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The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942

 

CHAPTER XIX
THE GREAT SIMPLICITIES
1.

 

BY NATURE Betty was a givey person. Indeed, I used to joke that her endless generosities had forced me to become mean and avaricious just to keep us out of the poorhouse. There was little need, therefore, for the Invisibles to stress desire as the first rule in the discipline of outflow. Nonetheless outflow, as well as inflow, must be motivated, they told us, by the wish-to rather that the will-to. And Betty, the naturally generous and free handed, responded with enthusiasm. "It's so much more natural to give," she said, "than to take."

 

Not that there were no gropings and stumblings on the way to her full understanding of the art of managing the outflow of the Supply, now that she had learned how to tap it. There were many puzzlements. But these the Invisibles helped her to resolve by what they called the Great Simplicities.

 

I shall not catalogue the Simplicities here in advance, but rather call them to attention as they developed in due course. It is best to picture Betty as reaching out for them, feeling her path as she went—for that is how it actually happened.


 

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"There come certain times in one's evolution when one completes a phase of development," Betty was explaining the next stretch of road. "Instead of being a freshman, one is a senior. I can always tell when I am starting a new field of work, because I can turn around so easily and look back at the old one so clearly. And you can't turn around until you have pretty well finished up a stage....

 

"I wish I could get a good analogy for the sensation of what I'm facing now. There's quite a change in the feel of it—something like being made a pro instead of an amateur."

 

Contributed the Invisibles: "The practice of the higher consciousness, an active life regulated by it—this is the final step in our present teachings. After accustoming yourself to the universal mind, convincing yourself of its desirability, then comes the still more difficult practice of using it. It must be done in relation to earth life, or it is not done at all. One must learn to take the rough and tumble, the unsympathetic contacts, indifferent if not actually thwarting."

 

There was a pause while Betty digested this.

 

"Formerly," she acknowledged at last, "I brought myself, by various symbols to stand under a spiritual sun, as it were, passive and receptive. Now I must go out actually on the earth to live to the full, to fail and fall, experiment, create a new environment. . . ."

 

"You admit the inflow unquestioningly," said the


 

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Invisibles. "That, however, is but an opening of the gates. You must go through."

 

"Oh dear, I've been so busy getting this thing into my consciousness," lamented Betty, "and now I've got to be just as busy getting it out—and it's just as hard!"

 

"Remember," reiterated the Invisibles, "the first point—that the active life means constant inflowing and outflowing. You must never, never forget to be constantly giving out.

 

Either Betty or myself—I forget which—wanted a specific hint as to where to begin. Active where and how?

 

"It doesn't make the least difference what you do," came the answer, "or which part of the world you choose to function in. It is the functioning itself that counts. The main thing is to get rid of the stoppage at the place of meeting with the world. The 'through' process must be acquired.

 

"Without this giving out there is no circulation. From now on your outgo must equal your intake. You"—they were speaking more directly to Betty—"are rapidly outgrowing the stage where you contain, as a quiet pool, a backwater portion of the current of life. In future your status must be one of continuous movement, without stoppage at your point of contact with the world. Obstruction is there at present.

 

"Don't be so solemn about it," they urged. "This is a pleasure-giving party, solely and simply an acceleration


 

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of happiness—and how to step on the accelerator. That doesn't make such a bad picture, does it?"

 

And anyway, they pressed the point home, how do you get fun out of anything you have?

 

"By using it," they insisted. "You can have titles of possession, but they are only scraps of paper. Can't you imagine a man who doesn't know how to read, owning a library with every book in the world in it? All he owned would be stuff. He couldn't eat it. He couldn't get anything out of it!

 

"The important thing to realize is that this unified consciousness cannot be imprisoned and shackled. It must be held lightly and loaned to others, passed freely and lavishly. One's function is to help conduct a flow—not to steal a cupful of something and ran away with

 

I thought the Invisibles were rather over-stressing the point. Still they tried for a clearer picture, as Betty slowly took their dictation, seemingly hanging on every word.

 

"It is a sort of down-thrust after the upward extension," said they, "a definite movement in return. Whatever you practice hereafter, keep in mind the strong down-thrust as necessary for rebound.

 

"In fact, there is little permanent value in having learned the higher laws unless you can do this. Suppose with their help you have succeeded in transmuting an area around yourself—have made a start at surrounding


 

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yourself with harmony and health and happiness. Still you haven't really accomplished much unless you can maintain the effectiveness of your perception by spreading the area. That area, that transmutation, must spread, expand around you, or you will find yourself possessed only of narrow puritanical piety."

 

So it was then that Betty mastered one of the Great Simplicities— Circulation, as the Invisibles now and then called it, meaning not merely the necessity for an outgo equal to the intake. The outgiving must not be intermittent. Circulation, not in spurts but rather as a continuous flow— movement always; that's the idea.

 

"I see myself as I used to be," said Betty finally, "convinced of the essential tuning process, without which we are nothing; doing it more or less regularly; luxuriating in it even. The picture is now repellent to me. It lacked something I must temporarily name robustness and independence. It had no joyous dynamics. It would be impossible for me to return to the apathetic stage, except periodically for rest, or if I became conscious of nervous tensions, or for healing if ill. No longer am I concerned with exercises in spiritual contact. That, fortunately, has become automatic. I've made that connection. Now I've got to turn the current on and let it flow through. Circulation!"


 

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Particularization was the name given by the Invisibles to another of the Great Simplicities.

 

"A rather ponderous bit of language," I suggested.

 

Betty chuckled, as though she too had found the word amusing. But her amusement quickly passed. There was a long pause.

 

"I must try to tell you," she said at last, "what I experienced just now in being unable to utilize the love force around me. I could not hold it condensed and shape it in any form. I must explain this, because we've got to understand it—the pain of taking shape, the anguish of particularization. I have no right to take more expansion. It would be like overfeeding, or massed wealth—something damaging to me. I have been allowed for years to experience the rhapsody of a higher life, but now I come willingly to suffer the pain of myself shaping one little verse from the great rhapsody....

 

"Don't you see, I've progressed to beauty and abundance but can't enjoy it because there's no scheme or plan of arrangement to it."

 

She fell silent a moment.

 

"Take a concrete example from our everyday lives," she continued. "Let us say we have decided that our days are going to be shaped in freedom of movement, unbarnacled. And suppose we have acquired the expansion


 

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of heart, and are trying to live it widely and glowingly and merrily. Now we come to the point: there is something more than that. If we stop there, it is almost a stagnation. We have got to be continually taking those very qualities of liberation and wide sympathy, and shaping them into something needed in the world, something near to others. This we must do, even at the cost of suffering diminutions of our emotional satisfaction."

 

Mere outflow, it seemed, was not enough, however sustained and steady. It must focus to definite ends; it must particularize.

 

"Inspiration," said the Invisibles, "comes only in attraction to some definite output, some definite production. It cannot come unless it has a container. Inspiration only fills what is prepared for it. It cannot be controlled otherwise. It is like electricity; it has to be brought into a mechanism ready for it. The through current must push something. In the same way the higher consciousness is a wonderful driving force, but its nature is to dissipate unless it meets something that helps its particularization. The force wants to be assisted: it comes for that purpose. Remember that: it is a waiting, undifferentiated force that wants to be differentiated. Your business is now to attach something to it—and so make it practical.

 

"At first your little stream will doubtless find its way only in diffused efforts hither and thither, seeking a


 

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path in which to flow. But just as Water tends to unify itself in a river bed, so you too must feel your way to a shaping."

 

"I don't shoot straight ahead with a superior overriding force," interjected Betty. "I hardly even plan. I seem at first just to stand tiptoe and look ahead at my objective, at it were. Then I busy myself generating a great and composed secure determination, quite different from nervous will-power. It is a great confident recognition of my ability to get there. Only I seem to work very hard at the generating; as if I actually made light, where it was dark, in order to see the way. Oh, I can't seem to say anything that fits."

 

And then she added, chuckling again: "I feel like a smudge pot, keeping off the frost. That's all I can do now. . . . Well, it's something! It helps the climate—temporarily."

 

3.

 

In the enthusiasm of this outflowing, warned the Invisibles, Betty was not to forget to keep up the inflow. That is the trouble with so many people.

 

"As water evaporates under the influence of the sun," said the Invisibles, "so does the absorbing quality of earth life diminish your supply. Keep ever in mind the constant uninterrupted renewal of power. Have


 

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complete confidence in the power house, of which you are a distributor.

 

"Evaporation of force is so subtly accomplished that you may not always recognize your depletion," they, continued. "So keep constantly in mind the power house idea, making sure you possess its feeling of strength before attempting to distribute—or combat. There is grave danger here of ill equipment and defeat for no reason but the world-sapping of your strength, of which you have been unconscious. If your weapons fail you, it is because you have allowed this. Distribution is so easy and comfortable when you feel sure of the storage capacity."

 

But don't worry about it, the Invisibles added. It is not going to desert you, in the interims, provided you do return regularly to the power house.

 

"Don't keep wondering if you are 'working in a spiritual way,' " they said. "The Source will not desert you unless you lose your surety and strangle yourself with tensions. Then you cut it off; you chill yourself. The important thing is the sensing how long you can work masterfully without renewing yourself."

 

"It cannot be just abandoned," Betty joined in. "Yet we do not keep nervously busy maintaining it."

 

"It is Your rhythm that is important," the Invisibles returned. "There is nothing difficult about it. Just do not go on working when you feel that depreciation has set in. Then a momentary return to attunement is all


 

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that is necessary; provided you have made a strong and accustomed home of it, have established your home of comfort and worship."

 

And that momentary return to attunement constituted still another of the Great Simplicities—Replenishment.

 

"Like using a storage battery which has to be recharged," was my suggestion. "Isn't it possible to connect up with the dynamo?"

 

"Yes," they again agreed, "—ultimately. But right now we are trying to set down a kindergarten way. And the two outstanding points of it are: to spend always plenty of time tuning yourself in comfort and worship at your Source, plenty of time to well establish your participation in its power, replenishing it when need be; and then never to doubt that it follows you when your mind is completely freed from it in the minutiae of work."

 

"It's a handhold for practice in turmoils, even little turmoils," confided Betty. "I am trying to get something clear-cut for the rough and tumble of things. You are apt to send out then a sort of desperate feeler for something you think you have lost. You feel that you ought to be doing something different and extra-special about something you left behind you. I want to do away with that. If you are running a car at high speed, you can't afford to look up rapturously for inspiration. You've got to trust the stars are still there, and that you


 

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can look up to them when the night comes. You must keep your compartments organized, so you can step from one to the other with no fuzzy places between."

 

"It is," said Betty to me, when finally she had grasped the distinction, "simple technique. The very first thing always is the tuning of yourself, your leap or levitation of heart to your Source;—or even just presenting yourself. It is especially the feeling of comfort. It is, first, the absolute tuning of yourself. You are then imbedded in something so much more potent than yourself, so incomprehensibly secure. All you can do is to sense the comfort, the security of it; to lend yourself rapturously to it; to worship it.

 

"Next, while you are completely comfortable, composed and warmed and reassured of your divinity;—while you are there, before any tensions can start, while power is upon you, decide what you are going to do when you are farther away from it; when you have changed your focus. Decide what you are going to do; and go promptly and do it."

 

Not that following the prescription is easy. It was not so even for Betty.

 

"At present I am working under the greatest difficulty I have ever had," she said. "You see, I used to be like a reservoir with no sluice gates. Consequently I just overflowed automatically, without control, and a lot went to waste. No longer helped to a super-abundance,

 

I now have to make my own current by opening definite


 

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outlets. As a result, what used to be a great outpouring is now only a thin trickle."

 

"Be content," advised the Invisibles. "Keep replenishing. Keep going. It is yours, however pitiful. Beginnings are always pitiful. But that is your stage in the great progression. There is nothing unusual about it. You are bringing in a substance that is alien to the environment. Be faithful to it. If for long periods it does not augment, what matter? It is there; and in time, with the growth of wisdom, you will find skill for a full flow."

 

4.

 

"I take stock of myself," Betty told me. "My, but it's nice to be free! If I could only feel this way all the timer Nobody ever told me what a tremendous passionate joy there is in pouring yourself out; a necessity of being. I've pent myself up all my life in comparison with what I might have done. It is everything I ever hoped for, life and love and food and drink, outpoured in a great heart-emptying, rush."—

 

And then, another time, years later:

 

"Supposing you offered yourself completely and eagerly, joyously spent yourself on something because you wanted to more than anything else in the whole wide world; and while doing it you suddenly found you were receiving something beyond anything you


 

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had ever experienced before, so that you didn't know whether you were giving or taking; that would be the beautiful state, the beautiful union, this wonderful thing we are trying to get hold of and are evolving toward."

 

5.

 

A very disturbing time had descended on Betty.

 

"Oh dear! " she cried. "What I don't know worries me so much, and what I do know doesn't interest me! Always, always this feeling of the vastness of what we have to learn. Why sometimes I can glimpse down centuries ahead; and I come back feeling as though I were now in the cave-man age!

 

"That's neither here nor there," she checked herself sharply. "There's no excuse for being fuzzy!"

 

Promptly the fourth Great Simplicity came through. Apparently "spirituality" can and sometimes does get out of hand. It needs Regulation. So the fourth Simplicity was named.

 

"The proportioning mechanism is sincerity," decided Betty, after due consideration. "The strength of one's sincerity is a large ingredient of success. That seems to regulate the flow back and forth from the Source to our desired accomplishment. Sincerity. That is the best I can do for that beautiful ingredient of reality. If I said earnestness, it would be dreary and laborious


 

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I don't want to get the idea of fixity of any kind, but I want to get the idea of regulation from within one's self. You see, part of the time we shall be using this intuitive leap to the Source and back; and part of the time we shall be using the logic and observation and experience of our ordinary minds. The two come closest together in sincerity. There you are true to both sides, neither lending yourself too loosely to your newly, found visions, nor bringing in the stiffness of your limited mind. So the best I can do is the word sincerity."

 

"Nobody," said the Invisibles, "has ever tarnished it because so few use it completely. It is being yourself, your best inner self, so naturally and freely that you give courage to the timid inner selves of others. That makes the hook-up. That is offering something simple and sound and true, instead of irritating people with benign shallowness."

 

"It carries so illuminatingly, like a beam across the whole surface of social insincerity." Betty took it up. "It is not bluntness: it is kindly penetration.

 

"There is also humor, thank goodness!" she added. "That comes in when we limp a little, or lag. It patches up bad holes in our character. It keeps our admirations fresh, because it cannot associate with priggishness. There is always the cheering absurdity between our aims and our nebulous accomplishments. It minimizes our afflictions. It keeps us tender toward the weaknesses of others.


 

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"With Sincerity and Humor we cannot go far wrong, even in untried fields. That's why I call them regulators, these qualities."

 

6.

 

All this preparation, as presented here, appears to precede the actual experiences and experiments that enabled Betty to real-ize, to make-it-so, to become what she knew. But from the bald chronological standpoint these actual experiences had already long since begun. However, bald chronology, as always, gives no clear picture of process. I must, like the Invisibles, skip about, selecting from the record, sketch what seems necessary to the framework of effort and indicate the tools Betty must use. One of the latter, of course, was the care of the physical body. As a furtherance for spiritual development the Invisibles had no use whatever for the medieval idea, still persistent enough, of the "mortification of the flesh."

 

"One thing to respect always," they protested any such point of view, "is the physical body. If there is flattening out and dulling of it, that comes about through various misinterpretations of the relations between the spiritual and the physical. The growth in refinement of the inner being may interpret itself into aenemia of the physical being, into restrictions of foods and appetites of all kinds. Don't make hard and fast


 

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rules for yourself physically. Deliberately break over your regulations and observe the reflex of comfort and fluidity your whole being will enjoy. There is no necessity to elaborate this. It is a hint that you can accept or reject as you please."

 

The idea met no opposition from Betty. Zest of enjoyment in all that the world had to offer had always been characteristic of her.

 

"I want common ordinary earth brute force!" she declared. "It's my contribution, my share. Spirituality on earth is impotent without it. It is the functioning body of the spirit. They concentrate me on the spiritual until I have a certain amount, and then I have to produce the force to make it function. If I merely kept on with the spiritual I'd just get a weak thing that would convince nobody. Oh, I like looking at such nice, fine, forceful bodies! Their muscles stand out; they're fit and ready; and each holds up steadily and blithely his spiritual gift that he is carrying. Fine! It thrills me."

 

Fine! the Invisibles echoed. But, they rather humorously anti-climaxed Betty's abandon, mere physical brute force is not quite it. There is no reason why one should not "be his age," no reason to pretend a physical vigor unnatural to one's years. Let the kids have their own kind of vigor. It's about all they do have!

 

"Attainment of the higher consciousness," the Invisibles


 

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pointed out, "involves a new way of working. It has more dependence on mental and spiritual vigor than on physical. The former is not possible in physical youth. You enter a rare period of enjoyment once you can overleap the largely magnified dictates of the body and learn wisely to manage it; learn not to arouse its combative simulations, but to give it ease and consideration, exceptionally pampering it if necessary to gain its cooperation. Let your vigor and abandon of youth, your enthusiasm for adventure, be in the mental and spiritual integration you have acquired. The body, thus cajoled, will serve you efficiently to the end. Even invalids have acquired this technique for exceptional adventures."

 

Simplicity of all simplicities—respect for the Temple of the Body!

 

THE NATURE, OF THE SUBSTANCE