accompanied by something I was sure eventually to attain....


"I went back to my hook-up with the Source to see what first clumsy thing I would do to utilize my power," said she. "The first thing I wanted was affiliation, a heart affiliation that abolished separateness. That makes for strength. The second thing I wanted was to make an impress of my convictions. It did not have to be noisy or clamorous, but it did have to be steady and motivating. How few make impressions: only the quiet and the martyred."


She was supposed to do something. What? "Naturally I was much at a loss, but I did do some 170


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thing. Do you want to know what I did? It is a sort of foolish thing to tell; but the first thing I did was to throw out all the warmth and happiness I could collect and hurl forth. I decided I was going to have my own circumambience that everybody would like to come into. It would be like a glowing river in its unimpeded progress, with song on the way, and sparkle—And, by Jove, I was going to see that it kept up its exuberance and dance and vitality and fling! I got enthusiastic about it, and I worked terribly hard, until I found out, after I had made it, that I carried myself along quite gaily."


This met with approval, as a beginning.


"You realize how useless and futile you are; you try hard and experiment until you acquire something with which to work," said the Invisibles.


"This," said Betty with satisfaction, apparently describing the state of consciousness to which this brought her, "seems to be ahead in productivity of any other surroundings I've had. It is a place where things are done, and done efficiently. I've got all the release and freedom of striding on hilltops and through spring-swept days, and the feeling of superlative powers within."


Apparently the method of the moment was to throw her overboard, as one teaches a puppy to swim.


"I am," said she after a long silence, "plopped out into a place of turmoil and stress beating upon my


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serenity. It was like a fire drill, a first aid course, what to do in an emergency. I remembered the advice given for the physical zero hours. Leave pain and puzzlement outside, they said, and creep to your quiet center. Let your heart seek close proximity to the divine spark, believing in its power to remagnetize you. Be still. Let it work."


"This," interjected the Invisible, "is the same thing as what we have called taking directly from the Source. It supplies harmony fitted and prepared for instantaneous use, with all the warmth necessary for the continued life of that harmony in practical affairs."


"The chaotic din and discord continued around me," Betty went on, "and I thought, 'I must fly to my army of invisible friends. With them I must hastily fling out worship, thankfulness for knowledge of superior weapons, claiming the reinforcement of them, determined that the constructive forces would inform my action.' Then I stepped out naturally into the battle, and held on to my determination, and let it work. A great pressure came against me, like the swift currents we could barely stand against in crossing the Alaskan rivers. A great pressure was on me, and I felt my inadequacy: It was an emergency. What could I do to maintain myself, and to act against the current, as it were, like a power-ship against the tides? At once I reinforced myself with the strength of the army of invisible friends we have been unifying. The pressure


THE ROAD I KNOW                                     173 was still there, but the crisis had passed, turned by superior strength.


"You see, our best weapons are really our invisible alliances. That part must not be neglected, as it is our present field of action. Action without the directing power of the spirit runs to waste; and on the other hand unrelated spiritual example seldom reproduces itself in others."


She was feeling for a technique of application.


"I just break up and work hard and am uncomfortable," she told me, "and then I find I am raised up to a superstate and in touch with something that I did not have before. I see it vaguely and look back and tell you about it. I don't just sit and read about it and see it; I do it, whatever I'm at. That is why I work so hard and keep quiet so long.


"The way I'm presenting this it sounds so gloomy," she broke off to complain. "But really it is so cheerful, so jolly and so loving and wise and warm-hearted. You see, it isn't any question of going out and trying to be good. There's a great danger in that, because we are apt to lose the exuberance of our sinfulness; and that is taming, very very taming. What you miss, the way I am telling it, is the exuberance."


"What's the matter with zest?" suggested the Invisible. "You do not think of muscular 'exercise', for instance, when you experience zest. You do not iron yourself out into any newly acquired condition. Duty


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does not drive you to it. Logic is left in storage. With full flow through you proceed to enjoy living. That is spiritual action.


"Of course," they added, "you cannot go around zesting things priggishly. That is not what is meant. What we want to get into these teachings is naturalness, not priggishness."


They recurred again and again, in many forms of expression, to the assurance that they demanded of Betty no great and noble tasks. Just living, said they, ordinary daily living. Plenty of material to work on there.


"Nothing is too small to work on with the tools of eternal values," emphasized the Invisibles. "Take the smallest things, little hourly experiences or situations of a commonplace day, you can, by your concentration of desire, transform them into a spiritual significance akin to a poem."


The Invisibles' word "poem" set Betty off up a bypath.


"Poetry is thought's most buoyant form, ready for release into emotion," she said to me, with an air of confiding something, I am poetry now. It is the most volatile form of human communication. I am beauty running free, only shaped by the momentary effort to reflect some particularization of life, instead of life itself. Always it is shaping, and the limitations of form are its pain, the ecstasy of its suffering.


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"Have you ever thought of the visual body of a poem?" she continued her apparently irrelevant fancies. "How it typifies its buoyancy compared to prose? It floats on a page; it isn't anchored at all the comers.


"I do things so curiously," said Betty after a pause. "I had to do some sordid scrubbing stuff; and then in order to make a poem out of it, I blew some soap bubbles out of the scrubby stuff, and laughed.


"I came over today in a blind and unilluminated state," she continued, back at last to her knitting, "and the first function I felt was of pouring myself out. I think after a while this would get me all the functions I needed.... Anyway, if I didn't do it, I wouldn't have much."




"I am," on another occasion said Betty with satisfaction, "sort of contained in a general heart-expansion—nice and human—I can't explain it—


"I don't think that would make sense," she answered some unspoken suggestion. "The word 'love' doesn't suit my needs; I'll ass it by. I must gather something expressing more vigorous action, less fuzzed up with individuality.


"I'm doing something quite astonishing. There are influences around me radiating the warmth of human


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affection, only with so much greater power. I dissolve to their love; I surround them as they surround me, steeping in each other's heart­expansion. It's so transforming, breath-taking, and I can't tell you in words. Now, the strange thing is, I reach out and spread this atmosphere around each one I care for. And it enlarges and grows stronger and becomes firm, like a continent in surrounding ocean. Beautiful things are produced on it. I don't understand the rest very well; I'm so puzzled because it's still an individuality. I am that firm body. I feel it in all its part, and yet it is composed of many people. How can that be? I only sense it through the atmosphere of its spaces, as it were." Betty laughed. "That was a funny trick! I went out and brought in a very reluctant one. She had to come!"


At the next session the job of giving expression to what seemed to be the inexpressible, was tackled again.


"It's too big to say," Betty confessed at last, "but the only way to get it is the constant struggle to communicate it. I suppose it's hopeless, but I'll try.


"Last time I tried to analyze the different atmosphere I was in, the greater consciousness, which was the substance all of us contain. I was no longer isolated in a small, individual, self-seeking consciousness: I was in an atmosphere of sympathetic attunement with the all. I tried to tell you of that last time. Now I am going on from there.


"The sensation of retaining this atmosphere, of


THE ROAD I KNOW                                     177 keeping oneself in this higher consciousness, is the means of. . . ." She broke off suddenly.


"I've lost the words," she explained the break. "They were right there, and they got lost. I'll do it over again.


"By means of the heart-expansion people call love, the sensation of super-sympathy—this outflowing and inflowing, this most thrilling and exquisite life—we come the nearest we can to apprehending the conception of God. It can be indulged at any moment of our days, interpenetrating them with universal life. That is the way we intensify our days and harmonize our lives....


"But also there's another element to this atmosphere of heart-expansion which is the universal substance. It's a lifting quality which is the expression of the individual's contact with it. I partake to the greatest possible extent of the heart-expansion. At the same time I sweep on with it, lifting my share of it by means of the energy that is in me. It is as important for me to do my individual part as for the greatest. . . .


"My heart aches with intensity, the atmosphere is so tremendously vital. You see, this element, which I am admitting by my heart-expansion and which has no words to describe it, is the highest greater-being we are capable of sensing. The more I enter into it, the greater will be my happiness and richness of perception....


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'"I know now what that phrase means; God is love. It always sounded so straining and affected to me. I don't like it yet; but that is my stupidity. At least I know what it means. There are so many word-seeds we don't know how to plant and make them grow into life-giving things"'




She found it difficult to make an intelligent start in the actual application. Apparently it was to be a repetition, in this field, of her gropings toward realization in others. Again she must arrive at comprehension by cut and try, by the actual doing. But in the doing she found, as always, satisfactions by the way.


"It is a perfumed work," she told me, "like woodsy smells and flowers and odors caught at rare moments. When you lead people out into something they approve of, like Nature, then you can work magic on them."


This, I suggested, was poetic but inconclusive.


"Suppose," she countered, "you were set down without equipment in a new world—a world of creative power centered in the individual, What would you do? Today I decided that, to succeed with this power, first of all my fundamental outlook must be one of health, harmony and onward­going success. So I started out trying to experience the difference between


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times of depression and those of full and overflowing life. I wanted to make myself a strong magic; that is, I wanted to manufacture it for others, for thus only would I call it into being, with reciprocal action on myself.


"Then," said Betty, "I lifted up my desires—after working them into a concrete conception of the desired end according to my limited light. I held them up eagerly and earnestly and continuously, submitting them to the influence above me, and that influence helped me to remodel them to greater perfection and present possession, directed me in the supporting confirmation of what I desired. That's the way to work!


"This," said she, with the satisfaction of discovery, "is the application of what I experienced when I with drew inside myself, and shut the door, and staved quiet until I found there was another exit, and so gave my little bit, and the Great Rhythm took it and amplified it. This is the new exit— the rising-above, and all that, is outworn.


"While here," she continued, "I can reach out and quicken the thoughts and hearts of any human being I have ever known. What then? What right have I? How do I dare utilize that power, and for what purpose? I cannot see the answers to these questions now. I only know that one who has experienced this power, even momentarily, can never again be satisfied, as is the walnut in its shell."


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She lapsed for a time into contemplation of some inner experience. I asked her what she was doing.


"I am going through the sensations of another person regarding this influence," she replied. "He is a person with an absorbing occupation, one that demands all his working hours and energy—just caught in the habit and fixture of days like that. I am that person. That is the wall I am up against. I have to begin with the tiniest little start of some kind and keep working at it. . . ."


She was silent for a while.


"Now then! I only had room in my mind for the hopelessness of doing anything else with my days.... This isn't me," she reminded, "it's somebody else.... Then in a fertile-spirited moment a shred of vision came to me, a tiny fleeting glimpse of a different kind of living. Suddenly I saw a beautiful radiance, sensed a better scheme; and because it was the real­thing inspiration, because it met the fertile moment in me, it didn't fade out like the worded inspiration in books. It was persistent. A sort of breath of sweet spring growth had come to me in a damp dark dungeon. I was sprouted by it somehow....


"Now what to do? I am back at the beginning. I am seeing that this sprout thing may be only a cellar sprout. It may be only, for a while, at best a potted plant or a window box, instead of a forest giant fighting storms or spreading silent under the starlight....


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"At least it's the way everybody has to begin. Every human being advances by the same path. And the universal experience of it is what satisfies people's minds that, if they are way behind, they must catch up.


"Well, if that is the way to go about it," sighed Betty, somewhat doubtfully, "at least there's something tangible to get at."