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The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942

 

CHAPTER XVI
HABITUAL SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS
1.

 

IT WAS curious and interesting to me to follow Betty's own change of inner attitude toward the thing she was doing. At the start she worked at it only during the especially dedicated hour or so of formal "communication." Her object was to get "messages." And her chief reaction was of high adventure. But little by little she shifted until her objective became no single concrete thing at a specified time, but a continuous state of mind.

 

The Invisibles approved strongly of this change in purpose; probably all along they had been working to induce it. The "sessions," with myself attending, were all right, and necessary and must be continued. But they were now only a small part of Betty's job. Hers was the proverbial "woman's work" in that it was never done! She must practice, said the Invisibles, by herself. Not in "psychics," or communicating, or any of the rest of that; but in realizing—making real to herself—this new-found inner state. Start first thing in the morning, said they.

 

"The first business of each day," they told her, "should be a recognition of the sun of your life—unquestioning and eager heart-lifting acknowledgment of


 

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the warm, loving, positive creative force of the universe beyond your knowledge. Always give time to purify and clothe fittingly your spirit to contemplate the unknown great Causal Force operating through each living thing. Unless you make a conscious exercise of this, conscious power is not yours throughout the day."

 

And, they emphasized, that power throughout the day must be conscious. Which, Betty acknowledged, was a fine counsel of perfection, but as a practical matter might be somewhat difficult. Highly desirable to float through the hours on a high plane of serenity, but how about telephone calls, and the cook with her lists, and the arrival of the plumber, and

 

But that was not at all the idea. The Invisibles kept at her, and finally managed to convince her.

 

"I see," she cried, "each day we must create for ourselves by this magic, call it what you please—tuning, ordering—a dignified temple suitable for the habitation of our highest ideals. It is as though one made of each separate day a beautiful little habitation in which to live while the big temple of the lifetime is building. There is retardment and confusion and discouragement in working out the greater scheme, unless the little temple of each separate day is prepared as an inspirational workroom. You know, workmen on big buildings always have these little houses to work from, but they are generally ugly."


 

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Thereafter Betty never omitted these "early morning ablutions," as she called them. Every morning she retired for a half hour to her little sun­room, and nobody was permitted to interfere, not even the cook! Occasionally travel or emergency might prevent. Nevertheless she would always manage to sit quiet, for at least a few minutes, by herself.

 

2.

 

This procedure was the first step toward establishment of what the Invisibles called "habitual spiritual consciousness." Before long they insisted on another.

 

"A new field," she reported to me, "almost a business-like field, establishing us in the substance of reality. It has to be done or we'll go no further.... Otherwise we would go with the drift of those who just experiment or are content merely to be experimented on."

 

"That sounds like a threat," I commented. "Where might we fall down?"

 

"A subtle dulling of accustomedness," replied the Invisibles. "You must partake more constantly of the vitality within reach. The accumulation of the details of living reduce the power to a minimum."

 

There ensued a short pause.

 

"The single thing I can get hold of today," Betty said at last, "is the drabness of our life. Why don't we


 

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intensify it? It can be so breath-taking and so magically progressive! There are not enough breathing-spaces, like parks in a city; not enough moments of susceptibility to happiness and well-being; it's not punctuated; it's all run together with the details of living. If we could only make ourselves distribute more and more frequently through our hours little breathing spaces for the spirit to mount to consciousness of strength and well-being, that would be the training we need in the gradual acquisition of the happiness we won't take. But we shut it out for all but the occasional hour, and gradually the barrier thickens. We must keep it thin and easily broken through. It's the frequency, not the length of time, that does it. The more frequently, the richer the personality. It is very difficult to fight the tendency to hibernate in the world. Might just as well do it now."

 

"Coagulation sets in," explained the Invisibles, "if you don't keep broken up, if you don't keep listening at the higher pitch. Habituate yourself to it by utilizing it constantly. . . ."

 

"This is confused, very much confused; but that's it", put in Betty. "Can't find the clear way to put it. It is very bothersome because first a thing seems audible and then visible; but in reality it is all the same sense over here, and you can't tell which is which when you are separating them into word-senses. It's a reality of feel. This is like having too many legs: it's a nuisance—


 

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a two legged animal explaining locomotion to a centipede. It is very confusing to have so many senses....

 

"But anyway," resumed the Invisibles, "all you've got to remember is that when you make an effort you generate a spark which helps you to enter intermittently that higher more intensive form of life where sparks live. The oftener you do it, the more you get. When you decide it isn't worth while, and is too much trouble, you get out of hearing distance. . . ."

 

"Hold on! " I objected. "You are talking sparks now. How can you hear sparks?"

 

"Out of reach, then," amended the Invisibles, you get where you think sparks are just impractical, imaginative and impossible. And so you cheat yourself."

 

A few sessions later they brought the whole proposition more into the clear.

 

"The time has come," said they, "when the thing we have been calling spiritual contact must penetrate into the more practical. It must be elongated, as it were, to touch more commonplace conditions of mind. The effort is now to gain a more particularized method of maintaining the growth already made, to gain the constant refreshment necessary to keep the spiritual life vigorous.

 

"Make three and four minute sessions during the whole day whenever you have an interval. Make it the most vital necessity of your day. At present you are


 

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giving us left-over time, and that is discouraging and retrogressive. The every-day-every-hour attitude of mind is so much more useful than any amount of periodical concentration!

 

"The main thing," continued the Invisibles, "is to keep sweeping back and forth, so the dividing line between the two worlds doesn't show. Commute all the time: it's easy if you keep in practice. It's a definite proposition—as definite as keeping outside your shell. That shell is a very exact symbol. Once allow your consciousness to slip into it, and you are at home and familiar and comfortable, recognizing nothing tangible but its commonplaces. Keep out of it! Train yourself to be at home outside—to occupy, ordinarily, daily, hourly, the highest consciousness you have achieved.

 

"A little reiteration will not hurt. It's the carrying through idea: habitual consciousness."'

 

3.

 

Betty did not acquire readily the ease of spirit she ultimately gained. In spite of her new understanding she sometimes found it difficult to cope with the common distractions—travel, illness, house-guests, sheer inertia—and most of all the trivial, accustomed routine of daily living. Little things, often repeated, gain a momentum that is hard to break or check. But slowly her compass swung toward the desired orientation.

 

"It is a very interesting experience I am going


 

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through," she commented, "pruning and rearranging, selecting, stimulating life's directions. So much falling from me, so much expanding before me. My eager impulse towards the things dimly sensed and greatly desired outruns my laboriously slow accomplishment. My heavy self doesn't cooperate with my active spiritual being."

 

By this time Betty was pretty well at home in her disassociated state. The first struggle for re-establishment was over, but the struggle in the tangible world was just beginning.

 

"When I'm here, I enjoy myself," she announced one day from that other consciousness. "But I am exalted above the confirmation of my powers. And I don't know how to confirm them so they will be enduring. It's as if someone had clothed me in most distinguished estate, and I go in it rather ignobly conscious that it does not belong to me—that I am not fit for it. And I am ashamed not to deserve the beauty and dignity, instead of merely presenting the externals of it."

 

"What's the trouble? " I asked. "Aren't you getting along fast enough to suit you?"

 

"I still get only glimpses of the great power I talk about and which I am struggling to comprehend," she explained. "Of course, I enter the higher level with increasing frequency. There is no question about it: normal consciousness is assuming lesser proportions. But there is pain in the contrasts I suffer. It is so con


 

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fusing to overlap the two consciousnesses! just now, for instance, I was establishing myself comfortably—so happy and busy and settled about myself. And then the other focus of my consciousness showed up and said it was intangible stuff. But it is not. . Dear me! It is most annoying to have two focuses. What am I to do?"

 

She worked on her problem.

 

"It is as if I were building something and had just established the corner of the top layer," she continued presently. "And then I stopped there and went away, and lived in an entirely different level! I've simply got to make that my home, just as the lower level is now. I've got to live in it and finish it out. There is no use starting it unless you live in it. That just postpones your destiny. That is the trouble with all of us: we keep our ideals as lookout towers, and we seldom take the trouble to climb the stairs."

 

For a long interval Betty was silent. Then, in a puzzled tone:

 

"Something is growing in me and has put out a shoot. Maybe this physical world is only our roots. Maybe a Plant is terribly worried over its first shoot."

 

Another long pause.

 

"Now," she asserted suddenly, "instead of reaching up, I have moved up. I am staying there. It works, too!

 

Again the pause.

 

"Ah, that's grand! " she cried at last, in triumph. "That's a real vista! I will not have the horrid little near


 

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sighted, cramped, strained half-breathed atmosphere of the lesser life. I won't have it! I am going to do my work with a well-ventilated mind, continually conscious of the lifting power of deep-breathed perceptions. I am not going to inhabit my lower level. I am the better workman if I center myself in other regions."

 

She broke off, and for some moments was still.

 

"I'm coming back," she ended. "Do you know, my body seems like a troublesome child to me now. I drag it around, and bathe it, and dress it, and stand it, and sit it, and fuss over it!"

 

4.

 

"It is most important," pointed out the Invisibles to Betty, "that you do not get a misconception of what we intend to convey by the term 'habitual spiritual consciousness.' This does not imply any retirement into any permanent state of abstraction, nor any priggish watchfulness to determine that your every move is transcendental. It means simply that each day, when you finish your practice, you do not close the experience like a book, but carry it around like a treasured possession. Instead of being completely forgotten, it remains in the back of your mind, communicating its influence automatically to your actions and reactions, and ready at any moment, if specifically called upon, to lend a helping hand.

 

"It is particularly necessary, perhaps, to distinguish


 

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this state clearly from the periods of intense concentration you employ for training and development. In especial exercises such as these, you are for a purpose temporarily focusing on certain aspects of yourself. During these periods you impose on the other aspects your command that they sit still and do not bother you, so to speak, until you have finished. You totally—or as nearly so as possible—inhibit their activities. You dismiss all reports from the subconscious; you clear the conscious mind of thought.

 

"But when you invoke the higher consciousness in the course of normal daily living you do not do this. The bodily functions proceed with no less, and no more, than your customary awareness of them. Your brain-mind moves forward on its unintermitting stream of thoughts and mental images. A bodily or mental vacuum is unnatural and impossible. To check the flow of these things is also unnatural, and allowable only for a special purpose. Whole living implies the simultaneous functioning of all the parts of yourself. Only the sharp focus of your attention is shifted as desired to that portion of your being where it is important that it should function for the business of the moment.

 

"You must at all times remember, however, that it is as serious a mistake to concentrate wholly in the superconscious as it is in the brain­mind or the body. To each its balanced due of yourself; for that balancing is the art of life."

 

THE HIGHER POWER