The Road I Know by Stewart Edward White 1942




OF COURSE, the Invisibles had told Betty all along, she was going to meet obstructions, throughout life. There is a necessary resistance, they indicated. How else can one rise? How else does an airplane rise, save through the resistance of the air?


"After all," said they, "the time to practise anything enduring is in the times of stress....


And, they added dryly she would find no dearth of stress points. That is life; and life, in last analysis, is people, just people. All the rest—the material comforts, the material securities, the material necessities—are met by the ingenuities of the mind and the energies of the body, and what they assure is bare existence. But it is in one's dealings with people, one's relations with people, one's gifts to and from people, that one meets the deeper resistance by which one's consciousness may rise. That is life; and that is the nature of its substance.


I think they were warning Betty not to expect everything to be all sweetness and light and brotherhood of man merely because she had come to understand the nature of her substance. Or perhaps not. They must have known Betty pretty well by now, and have been


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    231


quite aware of her personal history. Without going into details, she had been enmeshed from childhood with a singularly complete array of self­centered and exacting neurasthenics, encroaching and demanding personalities with whom she had to cope; nor did her marriage free her from them entirely. The Invisibles classed them as "unreceptives," which seemed to me a masterpiece of understatement. If I had been consulted, I should have said that Betty needed no instruction on how to get along with people, prickly or otherwise. It is a literal fact that in the thirty-six years of our life together I never knew her to quarrel, with anybody; not even with me! I am certain this is no fatuous reconstruction because, occasionally for the fun of it, I would try to prod her into a fight, and never succeeded. Oh, she could be firm enough, as many—again including myself—found out, but in some mysterious and Bettyish fashion she managed it without battle or indignation.


Be that as it may, the Invisibles and Betty embarked on a statement of principles concerning conflict.





"First of all," the Invisibles began, apropos of "unreceptive" people, "you must protect yourself from getting in their zone of action. You must first insulate yourself. Insulation is not unsympathetic! It is just the


232                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


precaution the doctor takes against infection. So insulation is not isolation.


"Next," they advised, "keep yourself whole. The strategy of war is to divide the enemy. Recognize instantly when you are being divided. Laugh a good strong laugh, and rush forward. At the moment of unity surge onward in spite of obstructions. Whenever provoking things happen, look on yourself as in danger of being the vanquished instead of the victor, the captured instead of the captor. Each time you score, it is a definite count; it is not erased. It is like acquiring something; makes what you are doing easier. It is a great help each time you hold fast and don't get captured.


"Do not start out expecting to be flattered by spectacular results. Just plan to keep going for the satisfaction of occupying your place in the greater scheme. There will always be moments of full realization, the blooming and fruition natural to all life. That also will come to you in its turn. It is not all strain and effort.


"Do not," they continued, "be discouraged even when failure turns into something like actual defeat. This is fun, you know, like gardening or healing or painting a picture or any other creative satisfaction. You decide, as a master should, how things should be, and you make them so. You dominate your materials, instead of being dominated; and because of your strength of perception you are able to look beyond inevitable


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    233


failure to inevitable success, Pay no attention to defeat. When you look at the defeat side it is like compound interest. The next time you will have to overcome this time, and the failure that went before, and the one before that....


"And finally," they completed their fist, "watch your fore­determinations. Bad days must not be bad before they begin. Put your consciousness on the higher level, before you start out every day. You need more preparedness for yourself. That is your job. Particularized foredetermination," they discriminated, "not just hazy. Work it over carefully, as you would an architect's blueprint. That is vitalized thinking. It's different, a creative thinking. There's substance to it. It is really a higher form of thought."


"I do try to work it," said Betty. "I know the law, but—oh dear, it's so unpopular! Everybody thinks it's mushy. They don't know what I'm doing."


"These points are the important ones," summed up the Invisibles, "the robustness of your intent, and the temporary quality of seeming defeat. Remember we are concerning ourselves with the laws of a higher force which must, eventually, overcome things potent only in their own generation and time."


"All right," agreed Betty. "Every time I feel annoyed or deflected or crossed, I'll think of myself as in danger of capture by inferior force. Instead of cutting myself off from my reinforcements, I'll try to utilize


234                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


them in commonplace moments like that, and not keep them f or big, noble occasions."


"In your relations to people," said the Invisibles, "it isn't at all this everything-to-everybody, hand-grasp idea. That's the cheap imitation; very cheap! There is dignity and reserve and depth to the real thing. It is just a quiet feeling, a silent feeling of kinship and sympathetic response, instead of the usual indifference."


3. Kinship proved to be a key word.


"U, S, us; N, E, double S, ness: Us-ness," the Invisibles started Betty off, one day.


"There is no such word," she commented, "but that is what they say.... Anyhow, I can't separate myself into a hard-shelled detached unit any more.


"Apparently I'm made up of fundamentals which every created thing shares to a greater or lesser degree. Therefore I'm sympathetically connected with, and share in the life of, everything through the ingredients we have in common. That, very vaguely, is the Us-ness of it.... I can't say it very well; but it's a very nice feeling."


"Don't look at this too closely," advised the Invisibles, "don't analyze it. Take it as a broad general feeling until it grows and forms."


"I am in a wonderful atmosphere," said Betty. "It is


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    235


teeming with life, and it is plastic somehow. I feel people all around me, acting chemically on each other—just like chemical action, only it is spiritual. We laugh at the idea of auras, but they are quite real in a way. You go near a fire, and that has an aura; so has ice. Only with people it seems quite a tangible thing. It extends just a certain radius around. When people approach within that radius their auras intermingle, and at once chemical action begins."


She was silent so long I finally asked what she was doing.


"I am keeping quiet," she replied, "just to see what belongs to us all in common. It is a strange companionship. When I separate myself and enter each one of you, it is the jolliest kind of companionship. None of the little superficial differences matters at all. It is very funny: I like to laugh, and yet it would sound inane were I to tell you that just laughing, for itself done, Without any specified joke, is a nice kind of intermingling.


It's a good deal like having lots of relatives," Betty continued after a pause. "That's the heavy side of it! But the nice side of it is that you can go around feeling relationship with all the beautiful things in the world. You can call out to each other. That's much better than being a stranger in the world, isn't it—this claim of kinship to all created things.


"I can go around and call to things, call to a nice


236                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


cloud I see up there: 'Hello there! We're related to each other on such and such a side.' Or I can say to my big tree and all the little birds under it in the nest, 'I claim a bit of you all.' Wind and sun; they're touching and quickening the bit of me that is wind and sun. It's so much nicer to let them all enter in, and welcome them, and exchange courtesies with them, than to be so hard-shelled and alone....


"I'm so anxious to keep going around and seeing how much of things claim me, finding out which are my near relatives and which my far ones. They're all different. There are the stars: they are pretty distantly related. I can't do more than respect and admire them....


"I can't tell you how it changes things to think this way. The sympathetic contact makes it possible to contain the whole world within yourself, expanding to contain them all. I'm astonished at the feel of it. And it's such fun! All the infinite variations are such fun—mixing up all the shades and colors and infinite variations! I'm having a lovely time! Please let me enjoy it....


"It's such a new world I've discovered. I wonder why I didn't always know it. I've always wanted to feel that way. I want to whistle with the wind! I want to swish with the tides! I want to lullaby with the moon! I want to be loud with the thunder! I want to cr-e-e-p into small places, and I want to soar into big


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    237


ones! I'm all tingling and glowing with the warmth of the sun. I think I will go now where the cold lives."


She stopped short, struck with a new and splendid idea.


"I wonder," she speculated doubtfully, "if I could be an earthquake."


The thought of Betty as an earthquake was too much for me; I shouted aloud. She joined my laughter, but half-heartedly.


"I'd have to work my way up to that," she conceded. She waved her extended hand, now here, now there.


"Anyway, it's like waving to somebody, or letting him go by with no recognition at all. I want to go around just greeting things!


"The simplest expression I can reduce it to is in the word reciprocity," she decided. "That makes an actual thing, like an electric current. I must have very simple things like that, so they will stay in my everyday mind."




"I am," said Betty in her next approach, "face to face with this vast level of consciousness that is back of human consciousness. They show me a great rope twisted of many strands.... I don't understand it. It runs through us all.... It is the connecting link. It is the connection through which we act on each other on


238                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


this level. When we touch it, it is charged with life and vitality, an open way of wisdom and understanding. If you touched, reached this level, somebody would answer somewhere if you had a real need they could supply. It is the universal conductor in some way.


"Never mind how simplified your consciousness may become," the Invisibles told her, "nor how clear your aim or your comprehension of what you are after, nor how devoutly you may follow it, it does not work unless you have sympathetic comprehension of the inter-relation."


"I am almost afraid to try to put the relationship into words," said Betty, "and yet I must struggle with it." She attacked the problem of expression from many angles. "The great ocean connecting all islands and continents—all the parceled-off objective things, of however great magnitude, are but the islands and continents among and around which flows the great carrier," was one effort. But that did not work; for, said she, the universal relationship not only flows around, but through. It is the common substance of all creation, and it is in that common substance that created things meet and act on one another in proper process, intermingle in their common denominator, so to speak, and yet—


"I've made an awful mess of trying to tell you!" Betty gave up in despair. "I won't talk any more. I've said it badly because I gave the impression of a merging


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    239


of individualities. It is not that. They are distinct; but it's the merging of the substance possessed by all of them, which, kept uppermost, produces the magic."


"This is very advanced teaching," warned the Invisibles. "We are not sure that it is wise to precipitate it, but we'll sketch its meaning. Very briefly and crudely, it is to this effect:


"The undeveloped being lives in isolation of consciousness within himself, his village, his town, his country depending on how far along he is, always contained within definite personality limits, separated from other creations by the confines of his senses and sympathies. The developed man is as different a creature in the breadth of his perceptions as is a walnut in its difference from the winds. The developed man can search out any distance with an extension of himself, his full consciousness concentrated at any point he desires. He assumes kinship with other consciousnesses as poignantly as with his own."


"It is just like the radio," contributed Betty. "You pick out the right wave length and travel on it."


"This sympathetic assumption of kinship," continued the Invisibles, "empowers him with the attributes of the higher consciousness. And one result of this is that he is no longer, while living as other men, restricted by their limitations of position—position in the geometrical sense— because anything he turns his attention to ardently, anything he loves, he becomes,


240                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


in this greater entity. This greater entity gives him the ability to broadcast himself, to travel to it sympathetically, as it were, on its individual wave length."


"It may not sound like much at first," said Betty, "but think of the stupendous power of this faculty when one actually grows into full possession of it. One no longer occupies a one-pointed position. One's heart extensions are potentially universal....


"Sometimes," said she, groping for it, "I believe that just shutting your eyes and loving people is the real way. If I kept them open, I'd be so busy looking at the outsides of you. And now I don't have to: I can just shut my eyes and love you as you register on me—I can't say it very well—not what you get snarled up trying to do, but what you have inside of you that you want to be.—I must remember that's the way to do with people.


"Don't have to keep your eyes shut all the time; just now and then,—but it's easier to keep on loving them when you do!"


The Invisibles approved this.


"You can ignore the misrepresenting agents of the man—his habits, indulgences, dormancies and insist on dealing with his possibilities," said they.


"You see," Betty repeated a standard complaint, "I was sad and puzzled again about the uselessness of trying to bring real spirituality into ordinary life. It's so apt to make you shirk your devotion to other more


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    241


obvious things. I was so puzzled about it. I understood my bit of power. I'd learned a little bit about my own heart, and had timidly but unashamed, let a few other people feel it—given it to them whether they wanted to stamp on it or not. People's reactions are so very curious. Do they want to acclimatize themselves, or do they want to stay as they are?




"The greater entity," or, as the Invisibles put it at times, Kinship, is the wave length to which one tunes in order to really communicate with fellow beings. And with that came, to us both, a great illumination.


For the most part the aim of Betty's first training had seemed to be the fitting her for easy communication with the Invisibles. Now we perceived that all of it, the earlier and the later, had been to fit her for real communication with her fellow-beings wherever they might be! And the method she had learned is the method of communication everywhere. Exactly so the Invisibles communicated with her.


So now they told us a little of how they did it.


"In approaching a person with whom we wish to communicate," said they, "our preliminary preparation is the holding off from that person, temporarily, the pressure of conditions relative to his normal fife. We lift the weight. After that pressure is lifted, it is like


242                                  THE ROAD I KNOW


looking into a lighted room from the outside dark; or peering into the different element of an aquarium. That is the first process.


"Perhaps," they continued, "you will understand this better if you think of it as just like any of your other closer contacts. Take friendship, for example: you approach your real friends with exactly the same process of lightening pressures, of warmth in each other's atmospheres, of getting directly in touch with the intimate sides of them which are less recognized by the world in general.


"What have we now? We have a human being momentarily surrounded by an atmosphere of higher potentiality. The process that follows is to observe his reactions to it; the type of thing presenting itself immediately to his consciousness. The drift of this native tendency regulates to a certain degree the material possible to impart to him. The next process is one of inhibiting undesirables, relapses to habitual methods of thought.


"In other words, we select from his native equipment, when freshly released, the thing most suitable to our purposes. The skill on our side is in the correspondence possible between what we desire to impart and what the subject under observation has avidity enough to take. That avidity is an essential ingredient in common. He may not in normal consciousness be aware of this avidity. It may be a totally buried part of his spiritually


THE ROAD I KNOW                                    243


arrested nature. If however it exists at all, it can under skillful treatment be called out, educated up to our own purposes."


Here again was working in the nature of the substance.


But Betty was back with her more immediate job. She interrupted to call it "the utilizing of kinship, the connective mind, in the world of affairs."


"I'm connected with everything by one of my ingredients," she declared. "I don't understand this.... I'm just trying to grasp the feel of it.... That is what I am coming into now."