by Stewart Edward White and Harwood White
“It is essential to linger frequently on the frontier of one’s limitations, looking out eagerly across the unknown.”
THE PRESENT VOLUME, like its predecessor The Betty Book, is a matter of
collaboration in which so many people have been involved that it is
difficult to name an author for its title page. There were of course,
those who gave us the material on which it is based–the Invisibles;
anonymous and probably numerous. There was Betty who transmitted it.
There was I, who took it down and typed it and filed it in loose-leaf
books. And finally there was my brother, Harwood, to join us in selecting
and arranging and digesting and presenting in a form acceptable and
valuable to others outside our small group. No trifling job, this last,
for by the time we got at it, we had over two thousand single-spaced
pages out of which to quarry about three hundred double spaced pages of
text. It is for the form, then, that we on the title page assume
For the sake of clarity it should be mentioned that whenever the pronoun
he first person comes into the narrative, it refers to myself. The reason
for this is that it seemed wise, to all of us, to illustrate occasionally
by actual individual experience.
STEWART EDWARD WHITE
Chap. 1. OUTFITTING
Chap. 2. FAMILIAR GROUND
Chap. 3. BORDER COUNTRY
Chap. 4. PIONEER METHODS
Chap. 5. THE JUMPING-OFF PLACE
Chap. 6. LANDMARKS
Chap. 7. BACK COUNTRY
Chap. 8. THE LAY OF THE LAND
Chap. 9. PORTAGE
Chap. 10. THE GREAT ADVENTURE
Chap. 1. DISTANT RANGES
Chap. 2. TENDERFOOT
Chap. 3. PERMANENT CAMP
Chap. 4. BLAZED TRAM
Chap. 5. PASTURE
Chap. 6. EXCURSIONS
Chap. 7. HOMESTEAD
Chap. 8. EASY STAGES
Chap. 1. PRODUCTION
Chap. 2. NATURAL RESOURCES
Chap. 3. DISTRIBUTION
Chap. 4. FABRICATION
Chap. 5. SUPERVISION
Chap. 6. TECHNIQUE
Chap. 7. NEW TERRITORY
Chap. 8. COUNTRY BEYOND
Chap. 9. I BEAR WITNESS
THE ACTS of your days on days make a certain-shaped thing of you. Then in
the rhythm of life the influences too big for control strike a sharp blow
or stroke or influence or vibration of some kind, that overcomes your own
plan or sense of direction. And this same stroke arranges your
relationships quite automatically. Suddenly you fit into the place where
the thing you shaped will go with mathematical nicety. It is as though a
lot of scattered things were dancing about; and CLAP! they were all in a
pattern. You call it fate, or luck, or destiny, but all the time it is
just the preparation of your days on days, your own deliberate handiwork.
It is as though we were all put through graded sieves that suddenly
reveal our sizes to ourselves; where usually we are all so mixed together
that you could not measure. No amount of jiggling could shake you into a
place you did not fit, for which you had not shaped yourself. Only when
you are too inert to shape yourself, are you at the mercy of the Pattern
ACROSS THE UNKNOWN
THE STRUGGLE of each generation is the interpretation of the whispered
allotment of wisdom into the current vernacular. You are at the turning
of a great tide. Who is there to offer guidance in the age-proven
technique of living, and yet point ahead to the regions we are appointed
to explore? We arraign your generation for its failure to establish faith
in the proven laws of living. Will you not voice it in this book of
yours? Let honest conviction ring out; and strike a new note of
What an awful region of words I’ve come to! I don’t like them; they’re
just empty clamshells standing for things that aren’t there!
I am greatly handicapped by my seeing the subject. Seeing the subject
makes it too big for the words, and they stumble.
WE ARE here recommending to you a country beyond. We think you will find
its exploration rewarding. But we shall not be able to go along. We must
merely tell you about it; and thus, perhaps, help you to find your own
This country is not something brand-new that we have been the first to
discover. Others have passed this way before us. But they have been too
few. The topography is not yet well understood, nor is travel there
secure. Safe, well-made trails do not exist–only ways-through along
which predecessors have here and there erected markers. And these routes
are only for the sure-footed, for they are slippery and dangerous. Their
exploration is not a tour, but an adventure.
This is a fact. But I think we are often told so in the wrong way. Mostly
we are warned off. Stay out, is the cry, for this is a land of bugaboos!
Some of the warnings, especially in symbolism, are terrifying. And, to my
mind, somewhat misleading. Astral entities, dugpas, incubi and succubi,
obsessing diabolisms, black magics of all sorts–if we listen to the
East; queerness, crankiness, separateness, illusion, split personality,
all the mental aberrations right up to actual insanity–if we listen to
the West: these are the perils which we must undertake if we are to dare
in venturing. Pause and consider, they tell us solemnly; you need not
venture, but if you do, make up your mind to face these enemies and
The dangers are real enough, I believe, in whatever terms they are
stated. But they should not be terrifying, and certainly not deterring.
Did you ever read a pilot book of the Pacific Northwest Coast? It was
written by a pessimist. His favorite phrase is “should not be attempted
without local knowledge.” Scattered through his pages are gems of
description telling of the masses of ice “grinding together in tide
whirls of great velocity.” A winter fireside perusal could easily
convince a suggestible man that only a miracle could keep him from
disaster. And the author tells the truth. These perils of sunken ledge
and treacherous current, compelling tide whirl, clashing ice, are all
there. But to a man with ordinary foresight and common sense they are
slight menace-provided he meets them well-informed and well-prepared.
Just so, I conceive, these great and very real dangers to irresponsibles,
in this country beyond, are not of the sort among which one must walk in
dread–provided he is suitably equipped for the journey. Was it
Stefansson who defined the usual “adventure” as merely a lack of
preparation? That is what I am trying to emphasize here: the importance
of a little careful preparation.
Before proceeding further, we must first of all agree on the matter of
words. Unfortunately some of the words we must use are pretty well
tattered by careless use. They have frayed out into numerous rags of
connotation. They have been spread thin to cover too many aspects, each
of which really should have a word of its own. If we could find, or make,
fresh words, we should get on much better. But there are none; and the
results of our fabrication are both clumsy and cold. So we must do our
best in freshening, defining, limiting.
First, we must retread the term “psychic.” That has become a very skiddy
word; but it is the only one we have.
For this adventure into another region of consciousness is psychic; and
it uses psychic faculties. Only, unfortunately, the term covers too many
things. With some of them we have no concern at all. Some of them we
utilize as a means to the end we are after. All of them are more or less
Broadly speaking, they present two aspects. Into one general
classification we may crowd that great mass of astonishing and debated
phenomena: ectoplasm and all its varied manifestation, clairvoyance,
telepathy, direct voice, apport, spiritism, clairaudience, levitation,
and such. By most of us these have always been regarded with suspicion or
downright disbelief. Nevertheless, such a weight of evidence has
accumulated that they can no longer be dismissed by a mere scornful wave
of the skeptical hand.
In the second aspect we include a number of things of perhaps more
general toleration. Nevertheless, the average man still lumps them as at
least queer or impractical: concentration, meditation, prayer, communion,
Yogi exercises, cosmic consciousness–even intuition, inspiration and
genius. The names associated with many of these are unfortunate in
connotation. “Religion” is one. For many, somehow, it has come to bring
down the asbestos curtain. Luckily we can dodge that rough spot: our
approach takes a different route. “Occultism” is another; but that need
not alarm us, either. Occult merely means hidden–the thing beyond what
we know. And that is itself the field of our projected exploration.
Corresponding roughly to these two aspects of psychics are two general
classes of “schools.” In one we find literally dozens of systems whose
purpose is avowedly the development of “psychic powers.” That means
merely a degree of mechanical control over certain faculties latent in
all of us, but as yet little understood. In these particular schools the
“powers” are the main objective:–communion with the dead, visions of the
future, the obtaining of material benefits, and the like.
There also exist dozens of systems of a second type, some of them
resembling superficially the first, but differing in one important
respect: their stated aim is the development of the individual as a whole
to the point where he can enter what amounts to another region of
consciousness. It matters little what this region is called–the
Universal, cosmic consciousness, Samadhi, God–or how it is approached.
The objective is not various separate “powers” for their own sake, but a
single state of mind.
Most of this latter group even go a step farther, and condemn all
meddling with “psychics” as dangerous. In the not very distant past this
attitude was probably justified. Today it is extreme. Certainly even the
crudest psychic phenomena are, at the very least, legitimate materials
for objective scientific study. In that case, of course, they should be
allowed no more spiritual content than cosmic rays, or expanding nebulae,
or the filterable viruses. The scientist’s job is merely to establish
their veridicity, to understand their nature, to construct an hypothesis
of their action.
Toward this aspect of “psychics,” it must be recognized, any other
attitude is likely to be dangerous. It has often proved so. The dabbler
gets results. Many of them are disconcerting. Many turn the seeker into
bypaths apart from life, that lead into the queernesses of impractical,
sometimes crazy, theories and cults. And even the best intentions in the
world seem to be no safeguard. So true is this that, in merciful
insulation, the average human is protected by an instinctive repulsion
from the whole subject.
Nevertheless it is perfectly possible to start out comfortably and
successfully with what are in reality “psychic” activities. This also has
been proved. For some, even, this may be the only effective method. And
the fact remains, whatever route we elect for our approach to the high
country, sooner or later we find ourselves utilizing some kind of
“psychics.” We come to an elevation where our ordinary workaday senses
are not adequate. We have risen from the familiar solidities of the
valley into a new kind of country. We are dealing with intangibles, and
to deal with intangibles we are forced to work with psychic faculties.
This is true in all cases. It is true even in the case of those
philosophies and those individuals who are convinced that “psychics” are
dangerous and deterrent and must be avoided. Their warnings are
well-founded. But they are talking about something else. At the beginning
they may avoid the direct approach through avowedly “psychic” methods;
but as we gain altitude and approach the pass, the trails join.
In a previous volume–The Betty Book–I have told of Betty’s first steps
into this country beyond. In the following pages will appear SOME of her
later explorations, together with my own first steps along the trail. So
far we have been fortunate enough to avoid serious danger or distress.
And on the journey we have come into possession of a compass–one which
we feel can be trusted by others following this trail.
The basic difference between safety and danger, between anxiety and
comfort, between surety and bewilderment is very simple. It is the aim.
There are other factors along the way which we must anticipate and guard
against, as will appear later. But we cannot do so unless, first of all,
we know what we are after, and where we want to go. And we must refuse to
be deflected. We must keep the aim single.
The primary nature of this aim, also, is very simple: we are headed for
the high country of consciousness. If there are such things as “psychic
powers,” and if we early come into possession of them, it must be for use
on our journey and for nothing else. If deliberately we undertake certain
initial practices leading to any so-called “psychic state,” it will be
only as an aid to our greater intention, and for no other purpose, no
matter how many other possible uses for them seem to offer themselves. As
we penetrate the country beyond, many of these powers and conditions will
come to us naturally and securely as a by-product of our progress. Others
will as naturally fall into disuse, because they are crude and no longer
necessary or effective. But meanwhile we must be vigilant neither to
strain for their acquisition, nor to abuse the privilege of their
possession. For it is when we make them ends in themselves, and collect
or develop them for the sake of their power that they become dangerous.
They are staffs for our hands, not stunts for our gratification.
The same simple beginnings are common to either aim. The trail forks.
There is a left- and a right-hand path. That the devices we use at the
start may lead down the wrong trail as well as the right trail, is beside
the point. So may any other device whatever, including the most direct
form of communion possible to the mystic. We have our choice. And a good
compass; which is our Aim.
NOW let us take up your attitude toward things you can’t understand. What
is your first reaction? To make fun of them. That is all right: nobody
wants you not to have fun. But it would be a better idea if you could
make that your second, or your third, or your fourth reaction, rather
than your first; provided that your first was that you want to understand
it. That would be a great help.
One more thing: Every day strengthen your DESIRE for understanding: every
day make fertile your understanding by moments of admitting eternal
things to your consciousness.
YOUNG things are helpless. They must be fed, cared for, protected until
they mature through natural growth. Then they must care for themselves:
If not permitted to do so, they deteriorate into fat parasitism.
In the animal world a compelling instinct thrusts the fledgling from the
nest as soon as it has grown its feathers, severs the filial ties once
the beast has learned to use its teeth and claws. If occasionally, or
with certain species, young and old stay together for a time, it is not
as a family, but rather as a co-operative unit in which each, old and
young, plays its equal and adult part.
Man serves the same necessity. But in his case the instinct does not
compel. He may inhibit it, or deny it. As a parent he may cling to his
child far beyond the time, swayed sentimentally by misguided–and
selfish–“affection,” or more harshly by an egocentric demand of filial
obligation. Or it may be the child who lingers, held by a wholly false
sense of “duty.” There is something to be said for him; but little for
the youth who lingers because he loves his safe comfort, or distrusts his
ability to make his own way. There are plenty of them. They would not be
permitted in the sure clean functioning of the animal world. The bird
pushes the reluctant laggard over the edge of the nest.
It is a law, and a simple law: that of ripeness. When a seed–or an
animal–or a man–is ripe, it must mature to its next phase. Or rot.
The impelling force behind that maturing is also simple. It is
discontent. When the young thing has ripened, he becomes discontented, he
wants to get out. Too often he is reproached as ungrateful, and is a
grief to his parents who “have done everything for him.” That is silly,
for this is no discontent of captiousness, discontent against details. It
is something more noble; rather a dissatisfaction with things as they
are, with himself as he is. When we perceive clearly its significance, we
turn the word inside out, and rename it ambition. Then it becomes
admirable: but it is discontent just the same. And it can always be
recognized because its state is of discomfort. Resentfully, always, we
grope for comfort. We are yet to learn that comfort is not stable, but
must be constantly recaptured.
As a race we follow that instinct fairly well. Whether we express it to
ourselves or not, we do recognize that the fettered family is
pathological. We approve the restlessness of ambitious youth. But
curiously enough we fail to recognize exactly the same thing when it
works on us in later years. When, at that time, the old formless unrest
once again stirs our spirits–causelessly it may seem–we resent, or we
endure. We have not learned this lesson of youth, which is that our
discontents are among our most valuable gifts from life. They are not to
be resented or endured. They are to be examined. And examination, if we
are vitally intelligent, results in our doing something about it. Which,
in turn, means a new venturing. Curious that we can see this only in
retrospect. Curious that we are able to smile so indulgently at the
fevered blind rebellions of our adolescence, seeing them clearly for what
they were, and yet fail to see that our present case is no different.
That was our emerging from our physical and mental adolescence. This can
be our emerging from our spiritual adolescence. It can be a dangerous
moment–or an inspiring one. It may close the door, or open it to a wide
This happened to me a number of years ago. I could see no sense to it. My
personal and material world should have been satisfactory. I was happily
married; I had an interesting profession, in which I was successful; I
was in excellent health, had independent means, congenial friends in all
walks of life. Finally–most essential–I saw clearly plenty of work
ahead and plenty of adventure opening up in certain projected excursions
into a wilderness new to me. Certainly I had every ingredient for
happiness. And I was happy, I told myself, entirely so! If, I asked
myself, I were to be given a free hand to fashion a desirable life for
myself, how could I improve on what I had? Nevertheless a faint uneasy
restlessness–the restlessness that meets one on the far side of
novelty–had begun to whisper in my car. Cui bono? [to what end?] that
miserable sneering question that awaits every one of us somewhere along
Fortunately for me, at this point I was led into a new venture. This
experience I have tried to describe in another book,* both as a factual
story, and as an exposition of things learned through certain teachings.
The latter seemed true and important to a few of us, and of general
value. Nevertheless we wished to be pretty sure of that. We must try them
out to see if they would work. Pragmatism. As Dooley said: “Av it
worruks, it’s true.” The only way to tell was to give them time to work.
Therefore we delayed publication–for seventeen years.
* The Betty Book.
Incidentally I, personally, had to be driven to certain conclusions as to
their origin. They purported to be given, through Betty, from outside
Intelligences. We nicknamed them the Invisibles, largely because of their
insistence on remaining anonymous.
For me that was rather a large order. Frankly I could not, for a long
time, accept them for what they purported to be. But driven is the word:
I was finally driven to it. It took a long time, and a gradual
accumulation of small logicalities rather than large evidences–though
these did not lack. Finally I could not reject them, simply because
rejection at last became ridiculous. For each objection I had to adopt
another explanation, and these perforce grew so numerous and so different
that they in turn demanded a more inclusive explanation. And in the long
run I found myself using such ingenious mental devices that they became
more unbelievable than the thing itself. Just as I had my properly
cautious skepticism all neatly arranged, along would come some other
small fact that did not fit in anywhere. That too had to be explained, or
the whole mess would fall down like a stack of matches. And to explain it
altered the explanations of a lot of the others; and the new explanations
had to be more and more ingenious or they would not fit, until it all got
so complicated that anybody’s most homespun reasoning would call it
absurd. It was magnificent, but was it sense?
So, finally, that point was settled. I was willing to accept, as a fact,
that we were receiving through Betty, from outside, and apparently
discarnate, intelligences, a graded and progressing and logically
acceptable instruction on how to get along in life.
Most of the ideas offered by these intelligences were foreign to my habit
of thought. I will here epitomize from The Betty Book sufficient for the
purpose of their basic concepts.
Filling all space, said they, is a great sea of undifferentiated force.
We can call it life, or spirit, or the Universal–anything we please. But
it is the thing by virtue of which all living things exist, through their
ability to transmute this general force into something individual. In
other words they–and we are vital transformers. It follows that we are
alive and developed in proportion to how much of this force we can
accept, and how freely it flows through us. The better we do this the
higher grade we occupy, and the more alive and contented and effective we
Ordinarily, said the Invisibles, this goes on unconsciously, and more or
less inefficiently. We are self-contained. We are encrusted in a hard
shell. A certain flow through us persists in spite of this. Otherwise we
should not be alive at all. But too often it is the barest trickle: no
more than sufficient to carry on painfully a slow progress and a torpid
In the green stage of unripeness little can be done to alter these
natural processes. But there comes a time, to everyone, when we can, if
we will, take conscious and intelligent direction. Then these heretofore
automatic processes will function not only better and more quickly, but
less painfully. In The Betty Book I set down the philosophy and technique
of how this can be done. It is unnecessary here to repeat more than basic
principles. I will state them as briefly as possible.
One of these is that each of us occupies not only the physical body we
see, but a second or spiritual body. This latter will continue to contain
us after physical death. Though imperceptible to our ordinary senses, the
spiritual body is no vague wraith of insubstantial shadow. It is
perfectly real, made of definite substance, and will function in a world
that corresponds to it. That world also is of definite substance. Indeed
so far from the fuzzy or ghostlike is this world that, in one sense, its
matter is even more substantial than that of the physical universe, for
it interpenetrates–fills the interspaces–of the latter. In it the
realities of consciousness will have more vivid scope than we know in our
present phase. Through it the vital force of the universe acts more
powerfully and directly than with us.
But–and here is the important point–that world is not separated from
ours by a hard and fast iron wall of time. We can, in certain ways, begin
to function in it now. Indeed at the time of ripeness that is what we
must do if we are to continue efficient and developing. If we gain
consciously and keep continuously our contact with it, our reservoirs
will draw from unfailing abundance. The difference between that and our
ordinary state would be the difference between power line and a storage
In doing this our final aim is to develop a definite, close-knit core of
self, in which we can have confidence as an indestructible unit. For only
in this way can we be assured of a permanent nucleus of individuality
which will hold securely together in the strain of life–and death.
Such are the barest of bare bones that upheld the body of the teachings
we received. Their record now fills over two thousand pages. They cover a
wide foreground of detail–as to how this force works in daily life; how
consciously to seek it, and appropriate it, and apply it effectively.
Incidental to the placing of that detail is an inclusive background of
cosmology. The whole picture, background and foreground, is coherent; it
is intellectually satisfying; it progresses both onward and upward until
it escapes the grasp of our highest reaches of imagination. And it stands
by itself, so that in the end it does not matter one bit whence or from
whom it came.
YOU’VE got to play with the idea before you can make it work, because you
are not operating in your accustomed substance. You are employing a
higher creative form which you don’t know how to use, except
unconsciously and relaxedly.
ONLY a very dull man could receive such a body of such ideas without a
wide shift in his point of view. Certainly I was not that dull. For one
thing it gave me a rationale. It silenced my vague discontent. Here was a
sufficing reason for being. I had a comfortable placement. That alone was
But it went farther than that. I began to see things whole, to
discern–not too clearly at first–a general scheme. Things fitted
together. Certain of them lost importance; such as death, hatreds,
irritations, conflicts, antagonisms, to mention a few at random. Certain
others gained importance;–the small acts, efforts, and decisions of the
minutes and hours of every day. How should they not, if one is SHOWN that
the causes and effects of life are not isolated, but smoothly continuous?
That they come to no dead ends, that there are no dead ends, not even
That was all to the good. It sorted me out mentally. One goes ahead more
confidently if he does not have to go it blind. Indeed so hearten this
one little item of intellectual understanding that for some time I was
quite content. This much demonstrated, in my own case, that the thing did
work, and that because of it I was getting along in life with greater
But shortly it was borne in on me that the mental was only a part. Betty,
and a few others, were getting something else out of it. They had the
same mental understanding as I, but also something more, a relationship
of some kind that so far I had missed.
I had insight enough to recognize in this a tie-in with all the other
“systems” of illumination and advancement into which human instinct has
groped. There have been many. Sometimes they have been dignified into
religions. Sometimes they have been limited down into philosophies, or
merely into cults. But whatever they were, their adherents fall
invariably into two classes: those who gave mental assent and who, in
return gained a certain–often valuable–understanding; and those who
came into some closer relationship that brought them the something more.
And no matter what the “system” was, it worked, and endured, if that
relationship was established. It remained merely an interesting
philosophy if that relationship was missed.
My insight penetrated just this far, and no deeper. What was this
peculiar relationship, and how did one enter into it? That was what I
must try to find out.
My whole training was against me. I was, as yet, interested only in
definite, clear-cut ideas. All my experience, up to now, seemed to have
proved them the most reliable guides. At any rate they were least likely
to conduct one into dangerous fogs. I rather prided myself on being
practical and hardheaded and “intellectual.” What I wanted was direct
statements, ideas, scientific facts. And I demanded them. I set out to
pin down these supposed Invisibles.
Well, I got definite statements at times, especially in the beginning.
But somehow I felt discontented, though I could not quite place my finger
on the why. It was as though these people had some idea or purpose that
they kept withholding, something below the obvious plain surface of what
they said. I sensed it constantly, as one senses the hum behind a
long-distance conversation. It was subtle, and baffling, and finally it
got on my nerves. I demanded a showdown. Why don’t you say, in so many
words, what you mean? said I. I’m an intelligent human being; I can
understand plain speech. Here, from the record, is the verbatim
* For the benefit of those who have not read The Betty Book, it should be
explained that these records were dictated to me by Betty while in a kind
of disassociated state–not, however, amounting to unconsciousness.
Sometimes she spoke in her own person; sometimes one of the Invisibles
spoke through her, the shift being marked by a change in voice, diction
INVISIBLE: Please note: you will not get scientific explanation such as
you expect. You will get the reality as we can manage to give it, which
you can deduce as theory later. We cannot tell you in words which would
convey anything to you, what we must accomplish by molding you to the
thing itself. It becomes increasingly difficult to put things so as to be
easily acceptable to your intellect. Understanding can be acquired only
by actual participation in the reality. At present there is no reaction
of experience to words representing that reality.
S E W: Nevertheless words will be necessary to explain to others who have
not experienced the reality.
INVISIBLE: That will be your part after the perception is yours–after
you are capable of entering it in reality. Only through your capacity of
understanding can truth be produced in written symbol. It is impossible
for us alone. From the beginning that has been difficult for you to
realize. Reckon on statements as near as we ire capable of making them;
but only as an accompaniment to the acquisition of the thing itself.
Without the latter, explanations would be sterile.
S E W: As I understand it, then, it is impossible for you to express
major truths in words; but after you lead us into the reality, it is
within our power to find the words that will express and prove it.
INVISIBLE: That’s better; that’s much better. You kind of broke through
then. That cleared up things considerably.
S E W: I don’t quite see why you did not say that before.
INVISIBLE: You acquired it–produced it yourself.
S E W: But it seems a simple enough intellectual idea….
INVISIBLE: No; not an intellectual idea. It is a growth in yourself. It
would have remained a sterile intellectual idea, as you call it, unless
we had forced you to produce it yourself.
S E W: But it could have been stated….
INVISIBLE: Why will you have only one dimension! But, have patience with
our methods. They are more farseeing in results than you imagine. For the
present don’t try to acquire too definite a formula in your medium, but
work for comprehension of the thing in ours. The difference is between
the taking of detached, intellectual, occasionally contemplated concepts,
and having them a constant, integral part of your consciousness. This
difference is the most difficult to present simply to the educated. Minds
which are firmly established in their own sphere of action will not even
pause to contemplate another. It is the keystone of the whole benefit to
be derived from any of these teachings, and is always impatiently
acknowledged and instantly rejected because it dethrones the sovereignty
of the lesser instrument receiving the message.
BETTY: How stiff words are! They’ve only got one plane–like paper dolls
instead of people. Takes so many of them. Leave it: it’s getting all
daubed up with words. So we’ll leave that.
This did jar me ahead a little. At least I had a new intellectual
conception. I had a new sequence, a new Pattern: that while pure reason
has its function in this kind of exploration, it is not an ORIGINATING
function. It acts AFTER the fact, rather than before. It does not itself
find anything; it thinks about things after they are found. Then it can
appraise, accept or reject, utilize, apply–but only what is brought to
it by other, and perhaps higher, aspects of mind.
That was an advance. But I must have been, I can see now, an exasperating
sort of pupil. I had not yet decided just how literally Betty’s
experiences should be taken. SOMEBODY had to keep his feet solidly on the
ground! And I had to be the one. Therefore, as I saw it, I could not lay
aside my tried and tested reasoning powers in favor of something that
looked to me pretty vague and nebulous. And I said so.
“Do not,” advised the Invisibles, “be abashed by your ponderable mind,
any more than you are abashed by ponderable people. There is, you know, a
certain type of over-sane, over-cautious people who have never sensed
intangible verities; who prefer to occupy themselves exclusively with the
more limited ponderables; just as there are the unfortunates who have
never sensed the rapture of a perfume or the ecstasy of a color harmony.
Escape frequently from the limitations of your ponderable mind, and
capture a small boy’s enjoyment in constructing yourself a tree house,
high above your ordinary workaday dwelling place.”
“Your advice appeals to me,” I agreed, “but it reminds me a little of the
Book of Etiquette: ‘When meeting new people always assume an easy
unconscious demeanor.’ Suppose you have an idea in the back of your mind
that perhaps you are only going to make a chump of yourself. Just how do
you recommend getting around that?”
“You can,” they replied quaintly, “begin to gain this reality without
believing in it at all! All we ask of anybody at first is an attitude of
receptivity. The intellectual attitude doesn’t matter, not in the least.
Consider a flower in need of sunlight–a flower possessed of thinking
intelligence. Can’t get sunlight in its heart unless it opens its petals.
If it opens its petals, it gets sunlight, and the, sunlight has its
effect. Now why should a gardener, interested principally in the growth
of flowers, care a hang whether that flower’s theory of why it opened is
that it possesses a subconscious and illusory sun, or not? Whether it
imagines that a gardener exists or not, provided it opens its petals?
“Now we do not care whether we are labelled Subconscious Secundus or
Subconscious Tertius; or whether anybody thinks some portion of his
personality evokes these experiences, or that they are an independent
reality. If you entertain in an attitude of receptivity what comes to
you, you are receiving the sunlight, and that must have its effect in
development. What dust and chaff comes to you at the same time will be
disposed of and pass away. By maintaining the willingness to receive–not
to criticize at first–that which is intrinsically true will
insensibly become part of you, and you will ultimately and most
unexpectedly find yourself possessed of a belief that wilt be a
“This does not mean that one should try to accept unquestioningly, nor
that he should inanely refuse intellectual examination. It merely means
the aforementioned willingness to receive and place on file for future
reference, so to speak, what cannot immediately be accepted. It implies a
willingness to leave the question open; neither to seek for far-fetched
explanation nor to attempt an unripe credence.
“If quite honestly one can do this–with entire self-honesty–the event
can safety be left to–I was, going to say ‘us,’ but I will say time. You
see ‘us’ may be Subconscious Sub-one or Sub-two.”
I HAVE a great plea to make. I want you to come with me, all of you who
are ready. I want you to lay aside all effort at understanding and
interpretation, and come out into the great outside. There is only one
way to do it. Just say to yourselves: I will lay aside the symbols for
the reality. I will be like a mere plant, responsive to unwordable
influences. Busy, near-sighted little self must be quieted, set aside for
the purpose of expanding a great and dormant faculty within me. This
faculty is weak; it barely records impressions yet; but through it surges
all that is enduring.
CURIOUS how we acquire wisdom! Over and over again the same truth is
thrust under our very noses. We encounter it in action; we are admonished
of it; we read it in the written word. We suffer the experience, we
graciously assent to the advice; we approve, intellectually, the written
word. But nothing happens inside us.
Then one day some trivial experience or word or encounter stops us short.
A gleam of illumination penetrates the depth of our consciousness. We
see! Usually it is but a glimpse; but on rare occasion a brilliant flash
reveals truth fully formed. And we marvel that this understanding has
escaped us so long.
For months, literally, the Invisibles hammered away at my dullness. Not
that I occupied the whole stage of their attention! They had Betty’s
education to attend to; and there was also the structure of the teachings
to be defined. But I was part of the job; and they kept at me. And always
the same line of attack.
“Make the leap,” they urged. “Dare to do it. Take a chance on our being
night. You cannot connect up in an unbroken series of steps with what you
know. This reality is not on the outskirts; a gap must be bridged. Lay
aside at intervals the measuring stick of your mind. It is very necessary
to employ the measuring stick ordinarily; but lay it aside
intermittently. Hurl yourself into space, as it were. It will not hurt
you to go bravely out to pick up a clue or two. You’ve been trying to
creep up on things on the scientific side, but they’ve got to be boldly
taken, artistically, in the present case, Conservatism travels so slowly.
Radicalism suffers for its blunders, but arrives with force.”
Here Betty took up the discourse: “Anything gorgeous and wonderful could
happen to you if only you’d have the courage to ignore and outdistance
your ordinary restricted self. Everybody who has pioneered has thrown
aside the customary routine and hurled himself at one inspired ideal.
“The way I want to go about it seems so opposed to that scientific
slow-freight kind of feeling. I don’t suppose you could make the world
credit anybody who went around leaping toward things; but the leap is an
ingredient, and you can’t go ahead without making it. When you leave out
the leap you are not working in the nature of the substance. You are
trying to work in the new substance with the nature of the old. You can’t
do it, except slowly and painfully.
“That’s the new big conception we’ve got to grow around–this idea of
working in the nature of the substance. They are trying to percolate this
to us. It’s the next phase of our work. We’ve gone as far as we can
without acquiring it.
“I suppose there’s a striking and sensible way to say it, because I can
FEEL the mechanical explanation of it. There’s undoubtedly a mechanical
explanation that fits it. I don’t know mechanics.”
She paused a moment, then chuckled. “So childish! They put legs on a
flying machine and make it walk around!”
“We are trying,” continued the Invisible, “to drag you out of your
restricted element, to show you the taking off process: how to zoom. You
can’t conquer the air by working the levers on the ground. It is only by
utilizing the attributes of the new substance that you can succeed. This
next big conception of how to function spiritually is only to be
accomplished by taking seriously this leaping process.
This was the time I woke up. That phrase “working in the nature of the
substance” rang a bell somewhere in the back of my mind.
It happened that at just this time I was taking my first steps in
learning the great game of golf. I early found there are plenty of good
books on how to play it. And that each month a number of magazines tell
it all over again. Nothing has been more carefully dissected and
described than the mechanics of the golf swing. And there can be no doubt
that all this careful analysis is a great help. A man at least knows what
he is to go after, and that is a lot better than just going it blind. But
nobody ever learned to play golf in his armchair. We’ve got to go and do
Simple and obvious! But it was my own private illumination in this
matter. Reading about golf gets the thing only in the mind. But when I
got out on the practice tee and swung a club, I was translating this idea
into actual objective material–I was bringing it into being in the
physical substance of my body. In the one case I had only an idea, in the
other I had an actual SENSATION: a subjective FEELING: inside myself. It
was something like the difference between the blueprint of a house and
the house itself.
Go out and do it: that was the answer. Not think about it; but do it and
get the feel of it–whatever this reality was that the Invisibles kept
talking about. And suddenly it occurred to me that it is certainly more
fun to get out and play golf than to sit at home and read about it.
Agreed. But how make a start? One has to have implements, tools, some
sort of instructions to go with them. The Invisibles obliged; but by no
means with a full set. They never do. But they did give me a handhold.
“You must gain it in imagination first,” said they, “and then work back
through slow steps to connect it with observed facts. Analyze the process
of education through mentality, the gradual, progressive formation within
the minds of children of the accumulated knowledge of the race. Take, for
example, the grasping of the idea of evolution, or what is known as the
solar system. Such things can be successfully presented only through the
imagination–the only function that reaches into the realms that are
intangible, but nevertheless facts of civilization. Having analyzed this
process, apply it to the spiritual education. Reach the imagination into
the reality we present. It can only be made tangible, established within
you, by this type of personal experiment.”
“I don’t think,” Betty interjected, “that’s a very good
word–imagination. It’s too cobwebby with unrealities.”
“Imagination?” they cried, astonished. “Why, that is the very GATEWAY to
reality! Imagination is the Power of Transportation–that overrides space
and time! Imagination enables you to put yourself ANYWHERE. It’s the
power of juxtaposition, that puts together things that were never put
together before, at points of contact that nobody else ever thought of.
It’s the power to see the Pattern.
“You call it a plaything. You’ve always called it a plaything. But
actually it’s the one thing you possess that connects you with the next
substance. It’s a transmuting chemical. We will hunt for a word that will
be more solidly respectable than imagination. Call it speculative
philosophy, if you prefer. Give it any vestment of dignity, but utilize
it to connect with what is beyond your experience, beyond the limits of
your present conceptions.”
“It seems to me.” I objected, “that imagining things has got a lot of
people into trouble.”
“Failures do not affect the law,” they pointed out. “Do not fear the
strength of the gift because it has been misused. In looking at failures,
take them as valuable warnings; but negatives, not positives.
There was a pause, and then Betty said, “Well, while I’m laid aside, what
else? I have an unhooked feeling this way.
She was silent a moment as though awaiting orders. Then in a puzzled
tone: “Such a bulk of unrecognized law!”
For several minutes she seemed to study this. Finally: “I can go into
that bulk: I can apparently feet quite comfortable near it and around it,
but there is no comprehension in my mind of it, except bit by bit. I know
lots of things, but I can’t teach myself them. I want to go now with
myself that knows things. It’s nice not to try to understand–just to
I AM the heir of eternal expansion and clothed in my right to partake of
it. Oh, do not ever again let me be poor-spirited or faded or gnarled in
form! I want the richly patterned life. I want to be gorgeously spirited,
I want the ceremonial beauty and fragrance of the spirit. I want the
freedom of its force. I want the quiet whispering of its wisdom. I want
the simplicity of its love. Oh help me to the fullness of life! I pray
for the fullness of life with an undivided heart, so that I may rest
absorbing strength, not emptying myself of life!
THE JUMPING-OFF PLACE
WE OCCUPY habitually but a limited portion of the consciousness we
already possess. Not so long ago we were unwilling to admit that such
uninhabited areas existed at all. Most of us Just occupied the ordinary
territories of our thoughts and emotions and sensations, and were
satisfied to let it go at that. But latterly even the cautious scientists
have come to recognize and study the subconscious, the superconscious,
intuition, inspiration, hypnotism–a lot of things outside the snug
stockade of our comfortable habit. To be sure, most of these outlying
areas, and the dwellers therein, still have somewhat of a bad name. And
possibly a few of them deserve it. Nevertheless they are being
increasingly acknowledged as a wide borderland country, already within
our reach, extending into the unknown far beyond the mark set by our
“The great value of an interest in these things,” said the Invisibles,
“of at least admitting their possibility, is that it affords an
extendible frontier. The inspiration to explore and acquire and
administer new territories of life is always ahead as a lure.
“Youth lives entirely on this frontier, though more on its physical
counterpart, exploring the sensuous possibilities. That is one of the
secrets of its enthusiasm and rapid development. Undamaged by misuse,
this faculty should persist, arriving at maturity with a healthy appetite
for the next stage–spiritual development. Hard and fast boundaries, such
as those set by the phase through which popular scientific interpretation
is passing–your true scientist is not that way–are very restricting and
disheartening. As a result, you make no effort toward liberation into the
higher sensations which lead toward ultimate reality. You are left
flattened on top, confined by the mechanics of your minds.”
After all we ourselves set those boundary markers, arbitrarily. We put
them at the limits of visibility, as far as we could see from our present
stockade of accustomed life. And abandoned them, taking for granted that
they are accurately placed.
That is peculiar, seeing that mere curiosity takes us over most
sky-lines. But for some reason this looks dubious to us. We can look back
and see clearly our path of evolution, like a broad highway behind us.
But mists roll across the future, and its forms are half-glimpsed.
Perhaps we are a little feared of the venturing.
Nevertheless it is in that direction we must travel. These present
comfortable headquarters are not permanent. Ultimately they must be out
there somewhere, in the dimness. It would seem only common sense, then,
to scout out the new site. Perhaps we may like it. Perhaps we may even
want to go up and occupy. We can always back-track.
These ideas came to me gradually, a few at a time. It was their
realization that finally persuaded me to explore this frontier country
myself, in person. Only in that way, I decided, could I satisfy myself as
to what it was all about. Then I would be in a position to form my own
opinion, instead of depending on hearsay and guesswork.
But the actual setting out, when at last I faced it seriously, presented
a number of unexpected problems. The trouble was not in getting advice–I
found plenty of guidebooks filled with that–but to figure out what not
to take. Spiritual development, I had come to realize, is individual. No
two men are alike, from thumb print to immortal soul. There are no
shotgun prescriptions, whether of cult, philosophy or religion. We cannot
be helped by rigid regimes. We must have direction, not directions. What
is desirable? Which way points our compass? What, in clearer definition,
are we after? That is about all we can be told. Recognizable signposts
can be planted for us toward the high country, but we alone must find our
own paths. And if we expect more detailed guidance, we plan for
My own landmarks were revealed to me by Betty’s reports of her
explorations. Just at first, I admit, some of these were a cropful. Great
sweeps of gorgeousness were never my line. I like things tacked down to
something solid–by at least one corner. But I hung on hopefully, and
after a while things began to make sense. In the meantime my feeling for
mystery and adventure were vastly stimulated.
In the next chapter I shall quote some of these reports. Taken as a
whole, I believe, they combine to place the main features of the most
accessible territory in this new country. This does not mean that they
are the only features; or even that they are the ones we shall first
discern. They give a hint of what, sooner or later, we may all look
forward to there–but not necessarily a promise.
“There is no use,” warned the Invisibles, “in previsioning or predicting
what this higher consciousness will accomplish or perceive. That is
entirely individual and temperamental. An indication of the things which
one may acquire is all that can be given from one to another.”
What degrees of “reality,” as we use the word, Betty’s reported
experiences represented, it is difficult to say. Sometimes they seem to
have been actual excursions into another condition of life. Sometimes
they were obviously symbolic, weaving a gorgeous and sustaining richness,
like a colorful orchestration, beneath the simple pure theme of reality.
But whether “real” or not, these experiences all combined to lead surely
and definitely into reality. And for twenty years that reality has
withstood the test of daily living.
My directions, up to this time, really boiled down to one thing: in order
to approach Betty’s new “substance” or region of consciousness or
whatever it was, I was to use my imagination as a kind of magic carpet.
By wholeheartedly picturing to myself the general conditions described by
Betty, I was to draw nearer to the thing itself–prepare myself, so to
speak, for eventual participation. Also, as a kind of corollary, I must
take a recess from the intellect and its criticisms. A recess, not a
divorce. For the time being I was to be wholly irresponsible of what the
intellect might have to say about the matter; to be–for the time
being–wholly wild and extravagant; willing to accept things I did not
know about as though they were really so.
“It is curious how you have to take the things they give,” said Betty. “I
hold an idea rather loosely when I get it. I take it as I would take the
beauty of the rainbow. I know I cannot hold it or reach it or even look
at it closely. I know I can’t, and so I don’t try. That is the way I take
these big ideas in the beginning–somewhat like the rainbow. I remember
them wholly; but they are out of my reach in the analysis, the pulling of
them to pieces to explain them.
“You know, a child’s first impulse, when you give it a beautiful flower,
is to pull it to pieces. That is natural enough, but a flower is not to
be handled that way. It is to be enjoyed whole, as an inspirational
thing. These foreshadowed ideas also are delicate things, blossoming
things. They must have more effect on the inspirational side, and less in
concentration on pulling them to pieces to understand. The dissecting of
them is only allowable after the flower influence, or the rainbow
influence, has entered into you.
“So many beautiful things are put into the world solely to help you to
make the jump-off. I took the rainbow because it seems so obviously
inaccessible that no one could dream of spoiling it by grasping and
analyzing it. You must not starve that rainbow side. It is more practical
than you think. It is the mechanism of liberation.”
HOW do I function in the universal strength? How does a bird hold itself
up in the air, resting its wings confidently on the air currents. How do
you hold yourself up in the water, abandoning yourself to its support.
How do I hold myself here? By amalgamation of my heart’s desire with the
strength that is myself and not myself. I lie individually quiescent in
it, as one floats contentedly in the great ocean.
IN A NEW country a man must find his own way. The landmarks planted by
his predecessors he must discover for himself. When he overtakes them, he
is heartened by their evidence that others have passed this way and found
the way reliable. That is the principal reason for placing landmarks,
against the time when someone shall need them.
But also there is a value in travelers’ tales. They excite interest. They
breathe the atmosphere of adventure in strange lands. They awaken the
romance of the unexplored and the unknown, arousing us to venture.
Before commencing the records of Betty’s explorations I must emphasize
one thing that every writer knows. No account does more than
insignificant credit to the original. And this seems to be particularly
true when we deal with the far reaches of the mind. A kind of penumbra of
illumination accompanies the thing itself, which is lacking to the record
of cold type. I suppose this is inevitable when we concern ourselves with
a reality whose greater part is intangible, beyond the measuring ability
of the brain. I cannot sufficiently stress this apparently obvious
statement. Only personal experience can realize its import.
This penumbra, then, must be left to the reader’s imagination, together
with the actual physical setting: Betty lies blindfolded on the couch; I
sit at my table, pencil hand, taking down her words.
BETTY: I am in a garden with a clipped hedge around it, and an arched
gateway. I don’t know why I am here….
Now Fin passing through the gate, leaving behind the green and blooming
garden. Before me is a desert country, but the soil is rich and
unfed-upon. It just needs a gardener, that’s all, to extend the
cultivated territory, making it beautiful and appreciated and desired by
We are going to bring this new region to life, so that it can be occupied
and extended by others. It won’t have any hedge at the end of it. It’s
going to run out into the pauseful shadows of ruminating trees, which
will be the boundaries of contemplation around our garden. People will
come into it in contemplation for entering and mastering the wilderness
beyond. It will be a beautiful inspirational place; not like a clipped
hedge on the boundaries of thought….
That’s rather a pity, I think, for I’ve always liked clipped hedges, and
the feeling of living behind them, sheltered and contented. But never
mind: it’s just a shred of regret for something comfortable and
It’s all gone now.
INVISIBLE: Supposing that all your conscious life you had been imprisoned
in a box, and all you knew was the interior of that box; and suddenly you
were released and found you could mingle with the world surrounding it.
How would you explain it to the occupants of the interior? Wouldn’t you
try to make them expand in imagination, surround in comprehension their
present limitations in preparation for release,
BETTY: Now I seem to contain my former self as something I’ve
swallowed….I’m completely outside the box….I’ve got to give way to
this feeling, and it will explain itself time.
INVISIBLE: It’s quite simple. It’s like being hatched.
BETTY: I’m struggling with comprehension.
INVISIBLE: The vortex of relaxation is simply breaking your shell and
releasing you into the surrounding life. Don’t you see the difference of
conditions? How obviously the greater powers of the surrounding life are
to yours as the world is to the interior of an egg? It is hopeless to
compress and reduce it for you. We must release you into it so it can
BETTY: I am not free to function in it. I can only sense it; trying to
struggle to consciousness in the new element.
INVISIBLE: Recollect that this is hard pioneer work, bit by bit, a
struggle to conquer the wilderness of lack of comprehension. Even if it
seems fantastic to you, or obvious, or unproductive, live with this idea
of surrounding yourself. Store it away to ripen. It will shake down into
BETTY: Rebirths are going on all about us, and we pay no attention. They
are such commonplaces. Mosquitoes from wrigglers, that get their wings
atop the water–all kinds of metamorphoses. I don’t know why it should
surprise me so to stick my head up into a new world, and realize that I
can gradually draw myself up until I get entirely into it. It is quite
BETTY: I just work hard, and then I find I am raised up somehow to a
superstate, and am in touch with something I did not have before; and I
see it vaguely and look back and tell you about it. But I do it, whatever
I’m at. That’s why I work so hard and keep quiet so long. I’m gaining a
sense of reality, experiencing, doing; instead of just reflecting. That
means I’ve got actually to work in this living beyondness and absorb into
the unconscious, as you call it, until I have something to produce in the
Now I’m here; and the other is vague and unsubstantial….I am
functioning as a half-conscious newborn thing, but in a world real enough
to stamp on, to expand into definitely with the strange new powers that
are urging within me. In the quiet, dimly perceived as yet, my extended
self senses great desires. Beauty’s new functions and satisfactions are
surrounding me. I am too weak to grasp them. I can’t even tell you about
what I do grasp: it’s too delicate for formulation….
You know what the extent and possibilities are of the intellectual life.
Its vast joys and discoveries are the dry bones of this other region of
life. This is the vibrant embodiment of what the intellectual imagination
dimly shadows. It would inspire the respect of any angle of learning: the
scholar, the intellectualist, the psychologist, the observers and
searchers in any quarter. The bigness of its possibilities are
untranslatable. It is as impossible to put them into words as it is to
put the ocean in a bucket. Nevertheless I must bring back some of it in
some fashion. If I went on a visit and had a great experience, I’d try to
tell you about it….
Now I want to enjoy the continuous rhythm of it a little while. It is so
beautiful: it’s all like music.
I said music, didn’t I? But I’m not sure what it is that enters me and
rearranges my particles and transmutes and strengthens and makes me so
happy. It has such a rearranging and ordering of you….
It would sound silly if I said anything it was like: It is so tremendous.
I should say it was the perfect ordering of all elements, an exquisite
joy of participating in harmony. My own little joy of life is welded to
that of every other harmonized being. I’ve forgotten my individual part:
I’m in a great chorus. I should think you would feel the swell of it.
I feel like a tramp stealing a ride under a car and suddenly asked into a
Pullman….Wonderful, to be a part, even a little part of anything that
moves on with such majesty and beauty and power….
But I’ve got to say good-bye….I’ve enjoyed myself so much. It’s been
more like being honored than instructed today. I should like to be more
susceptible to that ordering rhythm I called music. There are so many
things in this consciousness that are beautiful–so many things I
participate in without understanding. Something like being a dog: his
associations with higher beings are very satisfactory and intensely
desirable, but he doesn’t altogether comprehend them. He just enjoys
BETTY: I’ll keep still and make this out now….Putting me to
sleep….I’m traveling….There are people around me….
I’ve discovered something…a method of travel; I’ve stumbled on
it….I’ve been in this room before; kitchen and dining room….Now I’m
going away. I’m on a balcony….I’m with M….
Ugh! That looks so uncomfortable, like a fungus growth. It is a
horrid-looking thing. She has fed it for so long; now it eats her….
That’s curious; that’s the thing that accompanies everybody. Supposing
everything you’d done or thought, the TENDENCY of your life, had a shape;
as if your days were bricks and you had built something. And suppose your
eyes were adjusted so that you could see what everybody had built. That
is vaguely what I mean when I say people are walking around with a thing
that accompanies them: that is the way I see people here. It is a
pleasure to see them when they have a balanced growth straight ahead,
instead of one of those fungus growths.
S E W: What was that dining room and kitchen and balcony stuff?
BETTY: That’s where I traveled. In stretching my spiritual body I
stumbled on an outlet.
S E W: Why travel there?
BETTY: That just happened. It sounds crazy to see people that way; and to
travel around to see them but that’s what I did.
It makes the world seem so small 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….
Why, how astonishingly near that brings things! Isn’t that astonishing!
Why, isn’t that astonishing! Even the distance to the other consciousness
is not distance of space; it’s a slowness or torpidity 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 hells 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
I can’t pierce it further. I’m not big enough: it would overwhelm me and
burst me. I can’t do it….
I’m a little tired and shaken with that big effort. It was as though I
became merely a container for something that entered. It was a curiously
powerful sensation, but I didn’t quite grasp it….
I’m coming back now. I feel the way an electric light bulb does when it
is turned off: all empty and dark!
BETTY: I don’t believe it will be possible to tell you yet of the
dimension I am in: I understand so little….
Supposing, to start with, I presage it to you as an entirely new
atmosphere. In it I am perfectly vigorous and strong and conscious, but I
am all sympathetic. That is, I have a universal sense, not only of myself
alone, but as if all the others were part of the atmosphere. Our usual
atmosphere is a lot of little separate cells,–Tom’s, Dick’s and
Harry’s–all more or less attracting or repelling or self-seeking. This
new atmosphere contains them all dissolved, as it were, into one fluid
substance. It’s like possessing a bigger body, instead of being a
separate atom of a body. I can see how you contract your vision in
proportion as you become a little Tom-Dick-or-Harry cell; or how you
expand it in proportion as you live in the atmosphere that contains them
all as part of a great universal life.
I’ve made an awful mess trying to tell you. I’ve said it badly because I
gave the impression of a merging of individualities. It is not that. They
are distinct; but it’s the merging of the substance possessed by all of
them that produces the magic….
It is drifting away from me now. I am slipping back into the restricted
little egotistical consciousness, the atmosphere of diminished vision.
Little by little I slide right on down, seeing smaller and smaller
aspects, watching each person’s blindness and disease and low-grade
effort magnify itself to the proportions of a walled world of its own.
What a stupid thing!
BETTY: I’m having a delightful and mysterious time enjoying new
sensations. Somebody’s making me do things; things that are a great
elation. Pretty soon I’ll understand them and tell you. But I can’t tell
you in petit-point language; I can just work in big influences–the way
All the density and isolation of ordinary life is dispersed. I am
stripped of something that sets apart from participation in
all-surrounding life; and, fantastic as it may sound, I am so
susceptible, capable of interchange, that it is as if I were made of
blotting paper, only with a power of rejection if I choose. It is very
real, and very pleasant to be so out in the cosmos. It is only little
mean mundane fear that would make me worry about individuality. I don’t
worry. There’s just a shred of an idea that individuality ought to be
Why! That’s a new idea! Only I can’t explain it. The word “love” doesn’t
suit my needs; I’ll pass 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 affection, only with so much greater power.
I dissolve to their love; I surround them as they surround me, steeping
in each other’s heart-expansion. It’s so transforming, breath-taking, and
I can’t tell you in words.
Now, the strange thing is, I reach out and spread around each one I care
for, this atmosphere. And as more and more people are brought in and each
adds his contribution to the atmosphere, it enlarges and grows stronger
and becomes firm, like a continent in a surrounding ocean.
I don’t understand the rest very well. I seem actually to BE that firm
body–I feel it in all its parts and yet it is composed of many people.
How can that be?
INVISIBLE: It is not easy to sit down to a comprehension of universality.
Only dimly can you sense it as the great ocean connecting all the islands
and continents. This element of the interstices we will name universal in
an effort to set it down simply. All the parceled-off objective things,
of however great magnitude, are but the islands and continents among and
around which flows the great common carrier of universal spirit.
BETTY: I must start over in different words. Wait a minute. I’ll start on
the other side: I’ll be the ocean….
Now I am. I am the ocean, the ether, the all-surrounding substance in
which individuals are suspended. It’s like a universal contribution from
all hearts. It’s not that I, mightier, surround the various personalities
floating in the great ocean, but that each meets me there. Each, through
the functions of his being, sends out a quality capable, worthy of
entering this substance, this universal ocean. He can withdraw it; he
still is an individual. But when he sends it forth, it is his highest
potentiality. All consciousness is open to him. He passes into what we
can only call godship. Only by collecting a group of your dearest, going
forth with your heart among them, cementing, as it were, a collective
entity, and continually enlarging it, putting forth the substance among
you, can you start toward comprehension of the Universal Consciousness.
INVISIBLE: How can we make you desire, be eager for the delights of this
connective consciousness? It is as hopeless as trying to tell a little
child in its sand box how much fun it is to be grown-up and married. And
yet there is no other acquisition of life in the way of grownupness that
compares with this faculty.
BETTY: (after a pause) I am trying to get it into a mechanism which will
stabilize it as a reality to you: a definite acquirable process, not a
Each time I unite myself with someone or something in eagerness of
admiration and affection–by that process I have merged momentarily
with the Universal. That is clear. But also there seem to be definite
steps reaching to the conscious use of this universal process: response,
admiration, adoration, to unity. This gradual lessening of separateness
from the thing admired eventually makes it possible to draw from it its
spiritual essence, feeding upon it as it were. Then you can produce your
own interpretation, your own embodiment of this essence….
Anyway I know now what that phrase means: God is love. It always sounded
so strained 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 grow into life-giving things!
BETTY: (after a long interval) I am trying to grow into the size of the
place I’ve come to….
When you are very cold and enter a warm room, you say to yourself that
you are in a different atmosphere, and expand to it. That is the
difference between ordinary life and the element I’m in.
INVISIBLE: Supposing you had always been of the general buoyancy of a
flatiron, and suddenly someone showed you how, by continuously opening
yourself up, you could become more like a balloon. Very little
difference, you see, between you and the air. You became simply an
envelope for it, taking the certain amount of it which differentiates
Now substitute for that substance contained inside the balloon–which
also supports it outside–the universal quality of life. You feel it
everywhere, in the woods and the waters, the endless manifestations of
vitality, pulsing and vibrating in contrast to the inanimate things you
handle so constantly. Try to see what this life actually is like in
essence, and not in its varied forms. Then realize this: when you can
associate yourself enough with this quality consciously to rest in it,
depend upon it, like the balloon–then the great secret of these
teachings is yours.
The widest happiness and greatest vigor is to be obtained in acquiring
this faith in the life-substance. It gives you a simple concept of
support and endowment.
BETTY: How delightful this upholding life-substance is! It is so
marvelously happy and natural. I think it is mostly the freedom of it
that impresses me. It extends in every direction there is–and there seem
to be some new directions. There is no strain or sanctimonious struggle
for unified feeling: it is just magnitude and simplicity. I can’t get out
of it; I can’t get around it: I can’t fall off; I can’t stand on it. It
is a supporting universal thing beyond our conception….
I suppose for a moment I am being held in a perfect balance of some kind;
unattainable ordinarily, but permitted as an ideal….
The minute I stop, the thing that impresses me is the tingling vitality
of it. There is nothing passive about it; you couldn’t hang back in it.
You might be in perfect repose, but you couldn’t be dead in it….
I keep quiet, and I breathe away the barriers between the two
consciousnesses, and I think that I bold the actual golden essence of
this vitality with which we buy our happiness; but I can’t bring it back.
It slips through my fingers. I am not built so I can hold it. It is like
gasoline going through a chamois skin.
BETTY: I’m back again where I was the other day, only I’m seeing it a
little more clearly.
I never knew such repose and power and self-produced rapture existed,
such freedom, such immensity of happiness. I say ‘self-produced’ because
it need not be blindly, spasmodically found in a fleeting condition. Its
laws can be understood, making it possible to continue to live in it. My
own understanding of those laws started long ago with the physical
relaxation. That was the first step. That released the tension and
allowed my higher powers to grow and expand and acquire knowledge of
themselves. And now I hesitate to use the word relaxation any longer in
connection with this great life-consciousness and energy.
I am like a powerful machine in perfect running order, but what the
mechanics call “idling.” What I am trying to get at is the idea of the
condition I’m experiencing. Loafing isn’t it; it has too perfect
preparedness and readiness. Yet it is not keyed up, either, but in
equilibrium. I am so conscious of repose and receptivity, but the effect
is entirely different, in its feeling of strength, from all the words I
know, such as relaxation, rest, vacation….
While I’m vibrating with this power, nothing of a damaging nature can
affect me. I can handle it uncontaminated or unpermeated by it. What
would be grave disturbances to me in lower levels, now seem merely
opportunities for a selection of life. I can’t actually discard the
disturbances, but I surround them with a wholesomeness that makes them
INVISIBLE: This control, this acquisition of raised vibrations–whatever
you choose to call it–is absolutely within the desire of the individual.
If you really want it, nothing from the outside can more than momentarily
distract. It is a thing that one builds or does not build, according to
BETTY: I am pitied for my transition struggles. It’s a predicament.
Neither consciousness has my undivided support. Only dimly away beyond,
can I see the end of the tunnel I’m in. Nevertheless I almost enjoy the
pain of comprehension, because at least it is acute life. Some day I’ll
turn it into a harmonious existence without the struggle of contrasting
It is as if I were comfortably in calico, and somebody put ermine on me
and I had to live up to it.
HERE’S a new idea coming along. It has had no words assigned to it. Such
a big beautiful thing; I wish I could encompass it. It is terrible to
have anything so big, so hopelessly nameless. I can’t capture it. It is
something so bright it doesn’t cast any shadow. It is a borderland thing.
As soon as you begin to sense it, you are a member of a different
AS TIME went on Betty’s explorations took her farther an d farther into
these trackless regions of the higher consciousness. I do not believe
many of us can expect to duplicate them, except fleetingly and in
fragment perhaps. They were, I think, special to Betty, and for special
purpose; carefully guided and controlled, primarily intended as
experiment and demonstration. Nor do I feel we should try to duplicate
them. That would lead to disappointment and perhaps serious defeat.
Nevertheless the quotation of them is worth continuing. To me they fill
in background and populate space in a singularly illuminating and
comforting fashion. They open distant vistas, even if into fields not
property our own. At least there is country beyond. At our feet is no
abyss into oblivion.
BETTY: Why, I can slip back and forth easily today! It is very strange!
The wind swept through me as I came in. I hailed it, did not crouch
before it, and it went through me as sun goes through you. I like
slipping back and forth this way. I don’t see why it isn’t just as
interesting a performance, and vastly more desirable, than learning to
swim in an element that is not your own. It is just as natural really. I
just leap out of myself, and take a dive into a freer, more stimulating
element. Each time I do it, it gets easier; I am more at home in it; and
more stimulated by it. I am not tremendously good at it: but it’s just as
simple as that.
I am getting an actual demonstration, proof, of a spiritual existence as
it is here, not in a future life. It’s a very definite winged
consciousness; nothing postponed or impossible of attainment about it.
It’s absolutely the next step we’ve got to take.
Now while I’m entirely possessed with it, I must try to get down to you a
simple method of its acquisition. I don’t want to say anything cryptic,
but I must show you this way out, because this exit into greater life is
the crowning glory of our existence here. It means transfiguration into
an electrified and eternal being. I’ve got to tell you of it by degrees,
because the exit is through the doors of self.
Now stepping outside oneself actually means the practice of making one’s
own in imagination the conditions of the hour of death. I hated to say
that because it throws a chill across the thing. I’ll start again….
Suppose the day came for the Great Adventure of departing hence. Even a
picnic or a vacation or a business trip demands some preparation. One is
apt to take this tremendous step quite suddenly. What is it going to be
like? Why turn our imaginations away from it so piously–or is it
cowardly? Why not entertain ourselves with the buoyancy of anticipation?
It is quite as speculative an amusement as contemplating a trip to
Thibet, or reading what astronomers say about Mars, or any other pet
flight of fancy. This has the advantage that we are actually dated up for
Children play beautiful games of expanding consciousness, supposing
giants and mighty superlatives. I’m getting Just such a cheerful
imaginative picture of when we depart hence. It is as though everything
had been taken away from me but the residue of me, such as would remain
if I were to die now. It’s all I’ve got to orient me in this new world in
which I am just an embryonic being. Every circumstance of life is gone. I
am as unconscious of my body as ever I could possibly be. The merest
shadow of its existence is on me….
It makes me feet that I personally can never be annihilated. If my body
were actually taken away from me entirely, and I left in space, I feel I
should continue to hold myself together, a vigorously determined entity.
I might be temporarily inactive, perhaps, but I’d be convinced of my
ability to participate in an existence which would be within my reach for
the effort of taking. Though I might be deprived of everything en route,
could not by any conceivable thing be overcome or annihilated. I know
that the development of a spark, even a tiny spark, of individual power
cannot die. It will seek and find its proper progression through its own
vitality. The thing to do is to take a lively spark with you when you
Now it seems to be an army symbol. I have assembled and set in order my
possessions for the great Inspection–what it is permitted me to take
along of my cherished interests. They are dominating me in the order of
their ardor. I am privileged to have a preview, as it were: to consider
them with growing impersonality, and reappraise them, if I so desire.
That is a very illuminating process. I can go no farther until I have
made satisfactory decisions of what I choose for my equipment for the
journey ahead; what I will offer as confidently as possible for the great
Inspector. This is the first game I play; the preliminary practice at the
game of self.
I am trying to show you an actual definite possible method of controlling
the first maturing, naturally and joyously, from this life to the next,
occupying experimentally the higher grades, while continuing existence
here. You can do this by periodically letting fall your acquiescence with
the impertinences of the body and its setting of manufactured needs, its
houses and parks and marts and all its complications: letting them fall
deliberately from your consciousness, and at the same time being
vigorously yourself; translating as into another language the same order
of your ardors and pursuits. It mirrors your soul in secret to
Now I am just reposing in the entourage of vitality. I wonder if it is
the actual condition of a place I am going to, or a figment of the
imagination as a symbol. I can’t make out; but it’s real, as though I had
departed into it. You see, I am away from myself entirely; I am away from
all the things I like to play barnacle to….
I am going back through the gates of self now. I can see the minutiae
coming into focus; the expanded things have all contracted. There merely
remains greater power in the manipulation of them for the purposes
decided on in my higher courts.
BETTY: (after half-hour) All the work ahead is liberation from self; my
portioned-off self has become too great a restriction to me. I have found
out how to blossom forth from it, but I cannot establish myself in the
new atmosphere. I feel curiously like an electric attachment dragging a
cord with me everywhere: I’m not free. It’s a clear field, ahead, of what
I’ve got to do; and I am working on a comprehension of it….
My experiences are like what somebody called a “tightrope of faith.” This
consciousness beyond self is just the precarious elevation above what is
normally ours. Equilibrium and progress rest entirely with my ability to
regulate and control myself, to be sure and poised and confident and
daring in a new element. I can see long practice in that ahead….
I seem to be very far out today. I can hardly see the part of me that
walks below. The things people travel for–shops and sights and
things–are nonexistent to me. I feel more closely akin to the smoke from
the chimneys experimenting with its liberation. I am more conscious of
the sweep of horizon-traveling elements from country to country, than I
am of the breezes that wander down the streets.
Now I am quite successfully dead. It wasn’t much of an operation after
all! It was a pleasurable releasing, quite different from the death-agony
idea. That should be looked on as simply the birth pains of the spiritual
I’m here, all right, and quite contented, but I’m like a baby that has
pulled itself upright holding onto a chair: I don’t know what to do next.
If only I were a little stronger and more vigorous, that would put me
more closely in touch with the help and affection I feel around me. Thank
heaven I have the protection of it. Now I must keep still and see what my
instincts and emotions are….
I seem to be only semiconscious. There is so much around me now that
before I was blind and deaf to….Oh, I strained to open what should be
my earth eyes and touch with my earth fingers, and it’s not
possible!…Helping, loving people are around me, urging me to do
something. I love them back for helping me, and it gets easier.
It is dreadful to be this way without more vitality and shape. I ought to
take form right away and go at it, but I’m lumpish. I may have great
possibilities and great powers, but how am I going to get hold of them,
I’d like some advice about what to do. I should like to start right out
and try my muscles and see what I’ve got, but I have a feeling I might
fall down and not get up–but I know I can’t do that; I am not in that
kind of a world….
I seem to have an impulse, some sort of an urge, to make this weakish
lumpish self of mine move forward valiantly and surgingly. It’s not
aggression: that is a bullheaded sort of thing. It’s not exactly force:
that is too cold and steely a word. They are stiff-muscled words; they
don’t sustain the idea at all. I can’t find any better than the old word
“volition.” I tried “faith,” but that is a queer platform people put
things on; it’s been spoiled. So I had to go back to a suspended word
that could travel vigorously.
Well, I got the volition, and I started right out, so as not to be
attached to anything. I didn’t want to be huddled in a corner. And I got
much firmer shape right away–like being turned on a potter’s wheel. Then
I got something quite easily, no trouble at all. It came right away as
soon as I started out: nice and warm and loving feeling. I don’t know
what you call it, but I’m glad I’ve got it. It makes me feel very
Seems to me I’ll have to leave myself there awhile, just brooding. I am
going on with the eternal body though; I must find out how I shape it and
I’ve got to come back now….I’m coming like an autumn leaf, zig-zag.
BETTY: I must go out now. I am conscious only of careful manipulation. I
feel like a tiny planetary thing cast off from a body to which I was
adhering to mature. And now I am imbued with actual planetship. You
remember before I was like something electrical with a cord which I
dragged around to preserve my current. Now I am detached and endowed with
the ability to create my own glow, my own current. I don’t know how to
explain how I do it; it’s an instinctive thing yet. I can obtain it much
as if we got electricity by radio. I am a little tiny unit of power by
myself. I call it glow, because that means warmth and light both. It is a
retained sensation and a radiation at the same time, which is what seems
the most characteristic quality of this ideal extension of myself.
Strangely enough it’s my real life body from now on, and I am content to
have it so….
You can’t beat upon a shadow and mutilate it, however clear-cut and
defined it may be. You can’t bottle up a sunspot and retain it for
yourself. You can’t mix your mediums like that. Now this is just to sweep
your mind clean of its sense limitations and help you to think of
yourself, your true forever self, as of an entirely different
My! I’m going deep!…Still farther? Now!
It is a direct experience of spiritual substance. I am looking at it, but
am unable to comprehend it; it is so different from the skin-and-bones
stuff that we have for bodies. I tell you this so you will know how
puzzled I am. I’ve got to stay here and work in this until I understand
it. When I put on a body of this I am all so changed I don’t know what to
do or what to tell you….
There: I’ve got it on! But the joke of it is that what I was doing was to
get off the other one. NOW! Here I am!…
I am just the same person, but I am entirely made of this strange new
substance, which is bodiless but seems at the same time to maintain
itself. It does not just dissipate with the rest of the air. I can occupy
it temporarily, but I can’t utilize it nor travel in it yet….
It has the most amusing possibilities. Supposing you are made of this: it
is more like the separating and recoagulating power of quicksilver than
anything I know. If I want to go through a material thing, I just flow
right through it, sieve myself through it. There is nothing solid you
know, really. I’m so afraid of leaving some of myself behind on the other
side. I am not very good at it, but I know I can. Confronted by what used
to look like a solid thing like a wall, I know perfectly well I can go
Supposing you took the figure of a man made up of little dots, like a
radio picture. It’s a perfectly good picture; but if you separated all
those dots far enough it wouldn’t be. That is what astonished me so: I
lost my body–freed myself from what held all the dots together–and
found I was occupying the spaces, held together in some way by the
spiritual body. It is very puzzling….
I can’t for the life of me get used to it enough to go on. I keep trying
to get the feeling of reality by crystallizing the dot figure again: I
bring all the little dots together, close, tight, again; and I say,
“There is what I am accustomed to seeing and being.” And then I all
expand, and say, “There’s what I am now.” Then I am made of something
that was in between, of an entirely different substance–am held together
only by what, long dormant and undeveloped, there was of the spirit
within me when I was crystallized.
I must find out; I must intensify my differentiation, what makes me Me in
my new body” instead of reverting to universal substance: I am so worried
for fear I’ll burst out somehow, not hold myself together. Sort of
fragile, my outlines are; not strong enough to hold together well. I am
awfully thin-skinned spiritually.
BETTY: I am learning a great deal: this freed body of mine must be
trained. I no longer get much help in actual support; I support myself.
To do this I must understand the action of utilizing this freed body. I’d
be afraid to explain it minutely, I am so new and ignorant and
experimental. I am acting instinctively, and not intelligently….
How curious those waves are! They have a lifting quality almost
supporting you, and yet they have a drawing quality that brings
sustenance. How wonderful and fascinating it is! I believe there’s a
great principle there when I understand it. It’s just the way a fish
passes water through its gills for its sustenance. So this freed body of
mine by means of this pulsation maintains itself in a higher form of
ambience by passing it through itself. I am different from it and lesser
than it, but I am also entirely sustained and fed by, enlivened by it.
Not fed in the sense of eating, but in the sense of gaining progressive
Everything works in the same way–the pumping of hearts, systole and
diastole; but it’s the instant of its passing through you that is your
moment of divinity, absolute unity. Thus individual life is fed. I think
everything I get is the sum of these instants of unity. In time they
prick out a picture, something like a wireless picture. These maintaining
pulsations come entirely from the region of feeling, which we symbolize
by the heart. The brain is a far member, like a hand or foot….
This pulsing business is so important. You remember the other day, when I
couldn’t quite function my new body? I discovered then that all I could
do was just collect every bit of inner desire-power and heart-force that
I possessed and fling it out of me in a great exuberant stretch. That was
when I found that this pulsing action is the great life movement which
you transform and adapt to produce your own individual variations. You
see, it reconstructs according to what one takes into it with him of
One thing I want you to know: that pulsing is an involuntary action. You
don’t do it yourself; you only create a kind of yearning condition which
is a suction calling it into being. You mustn’t think you could pulse
YOURSELF, because you can’t.
BETTY: I get rid of my body quite easily now; like taking off a
boot….Feels pretty good, but I think I’ve got to go deeper….
I’m looking at a kind of disembodied quality, trying to understand it for
you. I am on the power side, and being assisted temporarily by great
force and wisdom. Under its spell I’m turning to look down to see why I
don’t get more of it ordinarily. It is because of the lack of this
disembodied quality I am talking about. I’ll get a name for it soon.
We’ve got to incorporate it in our work.
We have all of us–our group–had a hazy conception that there are such
things as higher forces that work just as well as our physical
applications of force do, only superlatively. We all admit them–as weak
generalizations. But still our hands and eyes and legs and ears are of
far more utility to us. Now this disembodied quality I am looking at is
what would give us actual possession of the working ability of these
higher forces. I am up beside those who have all this to give out, and it
is tremendously important to get their point of view on why we are not
utilizing it. They say I can’t get much of it; only a tiny beginning, a
little hint on how to go about growing into it.
It is the same thing I tried to acquire the other day when my weakish
lumpish body wouldn’t function. I brought out all the qualities I could
think of and tried them on it to make it work. Will power only gave it a
sort of jerk; and concentrated energy, and all those hard tight
applications, just humped it about a little, mostly in the same place.
This quality is not much recognized. Actually it is just THE SURENESS OF
YOUR BELIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF THIS GREATER FORCE. That is the principal
thing to begin with.
Take an example from natural physical forces. You wouldn’t have the nerve
or the idiocy to try walking on water; but you step out on ice with
perfect confidence. In ordinary daily living you come to associate your
mind so naturally and pleasurably and habitually with the great forces
which control our physical universe that they grow measurably firm under
the feet, as it were. Take gravitation, which always works; the magnetic
attraction or the power of electricity when control is established; the
buoyancy of placement in water–any of the natural laws that appeal to
you. Our conscious minds approve and abandon all test of them.
But these higher forces we have sensed only as weak generalizations.
We’ve got to make them the same in our conscious minds as the natural
forces I mentioned, and which we accept as a matter of course. We’ve got
to associate with them, experiment with them, as constantly and
interestedly as people did in acquiring the laws controlling the other
forces. It’s the thing that will make our spiritual bodies work. It’s the
first thing we shall be faced with when we “go hence.” Everything we have
been accustomed to will have gone away from us. If we haven’t built this
extension of confidence in known forces, we will be at a loss. This
particular attitude of mind, surety, confidence is ITSELF a force: it is
a superlative force.
INVISIBLE: What we are stepping around is to avoid the use of the word
“faith.” We don’t want to use it until we have freshened it. It’s been
made respectable by calling it suggestion: you all know the power of
that. Only this is its simon-pure reality, its ESSENCE.
BETTY: They told me I couldn’t get much of it, only enough to begin
acquiring this force. I’ll tell you how I’m doing it.
I made a sort of cradle of confidence of the tides and the moons and the
planetary swings; and I said, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t rest this
spirit of me securely in these unfailing forces. I felt delightfully in
suspension, restful with everlasting-arms restfulness. This extension of
my personality, the reality I call myself, by my name, has quite
reasonably ventured out to associate with unseen but thoroughly tested
realities. That’s the beginning: that is how we begin to grow into the
I have a funny way of working. I vary all kinds of tests. I jump up and
down on natural laws to feel their reality. Mentally I turn and twist
them all, and jiggle them around, and they still hold me up with a
sureness of cause and effect.
Now I will leave that side for a minute and seek the society of the
INVISIBLE: You see, we’ve brought you forth from your lesser self to your
BETTY: Feels sort of like a blind person walking along. I feel when I get
in a sunspot of power, and I try to keep in it, and when I stray out of
it I try to get back. I know it’s there, and I just have to make my
senses so acute that I can keep in it or get back to it if I stray.
Each person must play his own mental game in this thing. I am only
All this is an effort to establish us firmly in the spiritual so we can
utilize its greater powers in doing the physical things we see are worth
doing. This definite belief in a force assisting our best efforts, and
our reckoning on its unfailing help; the establishment of this principle
of the constructive, directive forward movement which we call
evolution–this condition of faith, must at some time or other in our
progression be permanently accepted by our united being. It is a magic
touchstone, making positive our efforts, instead of negativing them
constantly with doubts and waverings.
There is only one important proviso: we cannot depend on this law to
accomplish anything more than the complement of our own efforts. One must
depend on oneself to build one’s aspirational column, knowing that at the
highest stretch of one’s hopes and efforts a capital will be placed
beyond one’s power to conceive.
LIFE! life! life! Life is so fascinating! I pursue it as it chuckles into
every shape. Fast in my faith I can follow my devious route, because I
know the source, and can return to it, and excavate my little bits of
truth. Life, life, life! I want to live it! But you can’t live it happily
and humorously and powerfully until you are first made fast in faith and
perception with reality. I feel eager and loving toward life,–it’s a
beautiful pattern, but I haven’t stuff enough in me to cover it. I want
more stuff in me to cover it. Everything that touches my senses must make
me more porous to it. Sea-breathing things, underwater things, air and
earth-breathing things; the very sun motes; the very shadows between the
stars speak eloquently, each according to its kind, in the great pageant
of life. I don’t want to be a scholar, or a courtier, or a soldier, or
anything else like that in the pageant. I want to wear motley. I want to
be the Fool, and so come close to all kinds. I want to receive and give
back the truth in the fertile form of lighthearted jest. I want to live
in this fluid, flexible condition, because it is happy and easily
THE LAY OF THE LAND
THOUGH the Invisibles had the definite purpose of leading us into higher
consciousness, they did not continuously keep us tiptoe. They seemed to
be very wise people, and they understood well the necessity of
occasional breathing times in less rarified air. And they set their
faces always against any attitude, at any time, of hushed and reverent
solemnity. It was, in the beginning, difficult for us bystanders to keep
from being portentous. We were impressed by the importance of what was
being given; and we had not learned to distinguish between importance
and solemnity. Theirs is a laughing philosophy. They agreed with
Stevenson, who said of religion, “If it makes you gloomy, depend upon
it, it is wrong.” They did not fear to be funny; to “josh” at times; to
crack jokes with us; and it seemed to me that they got as much relish
out of these interludes as we did ourselves. At the very first some of
us, through old habit of mind, were instinctively abashed, as though
someone had laughed aloud in church. Why shouldn’t one laugh aloud in
church? they asked reasonably.
“This subject,” said they, “is light-footed; not like the solemn tread of
a processional. It has dance steps in it, and running for the joy of
running, and leaping for the joy of leaping. It is as natural and
cheerful as a baby playing with its toes, feeling out the most desirable
activity for entertainment. This is a gracious performance. It is not a
child in a schoolroom; it is a soul gracefully entering into eternity.”
“They are terribly anxious,” added Betty, “to take away any solemn
ecclesiastical idea from ‘spiritual.’ Once recognized as standing for
spontaneous enjoyment, legitimate heart indulgence, the word will have
rough-and-ready hiking clothes instead of vestments.”
Betty fell naturally into this lightheartedness. She was always kicking
up her heels in frivolity; a tendency we at first deplored. We were
always trying to herd her back to what we considered the serious job, but
were invariably laughed at for our trouble. Sometimes, indeed, the
Invisibles announced a “party,” and for a whole evening regaled us with
stories and doggerel, verse and small talk. After a while we managed to
loosen up and enjoy heartily these occasions. We called them “sag back
parties,” and recognized them as necessary breathing spaces.
In these breathing spaces we found occasional indulgence for our
curiosity. We were always full of questions about all sorts of things
that interested us, but which had little or nothing to do with the case.
I can see now that we must have been most annoying, for these people had
a definite plan, and such questions only got in the way of it. What was
life like over there? What should we do in this or that situation? What
might be the Cosmic Plan in regard to this or that?
Generally they sidetracked us, but in the long run we did manage to sneak
in a considerable body of statement. Too great a body to quote in full
here. They no more fit with our present purpose than they fitted into the
Invisibles’ main plan. But a few of them may serve to the reader, as they
did to us, as breathing spaces.
Some of our questions seemed to us very important. What sort of people
are we going to be when we “go hence”? A friend who was sitting in with
us was much exercised over that. He wanted something solid and definite
to tie to. Contact with wraiths did not seem much fun to him. At first
the Invisibles hesitated to answer. Their conditions were so different,
and mistranslation had so often resulted in things repellent to common
* Such as the unfortunate “cigars” in Sir Oliver Lodge’s Raymond.
INVISIBLE: When you think of us don’t bother about our shape or
substance. It is a living and loving form still: nothing unnatural or
vaporous. Don’t make such an unattractive picture of the change. Keep us
in your hearts as we were; It is nearer the truth, and more comforting
than trying to comprehend the difference. The more naturally you can
think about us, the less apt you are to go astray on phantoms of your own
conception. Dear me, why do you get so FANTASTIC over that? It’s terrible
to be loved so fleshlessly! It handicaps a conception of warmth and
response existing AS-ever and FOR-ever.
BETTY: They’re so real, so real, and so much more vibrant. It is a pity;
isn’t it? If you’d only try to say just what you are we wouldn’t make
such silly mistakes….
Oh! I’m getting a little more of things as they’re going to be over
there….Wait; I want to took at them….
Each person is endowed with force, individual progressive force. That’s
the main difference. It lifts the whole mass into a different freer
state, clear and bright, devoid of WEIGHT! It’s mostly the feeling of
power and lightness. So vital, light and strong, that life!
I wish I could stay with you and get that way too! You’re made out of–I
don’t know–so much clearer, thinner, stronger stuff!…
I’m going; but I know now what you are like.
S E W: Try to tell me before you come out.
BETTY: It is no different in form; it’s a difference of element, more
especially of clearness and light and power; without the thick clumsy
dragging substance we are in. It is a much greater difference of element
than going under water. We haven’t any similar contrast. I feel people of
different substance, but ENTIRE. They are not distinct to me. Their body
walls are thinner than our body walls; more akin to the substance they
are in, so they are more susceptible to it in getting their energy out of
Connecting link I don’t get. How do we…I must think about this. When do
we most nearly approximate that state? That’s the point to work out.
INVISIBLE: Great energy and force put into living raises the entire being
above the control of the physical. There have been many demonstrations of
this in times of great emotional stimulation or necessity of action.
Now compare yourself with lower physical forms of greater density.
Gradually, loosening of density produces finer, lighter form beings in
the region of consciousness. Indefinitely extended, it reaches to the
condition just manifested.
S E W: I don’t want to quibble about words, but I do want to understand
how literal they are. I am much higher in perception than a mud turtle;
but my actual flesh, as flesh, is not as tender as his.
INVISIBLE: Man’s physical organism is vastly more refined, sensitive,
less dense than that of the turtle. Density is the difference in REACTION
Fair enough, said our friend, I think I could get along with that sort of
a fellow. But how about any real individual relationships, such as we
know them? How about our mates? And if we haven’t found them here, do we
find them there? Or is there such a thing as eternal bachelorhood?
INVISIBLE: No, most decidedly not. They quickly find their complementary
selves. They then unite for greater harmony of effort and complete
S E W: Between those thus mated is there any form of what might be called
private relationship; that is, a relationship peculiar to them as
individuals, corresponding, however vaguely, to our physical
INVISIBLE: Your world is full of the ecstasy of harmonious attraction,
beginning at the mere chemical affinities and proceeding upward to the
sex relations. This same magnetic attraction continues, but in vastly
higher and even more ecstatic form. It takes place eventually through
perfect union of complementary spiritual halves. It is a little difficult
to put concisely, as there are many ramifications and half-realized
conditions before the perfect mating takes place. That is not very
satisfactory as an explanation, but you may rest assured that the beauty
of physical mating is not lost, but intensively increased in the
S E W: Mated relations here have two phases or angles: the fairly uniform
affectional relation, and the occasional intensified relation. Do both
exist there in any form?
INVISIBLE: Discouragingly complex subject, because all affection is
infinitely varied in all stages of acquisition. We cannot take you into
conditions beyond your human imagination. We can only vaguely satisfy
with what will be your next step.
It is rather more crescendo than spasmodic. Just as on earth you rise to
certain heights by occasional bliss, so here by harmony you obtain these
heights. Perhaps occasionally you have them dimmed by periods of
distraction, but the heights are always there, and obtainable and
extendible. In time you can grow permanently into your highest ideal and
remain there, the while you occasionally scale even greater heights. This
is progressive bliss, intensified as you grow into greater capabilities
S E W: All of which is a property of the two, mated, of opposite sex; as
opposed to being a common relation of all spirits?
INVISIBLES: Yes. But with your present earth ideas and desires, you
cannot fully appreciate how change of structure will influence your
ideas. Don’t you see, we are trying to tell you that we do have something
private between just the two, but change of structure and wider vision
change your desire for so intensely personal an attitude. It is
absolutely possible. Only as the child cannot comprehend the grown-up
ideal, so you cannot now put your earth desires as a standard for what
you will desire when you get here.
These fragments are typical of the way we learned the lay of the land.
They are valuable not so much as statements of fact as flashes that
reveal glimpses beyond our ordinary experiences. We shall have an
adjustment to make; but it will be a natural and easy adjustment. A lot
of our customary standards are to be jettisoned. They will be as out of
place as a buggy whip in a motor car. Take space, by which we measure so
much of ourselves.
BETTY: I see; space is only an imaginary boundary, not a definite
reality. How curious it looks! There isn’t any such thing as that
word-pattern we call space. It’s altogether different!…
This is too much for me! My goodness! There’s no use trying to figure it
out while you’re living. You couldn’t hold onto 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. How can you measure space? How can you give
anything so elastic and changing the name 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. Don’t
you see, space is not real at all. It is contained in an attribute of
INVISIBLE: Consider the magnitude of your own illusion of space as
compared with a pebble. Now raise it again to an incomprehensible
magnitude such as you can only guess at.
BETTY: We are all apparently occupying the same space. It doesn’t seem to
be a case of distance at all. This 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 have work to
do in it!
INVISIBLE: Space is not distance: space is degrees of perception.
Distance is only slowness in getting there.
ALL progress leads from the more material to the less material; until at
length it conducts us into regions where reality is perceived without the
use of any laborious material structure at all. You yourselves know that
individuals of higher mentality do not always have to pass through a
material experience. If they are cognizant of its cause and effect, they
can grasp it without painstakingly suffering it: they do not need the
laborious material structure to see its reality. It is the same way in
the still higher levels beyond. You are all leading up to a consciousness
of reality without its material shadows, its material reflections, its
material manifestations, as aids to comprehension.
THE foregoing may give a rough idea of what was given Betty for her own
development, and by way of evidence as to the nature of the higher
consciousness into which she was being led. My own function during this
period was largely as reporter; but in due course I also had my innings.
Part of the plan seemed to be some form of publication; and my profession
pointed to me as the one to do the actual writing.
Now as a writer I have never been able to do effective work at second
hand. For me there is little carrying power in anything written from the
outside. Tourist impressions are never more than amusing. I have never
been able to go out deliberately for local color. I have had to work at
the job in the lumber camps; ride the
Arizona ranges after cattle; pot round the back of beyond in old-time
Africa or Alaska or wherever, doing whatever the inhabitants have to do,
without ulterior motive, because I liked it, and for no other reason.
Then, after it was all lived through, I would find I had something to
It was exactly so here.
If I was to do this writing job, I must do something beside report; I
must myself actually live the life of the country.
Up to this point, in spite of so much admonition to the contrary, I had
clung to my intellect as my best guide. I UNDERSTOOD the directions given
in The Betty Book, and subsequently, I admitted their logical truth. As
ideas they were satisfactory. Also my esthetic sense found them
beautiful. But now, abruptly, I found I was no longer after ideas. I was
after something back of ideas–something that could no longer be a
subject of thought.
Aroused and disturbed, I realized that if I wanted to get any farther I
must be in to follow directions–and that I must start from the
beginning. I had accompanied Betty such a long way, mentally, that I had
a lot of practical back-tracking to do.
What was the very first step? On reflection I found only one thing of
which I felt absolutely sure: my aim. I wanted to get into this new
region of consciousness which Betty had been describing. That much was
clear. Also, on further reflection, it dawned on me that the first thing
I must do, if I wanted to go somewhere else, was to learn how to get away
from where I was.
For the first time, I think, I understood why so many doctrines,
particularly those of the Orient, insist on exercises in “getting out of
the body.” My practical Western mind had long balked at this concept. The
image, to me, was of some sort of astral vehicle floating about, like a
captive balloon, in some sort of beatific–but dense–psychic fog. It had
given me a good laugh, but had failed to convince me.
Recently, however, I had had to change my mind about this. Betty
certainly was getting away from her workaday vehicle into an environment
that contained things not perceptible to ordinary bodily senses. Any
doubt of this had finally collapsed under her repeated demonstrations
that she could even travel some thousands of very earthly miles and look
in on the doings of friends. That she was there, somehow, she had proved
beyond doubt by reporting to me all sorts of details–who was there and
what they were doing at a particular time–and these details had
subsequently been checked, as accurate, by correspondence. On these
occasions, some part of her consciousness was indubitably “out of her
body”; for her body, blindfolded, was all the while next my hand.
Furthermore the “she-herself,” the perceptive part that could observe and
remember and comment, had accompanied that traveling portion of
consciousness. It was aware of events in Boston, it was unaware–or only
dimly aware–for the time being of Burlingame, California.
Faced with this evidence, my cautious skepticism retired a pace or two,
but quickly took refuge in another defense. Betty and these other people,
I argued, were different. They were gifted; they were “psychic.” It was
all very well for them. But I did not consider myself “Psychic.” I was
just an ordinary person, like everyone else. This “getting out of the
body” business was beyond me; and if it had to be done before I could go
ahead, why then I–and the ordinary run of people like me–was just out
I did not then appreciate that “psychic” is just a word: that everyone is
“psychic,” just as everyone is alive; that anyone can “get outside the
body” any time he wants to; that in fact we are all doing just this, to a
degree, every day of our lives.
“We have a house with five doors,” Betty explained. “There are others,
but they are secret doors. The five doors are your senses. What do you
suppose your senses were given you for, besides to keep you from failing
down? Don’t you see?–it’s so soft and nice; it sounds so wonderful; it
smells so good; it looks so fair; I’ve got a hunger for it;–now where’s
my body? You are ‘in your body’ only when you shut all the doors one
after the other, and huddle down within it. Then you get a cramp in it,
get poisoned air in it, get stiff and stupid in it!” So if you want the
secret of life, of how to live beyond your ken, you will start in
practicing. You will do it in foolish fashions, too. You will pat good
things. You will smell good things. And every time you do it, you will
cry: There is a way out!
“The senses are so like wings of the spirit that I am making a beautiful
design for the Doorway of the Senses. They would be great wings, crossed
a little at the top, showing the pearly opalescence beyond. I will make a
BEAUTIFUL Doorway of the Senses!”
This was a marvelous revelation to me, somewhat analogous to M.
Jourdain’s world-shaking discovery that all along he had been talking
prose. It seemed too obvious to be true. Nevertheless, when I turned it
over carefully in my mind, it seemed to withstand the test of logic.
There was no doubt about it: every time I stopped my usual busy concern
with what was going on inside my head to look upon the physical world–by
this slight gesture I was undoubtedly transferring a portion of my
consciousness outside the limits of my compact self. This minute I was
inside myself, thinking my busy thoughts, making my plans, concerning
myself with my symptoms, or just buzzing around idly in a too-usual
aimless fashion. Of anything outside myself I was just sufficiently
cognizant to keep from bumping into it. The next minute I had moved
outside myself to companionship with the trees and birds and flowers and
clouds and sky lines; deserting my usual preoccupations within.
“Getting outside the body,” then, in its first simple beginning at least,
was not so mysterious and occult a performance as the words implied. It
was simply a matter of attention. If I transferred my attention from
within myself to outside myself, my consciousness followed. I had the
method. Remained only to apply it to this other field of activity.
Before continuing with what is to be said about “getting out of the
body,” one thing must be made clear. This process is nothing desirable in
itself. The body is no stepchild. In final analysis it is full partner,
and neglect of it, or ignoring of it, may be as disastrous to the whole
entity as subservience to it. Anything acquired from the spiritual,
anything whatever, must ultimately be brought to the physical and
amalgamated with it, before the process is complete.
In my own case I was soon made to see that this getting aside from the
body was intended only as a temporary freeing from its demands in order
that I might act untrammeled in another part of myself: and also, as a
byproduct, that I might actually experience, by sensation, that the body
is only an attribute of the spirit. Like the mind. As are the hands to
the body itself.
I emphasize this point here because a great many people, “psychically
inclined,” seem to think they are accomplishing a deed of merit when they
manage to “get out of the body.” It is not meritorious: It is dangerous,
if done for and by itself.
Unfortunately the application of the method turned out to be harder than
it looked. In order to transfer my attention from within myself, I
discovered I must provide it with some sort of a definite landing place.
I couldn’t just transfer it to nothing at all. Imagination plus Betty’s
descriptions of my objective helped some, but the results remained thin
and unconvincing at best. The trouble was, I finally decided, that I did
not have the FEEL of what I was after. To be sure I’d had a few small,
sporadic “psychic” experiences, as has about everyone else. But these had
really been just amusing external stunts. Nothing had ever happened
“Inside,” in the sense of inner visions, or “spiritual” sensations or
perceptions. At least nothing I could identify as such–and certainly
nothing I could use as a definite target.
Then one day, unexpectedly, the Invisibles took a hand.
“There are people around me,” it was Betty speaking, “lots of people; a
nice human crowd. There seems to be a message for you; but I can’t get
it–something nice: a recognition that is coming to you…
“We come today,” broke in the Invisible, “to blend our spirits with yours
and make you feel the great heart expansion. Put down the pencil, close
your eyes, and just give way to the change. Open up and welcome it.”
I did as I was told, and at once experienced a most peculiar “balloony”
sensation, as though I were being rapidly expanded in every direction.
This was almost immediately succeeded by a curious inner effect most
difficult to describe. It was very similar to the sensation of bodily
relaxation, only it seemed rather to be a relaxation and expansion of the
normally tight compactness of the gathered-in mind. In my notes of the
occasion I find the words, “Impossible to convey, but a very definite and
unexpected phenomenon.” Instantly, sharply, I understood why the
Invisibles had refused to try to explain a lot of things to me in words;
the words just wouldn’t have made sense to me. How would you, for
instance, convey any adequate idea of sight to a person born blind?
The experience continued for quite an extended interval, during which I
remained fully conscious and watchful, but withdrawn, as it were, into a
kind of cleared space in the center of my consciousness. Then gradually I
emerged and became cognizant of my surroundings once more.
“We have tried today,” said the Invisible, “to teach you the sensation
which is the symptom of expanding life, to demonstrate for your
recognition the actual feeling of it. For the present we ask only that
you seek this sensation, partake of it, and acquire a hunger for it. It
is the reality of which we have talked in discussing the association with
the spirit. Forget the words and get the reality. Establish yourself in
it, naturally, simply, without great effort, as you would sit in the sun
and rejoice in its warmth.
“We leave today before the wane,” concluded the Invisible. “We wish to
preserve at its height the impression of the blending of the two
The very next day I was instructed to continue my experiment.
“Don’t be expectant,” warned the Invisible. “Be flexible. Also don’t
write. You must get complete control of physical relaxation.”
After a short pause I felt again the balloony sensation, and immediately
after, an indescribable impression of rapid vibration. This in turn was
succeeded by a combined floating and expanding feeling of great power. It
lasted for only a few moments, and then ebbed away.
“Rest a moment,” instructed the Invisible. “Relax. Think of anything you
“It seems to me,” said I, “that my voluntary muscles are entirely
relaxed. What beyond that?”
“It’s not so much physical muscles,” said the Invisible, “as mental
adhesions which prevent detachment long enough at a time to establish
security in the new sensation. For the present just try to break up these
adhesions. They are difficult for us to control. We lift you, transmute
you; but there is a drag. Now put down your pencil and try again, without
expectancy, but with outgoing response.”
For perhaps ten seconds the sense of vibration and expansion proceeded
much as before. Then, quite without warning, a band of white light seemed
suddenly to be drawn across my eyes, much like a bandage. This was not
exactly a brilliant light, though it was quite luminous; it was more like
a ground-glass light than anything I can think of. Gradually it gained in
depth and took on color, until it had changed itself into a veil of
singularly lucent ultramarine blue. At the same time the sense of
expansion and vibration heightened measurably. Then quite rapidly the
whole thing ebbed away, and I found myself in my chair once more.
“They were all around you,” said Betty, “as though they were lifting you.
But it was more like a stretching exercise. Very curious: a stretching of
“If you could once,” added the Invisible, “feel secure and natural in
this higher element, you could enter it at will. Meanwhile learn to
experiment with the relaxing qualities of it; gain merely the technique
of occasionally freeing yourself.” “What were those light and color
effects?” I asked. “Are they retinal, or are they something to do with
this other element?”
“They are a symptom,” said the Invisible. “Your own control and power to
take is still weak, because confidence is not yet established. Therefore
we search for a method of bringing it to you more palpably. Any physical
stepping stone makes this process more easily handled and tangible.
Somehow you must establish confidence in your ability to isolate yourself
in an entirely different and superior element.
“This is not easy to attain; never is. Your desire is to keep it reduced
to the element you are used to; our desire is to free you from that
restricted comprehension and force you to come to a higher one. You want
to translate back everything we give; we also want you to go ahead and
write it–provided you experience it more frequently in the original. But
remember one thing: it cannot fail to be anything but vague and
impractical and intangible, if you persist in centering your interest on
the translation. Explore first; write about it afterwards.”
The third experience of this nature–and the last for some time–took
place a few days later. It was in a sense a continuation and extension of
the previous experiences. The vibratory sensations began again with great
power. But now they seemed to begin in some remote inner depths, and
expand constantly outward, carrying my consciousness with them. The final
result was an utterly novel sensation of awareness diffused most
curiously beyond the centered kernel of ordinary life.
The visual “symptoms” also were repeated. The band of white light
appeared as before, gradually changed to ultramarine that gathered in
patches, slowly collected to a common center, contracted into a pin point
and disappeared, only to be succeeded by others. It was as though I
looked into a strange and gorgeous kaleidoscope. At the last the color
deepened to a rich purple. I may add that I tried several times
experimentally to induce these color effects by myself. Such efforts were
The entire experience may have lasted a minute or two–not more. Then I
was once again at my table, the words of the Invisible sounding in my
“All we have tried to do,” said they, “was to impart directly to you the
sensation of the reality of spiritual substance. We wanted to give you a
feeling of confidence in it as a real world. This contact is what you
need most at present. In time it will not be difficult for you to get
merely the sensation; and full realization is not necessary in order to
work in it.
“There is no satisfactory explanation of it that we can give you as yet.
For a while we prefer to leave it to experience. Retain the memory of the
SENSATION. Fix it firmly for a future point of departure. After
experiencing it a few times, it will be no longer merely a series of
strange sensations, but a reality to be returned to with confidence.”
At this point another warning must be emphasized. The reader must not sit
down in any attempt to reproduce the details of my own experience. Nor
must he gauge his success or failure by the presence or absence of the
“balloony feeling,” the band of light, or any of the other symptoms I
have described. For that is Just what they are–symptoms, and personal
symptoms at that. They are by-products, not ends in themselves; and any
attempt to make an end of a by-product is likely to result in disaster.
Naturally some sort of symptoms will accompany any accomplishment. They
will occur, spontaneously, to everyone healthfully reaching toward the
higher consciousness. But never, never are they to be consciously pursued
as a definite objective–or even anticipated in the exact form
encountered by someone else.
In recent years I have talked with a great number of people making this
journey, and have swapped yarns with them of our experiences. Generally,
sooner or later, our trails have converged. But the early details are
often so astonishingly different that one might be tempted to believe we
had different objectives. This fact we must face, and understand. The
country we are entering is a vast region of infinite variety, and if we
insist on searching fixedly for some particular detail of topography, we
may nose about shortsightedly as a mole until we manage to get ourselves
into very dangerous territory.
Indeed so ephemeral is the importance of the symptoms themselves that I
found, in my own case, they disappeared soon after their function had
been fulfilled. I soon abandoned any attempt to recapture them, even as
expedients toward reaching the state of higher consciousness described. I
was not instructed to do this in so many words, but some intuition warned
me that lights and colors and such were not what I was after. Even the
“balloony” feeling and the sensation of expanding consciousness, I
quickly realized, were only crude, almost physical, symbols. The thing
itself was a kind of ESSENCE of these things, a subtle and profound inner
state impossible to describe. It was this that I eventually learned to
practice and to trust.
Why, then, it is fair to ask, have I quoted in such detail those symptoms
of my own experience? Merely because I hope they may be reassuring to the
average individual interested in this exploration. Most beginners, If my
own early reactions are any criterion, feel the need of a concrete
relationship, through their own senses and subjective feeling. They
acknowledge this higher consciousness business as desirable, but
hopelessly vague. It has too little tangible solidity. It is, to one
leading a three-dimensional existence, altogether too unsubstantial. It
needs reality, and vitality. It just hasn’t any corners to it.
As a matter of fact, however, it is entirely substantial. When one
finally steps over into this new country, there is no guess-work about
it–nothing nebulous or indefinite. He KNOWS it.
And he KNOWS that he hasn’t just made up the whole thing. A great many
interested people have faced me with just this point. I am a writer of
fiction, accustomed to imagining things. I know the difference.
I suppose the experiences I have just described were, in a minor way,
what is called an illumination. At least the results, within myself, were
important enough to justify that designation. Up to now I had gained,
largely from Betty’s descriptions, at least a foggy IDEA of what the
higher consciousness was like. In a general way, perhaps, I UNDERSTOOD
what I wanted. But as an idea, and an understanding, it had been a matter
only of the brain and the intellect. Now, however feebly and
fragmentarily, I had touched an underlying reality. A cold and detached
idea had been replaced by an intimate sensation which I felt was an
actual part of my own substance. And as a result, I no longer needed the
kind of faith described by the small boy as “believin’ in things you know
In this I do not fancy myself as exceptional or specially favoured. The
form my own experiences took may–or may not–have been more or less
peculiar to me: but some such experience, I am convinced, always goes
with arrival at a certain stage of the journey. It is an essential of
each person’s progress.
“For true illumination,” said the Invisibles, “one must attain, not only
intellectual conviction, but emotional conviction; not only the
perception of the satisfied equation, but also the cosmic satisfaction
which has nothing to do with the pure mathematics of the intellect. An
intellectual conviction gained through study, through the reading of
books, through the experimental examination of evidence, has one function
and one function only, it moves the center of interest into the path in
which personal experience is most likely to be encountered.
“Furthermore, it will be found that when each individual has reached that
point of inner growth where he is ready to contain the emotional
conviction, the experience personal to himself never lacks. He may not
anticipate its coming or even seek it: generally in our own lives we fail
to see the sure action of evolution taking place–fail to see the same
maturing as takes place in a chestnut burr. This clings tight in one
undivided sealed ball until the proper moment to split on definitely
prepared lines, to turn back and eject the product of its heart. Likewise
the moment comes inevitably for the culmination of our efforts, whether
consciously or unconsciously those efforts have been directed or
misdirected. And at that moment the experience appropriate to the
individual always is supplied. It is inexorable.
“In support of what I say, you will find, if you but inquire deeply
enough, that each man who has within himself a true and living conviction
can trace its beginning to some personal psychic experience, however
small. That is part of our work; and that is in general a true test that
we can apply, a sure means of evaluating the degree to which a person’s
spiritual consciousness has advanced. It is like one drop of a chemical
which, by turning to visible color the contents of a vessel, makes
evident how much of another chemical is there already in suspension. If a
second vessel be so treated, but containing none of the chemical, no
effect will be produced. Some of us [i. e.–the Invisibles] influenced
perhaps by affection, perhaps by inexperience, apply such a test
prematurely and therefore without result. How many people will you find
who at one time or another have had what they call a ‘queer experience’?
“This principle of ripeness must be applied in all teaching. Therefore it
is not our present object to convince the world in general of anything
except the need for continued conscious spiritual growth. The conviction
of one thing or another will come naturally and easily and inevitably to
each individual when he rises by his own specific gravity to that point.
It will come to the world only when the common consciousness by its own
specific gravity has also risen to that point.”
IT’S ABOUT the ripening of life. She says the fruition of life is
tremendously beautiful, if it is only understood and looked at. She is
showing me many things with that idea in them, but nobody is helping me
It is, roughly speaking, about what we miss by keeping the greenness of
youth as a standard, instead of the natural fulfillment of life, which
matures like a seed pod and renews itself. The seed-renewal idea is
really younger than the greenness of youth, if it is really the vitality
of newness we want.
THE GREAT ADVENTURE
WHEN WE speak of “Illumination,” ordinarily, we have the idea of
something extra-special, reserved for a favored few as a direct
revelation from God. There are such. But the general fact of illumination
is much homelier, and in it we all have a share; we all experience it,
and fairly often. If we wished to rename this we might call it the
customary complement that comes at a point of ripeness–any point of
ripeness. And that again may be re-expressed in a single word–maturity.
Maturity is a culmination of points of ripeness. Throughout the formative
years we accumulate, grow into, the various scattered elements of life.
Then one day, quite suddenly, things click into place. We may have little
understanding, intellectually, of what has happened. But we are aware of
a new-found poise, a stable placement in life. We have had an
illumination, we have reached the maturity appropriate to our place in
Fortunately maturity is a variable. It is not a fixed point, but moves up
as the race moves up. In the Stone Age maturity was no higher than the
physical. The Neanderthal succumbed at twenty-six from a crack on the
head because advancing years had deprived him of the zip and agility he
had commanded at twenty. If by good luck he managed for a while to dodge
that kind of trouble, he had really nothing to look forward to but mere
existence. That was all there was in life–physical prowess. It was to be
a long time before cunning and craft and wisdom were to make later life
worth anything; win the old man a little sufferance from others–and from
himself. And even in that there was more backward-looking in regrets than
We have come a long way from primitive man–in some respects. But not in
others. Many of the old cave-days standards still linger as sort of
vestigial remains. Without realizing it, most of us pay disproportionate
tribute to the capacities of the body. We are still holding fast to the
idea of physical energy as a symbol of the pinnacle of life. In a kind of
arrested development we stick at the same point as Neanderthal man,
glorying in his bodily exuberances. For even today, certainly, the old
man who acts in forward-looking vigor is numbered perhaps by hundreds as
against untold millions living in wistfulness of vanished youth. The
average man, meanwhile, is engaged in expending the accumulations made at
the peak of youth, spreading them thin over the years, until at last he
stands bankrupt before his gray remaining days, searching half-heartedly
for some interest real enough to carry him through.
It is a sad fact, but we are still clinging to youth-worship, the
Neanderthal man’s superstition of youth. His instinct that youth is
irreplaceable. The fallacy that at its envanishment with the rose, life’s
sweet-scented manuscript DOES close! We argue otherwise to ourselves. We
recoil with humorous dismay from the idea of being twenty again. But the
There is in store for us, however, a second major ripening, a kind of
second maturity. And one of our illuminations at this time is the
recognition of the youth-cult as a Neanderthal superstition.
For those beyond the half way mark who have felt this drag of the
backward glance, the Invisibles had a certain gentle derision.
“Imagine,” said they, “an acorn just DEVASTATED with grief because it had
cracked its shell in putting forth its first sprout toward being an oak
tree! ITS onward-pressing conviction, maintaining the movement of life,
leaves no regret for the fulfilled natural processes. Likewise with
yourselves, mere accustomedness and sentiment must not retard and weaken
the force of continuity. Youth welcomes every change; so should age! Age
with imagination, age with freedom to forevision unhampered by the
metamorphosis of a completing cycle!
“Such an outlook is not too difficult, provided you use a little
understanding. Consider the bright ardor of living, the fervid desires
that you have in youth. They are possible principally because of the
flexibility of the physical mechanism. The secret of this golden age is
the freedom from bodily restraints. The leap of the flame is the natural
process. In later life you strive to recapture this faculty. But, though
the IDEALS you envision have now more substance than ever before, you
cannot levitate and vitalize them. Every effort to do so merely stiffens
and exhausts the body machine.
“The trouble is that you are trying to translate the ardor and fervor of
the intangible substance of thought into terms of bodily tensions. That
is a very great mistake. If you are going to face a great and shining
future, you must use a new and bright apparatus with which to express
your greater capacities. You can’t think bright and shining thoughts with
a tired old brain. So step aside from it, admitting that it is perhaps a
little of everything you say. Why shouldn’t it be, and what of it? It is
only a protective covering now for the thing that counts, which is what
generates your bright and shining thoughts–the new consciousness born
“It is a sort of replacement idea. Once you grasp it clearly you will
find you have within you a fountain of eternal youth. But it must be done
HONESTLY. You cannot come into possession of it if you hang onto old
crowbait ideas of leaning on a stick and being weighty. The instant you
find yourself leaning heavily on the waning powers of the body, snatch
yourself away from it. Actually, it is a clumsy, moldy, wasteful idea;
and the replacement idea is the truth. After all, why saturate your whole
being with a sensation that has to do with only a smaller part of it?
Even when the body is tired, there is no longer any need for YOU to live
in its tiredness. Just take the sensible measures appropriate to a tired
body, and then withdraw into your higher serenities.
“Of course, it would be silly to deny that you have lost what the college
boys possess. But it would be equally silly for you to think in terms of
this merely physical desirability, for you are engaged in growing
something younger and better than they have. This thing you are ripening
toward is the fruit of your life. It will make you bright inside, no
matter what you are outside. It is a SHINING thing.”
“We must teach ourselves to recognize it,” Betty contributed. “It is
there, awaiting our recognition, for our enjoyment and development. It is
the fruit of consciousness which the college boys haven’t got. As soon as
we let drop from it the tired flesh-thoughts, we’ll see how beautiful and
buoyant and wonderful it is. But as long as we allow those old
flesh-thoughts to sit around like old black crows, just spoiling the
party, we’ll never be able to believe in the fruit of our life. It will
be obscured by the age of our arteries, denied by the stiffness of our
muscles and every other old kill-joy in our bodies.
“The gift of illumination of the moment,” resumed the Invisibles, “is how
to substitute for bodily functions the higher intelligence and vital
intensities of the enduring being within you. Age, in a sense, is
self-inflicted, a legacy from past generations. But within each there is
something that is superior to age. Once you fully realize this, there
will be no tradition of age to uphold. It will exist only as a physical
cycle, quite apart from the real center of being.
“And with this realization will come another: that you are NOT on the
down-slope toward bankruptcy of youth’s qualities when youth itself is
over–that there is something even better to look forward to: something
with increasing instead of diminishing interest, and not merely limited
to itself, but with vistas far into the future.”
Another vestigial Neanderthal point of view is our attitude toward death.
Even to those of us who believe that life goes on after death, our
passing out of earth life looks like a pretty stiff bump, a sharp
dividing line in continuity. If it were indeed such, its discussion could
hardly be appropriate to such teachings as these, for they purport to
deal with living, not dying.
But the Invisibles do not see it that way. There is no bump, no jar. We
keep right on, just as we have been going. How is that? Why, said they,
look at what you HAVE been doing. You started out completely identified
in consciousness with your physical body. As a baby you were hardly aware
of any outside world. Your growth has been a steady progress away from
that identification. You have become increasingly aware of the outside
world. You have even come to the point where, to a degree, you have
ceased to think of your body as yourself. It is more like a useful
machine. You have seen how, just by noticing things, paying real
attention to them, your consciousness has left its body behind to a
certain and ever increasing extent. The norm of growth is to make that
transfer oftener and more complete. You “develop outside interests.” In
the due course of events there comes a time when you find it handier and
more comfortable to move your headquarters out to those outside
interests. You shut up the old house, and move into a new habitation that
is closer to your work. That is death.
And, they added, get over any idea that death is going instantaneously to
transfigure you into Celestial Beings. You did not leap to maturity when
you graduated from high school into college.
“There is no sudden jump,” they insisted, “which will transform you. You
take over what you are. That is the real continuity. It’s not the
continuity of going over to something easier and adapted to all your
peculiarities. It is a smooth transition. You might just as well accept
it. You’ve got to do away with that superstition that your handicaps here
will be instantly eliminated there. Get adapted here, and then you will
enter without conditions. It’s a smooth beautiful thing, this continuity.
The division between the lives is an imaginary line, like the equator.”
It follows logically, they continued, that things do not chop off
suddenly at a dead end. What you are doing now carries over. No matter
how temporary or expedient. It is to be finished: and it is to be useful
for whatever else is to be done. Do not get the notion that because the
job of the moment is evanescent, it is not worth bothering about; that
you can skimp it, that any pains you bestow on it are wasted effort. It
Suppose, for instance, we have devoted an enormous concentration of study
and effort in learning to sail a boat. Then we have to move inland, a
thousand miles from water, for the rest of our lives. What we have to
drive now is an airplane; and hardly one thing we have learned about
handling boats fits in with handling airplanes. All that time wasted!
Nevertheless we are very stupid indeed if we do not realize that the time
was not wasted. To be sure the skills of sheet and halliard, reef and
spinnaker, tack and reach are useless. But the qualities we have
developed in acquiring those skills come in very handy. Alertness;
coolness; judgment; prompt muscular reaction; resourcefulness; courage;
caution–we learned them on the water, we can use them in the air. Into
our new habitation we have brought a pretty handy outfit after all. And
we collected it on our boat, even if we had to leave the boat behind.
One thing we must realize, then, is that exactly this thing is true of
all that we do in life: we are collecting an outfit which will be useful
in a new habitation. There is the specific skill, which applies to the
thing we are doing now; and also the intangible quality developed by the
gaining of that skill. The intangible quality is part of the outfit for
the new and strange country we are to inhabit.
“You remember the experimental dying,” said the Invisibles, “and how you
set up housekeeping with the few things you had brought along of
realities–volition, patience, perseverance, loving-kindness, whatever
you had of enduring qualities–and by the exercise of them created new
environment. Well, you don’t have to go so far imaginatively as that. You
can imagine yourself, as happens to many, suddenly transplanted, an
emigrant, a refugee, any example of a suddenly uprooted being hustled
into a radically changed environment. Place yourself in imagination in
Smyrna or Palestine or Timbuktu or any other part of the world–without
luggage! The success of your adjustment will be entirely dependent on the
mental and spiritual capital you have brought with you.
“Consider one who is without firmly established supporting convictions,
previously developed through his having constructed his own firm
conditions of maintenance elsewhere; without the eternal verity of
equilibrium; without the surrounding stability of confidence in his own
power of re-establishment through summoning or magnetically attracting to
himself the same replacement conditions anywhere. He will begin at once
to disintegrate and throw into confusion his whole creative mechanism, by
tearing it up into little worry-bits as to food and every detail as to
present and future need, and his lack of possession of them at the
moment. His panic over his mechanism of reconstructing his life puts him
at once into the conditions he fears.
“Now what I am trying to get at is that your real wealth and capital,
which will rehabilitate you in any change that comes to you, is the
extent to which you have developed this inner reality. It is what gives
strength to character, the power to convince and influence others, the
calm acceptance of temporary destructions of one’s impermanent
possessions and surroundings.”
“I get your point about character budding,” said I, “but that is
long-range stuff–the job of a lifetime. Isn’t there something more
specific and immediate we can do to prepare ourselves?”
“The best safeguard I can give you,” replied the Invisible, “is to put
more time into thinking constructively of your new body. If you can
realize clearly this core of life that carries on beyond your present
span, and fulfill all your daily occupations and expenditures of strength
in relation to it, that will help tremendously.”
“Think of life as a shaft,” Betty continued, “extending up into the sky
out of sight, and ourselves as clinging around the very bottom of it. Our
usual way is to mark it off in sections, like a barber’s pole. Rut that
is a very limiting idea. The biggest thing we can do for ourselves is to
make a new conception of life as one continuous thing extending far
beyond our present span. If you do that, you cannot mark off a line at
the bottom of that shaft and say: these things I do are only for this
span. Because whatever you do that you cannot feet sends progressively
forward, however slowly–that thing will become a bother to you.
“I wish everybody in this world would get together and raise this shaft
to represent Life, and would look up to it every day and value the day’s
doings in relation to it. Then the oppression of this level of
consciousness would be gone, and its lower standards and dwarfing ideals;
and each moment would have a balance of all eternity.”
Another aspect of this was presented to Betty in a symbolic experience so
striking that I am going to conclude by quoting it here complete.
“Today I’m playing such a curious beautiful game,” said she. “Fin putting
together precious bits of memory perfections….Such a curious Jumble of
things!–memories of wide awesome spaces, and mountain tops, and flowing
deserts, and young spring, and fragrances, and rosy babies–all the
releasing memories I have on hand….
“I am learning how I shall use my earth experiences over here, the
creative power of them when put together properly. They are building
materials, just as brick and mortar are there. I pile up my memories and
step on them, as it were, into a higher condition of perception. My
precious sensibilities! I haven’t half enough of them! I hunt around
among my deepest and tenderest feelings, my intensest longings, all the
parts of me that are most quivered with life. I wish there were a lot
more; they make such a little bit of building material.
“My great longings take precedence; they are the readiest for
fulfillment. All my satisfied memories support them and give them
substance and structure. It is so vast. I make my selections of conscious
participation by my great longings developed on earth, and by satisfying
them develop others, thus gaining cognizance of still vaster
possibilities….I feel like a yeast cake, or the building of a
honeycomb, or something just made of the thought cells of experience. It
would be terrible to come over without any intensities to build on.
“All this is to show us the way we are constantly preparing or neglecting
our future building materials. The only way it can be demonstrated is
through symbols of intensity, which is eternal life substance. You can
continue to quicken yourself wholesomely, naturally, normally in every
faculty–physical, mental, spiritual–each year freeing yourself, moving
toward youth instead of age, the youth of your next and higher phase of
life. It doesn’t come through thinking; it isn’t thinking, it’s DOING–
like physical exercises, only these are everything: will, sensory, every
kind of pleasurable participation in living vitally.
“I feel the difference just as you can tell electric current or when it’s
shut off; just as definite as that. This current is the intensity that
runs through to our pleasures and beliefs and longings: the permeation of
the spirit, which is so difficult to put into convincing words…
She paused a few moments as though contemplating something, and then
“That’s cowboy talk: to be afoot in a new country. I’d hate to be afoot
in that new country. Parsimonious living here would put me afoot. That
would be very awkward.
“Do you see what they’re doing? They’re showing us we must start here the
machinery we’re going to use there, so we won’t be dazed and helpless
immigrants. Poor immigrants: they’re all right in their own country, but
they have to go down the scale here because they aren’t prepared. I
certainly am grateful: at least I’ve got a familiar machine to make me go
ahead wherever I am. I’m delighted, too, I can slide over so easily. Now
I can die with savoir-faire.”
“That,” commented the Invisible, “is what all education and cultivation
is, isn’t it;–making you natural and at home, master of yourself in
“I wish,” Betty concluded, “I could find words to tell you how pleasant
and deep-breathed and natural and wide-experienced it is to live in
constant relationship to the future. How can one speak about ‘life
beyond,’ when THERE is HERE?”
ACROSS THE UNKNOWN
THE SINGLE thing I can get hold of today is the drabness of our life. Why
don’t we intensify it? 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 life. 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 all out except for 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 SPIRIT and truth of reality I have received intuitively and am in
more or less dumb possession of. But that doesn’t amount to much except
as a beginning. It is a nebulous sort of thing until backed up, and won’t
do any good unless I slowly grow the strength to sustain. Otherwise it
will just run in and out, like the tide.
You see it is never wise to go any farther than you can get the strength
to sustain, to maintain, to establish. Even the highest awareness that is
purely spiritual amounts to little until you back it up.
AFTER growing to the moment of ripeness, we must each discover our own
way into the new country. But once we have done so, we may search for,
and find, the guiding beacons of predecessors. They are beacons, not cold
monuments, and trace no path, but comfort by their assurance that we have
the right direction.
Nevertheless I do believe that each will trace, in some form, the
experience I have described. He will, in SOME form, receive a sudden
illumination. This will vary in kind, from that of the fellow who merely
“sees it clearly at last,” and kicks himself for having been so stupid;
to the higher ecstasy said to irradiate seers and saints.
This insight, or “revelation” is, in its full clarity, rarely more than a
flash, or a glimpse. For one fleeting instant we seem to FEEL that we
know what it is all about. The moment passes; but the accompanying
exaltation lingers. We begin to think it is permanent. We mistake the
mood for a permanent state of being. From now on we are going through
life a-tiptoe and a-tingle in vibrant exuberance. The load is lifted, the
struggle banished. And the more confident of that we are, the more
disconcerting, even dangerous, is going to be the reaction. For
inevitably and inexorably we shall come down from tiptoe; our ecstasy is
going to drain back to its earned level.
There is the danger point. Unless we understand that this exaltation of
being is not a sudden free gift we are to keep, but an anticipation, a
promise of what might be, and will be in due course and if we earn it;
our failure to stay up there with the shining moment is likely to throw
us into a violent revulsion against the whole subject. We accuse
ourselves of illusion. We have been psychopathic: or weak; or unworthy.
Such an attitude is foolish. It is dangerous, for it may drop us back to
despair. And useless. We have not failed: how could we fall when we have
not yet begun? We have stood at a lookout point in the foothills, and the
day was clear, and we have seen distant peaks against the sky.
In the Navy they have a phrase that has always tickled my sense of
quaintness. I first heard it thirty years ago. By courtesy of the
Department I was on my way down the Lower California coast to attend the
annual target practice at Magdalena Bay. It was evening. The Captain of
the ship and I were gossiping in his cabin. Suddenly the lights all went
out. We sat for a minute or so in darkness. Presently came the sound of
the door opening, and then the voice of the orderly.
“Sir,” said the latter, “the lights are out.”
“Make it so,” rejoined the officer.
After a brief interval evidently the trouble was found and remedied.
Again the orderly appeared and saluted.
“Sir,” said he gravely, “the lights are on again.”
“Make it so,” repeated the Captain.
The lights had been out, we had sat for some minutes in darkness: the
repairs had been made, we had sat for half a minute in the light. But
neither interim, or of light or of dark, had had any official reality. It
had remained a mere potentiality until, from headquarters, the directing
power, it had been “made so.”
That is a fine and useful phrase: a fine and useful regulation to which
we would do well to subscribe. It symbolizes grandly a basic truth.
Make-it-so. Literally, no matter how substantial or how convincing the
appearance, it has no reality unless we have made-it-so.
But in personal progress there is this difference from the Navy use of
the phrase: we cannot make-it-so by mere approval.
It seems fairly obvious that Betty’s early experiences of the higher
consciousness were a kind of Cook’s tour of as much of the region as she
could take in. Conditions were carefully controlled so that her
exploratory effort would not meet with too much resistance.
It is also fairly obvious, I think, that there could be little make-it-so
in such first trips. One does not get title merely by walking through.
The Invisibles pointed this out clearly. Occupation of the higher
consciousness, said they, requires skill. The only way a skill can be
developed is by DOING, over and over–repetition, preferably with as
little help as possible.
Accordingly Betty was assigned daily practice periods, during which she
did her best to retrace her brilliant exploratory flights, but unaided,
under her own power. In time she gained what appeared to be considerable
proficiency. Still the Invisibles did not seem satisfied. Then one day
the reason was disclosed. Here is the record:
BETTY: (after a long pause) I can’t understand this new crowd at all.
There are such curious waits and consultations and things. They seem to
be preparing something different for me to do. I never can stay where I
can successfully accomplish. I always have to go on beyond, and that
makes it so much harder each time….
I’ve got to have so much surety and composure before they will begin.
They won’t waste any time or effort on anything that hasn’t been
prepared. I can’t help myself. I just have to hang around….
Now at last I have reached the condition of confident happiness and
strength I should like to be in always.
INVISIBLE: That is all very well now, but suppose we put a strain on this
acquired poise of yours. Would you stand the test, or would you go to
BETTY: They took me and put me in a terrible crowd. Ugh! Such a mass of
humanity! I tried to push them all back to get a little of my own
atmosphere around me. I struggled so hard!
INVISIBLE: That is the life people have to struggle against.
BETTY: I don’t understand why I should be put through this. I can’t get
rid of it. I’m always brought back to humanity crowded like a railway
station. So different from our calm, ordered life.
INVISIBLE: Sensitiveness capable of absorbing wisdom through direct
impression suffers enormously from the world of combat. For as awareness
increases, so does suffering. A wider vision reveals not only rightness,
but also the terrible wrongness. Because of this, unfortunately, the
spiritual aspirant often prefers to seek a sheltered life and become a
bystander. Unwilling to make what seem to him futile efforts at righting
things, he prefers the refuge of passivity. Such a person may have an
exquisitely sensitized vision, but he is absolutely sterile because of
lack of human contact. One reason why the strength of unenlightenment is
rampant is this shrinking of sensitiveness from contact with it. The
bystander probably considers it fastidiousness, but it is really inertia,
atrophied force, overcultivation, loss of productiveness.
BETTY: I want to look at him again. He’s quite fascinating, quite
exquisite, but useless. If set in action, so much of him would break or
crumble or change. What a pity he couldn’t be used! He’s such a highly
INVISIBLE: He’s got to learn to take his sensitiveness out of the way or
he can’t be put to work.
The whole point is, any sensitive person is useless in employing the
force of the higher consciousness if he is always vulnerable to the
return blows of the world. Suppose he is trying to accomplish something,
and everybody begins irrelevant personal attacks, obstructions of all
kinds. The minute he becomes susceptible to that he is automatically shut
off from the power current which was going to HELP him accomplish.
You yourself must look out for this. You have gained access to a shining
substance. Now you must learn to use it against a lower element superior
in quantity. The toughening process which will make your bit of strength
available must rest with you. Little by little, in small matters at
first, you must learn to protect your mind against the darts and arrows
which poison resolution.
BETTY: I feel as though I had grown exceedingly strong roots, recognized
as an achievement in the root world, but with only a tiny visible shoot.
Now I’ve got to make the visible growth balance the roots before I can go
on to enduring attainment. The side of me that is visible must be made to
exhibit the strength of my inner development….
Such a body blow to realize that what I have been able to get is no good
to anybody! My faith is stronger than ever, but it must stand a terrible
ordeal and test–like snowflakes falling on a wet pavement.
INVISIBLE: If you can carry on through this, all will be well. If not,
you will sink with the rest. The great difficulty of all spiritual
communion is the intermittence of it. Our end is dependent on the
establishing of magnetic control from yours. That lacking, misunderstood,
or thrust aside by circumstances of life, the conviction or quickening
contact is gradually dimmed, sometimes to the point of extinction.
No suggestions are offered today. The problem is merely stated for your
solution. You stand at the crossroads. Either you proceed faintly
shadowed by a strange experience, or you strive onward toward a hold on
the vitality of spiritual life which will remain unbroken even in the
darkest hours of proof. That, you must realize, is your ultimate goal:
UNBROKEN SPIRITUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
THE TINIEST little bit of an effort really to accomplish, the crudest
kind of a structure, is worth so much more than years of atrophied
intellectual attainment. The crude little structure is a live thing. It
can be extended and beautified indefinitely.
All that thought-power they talk about so scientifically is just each
one’s ability to move the different motes of his ego out into the sun. By
his power of selecting his own motes of thought, of deciding which will
be visible to him, he determines which will become the controlling motive
of his actions. It is a great simple power, if you think of it that
way–moving your motes in and out of the sun, throwing thoughts into
shadow or into brilliant being, just as you please. It would make godlike
beings of us.
I SOON realized Betty was not alone in her make-it-so problem: it was up
to me, too. The only difference was that, whereas she had definite
attainments to translate into everyday life, I had still to go through
elementary school. Through Betty’s records and other study, I had early
gained at least a fair mental understanding of my aim. Just recently I
had been given an actual small sensation of what I was after. But
submitting to an apparently spontaneous and involuntary experience and
commanding the technique to reproduce that experience at will are two
different matters. Any dub can hit an occasional long drive, but it takes
an expert golfer to turn in a qualifying score.
In other words–and obviously–there is not only the aim, but the method.
Knowing where you want to go is all very well, but you must also know the
right way to get there. The futility of mere good intention has been made
into a proverb. I had seen–we all had seen–so many people sincerely,
honestly, passionately, reaching toward expansion; ardently and arduously
seeking the higher consciousness. They were wholly well-meaning. Their
relationships to others, as far as they could make them so, were
altruistic and selfless. Apparently here was no lack of intention nor
wavering of aim. Yet somehow they had managed to miss out completely.
Strange things happened to them, which they seemed not to deserve. Either
they had turned queer and visionary; or joyless in a wrack of spiritual
anxieties; or zealous with a certainty of self-righteousness. They either
became helpless victims of spiritual wretchedness, or self-righteous
proselytes of spiritual arrogance. They were both lonely and unhappy. And
the search, to which they were still inexorably bound, had turned frantic
and tormented. Doubly so since it seemed to them they had–as was indeed
the case–lived singly in the purest intention.
This state of affairs, at first, rather disconcerted my sense of Justice.
Such steadfastness of purpose did not seem to deserve such penalty. But
now I began to see some reason in at least some of their troubles. In the
words of the Old-Timer, they were headed in the right direction, all
night, but they were going the other way! Ignorance does not excuse. The
desire of these people to get to the right place was sincere enough, but
they had picked a dangerous trail.
Through the ages literally dozens of blueprints have been laid on our
intellectual tables, each outlining in its own way some system of
self-development. Properly used, each is effective. They vary greatly in
risk. One such route is loosely designated as the “occult.” History is
peppered with accounts of initiations and mysteries and Yogi exercises
and “concentrations” and esoteric “disciplines”–all intended to help the
aspirant on his way. Most of these are pretty drastic. Possibly that
quality was demanded for the days when they were evolved. And by that
very fact they are dangerous to the uninformed. So are powerful drugs in
the hands of any but an expert physician. Like the drugs, they have their
use. But one thing is sure: they should never be attempted, even by those
to whom they are appropriate, without expert guidance. To do so is to
invite unbalance and possible destruction.
Another approach is through the so-called “psychic,” which presupposes
the guidance of ex-carnate Intelligence.
I use “so-called” advisedly. As we have already seen, “psychic” is a
blanket term, and can cover about everything debatable, from table
tipping and automatic writing, to trance mediumships. In its purest use
it might be defined as Invisible guidance. Its worst has been so
publicized that it has had a bad name with the orthodox. Nevertheless it
is an effective route for those who are suitably constituted. Betty’s
approach is “psychic,” for example. But like the “occult” route, it may
be dangerous. To place oneself indiscriminately at the disposal of
unknown forces and personalities is as silly as turning over all your
money to someone you know nothing whatever about, and whom you have never
even seen. There is always the possibility that you will come under wise
and considerate care. But the chances are you will wake up one day to
find you have attracted a crowd of thugs and incompetents, with no
desires beyond using you for their own purposes. And that is not all, for
even though awakened, you may by then find it next to impossible to free
yourself of them. And that is a quick way to the psychopathic ward.
Nevertheless, I repeat, some individuals are so constituted that
“psychics” offers the most effective way to begin the journey, possibly
the only way–for them. Of that we have little definite knowledge. But
that it is risky we are very sure. One who picks this trail must make up
his mind to watch his step and take it easy. Otherwise he is due for a
A third approach is through exoteric religion. Any religion worthy of the
name affords to those especially constituted a means of reaching the
higher consciousness. Since they deal more in general principle and less
in the details of instruction and process, as routes they are much less
dangerous for use by the average man. But for that reason they are
correspondingly less effective–and by no means altogether safe, at that.
Plenty of people have gone “queer” over religion, and some have even
become violent and had to be locked up. But so can one go crazy over
almost anything. I had an aunt who went crazy over cats!
This vast field of tradition and knowledge, then–together with that
outlined in the many hundred pages of instructions from the Invisibles to
Betty–was what I found before me when I faced the question of method. It
was enough to make any reasonable person pause and consider.
I think it was Ajax who begged merely that he might see the face of his
enemy. And Davy Crockett who wanted to be right before he went ahead. I
have always had great sympathy with both. That is why I myself circled
this subject so wanly, like an old mallard coming into a pond, before
settling down into it.
Throughout Betty’s training, as I have explained, I followed the
instructions with the greatest care–intellectually. They made perfectly
good sense, and I had little trouble understanding them. Nor were they at
all complex or obscure. In fact, quite the contrary, they were so clear
and simple as to be a little hard to hold onto. I found myself having
trouble taking them seriously.
Later on I investigated quite a number of the “occult” systems in search
of cross-lights. In this I was partially successful. Small bits here and
there fitted in. Occasional heretofore unsuspected vistas opened out. As
a whole, however, I was disappointed. All these systems seemed to me to
boll down merely to obscure and mysterious and complicated ways of doing
much the same things as had been explained more simply to Betty.
Eventually the Invisibles summed it up for me neatly.
“The basic principles underlying all spiritual formulas,” said they,
“have been glimpsed in these teachings. All begin with the blank sheet,
the wiping out of scattered impressions, such as bodily tensions and mind
chasings–the creation of a little fair open space in which to put
something better and more beautiful than our ordinary creations. All
begin with this, whatever it is called. The next step is the vitality to
preserve that space permanently, and gradually to enlarge it. What comes
to occupy the space thus fittingly prepared is the continual secret
wonder of each individual life.”
Compared with Betty’s more advanced excursions, my own simple beginnings
must seem elementary. Nevertheless I think they are worth quoting, as
illustrative of one approach to the higher consciousness which is
relatively safe. That doesn’t mean it is foolproof: there is no such
thing. But it should prove reasonably negotiable, I believe, to the
average individual with ordinary stability and common sense.
Concerning the first step toward “getting out of the body,” I had found
practically all instructions unanimous; one must begin with physical
relaxation. Many of the systems I had investigated gave minute
directions. One was to go over the body muscle by muscle, consciously
smoothing the tensions from each. In time and with sufficient practice
one was supposed in this way to gain the desired complete release.
I do not doubt that this is so. I even found such a procedure to be of
considerable help to myself–in the very beginning. With sufficient will
power I could, in time, make all my muscles behave. But was that
relaxation? It did not seem to me so, logically. As I saw it, the idea
was to withdraw attention from the body, not stand around vigilantly
seeing that it carried on. And it was too much like dumbbells. I have
always hated dumbbells.
Then it occurred to me to run things from a headquarters standpoint. The
muscles are not my job: they are the body’s job. Why not dispose of the
body so that it could have no just cause for complaint; convey to it that
I wanted to busy myself elsewhere and did not wish to be bothered and
that it would be useless to complain;–then just go there, leaving it to
obey or not as it pleased.
I was not foolish enough to believe this system would work perfectly at
once. I realized I would at first have to come back often to chide, help
out, repeat instruction–to practice. But meanwhile I would at least be
facing my underlying purpose whole: I would be trying to escape from my
Unfortunately this did not by any means solve the whole problem. Another
requirement insisted on by all systems of spiritual development is the
sweeping clean of the mind. The picture conveyed to me was of the driving
out of a buzzing trivial swarm, and the throwing out neck and crop of any
subsequent intruders. Most systems suggest an intense concentration on
various objects for this purpose–“blanking out” on oranges or candle
flames or crystals or what have you. The implication of all these methods
seems to be an “excluding of the world” by some sort of drastic focusing
of the mind.
Probably that works for some: I found it would not work for me. This job
of throwing out irrelevancies meant vigilance. And vigilance and
concentration, however effective they might be for the immediate purpose,
defeated the ultimate purpose–for, to me at least, their exercise meant
contraction. Possibly long, dull and painful practice would have enabled
me to do these two opposed things at once. Like learning to pat the head
and rub the stomach at the same time. But somehow the prospect tired me
all out. It had, again, too much the flavor of dumbbells before
Then came my second remarkable burst of illumination. If dumbbells for
the body were no good, why dumbbells for the mind? Possibly chasing out
each small trivial thought was the same as following around each trivial
muscular tension. Why not use on the mind the same brilliant idea that
had worked with the body? Why not just ABANDON the mind, its haphazard
little thoughts, and all? Leave them down there, along with my body?
In this manner, I evolved and grew into a little daily routine. I would
begin by lying flat on my back–preferably on the floor, because of its
more stable support. Then for a brief space I would picture to myself
various relaxing things: a dog flopped asleep in the sunshine, a cat
stretched out before the fire, a coat on a coat-hanger, the sensation of
floating in warm water or of falling comfortably through space. I
practiced until I could do this promptly. I found that sometimes I could
cut down the detailed technique to a momentary gesture in the general
direction of what I wanted. On occasion, if I happened to be very tense,
I might have to go back to first principles for a brief review. But the
general tendency was for this step to become more and more subordinate
and unconscious, like digestion. I could just go on about my business and
trust it to take place automatically.
Then the mental escape; but this was not so easy. For one thing, a good
strong thought-stream cannot be abandoned all at once. It has momentum.
One cannot hop off it in full motion any more than one can hop off a
railway train in full motion. It must be at least slowed down. Or, to
change the figure, it is better to divert an unruly child than to clash
Substitution is the answer. For example, I would repeatedly divert my
attention to little discontinuous noises–a bird singing, the creaking of
the woodwork, the wind passing in the trees. It had occurred to me that
when one looks or listens or feels with his whole mind he does not think.
Of course the thought stream kept reasserting itself, but each time its
direction would be changed and its interest-momentum diminished.
Sometimes I would use memory pictures as the substitute: a tiny brook
murmuring contentedly among the giant sugar pines; a green meadow in the
enchanted silence of the forest depths; thin, rose clouds streaking a
sunset sky; the shimmer of moonlight upon the summer sea. These, and
their kind, I would pursue, until the thrill and the wonder of beauty had
closed gentle fingers about my consciousness.
The next step had been hinted to me by the Invisibles: through Joan, of
Our Unseen Guest. I must now, said they, carefully, very carefully
picture myself as floating unanchored in space. Various physical symbols
helped. A bird high above the ground. An airplane in space, touching
nothing. A balloon in the stratosphere. One picture that seemed to be
particularly effective was that of smoke rising slowly and hanging under
the ceiling. As long as my interest was centered in these, no bustling
thoughts came to disturb me.
Last of all I would carefully, very carefully, detach myself from my
symbols and try to sense myself as a disembodied point of consciousness
in space. Surprisingly, this wasn’t too hard to do, though at first the
effect stayed with me only for an instant. The moment strain set in I
abandoned the attempt, descending easily of my own specific gravity, like
a glider settling back to earth. Then rest for a moment comfortably in my
habitual self, contemplation of a few pleasant unrelated thoughts, and
“This training,” said they, “is really bringing the subconscious, which
has charge of your automatic actions, under some sort of responsible
discipline. When this is accomplished, it will no longer be necessary to
spend your time with it in the nursery.
“The subconscious is an executive thing only; it carries out. It is
enormously efficient, but it acts only on stimulus and guidance. Lacking
your intelligent stimulus and guidance, it takes what offers. Untrained,
its tendency is to usurp. Unresisted, it carries the conscious mind down
its own channel of interest. You notice this when you are trying to
concentrate on some line of thought, and are constantly distracted and
carried off down extraneous lines. The remedy is not will-power forcing,
but a good-humored detaching, as from the importunate hands of children.
The ease and good-humor of the detachment depend on whether or not the
children you are dealing with are trained or spoiled.
“In the routine you have been following you are also training your
conscious mind, not in specific detail, but in the direction of habitual
association with the superconscious rather than the subconscious.
Standing between the two, it has its choice.”
THE SECRET of success with the reinforcing power of the higher
consciousness is to practice with it as a recreation. Then when the time
comes you can test its reality by deliberately selecting an upsetting
moment, a harassed moment, and applying it purposefully. But before you
can use it in serious matters, you must first use it for your own
pleasure. Otherwise, it won’t hold up.
CALIFORNIA today is a proudly organized civilization. Her productions
fill long tables of statistics. She offers to her people a variety of
habitation and of recreation to suit any possible taste; from Death
Valley to the Redwoods of Humboldt; from surf riding to skiing. Her
wildernesses are still vast, but trailed and rangered and administered
and kept satisfactorily untamed.
Yet in my own recollection and experience California was still a
frontier. There were no paved highways. The main roads were sketchy wagon
tracks. Secondary highways did not exist. In their stead were traits on
which we rode horseback. The Sierra, now speckled with resorts, searched
through by wide ranger-made trails, crisscrossed with arterials, were to
be explored only by pack train over the rough ways-through “monumented”
for their own convenience by the sheep-and-cattle-men. And you did it
yourself. Such a thing as a professional guide did not exist. And when
you started, you stocked up for the duration, even to such things as
horseshoes. There were no wayside stores.
Ordinarily the traveler camped where night found him, improvised what he
could not carry, changed his home every day, and to a great extent,
“lived on the country. Once in a while he found it convenient to
establish a base, a headquarters, from which to start out and to which to
return. One could store things there. One could build something more
substantial than a bivouac in case the elements got too rough. We did
this. We even put up a cabin, with a fireplace, and a split rail fence,
and other fancy fixings. It was a substantial, comfortable habitation;
but it did not tie us. We still wandered far afield, among the great
peaks. However, it was there; something permanent, something of our very
own to which to return.
That is the general course of pioneering anywhere. Frontiers vary, but
the process of their development does not. The case is no different, even
when the frontiers are those of consciousness. Certainly Betty’s
exploration of them and occupying of them followed these classic lines.
BETTY: Today I am in a very high order of consciousness and creative
force, and I don’t know what you are going to think about it. There is
always such a gap. It is a very advanced idea they are preparing.
INVISIBLE: The sensation of the inner psychic being is what we are after.
In struggling to make words contain extensions of knowledge, we have to
build very carefully in order not to lead astray.
Within every individual is a psychic core to which he can return in case
of trouble. It is his enduring center, his seed that will endure. Search
yourself for this constant within. You cannot play on your outer surfaces
and pretend that they are it, because they are not. Nor will you find it
in your brain. Look for it rather in the region of the heart; or more
accurately, the intangible sensations which have no organic position.
Warmth is the nearest we can come to describing it–a sort of central
heating idea. A continuous radiation always comes from the furnace, but
when it gets out to the surface it cools off.
BETTY: What they want now is to make me work on this until I realize it
INVISIBLE: The practice of it is a withdrawing of one’s efforts from the
periphery of one’s life to the center, and starting out again from there.
You abandon for the moment all your hobbles and pursuits and interests
and pastimes, leaving them scattered around as a child leaves his
playthings, and enter your own self.
BETTY: The way it feels to me is that all the things on the outside are
thrown into a kind of blurred consciousness. It is pulled over them like
a covering, and I’ve withdrawn into a region of intense radiation and
well-being and power.
INVISIBLE: This is the great security, the foundation for any
superstructure of effort you may want to build.
You see, the great question is: How are you going to stabilize yourself
among all the shifting pursuits of the world, the varied points of view,
the conflicts and uncertainties? How are you going in the midst of them
to reach the absolute reality? And the only answer is first to make
within yourself an individual bit of reality over which you have complete
jurisdiction. That is your one method of approach to the ultimate
attainment of absolute reality.
The first step in control, then, is the possession of such an inner
fortress for protection and refreshment. The nature of it can be
described in many ways, but the main thing to acquaint yourself with is a
feeling of liberation and immersion in complete security and power and
warmth and beauty of happiness. Continually practice on this ideal
nucleus, enlarging it, enriching it, intensifying its atmosphere with
your accumulated memories of harmonious moments of life.
There is nothing more important than creating this abode of emotional
security, spiritual order and demonstrable strength. Pain and struggle,
the battle of life, are but half. The other half of life you work on
slowly by means of illuminated bits of days, mere bits of hours in days,
put together until the result becomes the inner strength. It is the
establishing of this safe sanctuary–this sort of room of heaven within
you–it’s the accustoming of yourself to living part-time in it, that
makes you able to go forth armed with a wisdom and power which is beyond
your conscious mind to comprehend.
BETTY: Funny! I can’t describe that. But it’s a good deal like slowing up
when you see a big policeman. The feeling of a person who is backed by
this power slows you up the same way, if you are trying to overrule or
There is a certain respect for law, superior force, that regulates the
lesser problems automatically. They don’t capture you because they don’t
dare. They can’t arouse that annoyance, that irritation, and make a
captive of you, because you have your force behind you. Your big
policeman has a competent look about him that carries conviction and
turns the scale of capture. Instead of being overcome, you can act on the
other fellow who tries to annoy you. But everybody picks on a person who
has no protecting force. In the physical world it is the same….
This feeling of sureness and happiness and power that comes over me they
want to call authority. It is not the word I’d use. They say they want to
freshen the idea of authority.
INVISIBLE: It is not the arrogance of a policeman backed by the law, nor
the strength of an army. It is the wisdom of a just judge administering
the laws of cause and effect.
S E W: See if I get the general idea. The human consciousness exists in
two spheres and functions in both. The center of consciousness is usually
in the earth sphere, and functions in the other indirectly, as one might
say. But it is possible with advantage to establish a directing center in
the other sphere. Is that it?
INVISIBLE: Yes, yes. The object is to learn so to place your
consciousness that it is strongly above earth frets. That is the ultimate
desirable. It makes you one with the great creative forces of the
universe, and brings a joy and strength such as you have never dreamed
of. Before it the earth-fret becomes just a shadow of reality, just a
The world attacks everything from outside; and you are apt to meet that
attack in detail from the outside too. This is an attempt to make you
realize that your response must be from the inside out. You withdraw
yourself. Things surge beneath, picking and battering and fuming, but
they cannot destroy you. As long as you have this inner power you needn’t
mind who is battering on you, nor what tools or dynamite they are using.
They can only be a surface nuisance. They may take the empty shell, but
you have withdrawn the part of you they can hurt.
Of course this is difficult to do at first. Nevertheless that is the
idea. Establish your inner desirable; and then when your undesirables
appear you can turn your attention on your already established desirable.
This “facing the enemy” is no good. IGNORE the enemy and he is so reduced
in stature that he cannot reach up and scratch you.
BETTY: I am working on just two things: how to liberate myself at will,
and how to retire to my inner fortress. I can’t do either, really. I can
just experiment, and occasionally, as I succeed, I can notice how it
INVISIBLE: If you would gain true self-possession, take your moments of
discord and entanglement, when all the irritations of the lower order of
things exercise a kind of capillary attraction which seems to fasten you
hopelessly to them–take these moments as your moments of practice in
spiritual control. At such a time, how are you going to possess yourself;
to reorganize and harmonize this entangling condition; to act, by your
ability to free yourself from it, masterfully upon it instead of
slavishly in it?
There is only one way, but you must have prepared it beforehand and
practiced it: let go your hold of everything and withdraw yourself into
the magic-working center of life within yourself. It is always possible
to check your nervous reactions momentarily by suddenly commanding a
relaxation, like making yourself stop shivering. Then quickly combine
this momentary release with a swift retreat to your inner citadel. Go
apart in it and rest the tensions. Stay in peace and quiet of volition,
acquiescing in your whole being to the reharmonizing power of your higher
consciousness. It is to the ordinary faculties as an adult sympathetic
mind to a child’s trouble. It helps you clarify your vision and gather
strength to make your decisions and plan your actions.
This process you should regard as an emergency exit which you must have
already in working order. In the confusion and involvement of actual
combat it is almost impossible to improvise. Therefore to be effective
you must, through your creative powers, already have so frequently
experienced the most intense sensation of harmony and well-being within
your fortress, that you can voluntarily re-enter the sensation even in
moments of violent irritation. Your habit-serving consciousness must be
so trained that association of ideas instantly reproduces the
modifications in your brain which will allow you to escape at will from
even the most discordant situations.
BETTY: It is terribly important to practice running to your inner
fortress at all sorts of odd times, the way you practice your golf swing.
After a while it gets grooved that way. Then when a real problem comes
along, when the ball is in front of you, you instinctively and naturally
do the right thing.
Of course it takes lots of practice to fly quickly from your world life,
when it gets obstructed, to your inner fortress. But it can be done
readily after a while. You can drop your world life and climb to your
fortress and look down on world affairs, and then you’ve got your
perspective again. The more you do it the easier it gets.
INVISIBLE: You must develop this self-security if you desire mastery. The
complications and trials and demands of bodily existence can be overcome
and directed only by the genius of your higher established life. And a
correct estimate of temporary sensations of the body is to be obtained
only through your ability to observe them and appraise them from your
inner security. By recreating for yourself, even momentarily, the harmony
of deep breath and refreshment within your inner fortress, you are
empowered to return vitalized and armored against the discords. Without
this inner fortress one is unborn into eternity, ungerminated in the
higher life, unpossessed of oneself, acted upon but not motivating.
THE subconscious cannot be coerced or browbeaten. It must be led
pleasantly and gently. Therefore mere determination to do a thing, to
reconstruct ourselves, is fatally prone to discouragement and failure. We
have got to have a human and pleasurable system of pastimes which will
help ourselves to succeed.
IT IS comparatively easy to be a Saturday’s Hero; to be noble on especial
occasion. It is quite another matter to be even moderately worthy when
pegging back and forth on the familiar track of hourly trivialities. We
may be following the path by means of the Shining Light, but routine
seems to dim it; and the first thing we know we are off in the bushes.
The Invisibles must have anticipated something of the sort. They do not
miss many tricks. For no sooner had they showed Betty how to reach her
inner fortress, than they set about marking the trail plainly. And the
markers they used were imaginative symbols.
This appealed to me. Thin air as a refuge in tough weather struck me as
inadequate, at least for beginners. But definite symbols were more in my
line. At least they offered something more or less concrete to reach for.
One of the first of these symbols dealt with a very elementary phase. The
idea seemed to be that, if Betty was to escape easily to her sanctuary,
resistance must be diminished. The grip of certain qualities which tended
to hold her back must be weakened. Underbrush must be penetrated, and a
At its simplest this is no new idea. We have always recognized that we
should control our tempers, rid ourselves of irritation, uncharitable
thinking, egocentricity and all that brood. The accepted method has been
to go forth and wrestle with the devil, in good old Biblical fashion.
As an effort this is praiseworthy enough, and undoubtedly we acquire
merit by making it. But it is hard work, and discouraging, and too often
we are thrown for a loss. The Invisibles had a better suggestion.
INVISIBLE: You have certain traits which prevent your winning through to
spiritual case, and which you’ll have all your present span of life. They
are more than individual–they are racial. The more you attempt to thrash
them, the more nerve strain there will be. But the less you combat them
at all, the stronger they’ll get. Therefore the only thing to do is to
find a way around them by strategy. Granting that there is an expansive
method which will in time overcome everything, still it is sometimes
better to begin with more intimate methods.
One way is to regard the combat as something in the nature of a humorous
private sport. You have no enmity toward the traits you are opposing,
only a determination to prove your mettle. This technique gives a certain
flexibility in turning from one consciousness to the other, and evades
the tensions which come from unnatural spiritual straining.
BETTY: I didn’t know how to go about it, so I made a friendly antagonist
of my lower self, as one does in sports–in tennis, for instance–an
antagonist one would be friendly with in other moments. For the time
being he merely furnishes a conflict necessary to the developing of one’s
power. He becomes a kind of effigy. Sometimes he is getting cross at the
telephone, sometimes he is persuading me to hustle and not take time to
breathe calmly and be relaxed of tensions, sometimes he is making me eat
stupid things. It is far more amusing than being that self.
INVISIBLE: All the usual methods of controlling oneself have a lack of
grace and humor and amusement which desiccates their lifeblood.
Therefore, to explain in commonplace fashion a method of approaching
one’s inner security, this harmonious and gracious stability, we offer
the example of a game with one’s friendly antagonist, ones ‘lower self.’
It is perhaps a misnomer to use the term ‘friendly.’ The friendliness is
on the side of your higher self, for the lower is quite inferior in the
type of his sportsmanship. He is quite inclined to malice toward his
BETTY: The trick is in contemplating one’s lower self as one stops to
train and play with a puppy. I don’t know why lower selves should always
be considered vicious. Actually they have very engaging qualities. They
are just uneducated.
INVISIBLE: In this phase of development, as in all others, one must pass
through the tinhorn-rattle-whistle stage of children playing games. One
has to pass through it composedly, giving a due and proper comprehension
of the necessity for games at all ages. In time you will find yourself
able to lay aside your symbols and seek your goal direct, but do not rush
prematurely into abstractions. The games and toys of children are among
their best means of learning. Grownups do not play with toys; but taking
away a child’s toys does not make a grownup.
The Invisibles suggested various “games” for Betty to play–physical
symbols to help her make her getaway. One day they recalled a familiar
figure in a wider application.
INVISIBLE: Human corrosives sometimes get so bad you can’t assort and
arrange and reharmonize them yourself. They have reduced you to their
level in the most satanic fashion. You are all curdled with acidity
mentally. Even though you recognize your plight and want to abandon it
for a better attitude of mind, still you can’t. What are you to do then?
At such times there are various ways of helping yourself to escape to
your inner fortress. For example, you may not be able actually to go up
in an airplane, but at least you can picture yourself there. In
imagination you can look at the hills and valleys and shores and the
little chicken-coop houses for a while. And then you can pityingly say:
In one room of that little hive of a house there’s an obstinate,
irritated, inverted soul who thinks life is as he sees it, hard and
bitter. But it is only his weakness and lack of the breathing in of life
which has made him pervious to ferments. Keep looking at that airplane
picture. By degrees your attention will be so centered on the sweep of
horizons that you will ignore, and thus liberate from his pitiable
paucity, the man in the little room in the chicken-coop house.
You’ve got to keep an airplane tied up outside, like a horse, in case you
need it. You can’t stay up in it, perhaps, but when you come down you’re
full of oxygen and the winds in heaven, and are tolerant in proportion.
You have escaped from your little self, and can treat it like a fretful
child. You will have assurance and imperviousness to the ferments of
You see how much of it is in your own hands. If you want to shut the
window and be relaxed into unoxygenated irritability of lesser life, you
can. It is no sin: it is Just your own loss. It is Just ignorance of
vision, the triumph of old habits, a deliberate delaying of your
progress. You can always stay in your hall bedroom of the universe and
contemplate its ill-furnished stuffiness, fixing your mind firmly on your
cramped condition of life! That is your prerogative. But if you do, you
belong to the spiritually illiterate.
Another interesting symbol was suggested for use in emergencies, when
everything else failed:
BETTY: Here I am in my citadel. I want to stay here and establish myself
firmly and permanently. But suppose I get a panic or get weak. Then I
cannot help myself. I’ve lost my balance. I am at the mercy of the lower
elements. I am sinking….
What can I do now?…
Oh, I see! I’ll pretend that, while I can’t swim, I can put on an
emergency life preserver. Something will hold me up under the arms until
I can THINK BACK to what I’ve lost. It is an appeal to something outside
myself to hold me up until I can get back again. I can depend on it. The
life preserver symbol helps get the idea inside me. It is so important to
get these ideas INSIDE you.
There is also an idea that goes with it that I don’t see very clearly. It
has to do with paying for that life preserver sometime by putting forth
great exertion, great effort to hold up somebody else. I don’t understand
that very well. But you can’t get this help for nothing. With it you get
some privilege of helping another. Privilege? I thought you were going to
I’ve been struggling and am tired. It is difficult sometimes to sustain
yourself here, but it’s a pleasant exertion. It’s like swimming, in that
you know you are not in your accustomed element, and that your
sustainment depends on your exertions….
That’s a good idea, that one about maintaining yourself as in swimming.
It helps to keep you from slumping back and drowning in all sorts of
world things. Effortless peace is worthless. It should be stimulated
harmony, not effortless peace.
Day after day, for many weeks, the Invisibles kept hammering away at this
technique of escaping to the inner fortress. The imagery is too various
to quote in full here, but another example or two might not come amiss.
The following, for instance, casts an interesting sidelight on the main
INVISIBLE: There is a trick to hurry–we are talking of legitimate hurry.
A good deal of hurry is unnecessary, and therefore silly. But even when
hurry is indicated, the METHOD of hurry is generally ridiculous. We will
give you an example:
You are just short of the end of a block. For some reason it is very
desirable that you get to the crossing before the light turns red. Your
brain-mind so informs your body. Your body answers by more rapid
movement, and the faithful subconscious gets busy raising the heart rate
and the adrenal secretions and all the rest of your chemistry to meet the
increased activities demanded by the occasion. Everything is being done
by everybody to get you to that corner in time.
Well and good. What then? Instead of letting it go at that, your
brain-mind then races ahead to the crossing, and dances first on one foot
and then on the other, and shouts and urges and agonizes because you
cannot be there before the whole of you is there; and the body leans
forward and pours out energy and strains and frets because its physical
speed cannot catch up with the speed of thought–which should be
self-evident. And YOU–the eternal you that is your real self–where are
you? Probably you are racing back and forth between the two; or trying to
divide yourself between the two, sharing the impatience of one and the
impotence of the other; or spread out thin between them striving to drag
them together by force of will. Psychically you are scattered out all
over that block; and if that–from our point of view–isn’t a ridiculous
sight, I never saw one!
If you have any control over that brain-mind of yours, you will impress
on it that its dignified role is first to point out the emergency, then
to set in motion the machinery, after which to let the machinery get
there, if it can. Stay together–all three of you–since none of you can
get there, completely, without the others
But even if you have a spoiled-child or only partly disciplined
brain-mind, there is no earthly reason why you should go scuttling off
with it. Deplore its foot actions, and let it go. Elect to stay with the
body. Lean back luxuriously and comfortably and allow it to carry you
until you catch up. Incidentally you will be a great comfort to your
conscientiously laboring and somewhat bewildered subconscious. The poor
thing is otherwise all distracted that it should still be urged and
belabored when it is doing its best. After a few experiences you may,
between the two of you, make that jittery brain-mind of yours ashamed of
itself, so it will stay back where it belongs.
This admittedly frivolous example carries in itself a mightier general
principle of living than at first appears. It is that of REST IN
MOVEMENT. All living is, must be, movement of some sort. But the
appropriate mechanisms of that movement, whatever it may be, carry with
them on their shoulders a comfortable seat on which you may be borne in
that timeless serenity which is the inner eternal essence of all there
One point in this escape business that caught my curiosity was as to just
how tar it was effective. Did it apply to all occasions? Was it the best
course to pursue in every case, or were there times when it wouldn’t
work? The Invisible’s answer was unequivocal:
INVISIBLE: In resisting the assault of discord, the most effective course
is always to escape from the restrictions of your lower self, as you call
it, by merging with the greater freedom of the inner consciousness. But
the line of least resistance is always the slipping back into one’s lower
self, and becoming aware merely of momentary sensations. This drag is
ever-present. Do not give in to it through laziness or forgetfulness. It
is a constant temptation to sink back into the momentary sensation.
S E W: Nevertheless the momentary sensation sometimes forces attention.
How about pain, for instance, real and absorbing pain?
INVISIBLE: Only in health, in equilibrium in balance of powers can
self-elevation be achieved. The rousing of physical discord produces a
painful disorganization almost impossible to overcome without previous
training. At such a time, the straining of attempted control by
will-power merely defeats the purpose. That is a great and tragic
mistake. Pain must be relaxed to and passed through a flooding-out
process, washing it away, easing it by nonresistance. Resistance seals
it from healing forces, inhibits the throwing off as well as the
replenishment. A will-power fight against pain is a very tragic sight.
NEVER TIGHTEN UP!
S E W: You say that only in health can self-elevation be achieved. By
that do you mean that invalids are barred from it?
INVISIBLE: No. Any effort toward the related consciousness permits a
vitalizing by its superior force which tends to overcome momentary
sensation. But the practice of it in times of equilibrium, establishing
the habit, will greatly aid its automatic action when disorder comes.
Do not resist pain. Begin there. This does not mean to give up and let
pain take whole possession. But relax to it. Allow it to descend on a
strong conviction of its transitory nature. This opens floodgates which
dilute the force of pain and gradually dissolve its power. It will then
be seen to spend itself merely on your surface consciousness, however
all-absorbing that surface may previously have seemed during suffering.
But it is in TIMES OF HEALTH you must develop the conviction of the
transitory nature of pain which will uphold you when it floods over and
seems to take possession of your life. Then when it comes you can afford
to let it flood, just keeping open the gates which will soon clear the
Fundamentally, life and all its experiences pass through you like radio
waves, and you are not affected by them. It is only your resistance to
them that damages you. Therefore if you can just let them pass through
you, and assert yourself of higher substance, you can take them in
quantity, from the most exalted honors to the direst calamities. In
themselves, they are as little disintegrating as shade on your body: they
are just fleeting phenomena. Never object to any experiences if you can
attain to that. The more they come, the more honored you are in your
selection of apprenticeship.
I am going to conclude this chapter with a record which seems to me to
give a peculiarly intimate glimpse of Betty’s experience. Like a glimmer
of distant lightning at night, it hints at something beyond the horizon
of our present awareness.
BETTY: (after a pause) There’s getting to be such a big gap between the
way the ordinary human being thinks and the stratum of thought I am in
now. I wonder if it’s worth the struggle. It sounds so unreal and
absurdly imaginative to you. I’m a little discouraged lately about saying
it, because it doesn’t take effect.
I’m getting a terrible lesson on discouragement, a TERRIBLE lesson!
Letting in the jungle! They say nobody’s going to clarify it all unless I
give vitality to it and bring it out of the fog. It is the strength to do
this I am working on now. I am just discarding everything in a great rush
of desire for this best and highest, which I sense as a great strength.
There’s so little recognition around me of this obtainable power. Nobody
wants it enough to suffer for it, and I want it so tremendously it makes
me seem set apart and strange and inhuman.
Nevertheless, this inner strength is the only means of recognizing one’s
lower self, and by definite intake of inspiration lifting out of it; like
the simple definite process of getting out of a chair or climbing stairs.
I am just getting so I dread that faded lesser image of myself. When I
get down into it, everything pours in on my weakness to torment me. My
concave attitude is a receptacle for the weaknesses of others….
Now I turn the other way, by means of my strength. I present a different
surface to life–convex. I have appeasement now; I have ease. I have
magnified that bit of strength which is mine. What a strange thing that
it’s the great reality to me, the thing I must pursue, regardless of
anything else. Because, until more of it is mine, I cannot exhibit it or
And then there is that world of curiously unsubstance things around me.
S E W: Unsubstance things?
BETTY: On earth. How could you tell anybody that all those unsubstance
things we do and putter with and play with are only the shadow of what we
are actually creating in this great strength we do not see? They are
experimental samples of life we look over and play with for selective
purposes. Ordinarily they are the only reality we recognize, but from
here they seem just shadows.
To me the only enduring reality is my bit of strength. It is such a tiny
bit, but it’s a citadel I can live in, and from which I can go out on
both sides of consciousness. In time, perhaps, I’ll establish it as a
permanent home. Then when I die, I’ll just shut that other door and move
freely on the other side.
THE recognition of the things you desire, the forming of your definite
purposes, establishes a condition as automatically chemical in its action
as establishing the arrangements of any other chemical process, such as
the release of gasses or the carbonization of flame or the boiling of
water. It immediately starts toward the fulfillment of the desire in
proportion to the strength, fervor and persistence of your effort toward
THE ATTAINMENT of understanding is always an interesting process. To the
beginner skill seems to be an extended series of separate steps, to each
of which in turn he must devote painstaking performance. But the object
of his performances, as an ultimate unit of which they form the parts,
In time, however, he discovers that daily practice squeezes out this
separateness, as it were, until at last the various steps of process
shorten to the compass of a single stride.
So it was with me here. For quite a long time I followed faithfully my
beginner’s routine. Each day, carefully, I repeated the detailed
processes of physical relaxation, mental extrication and imaginative
release. Then one day I suddenly found I needed no longer to go through
this threefold process. A single brief mental gesture sufficed to lift me
to the state of detachment and equilibrium which had been my objective.
This revelation came as a distinct shock of surprise. Also, curiously, it
made me feel somewhat foolish. Here I had been practicing away for weeks
and months, off and on, and it was actually as simple as opening my eyes!
Nevertheless, I realized that I had reached an important milestone on the
About here I discovered another interesting characteristic of the
expansion of consciousness. Like most other activities of life, it
proceeds in a rhythm. There is a pulsation to it, a systole and diastole.
After each definite acquisition is pause for its establishment, its
incorporation in ourselves, its use and enjoyment for itself. The stream
of our progress enters a quiet pool for clarification in the still depths
until, presently, it yields to the pull of the downstream current.
So now, for an interval, forward progress seemed to have stopped. I kept
on about the business of creating my “little fair open space,” but for a
time nothing exciting came to occupy it. That was all right. I was
satisfied. The sense of repose and equilibrium into which the routine had
led me was a sufficient reward in itself. I had come to look forward to
it eagerly. But for a while nothing new turned up.
Then one day the Invisibles apparently decided that I was due for a
little more personal instruction. Through Joan they moved in again. It
happened at the time that I was suffering from a resurgence of a tropical
fever I had caught in Africa. For this reason, perhaps, the instruction
centered around what seemed to be a method of healing; though, as will be
seen, the healing aspect was merely a peg on which the whole philosophy
could hang. For that reason I am going to quote in some detail. Together
with the preceding chapter, the quotations illustrate well the
Invisibles’ way of instructing. When they have wished to lead us into
some new field of reality, they have marked the way with imaginative
symbols. Only the first step, the release from the body, is in all cases
the same. After that the higher consciousness seems to open into a
variety of different regions. The region to which we attain is determined
largely by our purpose of the moment and the type of symbol we select as
a means of approach.
“You are now able,” began the Invisibles on this occasion, “to move your
consciousness temporarily out of your body. In the vitalizing exercises
we are about to suggest, it will no longer be necessary to devote your
entire attention to this process. After rising above your body you will
leave in that phase only the shred of awareness necessary to keep your
airplane engine going.
“Resting easily in this state, you will first direct your attention to
the universal life force. Think of it as a river connected with the blood
stream in your body: a constant vital current flowing all through you,
not fast, but in the rhythm of a river. You do not THINK INTO EXISTENCE
the process of the vital flow by any applied effort of the imaginative
will. It is more as though you simply noted the fact. The process is
facilitated by your attention, but is not inaugurated by it.
“The next step has to do with making your acceptance of this universal
vital stream more effective. Its aliment is not best absorbed by your
body as a mere hash or soup of everything. Your diet should be various
and discriminating: it should be like your physical diet, selective.
Next, therefore, you will picture to yourself some great abundance, such
as groves of fruit, vineyards, the coming harvest. If, in sympathetic
imagination, you can touch your kinship with any given form of abundance,
you can partake of its power. And since, in this world of abundance of
which you think imaginatively, the distillation of the universal vital
force is various, you are enabled in this way to partake of the aliments
suited to your particular needs.”
I’ll admit that my first reactions to this advice were a trifle confused.
Also, to begin with, I was singularly unsuccessful in trying to carry it
out. Somehow my attempts to get in touch with agricultural products did
not progress beyond the sort of kinship once described as “first cousin
instantly removed.” After I had dutifully kept at it for a while, I began
to realize that I was verging toward strain. As I had at least learned
THAT lesson, I at once let up.
While I was resting, my mind wandered idly to an Alaskan river I had once
explored, and where I had had extraordinary good luck in my camera
hunting of the big Kodiak bear. It was a beautiful river, and I spent
much time recalling one by one the details of its topography. I had such
a good time at this that it was only with difficulty I at length
impatiently shook myself free from what I thought was too long an
indulgence in “daydreaming.” Back to the job!
But right there was where I made my big mistake. As it turned out, just
when I threw the thing overboard–just at that very moment–I was
beginning to succeed!
“We showed you,” said the Invisibles afterward, “in minute detail of
shallow and ripple and crossing and pool, one of your Alaska rivers; and
you were impatient with yourself because you thought your ‘mind was
wandering.’ But that, for a moment, and as an example, was a specific
distillation of a specific form of abundance. Your mistake was in willing
your imagination toward some particular form of abundance because we had
suggested it as an example. Actually this selection lies in the province
of the greater wisdom of your own superconsciousness, and is no more an
affair of your brain-mind than is the varied use of the constituents of
your blood stream in the nourishment of your body.
“In proceeding with this exercise, therefore, your attention must be
permitted to SAUNTER. It will then be attracted toward the need of the
moment. There is, of course, a distinction to be drawn between this and
idle wandering; a distinction that can be understood only through the
actual experience. Basically there must be a certain alertness of
spiritual appetite. But the subject of your reverie is determined by your
spiritual instinct, and not through your intellectual interests or
The hour which I was at present devoting daily to my routine now took on
a new fascination. As I have said, by this time I was able to “take off”
promptly and easily, rising quickly above attention to both my body and
my usual thought activities. Then, having suspended myself, as it were, I
could free-heartedly turn to the delightful pastime of “letting my mind
saunter,” to see what today it would attract. I never knew what that was
to be, but once it had established itself my fancy drifted into a
peculiarly agreeable contemplation of it. It was much like stepping from
shade into warm sunshine. If the expression does not sound too fantastic,
it was a good deal like basking in an idea.
One day this basking took on an almost literal form. On the occasion in
question my point of attention-attest was very simple. I was merely in a
bath of that peculiarly soaking sun-warmth that floods California’s
interior valleys just before the great heats of summer.
“This,” said they later, “is the most potent physical abundance of all.
It is abundance in its purest form. It is the origin and source of all
physical abundance as a moment’s reflection will show you. But as such it
must be thought of and used sparingly only as a refreshment of sheer
vitality. It is too pure an essence for sole diet. For purposes of
physical building it must be appropriately transformed into variation;
just as it is transformed by mineral, plant and animal before it becomes
physically nourishing as food for human specializations, each after the
manner of its own construction. You cannot eat sunlight, yet sunlight is
the source, the life force, of physical life. What you eat is sunlight
transmuted through your fellow creations in the physical world.
“As a rule, then, abundances should be associated with the idea of
ripeness. Only culmination, ordinarily, is fit to be appropriated.
Ripening is the business of the individual; until it reaches the
culmination point, it is not a subject for ingestion.”
As, indeed, why not? We know enough not to eat green apples.
On another occasion my mind’s sauntering brought me to recollection of a
great waterfall. It was a smooth sheet of water at its brink, not very
wide, but of considerable volume. A third of the way down it admitted the
air to spread into a widening lace-work of spray and down-shooting
hesitating arrows. A dark forest leaned across its channel to look. A
dark pool received and quieted it again. The whole air pulsed with its
deep and solemn roar, which, nevertheless, mysteriously did not disturb a
certain cathedral hush.
I had known that waterfall well. I had stood in the spray of its mists at
the pool below. I had scrambled and fought my way up through the tangle
of its precipice to the upper waters. Today, in my recalling of it, I
poised in imagination just off the brink of its plunge. It was a
delightful picture; but as an example of “abundance,” in the exact sense
of my present technique, it seemed a little doubtful.
“This manifestation of abundance,” explained the Invisibles afterward,
“is that of a combination of many powers, instead of but one. The plunge
of the waterfall is the combination of the force that has lifted the
vapor from the sea, the various forces that have made the winds to move,
the airs to cool, the clouds to condense, the rain to fall, the stream to
flow downhill, until at the brink of the plunge is a great and mighty and
resistless abundance of actual power that may be breathed-in as a single
thing, an element of refreshment and vitality. This is a good example of
what we meant by a DISTILLATION of abundance. It has by these many
processes been prepared for spiritual ingestion, just as the varied
elements comprised in physical foods are concentrated by natural
processes in the grain of wheat.”
In similar fashion on succeeding days my mind “sauntered” to stop at the
ceaselessly intermittent hovering crash of breakers on a shore, wind in
trees, and the like until, to my own amusement when I thought of it
afterwards, I did come back satisfactorily to the agricultural business I
had at first rejected. Ripe fields of grain; orchards heavy with fruit;
the lavishness of spring gardens–after all is said and done, those are
the nearest symbols, if one can use them–of abundant lavish life
expressing itself, pouring itself out in the fecundity of mother earth.
That was all there was to these particular experiences. Over a period of
weeks they recurred regularly. The imagery of my private movie varied,
but it did not seem to progress toward any perceptible culmination of
either intensity, significance or duration. Each day at the end of about
the usual interval the strength of my suspension always waned. I yielded
to what was still my specific gravity, and drifted gently back to my
ordinary habitation. Sometimes I had an elusive momentary conviction that
the index of my capacity had risen just a little–perhaps was destined to
rise. But for the present this went no further. It remained just a vague
premonition, in the penumbra of my consciousness. Following the exercises
nothing persisted except a heightened sense of vitality and well-being.
Gradually my health improved.
Then one day the Invisibles again signed off. But before doing so they
added one final piece of advice.
“You are now capable,” said they, “of entering the whole blend of the
condition induced by the combination of these exercises on which you have
been working. You can draw on it any time for sustenance and refreshment,
without the continued necessity of an elaborate sequence of specific
steps, by the simple device of rising to it. Try to do so in as
continuous application as possible in everyday living. Continue the
series of steps, as a combined exercise, daily for a short period; also
occasionally as separate exercises in review of them as components of
that blend, singly and separately. But for the most part regard them as
interdependent automatic mechanisms, to be controlled and operated by the
orderly subconscious you have trained.
“In discarding–or rather growing out of–the visualized symbols of the
abundance idea, you will come to realize that you have not been actually
drawing from the abundance of the harvest, or the waterfall, or the power
of the sun-warmth, or any of the other symbols we have considered. You
have, in reality, by those symbols come in contact with the same sources
from which those things themselves draw their vitalities. In other words,
you have not taken something from or through them: you have by them been
enabled to draw from the same sources from which they draw.”
THERE is all the difference in the world between the man who goes away
into his self-made solitude for his own sake, as he conceives it; and him
who steps aside into the silences, as the expression goes, to get himself
in tune with the infinite and bring back to men a refreshed perception of
unity. Don’t you see, it is the INTENTION that makes all the difference.
The one expedition into solitude is a self-seeking thing; the other is
charged with all the eternal purposes of unity.
MOST of as are practical people, with definite jobs in life, which we
want to do efficiently. We have livings to make, and taxes to pay, and
businesses to conduct, and people of many kinds to meet and to handle.
Desirable as is the “higher life” offered us by various philosophies and
systems and cults, much as we should like to enjoy the advantages they
offer, we really cannot afford to do so at the expense of our jobs. That
attitude may be very ignoble of us, and all that, and we may be low and
despicable worms, but the fact remains that our instinct fends us off
from, anything that is going to make us fuzzy-minded, queer in the eyes
of our contemporaries, vague and impractical.
To me that is a natural reaction. I feel that way myself. And I believe
it is a legitimate feeling. This is our world: and we are here because we
are supposed to live in it and with it. In fact I would even go so far as
to say of any system of spiritual development, “If it demands, or causes,
withdrawal in ANY way, from hearty human participation in everyday
living, depend upon it, it is wrong.” That is, it is wrong for us
everyday citizens of the world. Saints, holy men–specialists, not
general practitioners of fife–these may be different: I do not know. But
if moving out of the cellar workshop into the upper story is going to
result in a skimped and botched product he workshop, then most of us
would prefer to stay below.
With this in mind, I must confess I at first regarded with some
skepticism the whole idea of retreat to an inner fortress. It looked to
me like just another form of “retiring from worldly trivialities” in
orthodox oriental fashion. What was the difference, after all, between
taking yourself off bodily to the Himalayas, and retreating mentally or
spiritually to an inner inaccessibility? In either case the part of you
that mattered retired from the scene of action.
But there proved to be a distinction which I had missed.
INVISIBLE: You must not think of your inner citadel or core of reality as
only a retiring place or refuge. Drawing yourself aside from the common
planet because of its disagreeable agitations is no test of that
stability. The difficulty in the taking of such shelter is not that it is
inefficient, for it is possible to rise to such a consciousness that your
skirts are unwet by the storm; but that, when you again stick out your
head, the world may have passed you by. Inevitably, if you would progress
with the rest, you must take your full share of the buffeting of the
elements. The true method, therefore, is to continue in a serene
unconcern, knowing well that your inner habitation is secure, but
accepting your full share in the common forward movement.
It is only by the buffeting of the storm that men discover their
reliances. Those who have not built their habitations, their stability,
are then often shaken into an acknowledgment that such habitations are
desirable. If the spark is in them, they must begin to search. While
those who have already understandingly constructed a stability have now
an opportunity, otherwise lacking, of testing its integrity. Escape,
only, is sterile.
This, on the other hand, does not mean that you are called upon to plunge
heedlessly into the muck and mire. You must do what is offered to your
hand; but it is no more desirable, now, that you cripple your wings by
seizing more than your power can lift, than in times of contentment. Do
what comes, bear what comes in natural course, but do not overweight
beyond what your serenity is capable of floating. Distinguish between
withdrawal and hearty but undamaged living.
Storms are a test of your seaworthiness. They are not ‘sent as a test,’
but come in the usual course of cause and effect. They are times of
trial: uncomfortable, distressful, if you have not your own upbearing
vehicle of consciousness; stimulating and forwarding of the Scheme, if
S E W: I still don’t understand just when one should use one’s inner
BETTY: I am coming out now, and the reality is getting thinner and paler.
As I drift away from it, all I can be sure of is that it is not enough
just to say with great dignity: I withdraw my consciousness. That is no
good. When outside things irritate you, it will work much better if you
don’t stop at withdrawal–if you complete the circle and come back. If
you don’t get that, a dignified withdrawal from earth frets looks rather
It was a relief to feel that the Invisibles were on my side. But though
honored, I was also a little confused by a dilemma. Apparently the best
way to meet disharmony was to retire to your inner fortress. But
retirement to your inner fortress stopped your forward progress! A bit
paradoxical, it seemed to me. Next day, they straightened me out:
INVISIBLE: This participation in wider consciousness should have a
twofold action. It has such endless possibilities that there is always
danger of expanding to it until one loses all touch with physical
manifestation. Therefore the expansion must always be balanced by the
contraction to experiment with material reality. Each thing you expand
to; acquire subjectively; you must contract on to make yours objectively,
so that you possess it and can utilize it in practical living.
BETTY: That’s the way I function over here. For instance I expand to an
airplane point of view of my own life, to realize that I am in a little
room in a chicken-coop house on a tiny speck of the earth’s surface, near
one of its shores. I see that geographically, as from an airplane.
Then in the little circumambience I am confronted I with an amazing
conflict, something in the way of resistance to my progress in life. I am
to make harmony out of its materials, or else I am to be rended
piecemeal, my consciousness made fragmentary by irritations and
diminishments absurd preoccupations with these minutiae. I have that
choice always; everybody does. But also I must keep it firmly in mind
that my airplane consciousness is no good if I cannot retain it for
practical use–not merely for soaring majestically over things and
ignoring them, but for bringing the power of a greater vision to bear on
the harmonizing of the over-magnified inflamed particles of life.
This is just an illustration to show that expanding to a vision is no
good unless you can contract it to your problem, to see if it is yours
and if it works. The great .danger of all expansion is the lessening of
ability to contract purposefully.
INVISIBLE: The point is that symbols of this sort–the airplane one–are
useful only when employed for the purpose of interpenetrating your daily
fives with the wider consciousness of spiritual reality. It is certainly
a great mistake ever to drop your airplane vision altogether, as one is
so liable to do when confronted by things one has always done in a
certain way. But it is equally a mistake to use it to compartment off
earth life completely. Such a course will only cause you to miss your
present opportunities and make yourself trouble later.
By all means refine your senses in every possible way. But also practice
with them as you would with any other desirable. And remember that the
time to practice anything enduring is in the moments of stress. Garnered
and gardened peace is only for refreshment, enabling you to return
strengthened to your practice hours. It would be ineffectual to eliminate
all stress points from your life, for then you would have no experience
in producing harmony.
BETTY: That is the only way we can stabilize our acquisitions–by using
them to produce harmony in our lower levels. The process of growth is
much like a piston moving up and down in a cylinder, only the upper range
is constantly extendible. It moves up to its highest point, and then must
return to force down its accretion; because it is impossible for it to go
still higher until this lowest range has been compressed into actual
manifestation. It can move up, you see, only as it is forced up by the
In the two succeeding interviews the way to go about this was clearly
defined. The records of these occasions seem to me so completely
satisfactory that I am going to let them stand without comment.
BETTY: I’m all cramped up: wait until I get stretched. As soon as I glow
steadily, I’ll tell you what there is to say….
It is about expansion and contraction again. Just now they were showing
me how to stretch my muscles and fill my lungs when I get contracted. You
lift all the depression and tension and trouble with a motion like
stretching from a cramped position and filling your lungs with air after
coming out of a house….
You can’t lift your trouble with you, though. You’ve got to leave it in
the cramped position you were in. You know it’s there, and that you’ve
got to go back to it; but you can go out for a walk.
INVISIBLE: Every time you get stuck or cramped and lose your freedom of
action, you should remember about stretching and going outside to fill up
with deep breaths and look at something bigger than you are constructing.
BETTY: Now they’ve brought me back to contemplate my body. They think
that I can improve my control….
They’re just letting me into my body and out again–just a flash, to get
control of doing it. It’s wonderful practice in a kind of balance–in
keeping my spirit so balanced that it gets no drag from the body….
INVISIBLE: Enter the body….Now release.
BETTY: I’ve got to keep them up; alternating.
INVISIBLE: Try once more.
BETTY: Yes, I can do it. Now wait until I alternate again….
It’s just like magic! With this control I could instantly dematerialize
myself so as to be sensitive only to the most delicate vibrations of
spirit. And then at a moment’s notice I could shift right back to
something absolutely external and objective, like a game of tennis. It’s
just as simple as changing the focus of a microscope to different levels
in its depth of field. With this magician’s power one could partake of
every life that exists….
It is really just a matter of withdrawing your attention from one thing
and giving it full strength to another. A moment ago, for instance, I
withdrew all attention from my body–left it in the corner and walked off
in my spiritual body. It was just as simple as that. I merely withdrew
all attention and vitality as one would let down a balloon. And then I
repeated it a number of times for practice….
The big lesson in this is that, during the day and about our affairs, we
should at intervals practice retiring to our spiritual body and
withdrawing attention from the other. It is necessary to keep on doing
this until we get control.
INVISIBLE: The ability to separate yourself at will from the
entanglements of the minutiae in which you are daily involved, is
absolutely essential to the far-seeing control of your destinies. Because
efficient accomplishment of any kind demands that you free yourselves
periodically to look at your inner relationship to the whole, returning
then to apply yourselves to the production of the same harmonious
associations without. It is an alternate expansion and contraction, like
respiration. If you did not contract with all your strength, you would
never produce anything. And if you did not expand with all your strength,
you would soon stop producing anything worth while. The great secret of
progress is to ALTERNATE in working out your destinies, as an artist
walks away from his picture, and then returns to accomplish it close up.
BETTY: Today’s message is a crowning thing. It is not something one
carries in one’s hands; but a vision one sets above. It is the embodiment
of aspiration. It’s like a great shining door….
Over and over and over again I do it. I bend my head and sink my mind to
infinitesimal examinations of minute laws. And then a great Breath comes
over me, and I lift my head and fill my lungs and look up through that
shining door. Over and over and over again I alternate thus, until I find
that all the life I can take to my minute investigations, which magnifies
them and brings comprehension, all the life is in the sustenance I draw
from my big breath.
INVISIBLE: You are experiencing the slowed-down movement of all life: how
life is refreshed at its source. This is the universal process of
creation, of the individual contribution. However rapid or varied, the
action is always essentially the same. For constant alternation of the
two phases is the only thing that gives ease and facility in
precipitation. It is the twofold process of consciousness, of
BETTY: This isn’t just a visionary thing: it’s a practical ventilating
thing. It’s the technique of bringing life to each page you turn in what
you are doing. If I only could, I’d show you the process of all work in
these terms, so that it would be a PRACTICAL impression. It is the actual
process of all daily work that is the subject today. Don’t you see? When
minds are concentrated for minute clarifying, purposes, the only way to
keep them properly vitalized, permeated with spiritual illumination, is
by alternating their processes regularly, periodically steeping those
same concentrated minds in periods of expansion….
How shall I make that tangible? Somehow I don’t feel that the substance I
am in is adequately represented by anything I have said.
Very amusing. I was looking at a great big gorgeous world without little
confining things. And then I came back and started making a tiny world,
like that out there in my garden. And because I’ve looked at the big one
I say: “This won’t do; it must have more space and be more like that
other one.” And I make it more like that other one, without in any way
decreasing its productiveness, because I’ve brought back my inspiration
and my proportions and my simplifications.
INVISIBLE: This technique of alteration is an essential part of all
spiritual progress, because the first burst of discovery and stimulation,
left to itself, tends to wane or have less acquirability. The task then
is to take care it doesn’t wane, to uphold MECHANICALLY–it can be
done–that first vitalizing fervor which overrides all obstacles and
carries you on.
BETTY: I am coming back so curiously. All the glow and passion of
conviction oozes back to a lukewarm admission. All the certainty of
possibility evaporates to the-best-we-can-do kind of attitude. Oh, dear,
I see myself gently laid down, dark and empty and heavy, with only the
recollections that you read in the records of the living pulsing gift of
SURPRISINGLY few intelligences carry forward steadily with their accepted
beliefs in a soldierly fashion, training themselves to be REPRESENTATIVES
of the force latent in those accepted convictions of theirs. It is enough
for most people to think a thing out and lay it aside on a top shelf of
their minds, occupying themselves with the common exchange articles on
the lower shelves. A belief is not a possession unless you demonstrate
It may all sound very fanciful, but spiritual health demands certain
early morning ablutions. These are as vital to the spiritual faculties as
the cleanliness with which you prepare the body for its day’s activities.
Indeed they are far more important, as they also key up and harmonize the
body. A little experiment in making a spiritual toilet when you first
wake up will prove its great and increasing influence on each day’s
THE development of any new country has generally followed a fairly
definite routine. First the intrepid explorer in search of adventure and
riches. He manages to blunder through by main strength, a combination of
luck and natural aptitude. He returns. The story of his discoveries
entices others. A certain number of these, also, get there–and back–and
the story grows.
Gradually, these first forerunners build up a body of knowledge as to the
routes and passes and fords. Thus we reach presently the next stage of
development, in which pure adventure becomes secondary to exploitation.
Hunters and trappers and miners rove about skimming off the more
superficial resources. They have little interest in the country for
itself. Their idea is to get what they want in a hurry, and escape home
to enjoy it. A certain few may go so far as to establish permanent camps
to which they return year after year. But these are not their real
headquarters; merely temporary hangouts.
And at the last comes the genuine settler, the homesteader, with his
tools and livestock. Only then begins what may be called true
development, for these people are cultivators, rather than predators.
Their aim is to add something new to the region, rather than to take away
something it already has.
With the technique of alternation explained, it now seemed to me that the
Invisibles had pretty well covered all the possibilities. I was a good
deal like the caterpillar which has eaten all the leaves off his twig,
and so believes there are no more leaves in the whole wide world. But I
soon found out I was wrong. Not that the Invisibles urged us to further
rapid expansion at this time. But in a series of talks they did try to
give a glimpse of the direction in which future development might lie.
BETTY: I am sitting right on the border today, trying to understand….
Strata….Consciousness is built in layers. When I’m here I’m in the one
that rests upon and touches our consciousness. It’s just like the
water-and-air level–like being amphibious. Anybody could live half in
and half out–both lives. So far I have only come up from the depths
temporarily to accustom myself to the different atmosphere of this level
above. But what I WANT to do is to live on top, and only occasionally go
into the depths….
I wonder why we don’t all accustom ourselves to live there? I suppose it
is because it seems an unreal world at first. That is because we are
still dripping from the depths, and are not dried off and accustomed….
They say they want to show me how consciousness develops into this level
Can’t I go up? I don’t see why I have to travel latitudinally….
Curious place, now that I come to look at it. Funny! it looks like a
matter of elevations and country and a lot of currents….Why, it’s
WAVES! There never was such a world of waves before….Seems I’m going to
have a lot to do with those waves.
INVISIBLE: Momentary contact, however, brief, with the level above,
changes their action.
BETTY: That’s very interesting. I’ll tell him about it.
INVISIBLE: Have him draw it.
BETTY: It’s so simple here, yet it takes so many learned people to show
me this. I don’t see how anything so simple could take such profundity.
Very fatiguing to took at such studied things.
(Under direction from the Invisible, S E W drew the following diagrams:)
INVISIBLE: “A” represents the field of ordinary human consciousness–call
it the static field. “D” is the magnetic field of the higher
consciousness. “B, B, B” are the waves of heightened awareness which are
continually arising over and across the static field. When this field has
a certain level of development, these waves at their apexes establish
momentary contact with the magnetic field. And as development continues,
the interspaces, “C, C, C” gradually diminish, as shown in diagram II,
making the points of contact more nearly continuous. When the interspaces
are finally eliminated, then the static field is in complete
correspondence with the magnetic field, and the individual enters fully
the higher consciousness.
BETTY: You know how a motion picture sometimes gets out of frame, and you
see half of two pictures at once? Well, that’s just the kind of a curious
position I am in. All my desire is to establish myself in the upper
consciousness. It is so much bigger and I can accomplish so much more in
it. It seems to be where I belong. But as the other one gets dimmer I
feet a little guilty and bothered about it. I know I’m losing something,
there, a nice animal thing I almost regret….
Just the same, I think I’ll decide to let it go; it can’t be helped. I
have to concentrate on the part I’m interested in, best in, most
progressive in. After all, isn’t that what you’ve got to do? Haven’t you
got to frame up the part of life that most unites you, the best and
highest there is in you, and live it with some boldness and decision?
INVISIBLE: The point toward which all this instruction trends is ultimate
identification with your higher self. But first must come a vital effort
to know that higher self, and a gradual training of your spiritual
muscles to maintain it, once recognized.
This does not mean that you should cease to interest yourselves in the
multitude of activities all around you–people and books and
experiences–these are hourly food. But it does mean most emphatically
that your major efforts should be in the recognition and cultivation and
establishment of your inner being, the eternal part of you. The gradual
growth and expansion of this eternal self is the major business of each
day, whatever may be the pressure of obligations in your everyday life.
BETTY: Everybody wants so much to have us acknowledge this higher
consciousness, and not keep it as a kind of bashful idea: to come out and
make it respectable as a fact that we are in camp in a new country, and
spend A the time we can there. Nothing else seems real to me but just
this, and I’m so afraid you’re not coming along with me….
No; you’re here. But I can’t say you are very lively. You are sleeping
around camp, and I am the only one who is awake and doing the work.
BETTY: In this state of separation from my customary self, I perceive, am
aware of a great organization of which I am a part. Some task is being
attributed to me, allotted to me. I want and am prepared to do it….
Now a warning is being given as to the process of carrying it out, the
point of contact with customary and practical life. It seems to concern
the development of my bit of awareness. They say I mustn’t cut it off
from its supply of growth. Many people take their allotments and let them
wither and die. Others take them and force them frantically in an
unhealthy growth. The easy, simple, enduring way is to keep your
embryonic spiritual being constantly under the rays which nourish it,
habitually connected with its main source. It will grow healthfully and
naturally and easily that way–if you keep just a ray of its own
substance coming through. But taking it and cutting it off kills it,
makes many failures, much delay.
INVISIBLE: By way of general instruction as to future progress, allow us
to point out to you the great rule for success in any work of this kind.
It is the holding of the form of thought together in simple
visualization, the habitual retention of it, and the simple almost
trivial experimentation with it. Truly nothing should be considered too
small to work on with the tools of eternal values. Their application is
to even the most insignificant things, little hourly experiences and
situations, the materials of a commonplace day, anything pertaining to
your life that needs focusing upon.
The alternation for recreation of minds is of course invaluable, but the
permanent occupancy of a subject in the mind is what endows it with its
greatest power. The laying aside of the higher consciousness for special
attention is what retards the personal possession of its attributes. That
is usually the trouble: you await great occasion for its use–a crisis,
something “worth while.” The consequent repeated efforts to re-start are
a great waste. It is the momentum of smooth, continuous effort that
BETTY: Wait a minute. I perceive the Idea, but I can’t concentrate on the
fragment before me….
It looks a good deal like shooting. Any dub can make a high score once in
a while, but that doesn’t mean much. When a marksman wants to see how
he’s getting along he looks at his AVERAGE score.
INVISIBLE: One acquires a truth as one believes in it, and admits it, and
tries to stick to it. Until that truth has become to you an unfailing
motive power; until you have established yourself in it without
intermission; until you cannot help acting any way but in it; until you
are one of it’s supporting elements, as it were, you do not gain the full
benefit of its possession.
It is just so with the higher consciousness. Mostly you do not stick to
it. You only sporadically reach up and grasp it, and then drop off and
wander about. But the fact remains that as long as you continue satisfied
with dropping off, with occasional contacts with it, you remain unplaced
This is not to be interpreted as recommending a tight-pressing
strangulation hold on the higher consciousness, with the effect of
weariness and staleness. The ideal is rather the natural fitting of
yourself to it as a recognition of reality you have gradually SURROUNDED.
Your attitude then becomes a simple natural desire for it in place of
BETTY: You see, when I first began to associate myself with this greater
harmony, I looked at my tiny perception of it and I said: Certainly there
is nothing else I want so much as to feel the security and conviction and
satisfied delight within me that comes with that, and to give it to
others–to produce it and create it for them. But in the past that has
happened only on special occasions. Now I ought to begin to carry that
feeling with me ordinarily.
INVISIBLE: The present effort is an attempt to foreshadow the
transference of consciousness–the preponderance of consciousness is
better–to the spiritual body. In the past this has quite rightly been
centered in the earth consciousness, but you are progressing toward a
point where your spiritual body will become capable of taking over the
direction of the parent or earth self. When this is attained it will be
roughly as if your earth life were in the balloon basket of a great
buoyancy. From this inexhaustible, indestructible higher buoyancy sinews
of strength will support the core of your ordinary experience. It is in
such companionable association with spiritual values that one develops a
conviction of the reality of these finer potentialities, and gradually
learns to sense and utilize the power existent in them. Then, instead of
being in leaden contact with the earth, submitting to its influence and
its unilluminated lower laws, one is magnetically liberated and in the
controlled power of a different specific gravity.
BETTY: Suppose we turn the tables tonight, and I ask you to define what
has been said of this process. Then we’ll tackle the weak spots.
S E W: (Made a stab at giving his conception of habitual spiritual
BETTY: Yes. That’s all quite right. But don’t forget that what you have
just described is a more or less remote goal; and that the technique best
suited to us at present is more elementary than that.
The very first thing always is the tuning of yourself, your leap or
levitation of heart to your Source–the absolute tuning of yourself. You
are then imbedded in something so much more potent than yourself, so
incomprehensibly secure, that all you can do is to sense the comfort of
it, lend yourself rapturously to 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. Then proceed
wholeheartedly to use your ordinary faculties in clean-cut application to
the thing in hand.
What I am trying to say is: don’t mix up your regions of consciousness.
Keep your compartments organized so you can step from one to the other
with no fuzzy places between. When occupied with something practical,
don’t keep wondering if you are working in a spiritual way. It is not
necessary to be continually hurrying back to reassure yourself of the
spiritual quality. The Source will not desert you until you yourself
deliberately shut it out–until you lose your surety and strangle
yourself with tensions.
Only one important thing has to be watched: the sensing how long you can
work masterfully without renewIng yourself. It is your individual rhythm
that determines this, and 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 that is necessary; PROVIDED, of
course, you have made a strong and accustomed home of it.
S E W: But how about this business of establishing your permanent home so
completely that you will be able to do your work directly from it as your
BETTY: That holds good, of course, in the long run; but right now I am
trying to set down a kindergarten way for practical use with our present
limited earth consciousness. And the two outstanding points of it are: to
spend always plenty of time tuning yourself in comfort at your Source,
plenty of time to have it well established; and then never to doubt that
it follows you when your mind is completely freed from it in the minutiae
It is a technique that stays with us when we are not illumined and
tuned–in the rough-and-tumble of things. I am trying to get something
clear-cut for the rough-and-tumble. 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 have 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 that the stars are still here, and
that you can look up to them when the night comes.
Spiritual impetus should be just as practical as a hot-water faucet or an
electric light–and just as available at any moment for efficient action.
It is not a thing we have to go apart to seek, though it is absolutely
dependent on our previously having gone apart to seek. The emphasis in
nearly all spiritual instruction is on the going apart to seek, and the
technique of the next sequence, the creative use of it, is often left
INVISIBLE: It is most important 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 some state of permanent
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 with you 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 tend a helping hand.
It is particularly necessary, perhaps, to distinguish 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 then proceed with
no less, and no more, than your customary awareness of them. Your
brain-mind moves forward on an 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 brain-mind or
the body. To each its balanced due of yourself;, for the balancing is the
art of life. The ascetic is no more praiseworthy than the sensualist, and
the sensualist is no more to be blamed than is the ascetic. And the pure
intellectualist is no more admirable–or deplorable–than either.
BETTY: (after a pause) It’s beautiful. They said right away that today
was to be a culmination, but they’ve got me so expanded I can’t contract
on words. There’s some very beautiful language prepared, though, if I
could only get it. It swirls around me….
INVISIBLE: Consider carefully a cross-section of each day as you have
lived it, like an apple cut across, making visible its core and the seeds
maturing within: so examine your own heart and its activities, ONE DAY AT
A TIME. What was your principal aim this day? In the midst of your
temporary activities, what percentage of your best energy do you find
consciously directed toward an enduring pursuit? In other words, taking
this day as a fair example and adding to it A FEW HUNDRED SIMILAR ONES,
what would you say you had created? What sort of a person have you built
for yourself? Do you approve of your habitual consciousness?
Now take the future, and examine in like manner the allotments of
vitality you plan to distribute during your days. Regarding your thoughts
and acts as charges of energy with definite amperage and voltage,
consider which of these impetuses you intend to continue on persistently,
as worthy of a distant aim. Plan to accomplish those first; they are your
permanent structure. Then whatever is left of energy charges determine to
utilize generously, even to the tiny ones which make gay and humorous
sparks enlivening all human intercourse.
Finally, at intervals during each day stop for a moment to rate the
percentages of attention and ardor you are actually putting into your
various affairs. Examine these percentages as if they were an allotment
of finances in a business budget. Then step aside from them a moment,
return to the concept of your business of eternal purposes, and compare
the two. At length, put them together, asking yourself which ones of
these ordinary activities you can so vitalize that they help you to unite
with other lives in greater inclusion of the consciousness which we are
striving to make for you an everyday affair.
BETTY: I’ve been trying to make a certain map of my life–to put my
interests on different grades, major and minor, and lots in between. I’ve
just been looking my life over quickly to see how to go about it….
To start with, everything was of almost equal importance because of
newness and adventureness. Then some were more attractive to repeat than
others. Thus I got my contours–by selecting those that had abiding
interest for me. They came up like high ridges. And then I used all the
other little things as amusements and refreshments and embellishments.
They are not at all conflicting or distracting. They just naturally
adjust themselves according to your capacity, and enrich your application
to your specialties….
INVISIBLE: The suggestion we are trying to present is that you learn to
construct your days on a plan of more varied planes, more in keeping with
the country you are now traversing. Let the height, the embodiment of
your directing beliefs, be the mountains, the main shaping course of your
travels, visible always through every occupation and in every chart of
your course. Let your daily pursuits, all the lesser allegiances of your
mind, be on the water level, fluid, adaptable to the expedience of the
stronger structure. Shape your days mentally always thus in contour,
never monotonously, jumblingly lacking in distinctions of structure.
Waking in the mornings, review the day from your heights, always
impregnably establishing your directions from them; returning to them at
hours of the day made habitual. From the mountain top you know where the
valley leads and what is beyond, and so can plan your movements in the
BETTY: Now I know what to do when I get down there: I’m going to shut my
eyes frequently for the purpose of strengthening my vision of where I’m
heading. I don’t care how crowded and narrow and circuitous it is, I’m
going to remember to live up there and just do business at the bottom.
INVISIBLE: Only thus, persistently practiced, can you avoid the
deplorable banality of flattening your life and entering your next
existence unmodelled and unbeautiful, without possession of either tools
or design. Your potentialities are visible, the rising and falling of
your efforts, the acquisition of much that is nebulous; but the firmly
made structure itself is only worked out in daily contours. For however
developed and exalted your aims may be, they are only nebulous until you
give them perpetuating form in your hourly life visible to others.
This is the awakening ceremony I advise for the entire remainder of your
life on earth. Its importance is impossible for you to calculate. Its
participation, gradually, earnestly, and interestedly, will, without
anything but pleasurable effort, bring you inestimable happiness and
ONE hears it so often said that the subject of psychic exploration
interferes with normal living. That is absurd. Little knowledge
misunderstood and misapplied might inhibit the adjustment to ordinary
environment; but that is the awkward stage of the neophyte.
I see a drab-colored duty-person wearisomely doing good, doing right; and
then there’s a cheerful, comfortable selfish person doing things
enthusiastically that don’t do anybody much good. He has a vital spark:
the other hasn’t. That is the reason the selfish person appears to get on
so well: he has the vital spark of being united.
It’s more important than we realize–this ingredient of eagerness. It is
the difference between being magnetized and unmagnetized. Take that
cheerful, selfish person who does things enthusiastically: he is started
by getting at least a harmony of two ingredients. He is DOING from the
fact that he wants to do it–he has got two of his ingredients. The other
has only one: he is doing, but he does not want to do it. He is pulling
the other way inside, so it’s only half.
EVERY teacher of anything that demands skill and training knows that the
average beginner always wants to get somewhere in a hurry, and is
impatient of the slightest delay. And that when he begins to get some
idea of what he is really up against, he probably does one of two things:
he groans despairfully and sits down where he is; or he turns on the
pressure, and tries to burn up the road. The eventual result in either
case is a full stop.
This is especially true of our present subject. The ideal of habitual
spiritual consciousness is one that reacts on people most definitely. It
either frightens a man away altogether; or it inspires him to over-zeal.
That is natural. When he has come thus far, he is able to see that it is
not only an important job, but also a tremendously formidable job. It
offers either a supreme prize or a great burden.
However, it will be a great burden only if we try to take its whole
weight at once. After all, big jobs are never done thus. As children we
did not take up life that way. We played with our toes, and waved our
legs, and managed to roll over, and got on our hands and knees and
crawled, and shortly succeeded to a very wobbly perpendicular. We did
what we could at the moment. Furthermore we did it because we wanted to,
and because we enjoyed it. We had an impulse to walk and run, but there
was no burdensome pressure of compulsion that we should do so right now.
And most certainly no damaging of our present joy in life because we were
not doing so. Ultimates were unknown to us, and so there was no danger
whatever of our adopting ends as immediate obligations.
The Invisibles repeatedly reminded us of this. We had become aware of new
functions and possibilities in ourselves, they admitted; but mere
awareness did not imply that something tremendous was required of us. No
child-labor was expected. We were permitted time to discover and develop
these new faculties, just as physical life had permitted us time to
discover and develop our physical faculties.
“Spiritual development,” said they, “is not a desperate struggle for
anything. In fact it is absolutely the contrary. It is a secure embryonic
stirring, a happy stretching into one’s own peculiar universe, a basking
in growth sensations until one establishes oneself in permanent strength.
It is not a strain, nor an obligation to assume anything you do not
absolutely possess. It is a great and quiet letting in of something that
is already there. You just surround what is yours–move into it. Between
these two there is a great difference. One defeats the purpose; the other
co-operates. One is a kind of warm hospitality which fosters growth; the
other is a strain and sterility and affectation of the over-zealous.
“Your watchword must be never to allow any strain to enter into the
practice of your individual expansion or spiritual flame feeding. Of
course, every now and then this system is bound to go wrong, and you will
get to pressing and cramping on life, straining it through your own dusty
self instead of just admitting it as through an open window. But that is
all wrong, nevertheless. Spiritual development is never a straining up of
any kind after something to be grasped by force.”
No matter what his line of endeavor, every man sooner or later learns to
admit the value of taking it easy. A few even go so far as a sincere
effort to infuse the idea, as a general principle, into their active
lives. But applying it to the particular instance is always another
matter. High pressure in any special case is only too easy to rationalize
and justify. Quite often we do not even recognize it as high pressure. We
have always done things that way.
Ordinary affairs of life often let us off without too much penalty. They
allow us to muddle through somehow by main strength and awkwardness. In
one way or another we get by without too much friction. But this journey
into the high country of consciousness is a more serious matter. We
cannot speed on this narrow trail and stay on it.
Fortunately we have one simple and reliable test of our position to which
at any time we can refer ourselves. That is our state of mind. By and
large, leaving aside the small mosquito-annoyances, if we are not having
a peaceful, carefree, normal time on our way, count on it, we are headed
for the swamp. Nervousness and depression and depletion, or exaltation
and elation and extravagance: these should alike be recognized as danger
signals. First aid is to take off the pressure.
Such things seem very simple in the telling, but curiously enough, they
are bard to keep in mind. The ways we can run off into the mud are so
many; and the reasons why we did so are so good! Yet in every instance
the application of this one test and this one remedy would have prevented
all the trouble. But we simply do not remember!
It is interesting to look back through the records and see how carefully
the Invisibles guided us in this. Whenever over-intensity threatened,
they were always ready with the necessary antidote. Usually they merely
laughed at us or cracked foolish jokes. More rarely they went into the
matter more seriously; like this:
BETTY: There is such a cheerful, exhilarating, lighthearted influence
around me today. There isn’t going to be anything heavy or philosophical.
It is more on the profound wisdom of lightheartedness….
You see, this is the idea: the supreme wonder of recent unfoldments, the
fixing of the vision of the road ahead, has given vitality and direction
to our steps, but also it has necessarily taken a somewhat sober trend.
This is no cause for worry unless it leads to fixation. At first all of
us have a certain awkwardness of spiritual gait; it is a form of the
self-consciousness that is not yet mastery.
INVISIBLE: Long ago we gave certain vitally important warnings of
dangerous symptoms invariably connected with spiritual progress. You
remember the “humility and negations” of the godly, the necessity of
vitality for spiritual thought. You remember the fluidity, flexibility,
to be preserved, the danger of crystallization. This is one of the most
important of the definite warnings that can be given. In the beginning
the tendency is always to interpret in terms of your bodily functions.
Because the body has to contract its muscles to reach out and pick up
anything, you contract and strain over your acquisitions of the spirit,
making them heavy-duty. It should be the other way around. By applying
spiritual principles and methods to your physical activities, you should
re-educate the body to greater freedom and flexibility.
BETTY: What we need now is a lot of free sports and exercise, carrying
the same bigness and expansion into our earth responses that we use in
directing our spiritual steps to their goal. All the gateways of the
senses must be as wide as the gateway of the inner vision. It’s hard to
say, because this directing of the vision sideways, as it were, instead
of straight ahead must be a spontaneous enjoyment, and not another sober
INVISIBLE: What we are trying to do is to indicate a method of overcoming
spiritual awkwardness. To put it roughly, the contagion of youthful
beauty of body, loveable, universally adored, must somehow be translated
into your spiritual youth. It needs more “puppiness” on your part, more
careless play with its sensations. The development of the higher
perceptions brings to you sympathy and understanding and compassion, but
also at first a somewhat amateurish handling of life. The only way to
strengthen and be comfortable and assured in these higher faculties is
secretly to romp in them, humorously to perceive that you are rather
flat-footed in them. For example, however absurd in some aspects this may
appear, however unaccustomed and ridiculous, try momentarily to enter the
sensation, recall the childhood memories of progressing light-footedly,
the skipping just above that gravitation-weight which comes later in
BETTY: I’m having such a good time! I’m just skipping and tripping along
the top of the Sierra Nevada. The sky is deep blue–and it’s such a nice
touchable sky! I can swirl the glistening snow around, and feel the sting
of its warmth. I’ve got such unbreathed air, too. It is pure life,
containing all substance–new and exciting. I like having access to high
peaks. I love that warm sun and blue sky and crisp snow….
And now I am pacing shining sands in the full strength of a runner. There
is no effort to it at all, and the sands are hard and fresh-scoured by
the drained-off waters. The air is all glinting, too, and quickened with
purity. It hasn’t had dust thrown in it yet.
I’ve got to leave it now….
INVISIBLE: If occasionally you could play some such game of
light-footedness, it would be the greatest possible technique of comfort
in continuing your spiritual progress. You must not deny your rainbow
soul its playtime. If you only realized what wings grow during this
playtime, and how glad you would be to have them!
BETTY: The whole thing is to prance more when you find yourself becoming
super-solemn. It’s tremendously important, because almost everyone in our
stage of development falls into the danger of utilizing his expansion
straight ahead alone, instead of also sideways and circularly. That
doesn’t mean we should abandon our forward-reaching consciousness and
enter a world of mere pleasure and vapidity. But we must cultivate our
enjoyments and hobbies and enthusiasms: they safeguard the ease and grace
of our true direction.
Always remember there’s a twofold dimension to it: perpendicular and
At first, as might be expected, we did not fully appreciate the
seriousness of this danger or the importance of its antidote. In those
days we were so busy getting our aim straight and trying to follow the
right trait, that we spared little attention for such apparently
unimportant details as speed of travel. Consequently, when the
translation slowed down or the intake seemed blocked or we otherwise
encountered what the records term “difficulty”–we followed the natural
impulse to redouble the pressure and work twice as often and twice as
long. As a result, things always went from bad to worse, until finally
Betty went on a temporary strike and refused to do anything more at all.
But gradually we learned that high-pressuring ourselves into eternity was
no good–not in any circumstances whatever. It is easy to say “we
learned”; but, please believe me, take-it-easy is something that requires
a whole lot of learning! And even when, at long last, we were thoroughly
convinced, we still had to recognize when we were actually breaking step.
One traditional speeding-up method which has led many astray is
asceticism. In days of old, all serious aspirants thought it necessary to
beat and starve and otherwise torment themselves in order to subdue the
“vile body.” That idea even today carries some weight. There are still
people who wear hair shirts and lie on beds of re nails with a view to
“acquiring merit.” Some sects even go so far as to believe that suffering
is the only direct road to development.
From the start a healthy instinct warned us against this sort of thing.
Its crude and obvious form repelled us; but before long we discovered
that it had a way of presenting itself in disguise. Unexpectedly we would
find ourselves floundering in a patch of extremely prickly brush, and
wondering how we got there. Occasionally, when it seemed important, we
would be shooed away in this fashion:
BETTY: Today I have been sensitized to get into the crow’s nest, as it
were, to see what a lookout can call down to you. And the thing that I
pick up as being especially to be said is the sensation I get of
ourselves physically. It is one of regretting the loss of something
valuable and enjoyable and necessary to a whole being. Too high a price
has been paid physically for what has been attained spiritually.
INVISIBLE: Always in the earlier years of spiritual development the
effort of stilling your objective minds to reach your inner ones has
certain accompanying symptoms which result in a flattening and dulling of
the entity as a whole. It is just as when, in a sport, one uses undue
effort in the beginning and exhausts oneself in doing what later can be
done quite easily. The aching muscles of the mind and spirit sometimes
interpret themselves in reflex even on the bodily muscles. A curiously
ageing effect is produced, co-existing with the moments of increased
vitality and spiritual exuberance.
To overcome this interaction the body must be made as robust as possible.
Sometimes the flattening and dulling of it comes through various
misinterpretations of the relation between the spiritual and the
physical. For instance, the growth in refinement of the inner being may
interpret itself into anemia of the physical being–into restrictions of
foods and appetites of all kinds. Actually no such negations interact
favorably on the higher centers. That sounds like a dangerous doctrine,
but in reality the danger is more apt to occur on the side of damaging
the spontaneity of the body’s functions–its buoyancy and equilibrium and
youthful confidence and carelessness. Only too easily the aspirations of
the inner life misinterpret themselves into such restrictions as an
overregulated child would suffer.
You can prove this to yourself by experiment. On occasion try
deliberately breaking over any hard and fast rules you may have made for
yourself physically, and observe the reflex of comfort and fluidity your
whole being will enjoy. Men of genius have almost always had a keen,
though often an unbalanced appreciation of this. The wide-flung
liberties, amounting at times to license, of many poets in their physical
lives have reacted in great boldness and liberation of spirit. This is
not to be recommended, of course, for there is grave danger in such wide
unrhythmic swoops, great ultimate loss of balance. However, the principle
involved is here clearly seen.
S E W: You do not agree, then, with those who believe there is great
power in such things as total abstinence from sex expression?
INVISIBLE: What good is there in total abstinence?
S E W: Why, to escape control by one’s lower nature, I suppose.
INVISIBLE: You should not be controlled by anything. But total abstinence
merely means that you are controlled by fear of it. In either case you
are controlled by it.
The peculiar characteristic of the present age in contrast to that which
has developed past mystics is the jovial, healthful naturalness which it
is to demonstrate. Spiritual consciousness is to be, not a laboratory
experiment under conditions painfully devised, but a worldwide possession
thrust into the life of a new and vital race of people. There is no
longer any need to accept the conditions under which former
contemplations were obliged to function. It is to be the free swing of
the athlete, and not the labored tread of the weary monk.
Individuals vary much in the need for this warning, but again I want to
state that spiritually and physically whatever you do translates and
reacts in each medium. They should be comfortably interacting,
interlocked. Therefore any grace and freedom and lack of restraint in one
liberates the other. You want buoyancy and equilibrium in each, aiding
the other. Breathe deeply and freely in both, and be on guard against
stiffening regulations if you value your flexibility and comfort.
Above all, do not let your body lose its toe-dancing ability, do not too
long let it become stagnant, even for many hours at a time, during these
years of development. Keep red blood and good food and raw air constantly
active through it in any happy-go-lucky, unregulated flexible ways you
can devise. All loss of this, or stiffening of its habits will result in
precisely the same thing spiritually. You cannot possibly get into a
natural normal spiritual life, an habitual consciousness of it, unless
you recreate a childhood attitude of body, without any Prussianizing
You don’t really own a thing unless you use it. 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!
flow do you benefit from your body? Not by just possessing it. You
exercise it! And it is just the same with the higher consciousness. It’s
worth nothing to you, or anybody else, unless you use it.
DESIRE to receive is but half the span of the bridge. Visualize this as
the exact condition of your present spiritual progress. You have
constructed but HALF THE SPAN of the bridge. Without the completion of
this work you will have but struggled in vain; because the reason for its
being is that, when finished, something may pass over it from the free
field of spiritual perception to the congested consciousness of the
The mere desire to receive, alone, is not sufficient even to establish
effective contact with the informing intelligence above yours. In fact,
it has a great difficulty to be overcome in what might be called a
SUCTIONAL quality, which precipitates the force above it, reduces it to a
lower manifestation in which it no longer functions as a quickening
inspirational force. It becomes merely an intellectual ‘record’–not a
gift of growth silently available through you to others.
A GOOD analogy is a most helpful device, as we know, in clarifying our
understanding. But a true analogy is better than that. It may be followed
with confidence. The reason for this is that a “true analogy is merely
the same law working in different mediums,” as the Invisibles expressed
This truth was of enormous help to us. We had spent most of our lives
poking about into odd comers of the world, “exploring,” “pioneering.” We
knew that game: and how to go at it, and how to keep out of trouble, and
to take care of ourselves when thrown on our own. So when we started out
on this new type of exploration in the frontiers of consciousness,
we–largely as a matter of habit–used the same methods of approach. They
worked. So, with increasing assurance, we fell into our familiar
wilderness techniques. They were effective; and they continued to be
effective even in the later advanced stages of instruction and
Now after a man has, by his vision and his woodcraft, penetrated to a
country new to him, and wants to–stay awhile, the first thing he must do
is to clear a space for himself, and on it construct a habitation, a
shelter against the elements and a safe defense against predatory beasts.
Next he must assure his warmth, his food, and his drink. These are
essential for survival.
But once he has them, he will next want to “improve his lot,” as he calls
it. He must establish relationships with neighbors, however few and
distant they may be. And these relationships–if his “lot” is to
improve–depend on one thing. Production. The more he produces, the more
he has to share; and the more, therefore, he will receive back. And the
reverse must be true. If he produces less, he will have less to share. Or
to pay with, if you care to express it that way.
This was precisely the situation to which we had now attained. We had
found our country; we had made ourselves a place in it; we had built our
defense. We could survive. But if we were to make anything out of the
achievement, we could not merely sit down in our stockade and think about
it. There was more to it than just that.
There is still another way in which the analogy carries on perfectly.
Traveling any remote region is always hard going. There are no detailed
maps nor paved roads. The pioneer must expect to work at it harder than
he ever had to work back in that comfortable country whence he came. We
are exactly in the same case here, at this point of our journey together.
What follows is not going to be easy reading. That is because it deals
with another of those subjects which must be actually experienced before
it can be completely understood. Only part of it can be conveyed in
The foregoing statement is intended to be an incentive and not a
discouragement. Understanding by both words and experience is a fumbling
sort of thing, baffling as a difficult game; but, also like a game, it is
fun. We can say this with authority, for we too went through the groping
in fog and mist, picking up a piece here and a piece there until we had
collected our comprehension. Rarely, indeed, did the Invisibles go at any
new subject directly. They darted at it; pecked at it, so to speak,
touching it in brief guerrilla raids of hint and half-statement, until
our minds were prepared for discourse. Possibly that system might be
better in presentation here; but space forbids. We must do our best with
selected discourses, and trust to the reader’s interest and good will to
supply the missing ingredient. If he will be content to remain
undiscouraged by initial–and necessary–vagueness; if he will keep faith
that the vagueness is only a mist through which but a few steps in
experience will bring him into sunlight, he will eventually return to the
stockade–to finish the analogy–with spoils rich in substance.
Let us, then, start out on our quest through one of Betty’s symbolic
BETTY: What do you suppose that commonplace little city is? There is a
remarkable story about it–about someone in it who has achieved great
freedom. Quite a story….
If I were to tell it to you, I would have first to make a picture of very
commonplace drab ugliness; a little cheap room in a dismal boarding house
in a miserable sort of town. It smells dirty and dusty. It is a dirty,
dispiriting, hopeless, carpetty, spotty, ugly-proportioned place in a
cindery and smutty horrid little town. This man who lives there is
feeding his soul on beauty; riotous, gorgeous beauty; beauty that is full
of life and lavishness. He comes over here for it. He has found out how.
It would make a delicious thing to write. First I would get just
suffocated with grimy windows and dirty carpets and unwashed paint and
dusty lace curtains. I’d get black and beauty-dead. And then, after I’d
taken time to get words that would bring that smell to your nostrils,
THEN I’d have a good time! Then I would have everything blended and
gorgeous in depths of tones; and I’d have the flash and sparkle of
response to the fleeting life that comes in sun and dewdrops and
glistening petals and evanescent things whose preciousness is in just the
moment of sight,–not in registered values, like gems. I’d just wallow in
that stuff, making word-refreshments. Amethyst colors would be
there–amethyst and amber, that’s a nice combination; and the deep, deep
shadows making the richness, and the splashes of light on top; and the
perfumes occupying all space like the sunrise. It is beauty like that I’d
chase, until my own expanding heart and beating throbbing aroused
circulation and radiation of warm life was to me the greatest beauty and
reality of all….
I just happened to meet this man I’ve been telling you about, and he
showed me his garden of riotous beauty. I was enjoying it tremendously;
but suddenly something troubled me that does not bother him at all. It is
this: I can’t just come and wallow in this gorgeousness, and then lead
the sort of after-the-jag life he does in his dirty smelly world. It
would not be fitting to a sojourner in that country. This man is away
ahead of me in abandon to it, but he is not connected up….
How can I connect up that dirty plush world with the amethyst and amber
one? There they both are: one as real as the other. The world we are in
now is just for the purpose of discovering how to lift the one to the
other. Can’t you see? YOU’VE GOT TO COMBINE THEM.
There! I’ve had the man go out, and I’ve eliminated all that dirty stuff
from the room, and torn up the carpet and thrown out all that awful old
furniture–hot soapsuds!–and I’ve painted it all over with nice fresh
paint. That’s the sordid facing of things as they actually are. It must
be done. Can’t overtook that, while you live here. It’s quite a nice
little room now, and it brings it that much nearer to the garden of
Now I can bring in a few beautiful things; maybe a few flowers or a
little beautiful-shaped thing. It is so much more comfortable because
I’ve brought them nearer together.
Here is the point. You are never entitled to play in a garden like
that–you really aren’t–unless you keep on trying somehow to lift your
own world a little nearer to it.
INVISIBLE: Spiritual development must always be a twofold effort. Along
with the continual onward-upward movement, pressing back boundaries, must
go the sympathetic spreading of the perception you have acquired. You
must be conquering, overcoming the world with it: giving what you have in
such a way that it will enter others and start similar action.
In fact, there is little permanent value in having learned to use 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 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 it. That area, that
transmutation, must spread, expand around you, or you will find yourself
possessed only of narrow puritanical piety.
BETTY: How curious! First it was only a continuous upward line. Then a
horizontal line somehow joined it and made a cross….
Oh, I see! What a wonderful symbol of the twofold action!
(At this point, under direction from the Invisibles S E W drew the
INVISIBLE: Figure I illustrates the upward-reaching element of spiritual
contact and growth, supported on a shaft of daily accomplishment in
ordinary living. Figure II shows the spreading on your own level of the
perception you have attained. To complete the picture it should be
imagined that as each level is fulfilled the cross-arm moves upward to
represent the next level, the cross meanwhile always keeping the same
proportion. In other words, when the level is raised, the upper part of
the vertical shaft reaches a little higher into the unknown and the lower
end is lost or absorbed.
As a general symbol of individual development this will bear study, but
the point we wish to emphasize now is that the higher consciousness is
essentially a co-operative affair, not a single independent thing. No
matter how simplified your awareness of it may become, how clear your aim
or your comprehension of what you are after, or how devoutly you may
follow it, it does not work effectively unless you have a sympathetic
comprehension of the interrelation. Otherwise there is always some kind
of drag of the whole on you, no matter how hard and fast you try to
BETTY: I feet it curiously as though I were in a line with something. I
can go on individually, I can go beyond it; and yet I am so closely
related. It is like pressing my breast against a harness that unites us
all. I am only successful as I comprehend that unity. I seem to be free,
gloriously free; I can go as far as I want by my own energy, volition,
desire and enthusiasm: and yet when I pause a moment in that onward push,
I am so conscious of this breast harness by which I push the whole with
Then there is that other aspect of it. Each person I help to the
consciousness of taking his place seems to lighten the drag of the whole
against me. Not each per son that I help: each person that is helped to
take his place. So naturally it follows that it is only common sense to
try to lessen the drag as you go along by lending a hand to others. It is
the only intelligent way.
We were at this time groping our way very cautiously, not only searching
new ground for our feet, but testing each step carefully. Especially did
we feel that we must examine critically every statement that seemed to
bear relationship with conventional cliches. One of these cliches was
embodied–to us at least–in the word “service.” That word admittedly
expresses a profound truth; but often it merely means following the line
of least mental resistance. It has been terribly tarnished by the
multitudinous zealots who make of it an excuse for holier-than-thou
exhibitionism, for meddling, for smug proselytizing, and for neglecting
the home fires in favor of wholesale annoyances. There is a certain
presumption in setting oneself up as so much more qualified than one’s
fellows; and to Simple Souls, like ourselves, this job that had been
handed us looked big enough. Just pushing toward the higher consciousness
seemed a sufficient lifework.
But the Invisibles did not intend us to remain long in that attitude of
INVISIBLE: We do not want to risk having what has been taught slip into
the mistaken self-aggrandizement which claims a superlative power, but
which is concentrated merely on one’s own magnification of individual
power. In past ages a withholding of the laws of the higher consciousness
has been necessitated through just such a misapprehension. Actually,
habitual spiritual consciousness is never an aggrandizement of individual
power, although that conception is at present enjoying a very elaborate
popular exposition. Brought down to an everyday workable attitude of
mind, it is more an aggrandizement of humanity….
BETTY: This is very difficult. Language is gone: I am pursuing the idea,
but it hasn’t any clothes.
INVISIBLE: Let us begin again.
What is habitual spiritual consciousness? As applied to oneself, it is
the placing of oneself permanently on the frontier of one’s highest
reaches of perception. However often we may fail to maintain the
position, it is a definite attempt and a wholehearted possessing desire
to live to the fullest of one’s capacity in spiritual perception by means
of those methods you have written down.
But the mere maintaining of a single example of harmony oneself is only
half. The stopping of the idea there would in the long run result in mere
loneliness and bafflement. For whatever individual satisfaction this may
supply privately in moments of harmonious adjustment, the treasure which
you have gathered about you eventually becomes useless, like miser’s
gold, unless you share its value with the world.
Look for a moment at the usual misapplication of the higher
consciousness. A little nugget of spiritual substance is captured by some
mind and hoarded. Separated from its own source of life, sealed up in
human selfishness, it begins at once to deteriorate. And that is the
important thing to realize: this unified consciousness cannot be
imprisoned and shackled. Every glimpse of it you get must be felt in its
life movement. 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 run away with it.
BETTY: That is what I have to do, now that I’ve learned to move my
consciousness up: I’ve got to turn on the current after I’ve made the
INVISIBLE: Add to this the idea that from now on YOUR OUTGO MUST EQUAL
YOUR INTAKE. You are rapidly outgrowing the stage where you contain as a
quiet pool, a backwater, a portion of the current of life. In future your
status must be one of continuous movement, without stoppage in your point
of contact with the world. Obstruction is there at present.
BETTY: I’ve been so busy getting this thing into my consciousness, and no
w I’ve got to be just as busy getting it out–and it’s just as hard.
After getting it into you there is just as much difficulty and
obstruction in letting it out!
INVISIBLE: The action of the earth consciousness is constantly toward
closing channels after they have been opened. You get hurt some time, and
then you seal off that avenue. You don’t succeed somewhere, and you stop
trying in that direction. You pretend you do not like and do not want
something you cannot have. Thus commonplace living becomes a progressive
sealing off of channels that should be free-flowing. The effect is
similar to that of closing bodily pores or stopping bodily circulation.
It is the pursuit of this course that has thrown the world into its
present diseased condition.
Remember, always, that the first point of health is the active,
life-creating property that comes from constant inflowing and outflowing.
Something of the secret of intake is yours, but you must not forget to be
CONSTANTLY GIVING OUT.
(pause, during which a wood thrush began singing outside.)
BETTY: That is what they mean: that bird. His best–plus his response
from the universal.
(the thrush kept on singing, repeating his liquid musical phrase
persistently, over and over.)
BETTY: He is still doing it. He isn’t filled up yet. You see, he fills
up, magnetically, by giving out. That is the way creatures get their life
force. A frog croaks, and gets his that way. People get some of it when
they laugh or sing together.
The higher consciousness as a CURRENT; not a pool of still waters. A flow
through; not merely an immersion in. We had, unconsciously, fallen into
the habit of thinking of it as a kind of private bathtub; and that A we
had to do was to cultivate Betty’s “receptivity” to become all plumped up
and saturated with spiritual grace.
That was a most limiting idea. For one thing, it implied that the amount
we could receive, or appropriate, was determined by the size of the
container we had made of ourselves; and once we were full-up we were
full-up, and that’s all there was to it, and the inflow stopped. But this
new conception of SOMETHING THAT FLOWED through changed all that. The way
to make room for more was to use more. And, further, draining out for use
established suction for the flowing in. Our output would be actually the
measure of our intake. Why, it was almost mathematical! The limit
disappeared. There was no limit!
In the enthusiasm of this illumination we overlooked the fact that the
strength of the hose does have something to do with how much pressure you
can force into it, and therefore with how much water can pass through it.
But that came later. At the moment we were delighted at discovering what
seemed to be a definite mathematical basis for “service.” The word was
brightened up for us. Instead of a vague ethical “duty,” it began to look
like what amounted to a clear-cut scientific necessity.
Before long they elaborated the idea still further.
BETTY: I am in the reality of the higher consciousness, but I can’t get
any relation with the philosophy. Make an outline.
S E W: We have dealt with the subject of intake and stabilization. Now we
must deal with the outgo.
BETTY: Yes, that’s it. You see, we are apt to think of this connective
mind as something one retires into quietly, with plenty of time and great
effort. But that is only the passive phase of it. The active phase is
what I am coming into now, the utilizing of the connective mind in the
world of affairs.
INVISIBLE: It is an infiltration of your bit of universal substance into
what is below you. Up to now you have been busy going the other way, but
the time has come when you must begin acting below in order to get the
power to dart above.
What shall we call this incursion into your lower element? It is a sort
of down-thrust after the upward extension–a definite MOVEMENT in return.
Whatever you practice hereafter, keep in mind the strong downthrust as
necessary for rebound.
BETTY: This is difficult. 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.
INVISIBLE: The hoarding of spiritual perception is extremely difficult to
overcome. It is a pitfall at a certain stage of development, a morass
into which the majority sink. You see, once magnetized with the higher
consciousness, the easiest way is to go on seeking that continuously.
Nevertheless, if there is to be further progress, the MOVEMENT must be
completed with each renewal of attainment.
BETTY: I think I understand now. If I just stayed in my own magnetic
harmony, my cyclical movement would be obstructed. But when I bring the
higher force to someone else, then I have utilized for practical purposes
what has flowed into me, and the principle of movement is established.
INVISIBLE: This concept of movement is difficult to convey, because its
nearest mental counterpart is of movement from one place to another,
whereas what we are discussing is nearer to radiation. It is a sensation
of action with a certain repose–a difficult thing to express. The life
moving through you functions and goes forth, but not necessarily from one
place to another or moving you along.
This sounds obscure, but it is really very simple. All there is to it is
the acknowledgment of a sensation of spiritual alignment with what is
above and what is below, permitting the force of the higher consciousness
to flow through. That is the whole of these teachings. It seems so
obvious and simple that sometimes it is hard for us to realize its
difficulties. Yet it is truly amazing in its inclusive power, its
extension of your own personality into that of others, where before you
were content within yourself.
BETTY: I see myself as I used to be, convinced of the essential tuning
process, without which we are nothing; doing it more or less regularly;
luxuriating in it, even. But now that picture is repellent to me: it has
no joyous dynamics. The prospect ahead is ever so much more satisfactory.
Where before the picture was like a lake, now it is a flowing river. It
would be impossible after this 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. Now that I feel the stupendous stir of
making a current by opening my outlets, no longer could I ABIDE the
self-containment of the still-pond-no-more-moving days!
INVISIBLE: It is the greatest of all sensations, this alignment with what
might be called the Great Doing–this alignment of oneself with it, not
merely to FEEL, passively, the flow, but to try out one’s allotment of
it, actively and enthusiastically.
In fact, what is enthusiasm but this? What is energy but this? What is
love itself but this?–this removal of barriers, enabling force to flow
forward or back as necessity dictates: forward to accomplishment of law
forms in matter; backward to recharge and refresh in the primal force.
BETTY: Even in my utmost moments of height and expansion I never realized
what a limitless participation you could attain by aligning yourself this
way. It is the most beautiful feeling imaginable: like being imbedded in
an infinite life of warm, pulsating, desirable human qualities,
immeasurably greater and more powerful than your own. That is the nearest
I can come to describing it. If you can hold onto it, you can work down
through its lower manifestations and all the dragging, ignorant
resistances to it, and remain quite undamaged by them because you are not
vibrating to that level. But if you let go hands on either side of you,
you break the greater current and contain only your little waning bit,
for your allotment of power is absolutely dependent on your integrity of
alignment. Unless you join hands in that way, you will not be entrusted.
There is a technique to this inflow-outflow business. But before going on
to what was told us as to that, perhaps it may be as well to take thine
for one of Betty’s more mystic experiences. To us it supplied a kind of
larger atmosphere in which to suspend the more definite conceptions
BETTY: (after a long pause) I found myself with a vast outlook over
manifold life. It was so endlessly extensive compared to the narrow
outlook I was accustomed to, I lost myself in it. Dazed and benumbed in
all my senses, I struggled to perceive it all. It was so difficult that
the old habit of contraction took possession of me. I said: I can’t go
any farther than this; I’ll just gather this much in. So I started to
work on collecting just the foreground of things to tell you about, and I
got my circle drawn harder and tighter. I was so busy collecting that I
lost all things beyond that foreground: I just reduced it to that and
nothing else by trying to gather it in and possess it.
That was a small idea. I stopped to consider a moment and found I’d
spoiled everything. I remembered how it had seemed in the beginning: the
vast panorama of life and all the varied experiences coming as if
broadcast to me. I had spoiled it all by trying to possess them after the
manner of man.
Then something urged me to a different manner of taking. I looked again
and discovered a secret. I found I could broadcast MYSELF to complete
participation–which is true possession….
It is hard to tell you of this, because I know so little about it, but it
rests on firm sane laws. It is hidden under the surface glint of
materially desirable things. Those who never possess these sometimes find
the secret of possession of all life; and those who have satiated
themselves come painfully to starvation on golden platters: and some in
between acquire the balance which directs them to the secret of
I cannot grow in a moment to where I can describe this vivid contrast in
the methods of ownership: ownership after the manner of man, and
ownership by way of the law. I can only just sense it by looking at my
associates here. Because today I am in the company of those who have
completely abandoned self for the heritage of participating in the whole.
They are absolutely dispossessed of things. They’ve grown into enormous,
almost unlimited power by the strength of their aims. I don’t understand
it. I only know their power is a kind of selfless power which makes their
position unrelated to any of the products we call possessions.
I was experimentally broadcasting myself to participation in the great
elements of life, and I said: Why do I not come to dissolution of my
individuality this way? And then I dimly sensed the use of that other
gathering in, collecting instinct in its unperverted state. I sensed its
ability to concentrate power collected to be utilized for the intelligent
purposes of co-operation. But I’m too feeble and stupid to tell you much
that is useful….
Here are two great forces. I must leave them there.
INVISIBLE: The acquisitional sense that is usually directed towards the
gathering together of things, like everything else, can be transposed to
intangible, but still more valuable purposes. This acquisitive action is
one of man’s most useful characteristics, but its nature is twofold: we
can acquire by drawing entirely to ourselves and retaining what we have
selected; or we can acquire from the Unlimited Supply what is necessary
for the completion of a FORTHGOING PLAN. This latter, higher form is not
the usual concept of acquisitiveness. It resembles more the ambition of
the artist seeking materials for his creative purposes.
At present, of course, earth is in its grossly acquisitive, destructive
childhood. All its pressure is downward towards itself, as is its
gravitation. Thus all its habitants are imbued with the same, as it were,
negative force. Any individual who has strength enough to overcome within
himself this dead weight, and to make the first effort toward becoming an
OUTGOING, radio-active, positive expression of life, comes in contact
with an entirely new field of existence. And if he can MAINTAIN his
reversed current of force; then in exchange for his contribution to the
whole positive field, that entire field is his to draw upon in proportion
as he acquires the wisdom to manipulate it.
This reversed current of life begins deep within each human heart. First
there are whirlpools of confusion and suffering; then the passivity of
mere desire; followed by the gathering strength of the outgoing current.
This outgoing current is the consciousness that life is more than self;
it is voluntary fusion with the dimly sensed greater self of endlessly
BETTY: 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 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. That, in its highest form, is
THINK how we use flour and various other things, all perfectly good in
themselves, but valueless until put together in process to make bread. It
is just so with our “duties” and various conscientious efforts: they are
not much good unless they are blended and put through processes connected
with desire, lightheartedness, affection, eagerness–all the good mixers.
The word “will-power” is not appropriate here. Willpower is a tearing
loose of fruit, instead of waiting for it to ripen. The other way, of
counting on your supreme power, is the ripened way. It works strongly and
harmoniously, without jar and nerve wreckage.
THE conception of the higher consciousness as something that flowed
through was illuminating. But it was a trifle vague. It needed
definition. What was it that flowed? How did it feel? What did one do
about it? And, above all, what should one not do about it? We recoiled,
instinctively, against any smug idea of going forth to dispense Sweetness
The Invisibles must have sensed these reactions in us, for next they took
up our materials for action, what might be called the natural resources
of the higher consciousness. As usual, they began through one of Betty’s
BETTY: (long pause) Each time I do this particular adjustment I am
experimentally dead. It is a very delicate adjustment. I recognize it by
the fact that I am absolutely reduced to a dot of consciousness in
cosmos. Everything accustomed of habits and surroundings and outside
considerations has dropped away. I am alone with my residue….
But there is a difference from last time. I used to start right in
wanting to absorb something, to feed, to grasp, to sort of suck in
something. I was dependent on what I was capable of reaching out and
getting, and digesting. Now it is different. Now I actually have a little
something of my own to give. I am still absorbing, still feeding, but it
is not my exclusive occupation any more. In addition I have a little bit
of self-controlled power, and I’m trying to find a way to use it….
I don’t know what’s being done. Looks like a photograph being taken. I’ve
just got to stay still and be content while it’s being done….
(long pause with many ejaculations of surprise.)
That was a very, very memorable experience! I think I’ll tell you about
it first, and then they’ll amplify it more intelligently. You may not get
the point of it at first, but it is an important symbol.
A perfect surface was prepared–a perfectly new vital surface. I helped
by recollecting untracked snow, ocean-swept sand, and the sprays of
waterfalls–all the most vital beauty-blending things I have experienced.
I just lay quiet and did it until I realized I had helped to create a
perfect, unused, impressionable surface. Then they whispered it was for
the impress of my heart. I didn’t know what that meant, but very gently
they explained that my spirit must rest on the surface, naturally and
quietly, to make a picture of myself for me, a mold of myself with
characteristic outlines, like a clever, vivid sketch, a few salient
I rested as they told me, in a passive sort of way, until it was borne in
on me that unconsciously I was doing something more. It was not that I
was giving myself out in such a way as to make any strong impress on the
plastic surface. At first it seemed more like just containing myself
dynamically, but without vigorous contact with it. Then suddenly a force
radiated from within me, and around me an impress quickly deepened. I
felt it taking shape like a satisfying mold of a beautiful vase, or
something that can be used for others’ enjoyment. They say this is a very
important symbol, introducing a new step in our progress.
INVISIBLE: If the development already accomplished is to be utilized, by
whatever means we can devise we must strive to give you a certain
concept. Unfortunately there exists no available avenue of approach to
it. Grooves must be made, avenues prepared for the intellectual
acceptance. Therefore we begin with this seemingly child’s play imagery,
in order to give an inkling of the reality which will afterward find
expression in verbally handleable concept.
Now the point is this: there exists in you, indefinitely developable, an
engine of power, dynamically creative, capable of impressing and molding
your material world according as you give out from your inner being its
creative force. This force is not primarily the MENTALLY creative force,
which you understand perfectly. It is the higher sense of that mentally
creative force, the vital principle of fife; and comes, not from that
mere agent of the soul, the intellect, but from the very plexus of life
itself. The mental force can make a mold or plan, but for completion this
plan must have its vital principle supplied. It is the neatly made
electric globe into which the current is not turned. The true creative
force, on the other hand, carries its own vital principle with it. It is
a matter of the heart as well as the clearly seen concept of the mind.
(pause; Betty chuckled)
BETTY: I started laughing because it seemed so absurd to me to call this
vast indulgence of happiness such dreary words as “the life principle.” I
said to myself: no wonder nobody gets excited about a thing called “the
life principle”! And I laughed at the comparison of that with the thing,
the radiating thing itself.
This helped a lot: it gave at least an impression of the central factor,
and outlined in a general way the field of action. But detail still
lacked. It was like a moving picture out of focus: there was a vague
impression of something doing, but nothing definitely recognizable.
Presently the Invisibles set about sharpening the focus.
BETTY: (after a pause) They are showing me the great secret of
will-power. I can see it work over and over again. It’s a process of
making pleasurable your willpower. The minute you make it pleasurable,
combining with the heart solvent, it starts working, like a chemical
affinity, lending warmer vitality to your object, making it work itself
I don’t see much of this strain and duty and uninspired effort around,
this heaviness of work which all of us go through to accomplish things.
We weren’t meant to work with heaviness; it’s a discordant condition.
Work should be just fun. What a pity that the tradition of work has
become so painful!
INVISIBLE: We want to substitute in your minds for the stiff words
“will-power” the same idea in terms of natural exuberance. You think
highly of will-power because it accomplishes certain obvious results of
self-propulsion. But took how hard you run in tennis, or walk in fishing
or doing something you like. That is another sort of self-propulsion;
easier, because you are in harmony with what you are doing. That harmony
isn’t generally recognized as part of the lifting force; yet it is so
much more effective a way than this painful will-power business. One is
done with your united being; and the other in spite of your divided
BETTY: I feet so loose-jointed and full of play! As though I were
tiptoeing up to a joke on somebody, with all the jolly and exquisite
painstaking you can so readily and easily put into a joke. In an instant
I’ll shout and laugh with the sheer gleeful exhilaration of it!
INVISIBLE: Such occasions are natural whole moments of ideal combination
that you inadvertently hit upon. Anything would be possible to you in
these moments. It doesn’t matter what your object may be, playing games
or the business of life, this combination is the secret of man’s fullest
BETTY: There’s something about a force which this feeling is akin to, or
related to….I’ll have to go deeper to get it….
I’m trying to get a clear idea of this spreading, creative, radiant thing
I’m associating with. It is a supporting force pertaining to the reach
just above us. I’d like to get in it and be swept along with it, but I
don’t think I’m ready. It goes on to such a vast ocean beyond my
It’s so nameless I don’t know where to begin to cut it up into words. If
I do that, I’m afraid it won’t piece together again. It’s too big for
language. All I can say is that it’s the biggest union of life, the
nearest harmony, the most collected force….
Harmony is so poor a word! It isn’t a BAD word; it’s just a mistreated
word. I want to get that FRESH. Now it’s just a semi-religious,
semi-musical term; but there is a rising tide of progress connected with
it. In spite of its inadequacy it represents a strong factor in this
force that upholds, this tide of extension. But it is not the thing
itself–only a shred….
It’s not will-power, either; that’s only another aspect of it; just one
more place where we’ve touched it in comprehension. What I am trying to
get at is the whole of this force; not only the detached bits we
recognize in words of will-power and concentration, but the complete
force of it. Don’t you see? Will-power and concentration are just a spear
of the mind, penetrating. Unless the bulk of you is inspired with some
larger capacity for following up and attaining what the mind thrusts at,
the spear alone is useless.
INVISIBLE: Concentration is a word appropriate to the mind. Discard it.
Get the fuller idea of it in the sense of naturally, and easily, without
tension, gathering and holding yourself in harmony with the strength of
the higher consciousness. There is a great difference between this and
the nervous restricted force of mental concentration on a thing you seek
with your own strength alone. Get the two ideas: keep them apart. Holding
yourself in harmony is what lets in the higher power, makes the process a
natural one, without strain. The other idea, of concentration, shuts out
all but what you have in hand.
Concentration is a dangerous word. So is will-power. Both of these are
centered in the mind, whereas this greater power is definitely divorced
from the mind. Mind is the planning organ; but that which carries out the
plans is the real executive. This force is to will-power what will-power
is to the mind.
BETTY: I don’t know yet what that real executive of you is called. I can
only sense it without being able to bring it back: an upholding,
progressing force occupying the complete circuit of my vision. It expands
so far beyond, that I have lost even the speck I called willpower. What
is this big thing? If I only had another steppingstone to it beside
will-power, another known symbol! That one doesn’t go any distance: I
can’t get there with it.
INVISIBLE: There is always a contracted and an expanded form of
everything. Will-power is the contracted form of this higher thing. You
can step into it from willpower without contracting if you think of it
more as DESIRE POWER. Will-power is in spite of your desires; doubling
BETTY: I’m still tormented by the lack of a symbol for that spreading,
living, capturing force….
It is like trying to look at the stars in the daytime: it’s perfectly
clear until I bring it into the daylight of words, and then it’s gone!
The Invisibles hammered away at this idea over a period of months, adding
a hint here and a suggestion there, with an occasional full-length
discourse thrown in. Space does not permit complete quotation, but the
following will help to round out:
INVISIBLE: (after a long pause, occupied in the study of something
“wordless” and much groping for a name.) Intense reciprocity.
BETTY: That won’t do. Reciprocity is national; this is something warm and
near and embraceable. A great heart hunger for it is possessing me.
INVISIBLE: It’s the great and simple secret of further progress, and true
possession of what has been developed.
BETTY: It would take a poet or an angel to express it, because we do not
know how to partake of this superhappiness. I get just a breath of it
when I lie down next the earth and sniff it; and I get just a taste of it
when I come in on the waves and the salt is on my lips; and I get just a
whisper of it when I stay still in the woods and listen; and I get the
most of it when I love something, even my dog or my garden. Don’t you
see; I want so much to sink deep, dive, be absorbed in this intense
reciprocity, this thing I can’t even name. It must be experienced and
entered completely in order to have practical understanding and sympathy
and accomplishment in the material world. It gives an endless vista….
I don’t think I can say this: I’ll try.
As soon as I arrive at this superhappiness, this suspension, this
equilibrium of health and happiness, it must return me to acute
perception of the lack of it in the world. It rushes from its force into
weakness, like the great physical law of the vacuum; it rushes to it.
That explains the eagerness to help us of those who have acquired it over
here. It is the basis of all true service….
There’s a lot more I don’t quite get hold of. It touches that beautiful,
almost perfect word, sympathy. How did that word get spoiled?
CONSTRUCTIVE sympathy: that is the pinnacle of human experience. It is
not sorrowing with people; it is sharing the inspiration overflowing from
your abundance. This abundance will not exist if you allow the
restrictions of the lower dimension of sympathy.
S E W: What do you mean by lower dimension of sympathy?
BETTY: Mere stagnant, unvitalized pity, unrelated to the source of
inspiration. That is the way I’ve always felt: I’ve always been
SUFFERINGLY sympathetic; and now, momentarily, I feel CONSTRUCTIVELY
sympathetic. At times, in the pain of discords, I’ve ached with acute
perception of the wrongness of things. But if I could keep this greater
power I could go beyond that: I could help heal things. It can’t be done
with any success, however, unless this percolation of superior force
takes place. Slowly it must be acquired. The well-being and happiness are
the dominant thing about it, and the overflow is a natural consequence.
INVISIBLE: The force of unspoken sympathy is one of the strongest
permeating elements in existence. It is itself a subtly capturing,
quickening, stimulating vibration. Do not confuse it, however, with the
greater power of which it is only one aspect.
No words exist which can exactly express or convey this inner flame, yet
it is one of the most silently apparent of possessions. It makes its way
without words or exhibition. It travels from heart to heart in its own
channels of expression and exchange. And we always sense it, even if we
do not acknowledge it with anything better than mental sophistication, as
toward, something simple folk and peasants have. For it is a unique and
unmistakable thing, this rare, luminous, stimulating, kindly radiation of
one who conducts, even though unconsciously, the current of universal
BETTY: I always feel as if I must get some commonplaces before I stop. I
must deal with the subject in some ordinary everyday life way, in order
to hold onto it and have something to practice with.
INVISIBLE: The way to go at practicing this in the beginning is just to
practice recognizing it. It cannot be strained for thoughtfully or
effortfully, but only acquired naturally through the “affectional”
contacts of everyday life. The feeling cannot be attained with malice
aforethought, but can be recognized when it is obtained.
BETTY: My one great regret is always that, in bringing these things to
consciousness, to a sharp focus of attention, I tend to make them
pedantic. That is the price I pay in the pain of inadequate translation.
I take life out of circulation and put it in a museum case. But I try to
look on it as a gardener should: the blossom is over, but I have the
seed, and it is that I am giving you.
DO YOU not see that this stage of instruction is but the putting of flesh
on the skeleton of your “records”? If you stop where THEY are, you have
no more than a plan for action. This clothing with the warm flesh of the
living emotional life is what will bring you the meaning of all past
efforts, the goal of everything hitherto attempted. It is the hardest of
all to convey, because the recording of it but transposes it back to the
skeleton plan. Nevertheless, if you are to complete the cycle of your
previous intake of inspiration, your heart must now have its time of
Your present task is no longer a reaching up for more. It is utilization
of what you have, PROPELLED BY YOURSELF; not tensely in the mind-driven
way, but intensely in the ardor of the heart.
NORMALLY, our first obligation in life, anywhere, is to keep a whole
skin. In a new country, especially, we must watch our step. It is sure to
be full of pitfalls and dangers. Sometimes keeping our own skin whole is
a full-time job. But, sooner or later, we must find that it cannot
continue to be the only consideration. Other people enter the picture.
From then on our responsibility is increased many fold.
In dealing with the higher consciousness this time comes when we feel the
urge to pass it on to others. We have discovered what to us is new
country; we have grained possession of something fresh and exciting. We
are convinced of its value. We are wildly enthusiastic about it. Our
natural impulse, then, is to share it with our friends. It is more than
an impulse, more than a desire. It is an obligation, a serious
obligation, a solemn duty to Do Good in the World. Let’s set about it! At
That is a danger spot. That is how bores and nuisances, zealots,
fanatical reformers come into being. Those are not pleasant or welcome
persons. Even when they are right, they are wrong; for their very
overenthusiastic persistence fills the average man with a perverse desire
to go the other way. I suppose this is one of the most perilous spots of
country one has to cross in his excursion toward the unknown.
Yet it is, after all, merely a matter of the technique of distribution:
and on that technique our Invisibles next centered their instruction. The
familiar symbolic approach:
BETTY: I am back in that wide vaulted life of boundless possibilities,
but I can’t for the life of me act in it. There seems to be something
checking me–some problem I must solve. You see, I’ve completed the stage
of conception and am approaching the stage of production….
It’s as if the sun were shining, but illuminated just the tops of the
trees, the upper layers of the world, leaving in shadow the lower affairs
of life. The big response in me is all to the beauty which the sun is
revealing by its reflection. The vaulted life is like that. But the
things in the shadow that aren’t reflecting the sun are what I must reach
and work among.
I wish I could tell you about that. I stepped out of the sun into the
shadow, bringing with me all the memory of its warmth and fullness of
life. Before the radiation of it leaves me, I’ve got to use it. Down in
the chilling shadows of the world I am entrusted with this vision of the
warmth and fullness of life as an illuminating and quickening power. It
warms and lights your life as electricity does houses; and it is just as
real and just as possible. It should be named–like electricity. I hen
people would acknowledge it, seek it, acquire it. To make it available,
all it needs is to be taken out of the old distant celestial covering it
has been wrapped in.
You know those games they play with a ball, in which you are not allowed
to use your hands? That’s something the way it is with me now. It’s as
though authority had been given me to go ahead and accomplish, but I
don’t know how to go about it. I must puzzle it out….
It’s a great problem: I have gradually to grow around it. At present I
can only be sure that I feet two things. One is a kind of basic
relationship–a kind of static power of harmonious adjustment. That’s
mine to take and to develop indefinitely. But it’s not DOING anything….
The other thing is the release of that established force. Just how this
is done I don’t understand at all. I am only sure that this basic static
strength can be sent out in an assimilable form, and taken up by almost
anybody. Sometimes it seems to just FEEL its way out–just seep out like
water, feeling its way through every available channel.
I’m afraid I haven’t accomplished much today, but I have felt as though
deprived of all my sense perceptions. It has been as if my hands and feet
and eyes were bound, and I was told to go ahead and experiment. Naturally
I have been pretty much at a loss.
But I did do SOMETHING. Do you want to know what I did? It is sort of a
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 at
least going to have my own circumambience that everybody would like to
As it turned out, this effort of Betty’s, which she thought so foolish,
proved to be the key to the whole situation. Her further experience and
instruction soon made this evident.
BETTY: (after a long pause) They are all around me and could help me, but
they want me to dig it out for myself. You get much farther along when
you dig it out for yourself. That is the reason they sometimes just throw
me overboard this way.
I’m working at the idea of releasing the permeation. I consciously outgo.
It’s like tide pressure. I’m unbarriered toward human beings. It’s not
that I’m artificially capturing them in a socially “charming” sense:
that’s such an imitation thing. The real thing works of itself, after you
have established control over your barriers. It’s a pity to dissect it.
It is natural and simple between friends, but we use it too preciously
when we might squander it.
INVISIBLE: Alongside of spiritual consciousness must be established
propulsion of the vitality you accumulate. This you do not at present
accomplish, in the sense of habitual output. We must clear up your
understanding of this before we can go further.
In the first place, it is fundamentally an emotion or feeling, a
sensation of throwing out from you–not an IDEA to be EXPRESSED. You do
not work with material implements, such as words: you work by having
plenty of this superior force to give. It is an active, superabundant
sort of sympathy that naturally overflows and helps to do for others what
has already been done for you. It is like a magnet or a chemical
attraction that draws out of them a similar quality, and gets them
started with their own effort….
BETTY: It sounds silly, but it seems strangely like a heart fluid. We
don’t recognize a heart fluid, do we?
INVISIBLE: Heart is the nearest word you have. It contains the most
ingredients of this new force.
When you want to be of help to people, always remember that what you must
work with is not a brain impulse, but a heart impulse. Don’t struggle
with people in the tight little bottled-up medium of the intellect–don’t
be a Miss Fixit. Just flood them quietly, silently, persistently with
this heart fluid. They won’t know it, won’t see it, but they’ll soak it
up a little when they are off guard. This is the first principle of
dealing with people.
BETTY: It’s like old magic. I never did see anything so silent as that
pussyfooting force. Delicious: so quiet and so sure and so enfolding–so
beautifully enfolding and permeating!
INVISIBLE: Strangely enough, this force is the same as the curative power
so many people are beginning to recognize–both self-curative and
administrative. Margaret* doesn’t understand altogether how or why she
gets hers. She gets it because she puts her hands on either side a person
with confidence and outfling of desire to help; and just to the extent
she does this naturally and vigorously the force flows in. It is the same
FORCE, only modified to harmonize and act directingly on the body.
* Margaret Cameron: Who discovered, quite empirically, that by placing
her hands either side a sufferer, she seemed to induce a healing
“current” between them.
BETTY: If you keep in touch with it, you can always exchange strength
with people, even when they are going down for the third time–or when
you are. I’ve often been replenished by people just when my courage was
lowest–and they didn’t preach at me, either. They just looked as though
they were walking in the happiest way.
INVISIBLE: It is most important not to think of this as a pious, posey,
parsony sort of thing. There is nothing at all of the
See-how-holy-and-calm-l-am idea about it. Nor is it any affectation of a
benign pussy-cat smile toward all humanity. Nearer to the genuine thing
would be the beautiful word sincerity. Nobody has ever tarnished that
word, because so few use it completely. It is being yourself, your best
inner self, so naturally and freely that you contribute from it to the
inner selves of others. That is offering something simple and sound and
true, instead of irritating people with benign shallowness.
The safest way is NOT TO BOTHER ABOUT WORKING IT IN DETAIL AT ALL. The
minute you begin to figure consciously how it is going to work, you are
in danger of becoming pious. If you leave it alone it will work itself,
without pose or effort, automatically–like heat drying up dampness, or a
sun ray expanding a thing. You see, in reality it is never a question of
painstakingly doing carefully considered acts. It is more a question of
continuously giving back, continuously throwing off from you the surplus
vitality of understanding, sympathetic perception. If this through
process is acquired, it will keep open a channel through which
inspiration will come for the necessary individual acts.
Putting these things into words makes them sound complicated and
stiff-jointed and difficult, like the elaborate descriptions of process
you read, which are so simple when someone actually shows you how. Too
bad; but it can’t be helped. Just remember that, however stilted and
painful this thing may sound, as a matter of fact it is actually the most
joyously free action, the most simple living you can imagine.
BETTY: There’s such a vast difference between the philanthropic idea of
doing good deeds and feeling generous about it, and this eager,
avid-for-health work–this pumping of new life into things because you
have so much of it, and want to extend farther and farther the living,
loving, laughing area. By comparison the conventional idea of “service”
is such a pale, insignificant shadow….
A tree is almost a perfect symbol of the real thing: earth-nourished at
its base, sun-worshipping in its top, spreading to include all it can in
its great amplitude. Unconsciously it gives back to earth after its own
fashion. It doesn’t have to trouble itself with “good deeds”!
As often happened, shortly after this analysis, the idea was synthesized
for Betty by an intense and comprehensive experience of the thing itself.
BETTY: (after a long pause) I am doing such curious exercises: I’ll tell
you about them later….
You remember that business of intensifying your outgoing impulses? Well,
the exercise I’ve been doing is like that, only it is no longer in a
straight-line channel, as it were. I am getting the circular radiation of
it, like a lawn sprinkler. I keep turning it, almost like a searchlight:
the beam is like a searchlight ray, only it’s all warm and human and
happy natural enthusiasm and interest, as when one approaches one’s
hobbles, affections or loves. I am exercising myself by turning a
complete circle with it. At each point it touches I see with new and
sympathetic eyes right into the soul of the thing, and my kinship and
responsibilities with it….
I don’t actually have to turn myself now; I can do it in almost any
Now they’ve taken it away. It was to give greater flexibility to the idea
of propulsion….RADIATION is better. That was an actual practice in
There’s something more about it; but I’ve got to go deeper to get it….
I am gaining strength almost beyond my ability to contain….I lead a
dance, I fling, I spread warmth, I rush on, incandescent with life! Just
let me travel on in this glowing way for a while….
I am going through a change, a curious radiating, convexing and pouring
out from myself, as definite as though I’d been turned inside out….
Why! When you’re arranged in that concave shape, you present no surface
of participation in life! You are an alien shape, just a dormant
seed-encasement of life! I don’t want to be that way again, ever, just
concavely containing my little bit. It is all right, but it is
Take something exhilarating: deep blue sky and yellow leaves, the poised
stillness of the last days of life–take a salt-sea-washed body and the
cool sweet union of it with the great fresh element. Keep going out, out,
out beyond the mere exhilaration of these. You have turned the other way,
curving out, a radiation of yourself–radiation….
I don’t quite understand that: too big for me. I have the feeling of it:
I know what it feels like to manifest in various forms of life. But I can
work only in the emotional desire of it: I can’t tell what my words are
doing. I can only radiate myself: it’s my only form of expression….
I wish I could stir you up to experience this one glorious moment. It is
as though I were standing by you asleep. I’ll be asleep myself soon….
Now I’ve got to refocus, diminish my vision, come back to a little
optical thing. It is a curious sensation to come back! As I drift down,
the main impression I keep is that nothing is so far-reaching as this
radiation–nothing! Sending out books and talks and experiments and
everything else is limited, compared to the radius of this personal
influence. The living exponent convinces; books can reflect, but not
convince. Books….I don’t know how to say that, but it’s embalming
ideas. Don’t you see? Embalming them in books and records….
I was thinking of the difference, as regards their effect on us, between
museums filled with the reconstructed skeletons of things, and the live
animals themselves walking around. That is why philosophies get nowhere:
they are like an empty shell something once was in.
In the weeks that followed, the Invisibles, over and over again, urged
upon Betty the practice of this new phase, and as time passed, her
understanding of it widened. The following is one of her later, more
complete statements of the process:
BETTY: I am getting a glimpse of the harmonizing power of this force in
its essence, and it is so tremendous that I don’t DARE try to tell you.
It puts such a new interpretation on everything. It is creative force: it
is the essence of life of all things–and you can’t handle the essence of
life with your finite mind! I am overawed and dumfounded by it. It is
like some supreme stimulation of each thing up to the limits of its
perfection within its laws. It is an ordering magic. Its most diluted
form,–which is the only form I am capable of daring to handle–applied
to a jumble of disarranged, ill-functioning, perverted life of any kind,
passing over it, magically orders it. I see the little laws all working
busily, nighting themselves. It functions beautifully and naturally now;
and before, it was so jumbled….
But I’d better not try to tell you about it–I couldn’t.
(pause; then reluctantly)
I suppose I really ought to tell you SOMETHING of how I use it–only I
don’t know how to start….
INVISIBLE: Begin by supposing you were trying to make your way in an
ordinary day of ordinary activities. You would feel more or less like a
trickling stream finding a way among leaves and twigs of the forest
floor. That would be the lesser way of working, giving way to obstacles
and being deflected by all the greater and more established bodies in
BETTY: I am saying to myself; that’s the way the stream of my life would
have worked. But how about it now, with this new power?
I don’t shoot straight ahead with a superior overriding force. I hardly
even plan. I seem at first just to stand tiptoe and look ahead at my
objective, as 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 bard at the generating; as if I actually produced warmth, or as
iif I actually made light, where it was dark, in order to see the way. I
can’t seem to say anything that fits, because conditions vary according
to what I would accomplish, but fundamentally it is always a generating
INVISIBLE: Let us expand this idea of inner generation. We have taken it
away from the brain, because it must have warmth and emotional content,
and have made it a new region, nearer to heart indulgence. This inner
generation steps up human life as definitely as electrical potentials are
increased. And in the beginning, strangely enough, the keeping it alive
and glowing within one is a larger part of one’s personal contribution
than the definite utilization of it for any detailed purpose. If it
exists, it has its own aura, its light and heat aura, its zone of action;
and those around you can start induction from it–generally without being
aware of it. Because you do not understand its laws of dissemination, you
are inclined to deprecate its apparent inactivity as selfish indulgence.
On the contrary, it must be accepted on its own terms. It radiates best
when you do not interfere with it.
BETTY: There are a great many working in exactly this way now–in the
discarnate. You have no idea how amusing it is, while you are still in a
physical body, to be associating with a discarnate method of work!
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.
INVISIBLE: Now everything is twofold. To this must be added another
aspect more nearly akin to the human brain and will-power. That is the
refinement of use following after, when the inner generation becomes
established. Always must be kept the primary state as an active
association; but from this, in due and proper sequence, you proceed to
bring to focus through the projector of your own individual power.
BETTY: Now I am coming to the next step: I actually throw out from my
confidence and clarity of aim everything that I have in me of warming and
magnetizing progressive life power–I actually work at producing that
around myself, until the flow of it reaches further and further. It is
like a blanketing of my entire problem with this harmonizing
determination which I somehow spin out of my being.
INVISIBLE: Everybody can do at least this, even though blind to the
process: that is, contribute the greatest outpouring each is capable of
manufacturing. However ill-fitted his education or abilities of any kind,
each is capable of exercising this quality. Confronted with a problem, he
at once plugs in, as it were–becomes an outlet or a conduit or a
channel. Of course it takes practice for some types of mind to get
automatic action in this incubating, blanketing, brooding vitalization of
things. But in time anyone can progress to the point where it glows over
him at odd moments with reminders to work some more that way.
BETTY: I cannot think anywhere in my experience of any belief or religion
which has taught quite this. Of course the acts manifesting your beliefs
are the ordinary mechanism of progress, but this what I call blanketing
business is a tremendously advanced process of preparation for the acts
manifesting your beliefs. It is the harmonious way to go about them. We
cannot always succeed in our acts–we are thwarted by others and
handicapped by our meager abilities–but in the generating of creative
harmony there are no limits to anyone’s possibilities.
INVISIBLE: All this clumsy effort to put down what may seem obvious or
ineffectual or vaporish according to one’s temperament–if you could see
more of it, you would realize that it is a first step, and the nearest we
can come to directing your feet on the path towards the highest creative
force. A developed person, even a developing one, who has come into some
recognition of this power expanding within him, has the opportunity of
utilizing it over the most commonplace episodes of daily life. It works
very much like water let loose on parched ground. Not too great a volume
of water at first, but the life-giving spirit of it creeping and seeping,
everywhere supplying the quickening element that releases the fertility
stored in the dusty brown earth. It is just this gentle distribution
around you of the spiritual heart force, as you feel its expansion within
you, that will teach you the actuality of spiritual faculties. It is not
a directed irrigation like so-called mental treatment; it is more the
rising stream finding its level in the open places among natural
encouragements and resistances.
This is the natural, most successful method of giving spiritual first
aid. Lay out, or let spread out, across the level of your life your own
steadily maintained spiritual convictions, perhaps unexpressed, but none
the less radiating. You will not know when you help: it will not matter!
The important thing is to recognize and utilize this great unseen power:
to make your life function in this outgoing fashion until it is no longer
possible for you to contract against the informing impulses of the higher
At first your little stream will doubtless find its way only in diffused
efforts hither and thither, seeking a path in which to flow. But just as
water tends to unify itself in a bed where there is least resistance, so
you too must feel your way to pouring your vivified consciousness across
your environment. Do this eagerly and persistently enough over a long
enough period of time, and you will achieve that highest of all
desirables, the creation of a channel of steady spiritual flow.
To conclude this subject of distribution I offer the following, without
comment except to underscore that of the Invisibles themselves: it
certainly is lofty teaching! But if you don’t peer too closely, this kind
of a high lookout sometimes affords the most inclusive view of all.
BETTY: This is one of the most expanding days I’ve had. It is as if a
great magnet drew me by force of kinship, by overwhelming warmth
extracted me from my individual self to conscious, joyous participation
in the universal life….
I have temporarily grown into the possession of a vast sympathetic
nervous system or heart awareness. The pulse of the world pulses through
me. The breath of common life is in my lungs. All human emotions ripple
over me as impartially as a breeze over the ocean. This is a tremendous
experience. How am I to face separation again?…
The message is embodied at this point. I must get it.
INVISIBLE: This is very advanced teaching. We are not sure that it is
wise to precipitate it, but will 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 a walnut
differs 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.
BETTY: It is just like the radio: you pick out the right wave length and
travel on it.
INVISIBLE: This sympathetic assumption of kinship 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 in this
greater entity. It gives him the ability to broadcast himself, to travel
to it sympathetically, as it were, on its individual wave length.
BETTY: It may not sound like much at first, 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
What are the attributes of this greater, this potentially universal,
entity–this aggrandizement of consciousness? What, I ask myself, am I to
do with it now that I am in it–how am I to utilize it? While here I can
reach out and quicken the thoughts and heart 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 the walnut in its shell.
WESTERN civilization must purify Eastern mysticism of its dormant quality
by evolving ENERGIZED occultism. It must grasp with strong practical
hands the principles which mostly have only floated through men’s brains.
The genius of vitality must be applied to this superlife which has been
but a &earn of detached occultists, modifying it, energizing the ideal of
spiritual life; but modifying also your materialism. The occultism known
as superpower wanes in Eastern civilization through fatalistic inertia.
Superimposed on Western energy it will make great strides in raising the
level of average human possibilities of attainment.
It needs the affectional or enthusiastic element to enable the force of
the higher consciousness to carry out far, instead of being all diffused
near at hand. That requires something definite outside the first inner
and personal preoccupations with oneself. Even a dog or a sunset or a
bird is a good start. But the first stirring of creative power comes most
easily in outgoing to a fellow-sufferer, in rapport and sympathy of
understanding of another’s trouble. It is the line of least resistance
for the divine spark to seek in arousing itself.
THE foregoing, I realize, is pretty bard sledding. Nevertheless, any
effort of understanding will be more than repaid, for there is where we
touch the farthest north of these teachings. This “inner generation,”
approach to our problems is the secret of living. Could we accomplish
that fully we would come into possession of a device that would bring to
us, almost automatically, every other desirable. And by no means abstract
or theoretical desirables only; but, in one way or another, everything
the most practical hardhead could demand.
Fantastic? Not at all. But neither is it as easy as the
sit-down-and-manifest school of thought would have us believe. To
accomplish it we must apprehend it: and to apprehend a thing we must
experience it–which takes time and patience. But it works. I can testify
At this point there is a likely looking branch trail, the more plausible
because, apparently, it is headed for high ground. A good many people, as
soon as they begin to get aspirations and a little “occult knowledge,” go
astray on it, not as multitudinously, perhaps, as those who go shouting
off on the proselytizing-missionary dead-end, but even more obstinately.
It is an attractive trail, for it combines a pleasing sense of holiness
with a nice easy grade.
According to its travel-agents the best way to alleviate the sufferings
of humanity is to retire permanently into the solitudes, mentally or
physically, of the Higher Life. From this vantage point one is to
broadcast beatific vibrations into the turmoil of humanity.
This idea gains enormous prestige on the authority of somewhat
fragmentary reports concerning the “Masters” of Eastern occultism. And
there is considerable weight of evidence to back it. But–and this is the
crucial point, and is also self-evident,–in order to do it successfully
one must be a “Master”!
To reverse this reasoning is dangerous–and cockeyed as well. It
parallels the classic syllogism; a horse has four legs; this beast has
four legs; therefore this beast is a horse. A “Master” works best as a
hermit; therefore if we work as hermits, we become “masters.” Where is
From the very beginning the Invisibles prepared us against this fallacy.
Not, at first, directly, but in hints–a sentence here, a paragraph
there–urging our hearty participation in everyday life, discountenancing
any tendency toward withdrawal. Finally, to make sure we did not
misinterpret and retire into solitary “radiation,” they delivered a
BETTY: (after a pause) There seems to be only half a structure, and I
don’t know why….
They say the reason the other half is empty is because
I’ve been on the way up. It won’t be filled until I come down. They are
showing me this as a warning not to dilute myself, not to scatter myself
I see it perfectly now: of course I couldn’t go on being spun out of that
psychic substance without a fixative of some kind. I have the spiritual
reality, but now I must search among the things of the world which we
already possess, in order to assemble some material image of my
convictions. They must no longer remain general and vague: they must be
specialized, to focus, to make points of contact. Even the littlest
specializations count–the simplest, most trivial incidents to triumph
over. It is like cutting little funny places for your toes to get in when
It is an enormous task, this business of substantiation, and I have very
little idea of the shaping process. But I do realize the absolute
necessity for me to embody. I feet it more than I can say: I feel the
balance and the need of it. Unless I do it, I’ll just wander off and get
thinner and thinner….
Your part seems so different. You don’t take as much intuitively, but you
substantiate better. It’s the opposite from me: I take more than I am
capable of managing, and it is waste. It is not properly assimilated and
converted to something useful for others. That is what I must remedy.
INVISIBLE: A person susceptible to the simple purity of the higher
consciousness is apt to be contented with what is in reality only the
seed, and have little imagination as to the flower. As a matter of fact
these first stages, held apart from life and labeled spirituality, have
actually a sterile quality. At this point in the individual’s
development, in order to attain a closer integration with the higher
consciousness, much is stripped away of sense perceptions. In consequence
there is an unavoidable loss of the form of the thing, and if the
aspirant stops there, very little of usable product can result. It is
much as if the seed of a plant were shipped from the place in which it is
indigenous, to a far country; and as if, in that far country, the
recipient were content to possess the seed, and did not plant it.
No seed is of any use unless you establish its cultural necessities. You
feel this instinctively, even in the figurative case of those people who
possess a spiritual seed which they merely guard with faith, but with
bafflement. And you feel it likewise in offering instinctive homage to
the full flower of any plant, be it of the lowliest and earthiest.
Consequently, although the seed of the higher consciousness has been
given you, you must acknowledge there remains the necessity of planting
it. We are about to proceed, therefore, with the cultural directions,
more eager than you for the flowering.
BETTY: (long pause) I am working on my new problem, trying to see what it
needs for solution….
Mostly I seem to want common ordinary earth brute force. Spirituality on
earth is impotent without it: it is the functioning body of the spirit.
They have concentrated me on the spiritual until I have gained a certain
amount, and now I have to produce the force to make it function. If I
just kept on with the spiritual, I’d get only a weak thing that would
INVISIBLE: It is essential not to underrate the importance of physical
vitality. It has a part in spiritual effort that isn’t clearly
recognized. The nearer the animal, the more the physical aggression, the
more conspicuously effective is the individual in daily life. Philosophy
and religion, on the other hand, tend in the opposite direction,
diminishing the animal, and at the same time the force that functions in
daily life. The vision that maintains its vigor is rare.
The chief trouble with the world today is that the limited, narrow ones
are so noisy and active, while the wider broader ones are so silent and
passive. The putting of your vitality into combination with your vision:
that is the great necessity now. But do not mistake what that implies.
The combined strength of vision and vitality is not aggressive and noisy
and conspicuous. It is simply invincible, powerful, superior in the magic
of its transmitting power, its magnetizing, vitalizing, quickening force.
BETTY: That’s it: spiritual vigor; it must get away from any idea of
passivity. That is the whole trouble with these restrained, passively
religious people. If they’d just stop thinking about restraining
themselves from things, and think more about unleashing themselves on
other things! There are no ironed-out, passive saints on the horizon of
all; that’s an entire misconception. Far better to burst bounds sometimes
INVISIBLE: It is this passive attitude which has made people think that
using the higher consciousness is an impractical way of working at
things. But it is impractical only when you merely conceive a noble idea
and then sit back and expect some magic to accomplish it. The brute force
man, in the meantime, goes out–perhaps with a lot of destructive
function and antagonism of unripened force–and tears things up, but
accomplishes it somehow.
The combination of these two methods is what you want. The first step
must always be a tremendous work of generating your harmony of conditions
toward your ideal; but there is also the recognition of the practical
method of accomplishing each step as it presents itself–the seizing of
the opportunity. The best results are always a question of proportion
between these two–a question of balancing the higher vision with the
human fibre, so that you can actually PRODUCE your highest dreams and
ideals, just as the practical man produces his limited ones. That would
be the complete method of the WHOLE man: This combination must be worked
on a great deal if you are to produce the higher consciousness through an
BETTY: I wonder why they have to develop so many people in that lopsided
way. They can’t seem to make them whole. They have to specialize, and
then put two or three together to accomplish one person’s work. It’s hard
to understand this, but I see the problem it makes. There’s the ideal on
one side and the practical on the other, and the job is the almost
impossible combination. That will be hard work, but it must be done to
make the result a success. Dreamers stop short of that, whereas the
practical man hurts his usefulness by cutting himself off from his source
INVISIBLE: Usually one man dreams a dream, and another man takes it up;
and the dreamer scorns his fixing of it as a low materialism. What these
teachings are supposed to do is to open the gates of inspiration to the
practical man, and to give creative construction power to the one who has
vision but cannot share it by producing it. In the latter case the whole
process is a development of fiber, tempering, stability and strength
which, carried on, must FORCE him to produce, to materialize–or else
make him acutely conscious that he is arresting his vision. For then he
cannot help comprehending the true purpose of his visions, and realizing
that they are not selfishly his to bury himself in, with scorn of the
That is where all this is leading to, and that is the next point of
attack: this adjustment of the ideal and the practical. In time it must
bring about what is in reality the highest desirable of life. The race
has always touched it in its great moments, but conscious understanding
has lacked. That is the combination, the perfect blend, of spiritual
inflow with earth embodiment and function.
BETTY: It is going to be a great work. It looks as far-reaching as
acquiring the higher consciousness did when I first started to get
control. It is the round trip–the completing of the circle.
BETTY: (long pause) I must try to tell you 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, even though I took the most buoyant
one of wings. I must explain this, because we’ve got to understand
it,–the pain of taking shape, the anguish of particularization. I feel
almost agonizingly sensitized in my perceptions, and I know what the
years ahead have in store for me in the strain of taking shape. I have no
right to take more expansion. It would be like overfeeding, or massed
wealth–something damaging to me. I’ve had my share of the raw material
of eternal existence. I have been allowed for years to experience the
rhapsody of higher life, but now I come willingly to suffer the pain of
shaping one little verse from the great rhapsody.
Take a concrete example from our everyday lives. 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 of heart, and are
vying 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 suffering the diminishments of our
emotions that shape them into something needed in the world, something of
universal appeal, something near to others.
INVISIBLE: You have learned to approach the higher consciousness as the
source and joy of life, to unify yourselves with it, and thus to
intensity your spiritual beings to a higher pitch. You have also learned
that from these moments of attunement something rare and fine can be
brought back for use in daily life. But the thing you have not yet fully
realized is that THE INTERPRETATION MUST BE THROUGH ORDINARY MATERIAL
CHANNELS. Therein lies the great secret of effective use. Heretofore so
many classic examples of those illuminated by spirit have been unable to
exhibit the fruits of the spirit in daily life. You MUST utilize the
channels of earth life. You must not close them and seek to exhibit
something artificially forced, and named spirituality.
BETTY: So often people try to give it to others directly, but with the
majority that won’t work. I can’t tell you just how it gets humanized to
make it, acceptable, but it seems to go out most successfully through all
the nice laughing human sympathetic things.
INVISIBLE: The individual who sits alone, even though thinking
exaltedly, accomplishes little for his generation beyond exemplifying
pure sublimity. The limitation of this method of spreading one’s
influence is its wastefulness in proportion to one’s effort and intent.
On the other hand, the same type of mind, capable of entering the stream
of life, of participating in the trivial pleasures and interests and
pastimes of his fellow beings, of amalgamating with their main
purposes–which are their heart impulses, and not their surface
minds–this person’s influence is incalculable. His harmonious intent
and radiating, perceptive interest in life touch countless lives beyond
The most effective obtainable association with one’s fellow beings is to
work at something together. That supplies the perfect condition for
interchange and expression of vision and character and ability. That is,
fortunately, the condition supplied to mankind in general. But “Society”
lacks this great common cohesion, and at once it becomes too
individualized, and has to cope with the artificialities of this
perversion. The highest types in it ad–just themselves according to
their interests–musically, artistically, etc.–with enough general
interchange to leaven each other. The lower reaches of Society strive to
substitute with specializing games. Anything to afford a concrete vehicle
of expression: that is the ultimate necessity.
And so I repeat: you must have bonds of genuine intense interest with
your fellow beings. You must cultivate them, be proficient in them, if
you are to achieve anything approaching the effectiveness of which you
BETTY: I am not going to talk much more about it. But tonight I’ve
visualized for myself the necessity for the pain of
particularization,–of taking from the beautiful raw material of life and
continually shaping something. It is the zest and passion of creation’s
anguish. We’ve got to realize it as vividly and with as great an ardor as
we have the expansion that liberates us from it.
TEXTBOOKS are not important except as they produce skillful human beings.
Therefore personal usefulness has been the object of these teachings,
more than the recording of techniques. Nevertheless we are starting this
subject of communication, and for two reasons: 1) in order to give you
long-delayed intellectual satisfaction; 2) in order to emphasize a
The warning is this: in doing this work, DO NOT GRAB HOLD OF ANY FORCE
YOU ARE NOT SURE OF. If you opened an unregulated mind at a time like
this, you would get a great rush of force that might hustle you anywhere.
It sweeps the drifters into the dark shadows of conditions created by the
strong destructive ones. If you would protect yourself from this, you
must in general maintain yourself with a radio-active mind that is
outgoing and definite, and not start ignorantly grabbing any stray
impulses that may come along.
THE ideas expressed in the chapter before this were thoroughly
satisfactory to us. We are Occidentals, and Oriental quietism could never
appeal to us. Sitting down and “emanating,” or posing as Shining Examples
just is not our nature. Along with most of our race, we prefer to do
So far, however, our instructions included nothing specific to work on.
To be sure, we had been admonished that we must use “material channels.”
But that, after all, was only a fuzzy generality. And as against that we
had also been warned–and in no uncertain terms–against “considered
acts” (intellectual), or “working it out by details.” There was here a
decided gap. About the only clue, at this time, was the statement that,
if this through process is acquired, it will keep open a channel through
which inspiration will come for the necessary individual acts.” That
The promise was shortly to be fulfilled. In due time the Invisibles
followed up their clue. The technical explanations, however, were based
on certain theories previously advanced concerning the method of their
communications through Betty. Therefore it is well to give the highlights
of these here. The following excerpt is from the record of a “party,” and
therefore includes a bit of the entertaining background we often get.
This time the Invisible was someone well known to all present.
BETTY: What a strange way to work! He’s throwing, like a javelin thrower.
He’s throwing it toward us, like a penetrating powerful current, like an
electric vibration, sent out to pierce resistance. It’s like segregating,
by surrounding it, a portion of the dense, resisting material which is
all about us.
(At this point, under Betty’s direction, S E W drew the following
BETTY: That is the way we are surrounded, magnetically contained. He does
it so that he can control that enclosed portion. It can then be
penetrated, much as the vacuum of a radio tube is penetrated by a
JOE: Reducing the pressure against me is what I’m trying to get at.
Surrounding you enables me to send the full force of a message: in
ordinary transmission it is greatly diminished. My present work is, so to
speak, to rarefy the atmosphere between us. By this system I’m trying to
lessen the intervening obstruction.
BETTY: Curious registration! It’s quite like a radio tube: it’s got to
have its proper surrounding-atmosphere and insulation.
JOE: That’s very nearly it. Briefly, crudely, roughly: the force
exercised from this side is a kind of magnetic power. All of this force I
can command I put into surrounding and insulating you. This sensitizes
you, and your contribution is a species of magnetic response. This
response of yours is vitally necessary, but the more magnetized you
become the easier it is for you to give it.
I can’t say I’ve made it very clear, but I do want you to realize there’s
a definite mechanism to it–it’s not a vague, fuzzy, hit-or-miss thing.
But if you could visualize, even vaguely, the processes going on, it
would be very, very helpful.
(We began to talk about Joe–some of his characteristics–as if be were
BETTY: You talk about him as if he were in Podunk, and he’s right here.
S E W: That’s true! We get the idea that this communication business is
like talking over the phone: you put your hand over the receiver and make
JOE: Thank heaven for that! It at least I’m not an Angelic Being. Guard
against that reaction. We’ve got to watch out or you will de-humanize us.
We don’t want to become just precious memories.
S E W: How do you see us?
JOE: I see you in our material–as Betty is seeing you now.
BETTY: Come on, let’s cook this up for them, Joe. I’ll help you.
S E W: Can you see me, Joe?
JOE: Now, isn’t that the deuce!
BETTY: Here we are, Joe and I, standing looking at you, and neither of us
can explain how we do it!
JOE: How does a strong emotion come to you? Is it, or isn’t it, reality?
What does it look like? What’s the shape of it? How do you know it is
Well then, how do I know YOU’RE there?
S E W: I meant physical sight. If I set a marble rolling across the
floor, would you see that?
JOE: It’s Just as easy to follow the marble rolling across the floor as
can be; but I, in trying to make out the difference between the way I see
it and the way you see it. I can’t get it….
I don’t SEE it; I KNOW it.
S E W: Can you enjoy your sitting-room at home, for example, and all the
things that are in it, the way you used to?
BETTY: He says he contains it. It’s the difference between walking in a
village and looking at it from a hill. You see it all at once, and not
(Betty’s voice had been pitched unusually high, and at this point it
I wish you wouldn’t make me squeak that way! You make me do such silly,
exaggerated things; you push me so….
He doesn’t use myself well.
S E W: You ought to be more careful of her, Joe.
JOE: Am. But….
(Fits of laughter for a long time.)
BETTY: He says I’m not the size he used to wear.
(pause; sobering down)
Let’s tell them about the process, Joe: how you do it.
JOE: Suppose you had a sponge saturated with paint, and you poured
gasoline through it. The gasoline would come through, but it would be a
mixture; the paint representing your physical voice, the gasoline the
ideas I am trying to get to you.
Roughly, that is what happens, once the thing gets going, but first must
come a preparation. While you are in your ordinary consciousness, my
ideas are separated from you by a state of non-absorption. It’s like a
drop of water on glass instead of blotting paper. To get by this I have
to reckon first on a definite desire from your side. Without that there
is the merest chance of success. Granted this desire, the preliminary
preparation on my part is to hold off from you, temporarily, the pressure
of conditions normal to your life. I raise the weight, something like
heat dispelling cold. After that is lifted, it is like looking into a
lighted room from the outside dark, or into the different element of an
That is the first process–this surrounding you with an atmosphere of
higher potentiality. Then registration is accomplished by means of the
mating of our sensitized consciousnesses, superimposed: something like
the making of a color print.
BETTY: I am just like a photographic plate. The idea is there, and I
expose myself to it until I feel I have a negative. Then I develop it and
pass it on to you.
JOE: You see the whole thing starts with something you yourself create.
If I could only get this forcibly enough to you! It should never be
forgotten. Perhaps you will remember it 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. All this is a commonplace there: you take it for
granted. But with us you sometimes forget.
In this particular kind of communication, of course, from then on it is a
little different. It is something like learning another language so you
can listen intelligibly. Each time you desire to travel beyond your
present country you must say to yourself: Am I thinking and listening in
the right language? Otherwise communication is hopeless.
While we are on the subject of communication, it might be well to point
out that here is another attractive-looking blind-end trail. Too many of
us forget that communication is merely a means, and not an end. The
curious feel of the pencil moved under one’s fingers by some outside
agency; the mystery of talking by direct voice with an invisible
intelligence summoned out of the depths of space;–these are so
fascinating that we are too prone to follow them solely for the sake of
the undeniable thrill. There is the lure of fishing for distant radio
stations; the novelty of a new toy; and in over-plus the high adventure
of exploration. Also, sad to say, there is too often a subtle tickling of
the ego that such as we are the chosen for such celestial attentions!
So important do these things seem, against our experience background,
that we are tempted to pursue them for themselves. We covet “occult
powers,” and we go after them. And the worst of it is that indubitably,
if we do so, we shall get results, Oh, perfectly genuine results! But,
unless at the same time we have teamed what we are to do with those
“powers,” we shall suddenly find ourselves possessed of something we can
neither use nor control. For if we “sit for psychic development,” as the
jargon has it, it is likely to be exactly as though a suckling should
“sit for development of teeth”–and get them, to the discommoding of all
That does not mean we should Prussianize our natural interest and
enthusiasm in experiment. Zest is an oxygen necessary to the very life of
new adventure. But here, as always, we must keep our proportions, and
guard against rushing into things inappropriately. Consider, said the
Invisibles, the leisurely growth of a child.
“Surrounding you,” said they, “and pressing on you on every side, on
every atom of you, are myriad manifestations of life. They would crush
you in, if you did not possess the human machine’s quality of resistance
to them. The child is quite completely insulated at first. With each year
his perceptions increase and he lets in more and more–but ONLY AS MUCH
AS HE CAN HAPPILY CONTROL. That must also be the rule, if you are to keep
your balance, in psychic development.”
Granted, you say: but how are we to assure this? The best answer was
given at the very start of this journey: it lies in distinguishing
clearly between the ultimate aim and the by-product. No degree of
devotion TO THE ULTIMATE AIM can injure us; but the same intensity
directed toward a by-product can easily blow out our fuses. The
Invisibles presented this alternative very neatly.
Said they: “When one works consistently toward any primary aim, there
results legitimately and automatically from that work certain
accompanying by-products. These are often desirable and useful, but there
is always danger of mistaking some desirable by-product for the ultimate
aim. Energies are then directed intensively toward this new, false aim,
from which results disaster. In a pursuit as richly flowering as this
supreme task of inner development, these by-products are naturally both
more numerous and more desirable than in most pursuits. Therefore those
susceptible to glitter will here be more easily deflected–especially by
the so-called psychic powers, which are a prime example of a by-product.”
Here is the point, then, in a nutshell: the aim of these or any other
worth-while teachings is the acquisition, not of psychic powers, but of a
MANNER OF LIVING. Toward this ultimate all our searching and efforts, all
our expedients and experiments and “exercises,” must be directed. A
method of life, that is what we are to learn.
That in the process we do make acquisition of ease and serenity and
health; that we do gain new insight, new comfort and happiness–and even,
incidentally, certain definite new powers; we can accept thankfully. But
ordinarily these should be automatically accompanying rewards, and not
ends in themselves. And, if we do go after them as ends in themselves, if
we do attempt this excursion into higher consciousness with any
predominant idea of getting more vitality, or “psychic power,” or
personal happiness,–or even with so apparently laudable an ambition as
conscientious preparation for eternity–we are almost certain to miss
out. These things may be added unto us; but as a rule, only in corollary.
For the most part, the Invisibles were reticent concerning the detailed
technique of communication. The idea seemed to be that they did not want
to risk misconceptions which might Let in the way. Consequently our
understanding of it was built up only little by little, mostly from
casual fragments in discourses along other lines. The following is
typical of this kind of thing. We had been discussing a certain striking
idea, trying to determine who had “originated” it, so that we could give
“credit” to its author.
INVISIBLE: When a person says something true he isn’t saying anything he
invented. He just gives a certain shape and character to it, that’s all.
You can’t invent truth. Anything that’s true, even if it seems suddenly
true, was always true. One of the things you’ve got to get rid of is the
idea that truth was invented by, or belongs to, anybody in particular.
Very often even the ordinary thoughts you have are not strictly “your
own.” For instance, you’ll have what you think are random thoughts: where
do you suppose they come from? It’s funny to spend half a day yelling in
a fellow’s ears, and then hear him say, “I just had a nice little funny
thought.” Or you lie there, getting ready to work with us, and say, “This
is just myself thinking.” You know it is. But it isn’t; not once in a
S E W: I’m getting more and more diffident about claiming that I think or
say ANYTHING myself!
INVISIBLE: Well, there’s no use in feeling that way about it, either. We
very often divert certain masses of things toward your
consciousness–yes. But, except in certain special circumstances, like
the present, it is not too common that we impress a specific rounded idea
upon you. We divert to you a certain mass or class of impression, and as
much of it flows through your actual consciousness as your individual
capacity or ability OF THAT MOMENT select. So it really IS your thought,
after all! We have just given you a favorable opportunity for that
The foregoing, of course, is a broad statement. There are many times,
especially when there is a close bond, when a specific thought can be
inserted. But the general mechanism of influence is just this broad
diverting process of mass, from which you take, so to speak,
In the very beginning, naturally, like most novices, we inclined to the
belief that the strictly controlled type of “dictation” must be the most
effective method of communication; more “definite,” and therefore
For certain very special types of work, this may very likely be true;
though the scope is definitely limited, and the accuracy often only
apparent. But for general use, as we learned in due course, the
“dictation” method is actually the least effective. In fact the higher
the type of work,–particularly from the point of view of the
translator’s personal development–the less the Invisibles impose exact
Because of this, Betty was constantly directed toward greater and greater
self-reliance. The following is a fairly recent fragment, that gives an
interesting glimpse into her later technical progress:
BETTY: (after a pause) They are showing me a very advanced method of
reaching us. A special kind of adjustment is involved: the sort of thing
the specialists over here use to look at us. It shows our world very
dark–black. Here and there are spots of glow or phosphorescence from the
more developed among us. The glow comes, not so much from any light of
our own, as from the decay or passing off of the lower parts of us, the
Now I am taking the point of view of a very highly developed person on
this side, one of the really great Radiant Ones. If I were such a one,
and wanted to help someone with the phosphorescent glow in the darkness,
how would I go about it? Why, I think I would just come close and
contemplate him, and so bring the effect of my radiation on him.
And what would be the result of that? First of all it would burn away or
melt away the external dull crust, exposing the core of his reality. And
that core would then reflect the light of my radiation, thus becoming
visible to the man. It would not glow of itself, but it could now reflect
light from me; and that would show that man to himself–make himself
visible to him.
Do you see? It was all dark to him before, but now he can see himself
because of this reflected light, and can perceive his needs and lacks and
all that. And then while the glow is on him–and only then–he can write
to himself about it, or talk to himself about it, in detail, just what he
needs. But all I have done is to bring my radiation to him.
S E W: Is that anything like the way the Invisibles work with us now?
BETTY: Yes. Enough of this psychic work, this companionship, has been
done, so that now they dare allow us to work more independently. To a
certain extent we ourselves have learned to take the universal force. We
do this imperfectly perhaps, but at our highest moments we at least
realize the possibility of taking it entirely on our own. Therefore to
say that what we receive is a direct utterance or gift from our
Invisibles is no longer an accurate description of the process–however
fosteringly it may be watched and conditions provided for its
functioning, and however much we may feel the stimulus and affection and
beneficence of an influence.
It is important to understand this. We no longer have copybook words
given us. We experiment in expressing our own ideas in our own words. Any
expectation of the old method, except in occasional emergencies, is a
retrogression doomed to disappointment. This is a much higher and more
secure form of communication–one that will be maintained on this line,
progressively, for the rest of our fives.
In the course of time Betty’s method seems to have arrived at a kind of
equilibrium. What the future has in store, of course, cannot be foreseen,
but the following describes her present approach:
BETTY: First I ease my body into pleasant memories. I lull it to comfort.
I think of the wind in the pines; or feel the sun’s warmth–perfect
physical peace and enjoyment; entirely concerned with my own body. Life
surrounding me is nonexistent. It is as if a trap door were closed. I am
within myself: content.
Slowly, in that content, there forms an interest, a desire to expand. I
do not define any more: I FEEL. I feel that there is a secret exit;
something awaiting exploration; something highly desirable and exciting.
It lies in a different direction from that which I entered by, and closed
off. Something can flow into me, and I can flow out to it with the same
comfort with which I relaxed the body; only within the comfort is desire
and latent strength, release into a well-being which I cannot define in
words. It is an essence of life, not to be put down in lesser terms.
For the moment I am quite oblivious to active life. Creeping into this
communion is a new energy; an energy which is unconscious of arms and
legs, of hands, of ordinary senses. It is a perception which illuminates
itself. That is, it brings out into the spotlight of awareness, in more
or less complete vision according to the strength of the light, whatever
it holds steadily and interestedly–whatever it stimulates itself, or is
stimulated, to hold steadily and interestedly.
Sometimes I merely enjoy the ebb and flow. It is like music, a natural
response of tones. Then in my contentment I feel a pattern forming. I
watch; amused, interested, as at a movie performance. I watch to be
sensitive and ready to pick up the first delicate, impressions that come.
I must pick them like a dance to music in time with the subtleties; for
if I impose my own clumsiness of rhythm, I strain myself and fumble into
Then again, through this same adjustment, after an artistically suitable
time for establishing myself, I try gently but firmly to present
deferentially a pattern of my own. I introduce a motif into the music,
something of a quaint little composition of my own; and if it pleases
they catch the refrain and amplify it into rich variations. And then,
still amusedly, I give myself to this until I am practiced enough and
strong enough myself to repeat it back to you through all the different
transformations to our rough-hewed words.
That is the mystic method; the surest, the safest, the most accurate and
skillful. There are many other methods, some with greater facility; but
not self-induced and under self-control.
THE sparkling radiance of sunshine on water, of lights meeting glass and
silver, of any illumination capable of being reflected in some responsive
surface, is not a beauty complete in the nature of the illumination
itself. That has only potential radiance until it meets the thing that
combines with it and produces the actuality of radiance.
Wisdom is man’s hard-won heritage of experience, plus the interplay of
the higher consciousness, accepted even if uncomprehended. Precipitation
of these joint forces through the intellect is called inspiration, and is
the attribute of genius.
EVERY writer worth his salt is familiar with the fact that he, as a
deliberately planning person, has but a minor part in his work. Most of
it, and the best of it, is done “instinctively,” “subconsciously,” with
“inspiration,” the choice of the word depending upon his bias of belief.
So well publicized is this phenomenon as to writers that there is small
utility in laboring the point here. But that it obtains as to all other
men in all other callings is not so well acknowledged. Nevertheless that
is the way all the worthwhile forward-moving work of the world is
accomplished. And, pinned down to honesty, any business man, professional
man, statesman, will admit it. “Follow your hunch,” as a phrase, has
become part of the language. And as practical advice it needs little
addition. “Welcome your hunch, and examine it,” perhaps. Then, nine times
in ten, you will follow it.
Now as a professional writer I, the senior author of this book, had of
course long been familiar with all that. I do not remember being so
highfalutin’ as to think of myself as “inspired”; but I did know that
when one got going, in suitable mood, things came without conscious
summoning. All I had to do was to be alert for them, and sort them out,
and appropriately utilize them. The suitable mood was essential: but I
had scant patience with those who “wrote only on inspiration,” as they
called it. Such people did a lot of lazing around doing nothing, waiting
for the said inspiration to hunt them up. And the intervals between
visits had a tendency to lengthen. I “wrote only on inspiration” also,
but my own experience was that if I kept office hours, sat at my desk
anyway, mood or no mood, inspiration or no inspiration, those intervals
tended to shorten. In other words the mood could be induced.
Such were to me the workaday conditions of my lob of any writer’s job. If
anybody had then told me that we were close kin to those who, from a base
of religion, superstition, or Just plain insanity, talk of “divine
guidance,” I would have hooted.
But this present teaching, carried to the point at which we have now
arrived in this book, gave me pause. Some of these other people might be
overwrought and extreme, but were they not acting in the same chain of
causation? And when I sat down at my desk, at 8:00 A.M., was I not doing
my ritual of invocation no different IN ESSENCE–though vastly in outward
seeming–from the sacraments, mysticisms or plain abracadabra I had
thought so alien? And might not the whole be ordered into something
approaching conscious control?
It began to look that way. For one thing Betty’s teaching seemed to imply
that all these various manifestations were actually the functioning of a
specific faculty–Something quite as definite as our physical senses.
Heretofore it had not been to us as palpable as these, simply because it
dealt with things which ordinarily we do not recognize, and of which
therefore we are unaware.
This faculty Betty had made use of from the beginning, in all her work in
communication, but more or less unconsciously. Now it was presented to
her more as something to be used independently; again in one of her
BETTY: (after a long interval) I’m exchanging my usual senses for those
of a higher order….
Why, it’s kind of sight–a feeling of sight! Very cautiously, they’re
trusting me with a little. It’s just like light where it has been dark
before; like a room where you’ve groped, and then found and turned on the
INVISIBLE: It’s the sense you discover by union of direct inspiration
with your human mind. This combination, persisted in, generates a kind of
BETTY: I can’t see anything with it yet. It’s just a kind of pathfinding
sight now. I am not allowed to see things with it, but I can find my way.
It is just a penetrating shaft of light now, like a searchlight ahead of
How else could I find my way, if I didn’t generate that? How else could I
know which way to go through that silently clanging machinery?
INVISIBLE: With greater inspiration and greater mental capacity you can
extend that shaft of light. In time you can also extend it around you,
instead of just straight ahead. Everything, every step, has to be
balanced that way. Penetration: then expansion to proportion.
BETTY: I’m beginning to see the application. Suppose you get into that
clanging factory, that awful place of discordant elements–that’s the
world of limited sight where you can’t understand values–and get
confused over issues. You are in this world and you cannot tell the
greatest good from the present expediency: you can’t distinguish the
right thing to do. Instead of trying to fight through with your
intellect, you retire to the higher consciousness and begin your inner
generation. This produces a shaft of power and light which you can turn
on your problem. Then you see clearly, and easily find your solution.
I keep talking of SEEING, but that doesn’t really express this higher
sensing process at all. It is more as if my whole body were a kind of
sight. Feeling and sensation come nearer to it: I perceive with my
sensation. I see with my mind and feelings quite distinctly, in a kind of
direct absorption of the realities around me. It is hard to make sense of
it in words, but the main thing is that you are not at all dependent on
any one little channel of information. You could just as well call it
listening. It is what Joe was talking about when he said that if you keep
still and listen, things will always explain themselves. It is as if
something drew near to you, and formed, and revealed itself–something
that holds itself at a distance when you don’t listen.
I wish there were a better word for it–this perceptive stillness which
pierces all barriers, dissolves them, and releases you into such
INVISIBLE: The attempt to describe this faculty inevitably gives the
impression of something vague and indeterminate. Actually it is nothing
of the sort. Nor is the acquisition of knowledge by its aid a hit-or-miss
affair–a mere unregulated absorption of indiscriminate impressions. In
practice you are magnetically attracted toward whatever you are in need
of at the moment–there is a natural pulsing toward it. And then this
particular thing begins actively to seep into you: an intensive
soaking-up process. It acts on you constantly as you go along, and
reaches every bit of you, like any other permeating action. In contrast
to our mere verbal instruction, it is like being out in a fog instead of
just being sprinkled in spots. That is the way you acquire knowledge
BETTY: The add part of it is that the effect is not of some strange
overpowering magic. It is just a perfectly ordinary magic of
illumination. And even the illumination comes to you in quite an ordinary
fashion–mostly through comprehension of how to utilize all the lesser
laws pertaining to the obstructions ahead.
But the important thing to remember about it is that the INNER GENERATION
MUST COME FIRST; because the illumination of method follows as its
result, and we are so apt to stray when we study too closely the methods
I wish I knew who was teaching me today: he’s such a wise feeling-hearted
person. He had such a tremendous fund from which to give, yet he gave it
so cautiously, so cleverly, so painstakingly. It didn’t seem exactly like
one person alone, either, but more like a combination: somebody doing the
reading from someone else’s book, as you might say.
Not long after this the Invisibles undertook more exactly to define the
connection of all this with our ordinary faculties.
BETTY: I am so changed today: something is happening–so changed today! I
cannot understand how I can be so determinedly and vigorously I, and yet
at the same time be so filled and possessed with this great force that
overflows and surrounds everything. My mind won’t push to it….
How astounding! I have been taken apart, haven’t I, these past few years:
very carefully and cautiously separated, for the sake of developing
certain parts difficult of access in my ordinary life. Now I am being put
together again. That part they wanted to develop has caught up. There was
danger of letting it get ahead of the others, so now I am being
I understand the need for reassembling, all right. What I am struggling
for now is to get just where the human brain belongs in the combination.
Up to now they have said so little about MENTALITY. Here’s where it comes
in and finds its supplementing place.
INVISIBLE: Simultaneously with the higher consciousness must be exercised
the intellectual functions, now established in subservience. Each
function must be duly exercised. From now on you must beware of
BETTY: I think they’ve been treating my mind like a poor relation, making
me neglect it and sniff at it when I really didn’t want to! I’m much more
comfortable about it, now that it’s got official recognition.
INVISIBLE: The intellect is a marvelous mechanism, and must be highly
respected. It is wonderfully effective in combination with the inner
self, but alone it is blind and poverty-stricken. Its proper functioning
is when it works with humility as a subordinate–a kind of valuable,
indispensable secretarial department. It is then possible to bring to
bear on problems the whole mind–the great, invisible, submerged
foundations of all thought, as well as the lesser, if more evident, part
that deals with the earth details.
BETTY: I’m getting to understand it a little now. On the one hand there
is the inner self; and then there’s our intellect, like a wonderful
machine. That machine must be worked by the other wiser guiding
consciousness. If left unrelated or unguided it is ineffectual–even
INVISIBLE: Utilization of the mental faculties without the aid of the
inner self is always dry, desiccated, unvitalized–however astounding the
achievement. On the other hand, it also is difficult or impossible for
the creative power of the higher consciousness to act on your world,
unless you make of yourselves effective channels through which it can
function. For this purpose the intellect is an indispensable tool–you
cannot work without it. It forms the point of contact with earth
life–the actual point.
BETTY: You remember how bewildered I was when I first got into this other
world, and how I had no faculties with which to function and work in it?
Well, it is just the same with this higher force when it is brought back
here and has to push its way through our crowded life. It would be
equally confused and groping and helpless if it were not for the trained
physical faculties. There must be mentality that knows how to use this
force, how to apply it, to make it more useful.
INVISIBLE: Properly regulated, the intellect is like a diamond-pointed
cutting tool for the vast spiritual power which it cannot comprehend, but
which it can acknowledge and be directed by–can learn dependence on for
its strength and purposes. Its fine adjustments, so beloved and desired
by you all, then become like the hands of the inner being, to be trained
in co-ordination with their spiritual director.
BETTY: Curious how that works out practically. If all your attention is
on a strong vision of the spirit of a thing–anything–your intellect
steps in like an obedient, well-trained servant, and carries out the
labor of producing the vision.
INVISIBLE: Your picture is good, but do not let it mislead you into
passivity. Do not get the idea that you YOURSELF are merely an efficient
tool attached to a power mechanism. It is only your intellect that is the
power driven tool, which you as a skilled workman must still manipulate.
Your own position is more that of the artist planning a design to be
carried out by this carving tool. The artist has in himself the
potentiality of a great many designs or purposes from which he may
choose. This choice, in association with forces capable of carrying it
forward, is entirely yours to do. The part of the greater consciousness
is first to inspire and then to supervise your creative contribution.
BETTY: I see: it isn’t like just being led blindly. It’s more like
following a compass.
INVISIBLE: That is better; but in following your compass always remember
that your destination is a definite thought form, arrived at by aid of
the best information, analysis and judgment you can command. That must
always be the first objective. But also do not forget that after your
greatest efforts have been made mentally, the result should again be
referred to the higher consciousness for criticism and completion-like an
offering which you hold above your head for judgment as to its
worthiness, in full confidence that your best will be accepted and
All this, however, is more in the nature of detail. The central factor
remains the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY FOR MAKING, THROUGH YOUR HUMAN FACULTIES,
CHANNELS FOR ACTION. Your life, accompanied by spiritual power gained
from association with the higher consciousness, may be beautiful and
inspiring as an example, but it cannot be as fruitful as intended unless
fully developed through your own intellectual perception of how best to
apply the power.
Of course, the warmth of the spirit is a permeating atmosphere,
surrounding and glorifying even the most trivial human acts. And there is
no doubt that it accomplishes much in harmonizing those with whom it
comes in contact. But you can possess this power in full force only when
it focuses through the lens of your intellect.
Always the great escape of your spirit into realization of the Scheme
above your present range of vision must, be fully exercised. And never
should you neglect the examining of life through the more powerful lens
of the higher consciousness. But then you must take the inspiration you
acquire in these moments of vision, and apply it as vigorously as
possible through the mental equipment that gives the practical
application. That part must not be neglected, for unmistakably it is your
present field of action.
The idea seemed to sum up about as follows:
Generate power by association with the higher consciousness. From the
vantage in this association clearly envision the end in view. Concentrate
on that. Do not search for details of the means of accomplishing the end.
That merely confuses, and is unnecessary. They will automatically present
themselves if the aim is held long enough and steadily enough for
clarification; and may then be seized and utilized by the ordinary
faculties. Last of all, when the thing is made, take it once more to the
power house, the higher consciousness, for judgment.
This formula fitted my own experience. That is the way any successful
writing, that is not hack work, comes into being.
But the Invisibles were not satisfied to leave it at that.
INVISIBLE: All things in the universe constantly flow through you,
awaiting only your choice and arrestment. Music, for instance, is all
around you, like electricity, needing for its manifestation only the
apparatus for trapping it. The room you sit in is filled with music,
though you are deaf to it. But anybody with the proper equipment can pick
it out of the air, just as you pick electricity out of the air. There is
very little difference: in either case one works to co-operate with
unseen forces. Only with the music, in place of metals and vacuums and
dynamos, one utilizes intention, nerve relaxation, expansion of mind–the
spiritual tuning which puts into operation the magnetic attraction of
I do not want to complicate the picture with further details, but the
same principle applies equally to every other creative field. Of course,
if he so desires, any human being can remain unaware of these forces
which are constantly passing through him and in which he is immersed. But
also, in greater or less degree, it is perfectly possible for anyone
voluntarily to attune himself with them. Fortunately mankind in general
does this, to an extent, without understanding it. It is the unrecognized
commonplace of all successful achievement. But conscious, voluntary
tuning, to catch the harmonies of inspiration, should be a matter for
INTENSIVE EDUCATION. Only in that way will you become really effective
filters for the higher consciousness.
In fact, spiritual porosity….
BETTY: How absurd! Suddenly my body doesn’t exist for me except as pores.
All sorts of beautiful, warm, pulsing things are coming through and
saturating me. I feel like a lily-pad stem!
INVISIBLE: Spiritual porosity is the one absolute requirement if you are
to tap genius instead of mere cleverness–which is the tour de force of
your unaided efforts. Too great development on the intellectual side does
not admit the need of this absorption. It is looked on as dangerous to
logic. But could it be developed to the point where it would nourish the
intellect, then we would have man as he is intended to be–as he is now
in moments of devotion to ideals.
Everyone who achieves true greatness has discovered to some degree the
secret of this admission of nourishment. In fact, the great secret of all
progress is to let the universal force continually flow through you; as
often as possible to clear moments in your life in which to circulate it
intensively through your being, stimulating mind and body and every part
of you; and then, nourished by it, to let your mental faculties plan its
utilization. Clarity of aim, untroubled persistence, flexibility in
that aim by higher and higher forms as wisdom unfolds–these are the
intellectual aids to creative power. The creative impulse itself, from
the superconscious side, once it has been adjusted to the intellect will
discover its own detailed ways and means.
Remember this especially whenever you go astray or suffer from
diminishments and bafflements. Uncertainty resides on the surface of
life; surety lives at its core. Consequently when things go wrong,
abandon all contemplation of your problem in detail and recall your
activities to the center of your being. There nourish, refresh and
replenish yourself through the entrance of the vital essence; attracting
it, allowing it to circulate comfortably over a long enough period to
evaporate all the miasmatic indecision of the fog. Your vitalized
intuitional faculties restored, you will then go ahead confidently in the
right direction, surprised at the simplicity of the problem under your
healthy invigorated illumination.
S E W: Your scheme is clear enough, but I think a lot of people might
balk at the “humility and subordination” aspect of it. The modern idea of
freedom and rugged individualism runs counter to all that.
INVISIBLE: One of the finest things in the world today is the desire for
freedom–but in its name there is so much blind and destructive effort!
Freedom is not isolation: freedom is self-generalship in harmonious
action with the forces about you. And the more you ally yourself with the
higher consciousness, the more you become aware of greater forces to be
co-operated with in order to gain still greater freedom.
Of course it is perfectly POSSIBLE to go at it the other way around. One
can work independently through trained mental activities, which finally
by detailed comprehension must exhaust their limited area and so extend
their boundaries to include higher forms of research. In time, this
minute, painstaking dissection will inevitably lead into comprehension of
wholes, but it is a comparatively ineffective method of entering the
state of wisdom. This is best accomplished when things are first seen
whole, and then the application is sought in detail.
BETTY: We are going at things in the slow and laborious way when we work
from this end with the little tools of the mind. What you want to do is
to associate yourself first with the greater powers. It is so much easier
to accomplish things if you have established this connection. It is like
having the tide with you. Then the working of the details is automatic.
You have your plan, your superior power, and it makes its own detailed
manifestation. The other way you are working backward–you are making
details before you have your plan.
INVISIBLE: You cannot work at detail effectively until you have the big
general scheme. If you just build up brick by brick, it is only when the
structure is finished that you see wherein you should have worked toward
seemingly inaccessible ideas of beauty and greater harmony. Accordingly
it is much better to get in touch with the general plan first, even if
only vaguely, and let the whole shape itself ahead of–or at least along
with–the minute part, the moment’s work. The most satisfactory
adjustment is always when there is a healthy flow between the vastly
removed ideal, and the otherwise futile and absurd effort of the
coral-building insect. No feeling of the uselessness of effort can ever
come to one who has a great, almost unattainable vision with which to
One sees everywhere the results of harmoniously lived days: the tiny weak
baby grown into the splendid athlete, the little acorn and the great oak.
Everywhere one observes the effect of automatic, unconscious adjustment
to higher laws controlling our evolution. Why not, then, decide to live
up to our best potentialities, by giving conscious, painstaking,
voluntary cooperation, with the highest reaches of our mentality? The
greatest obstruction to the healthy flow of the higher power is in those
who will not definitely and consciously acknowledge any purposeful,
constructive cosmic intelligence. The lack of that acknowledgment turns
them adrift, as it were, and puts them solely on their own, to work brick
by brick in confusion and doubt.
BETTY: I am diminishing; returning; darkening….I am set down gently.
“No vision should ever have a wall instead of a horizon,” said the
Invisibles; and in accordance they never permitted us to feel that any of
the trails along which they directed us would come to an abrupt end. When
we had gone as far on it as we could, it still led on, fading slowly into
a distance of infinite possibilities ahead.
Like all the others, the present trail eventually reached its vanishing
point. The following is its vista into the future:
BETTY: Such a big step! Never to work alone. A deliberate hookup before
every action: the accomplishment of that is the end and purpose of one’s
whole life. It is so simple and yet so tremendous–just like an
Before I start anything I must drop my consciousness into place as a link
between the Purpose I do not understand, and the little act of which I am
master. It is the definite awareness of this hookup and the practice of
it that makes it work, lets in the power. It is just a workaday natural
action–my two hands directed by my spirit. If that were an accomplished
habit, there would be no necessity for wrong or puzzlement. I would just
say to Unknown Purpose: “I am ready when you are,” and keep a steady
confidence in the purpose at hand; and in due course it would be
accomplished better than I could plan it.
INVISIBLE: The entire secret is to make your hookup EVERY TIME, before
you get into action in minutiae and routines. There is nothing really new
in this. The only clarification is the simple yet amazing thought that
the law of empowerment depends on utilizing this hookup FOR EVERY
BETTY: This is the next great step. Until we accomplish it, not much more
will be given. As I look into the future there doesn’t seem to be so much
emphasis on these verbal records: it is more a utilization of what has
already been given. I can see the simple things we are to work with–just
commonplace things to be done in a spiritual way.
INVISIBLE: This does not mean that we have reached the limit of our
possibilities. There still remains an endless amount of desirable
information waiting to be precipitated concerning the detailed
utilization of the higher consciousness. But first you must learn to work
more consistently with your hookup.
A mere fostering or sending forth of undifferentiated harmonious
influences from the heart batteries is a comparatively simple matter.
That inevitably and unerringly reaches the corresponding life principles
in your subject, and unfolds them for him quite naturally and safely. But
the use of projective mentality to help another by means of your own
detailed selection is always a risk. You are at once confronted by the
problem of how best to create assimilable thought form without imposing
undue personal restrictions. The thing you offer must be abstract enough
to give freedom to the one you desire to help, and at the same time vivid
enough to be utilizable as a strengthening of his own creative faculty.
It is a very subtle balance to strike, and in it he grave dangers of
harming the very one you want to help. A misplaced intensity of the
limited mind is so easily substituted for intensity of the heart, which
knows the higher laws. Then, inevitably, you fall into the error of
particularizing merely your own personal desires and limited perceptions.
And once you begin that, you are actually restricting still further the
very person you wish to free!
This is not intended to discourage, but merely to give a glimpse of the
problems and difficulties ahead. Actually the more detailed
administration can be attempted with reasonable safety, PROVIDED YOUR
PROJECTION IS MADE IN THE VEHICLE OF AFFECTION. It then has no sustained
power to restrict.
This subject is tremendous. Only through years of experiment and practice
can its laws be proved. It is the entire next grade of life–the
technique of the spiritual functions.
TODAY I have made a discovery. It is an age-old thing we are already
supposed to know all about, but it must be cut and polished like a
diamond so it has a new character and a new capacity for reflecting
light. It is the fact that you can go another step beyond the spiritual
expansion that exists only in moments of especial adjustment and
inspiration, and make them ordinary everyday moments. It isn’t just an
old platitude: it is a law of fulfillment. It is a cycle, a completion of
growth. Unless we can absorb this ordinary life we are living, and
control ourselves in it so that at will it becomes spiritual and we enter
the spiritual heart of it–unless we can adjust that now and here and in
this life, then we have not fulfilled the law for which we were created,
have not finished the cycle, completed the task. We have been too stupid
to get the reward, and have only taken the work.
UP TO this time it had seemed to us as though the trail we were following
led directly out into the remote regions of consciousness. But now,
suddenly, we realized that actually it was not a straight line at all. It
was a curve, returning us inevitably to the common-places of daily life.
In fact, when we looked far enough back along this trail, we saw that it
was more than a simple curve: it was a spiral. The instruction which had
been given us in the early days, and which was later assembled to make up
The Betty Book, completed the first turn of this spiral. The later
teaching, which we are considering here, merely covered the very same
ground, but in a higher phase. And as in our elementary work, the final
arc of the curve led us quietly to our own dooryard.
Most of this later material, this “technique of the spiritual functions,”
has come to us in a manner somewhat different from the foregoing, and
therefore is not appropriate here. But certain indispensable pointers
concerning the resistances and difficulties of everyday life were given
to Betty herself. This aspect of the teaching was introduced, as usual,
by a general survey.
BETTY: If you could imagine an immense plain at night that has been used
as a battlefield, a devastated area; that is what man has done to his
spiritual potentialities. Right on the horizon is this glow I want to get
to–a steady light. On the other side is the wonderful vision of the
civilization of the, future. And here I am. I’ve seen what it ought to
be, and now I’ve got to help do the whole area that way. The question is,
how am I to go about it?
I have a clue, but it is hard to explain. I see certain very simple
elements–separate things, individual entities. And then I see those same
elements joined together, made into a compound of a much higher order.
This compound has all sorts of possibilities that the separate
individuals haven’t got. I see that clearly enough. What I don’t
understand is how I can help bring about the compound….
INVISIBLE: By way of fumbling into the subject: How should these simple
elements become convinced of the desirability of the higher compound?
That is the real problem. Once convinced of this, they would
enthusiastically lend themselves in combination with others to produce
it, in order that they might share in the beneficial attributes of the
resulting whole. Your task, then, is to help demonstrate this
desirability, beginning with very simple practices, indulged in
habitually enough to carry conviction.
Actually a start has already been made at producing this compound on a
world-wide scale. This thing spreading around the world–this sudden
awareness of the lower rungs of society, uniting in a determination to
lift themselves to a higher one–is the first manifestation of what we
are discussing. But its appearance causes such violent reaction, such
misunderstood interpretations, as to bring risk of complete defeat to the
cause. That is the ferment inevitable to the first precipitation of this
BETTY: As I look at it, I don’t see how in the world it is going to be
possible for individuals to want this unification. We stand stiff-necked
and apart in instantaneous and habit-hardened oppositions.
INVISIBLE: That is always the first misunderstanding of this new
influence. Each entity is trying passionately not to be changed. In his
fear of that, he destroys blindly. That is the resistance to be overcome,
and that is the reason so minute an amount of influence can be sent at a
time. A greater amount would precipitate die earth into chaos. Remember
this always in administering from above to below.
BETTY: I see the danger of not reducing, all right. So many visioned
people have projected themselves to the detriment of their cause. They
antagonized instead of allying
INVISIBLE: There is a fashion element here, which is a good safeguard.
Social usages are quite right in forbidding our boring each other with
heavy topics or indecent exposure of one’s inner life. The first rule
should be never to go around indecently, sloppily baring your innermost
self to people.
BETTY: Isn’t it funny how I see things! On the one hand there are all
these big realities we are bored by. And then there’s the curiously
restricted body, so inadequate to receive more than a trickle through. It
seems too bad that I’m capable of contemplating those realities, and then
can’t take more of them back. They’ve all got to be so tremendously
I look in the face of big things, like honor and confidence and sympathy
and things like that; and then I’ve got to adjust them to an ant hill.
How would you introduce them to an ant hill? Oh my! It is so hard to
attract ants’ attention–you can’t get their minds off what they are
doing! All I want is their attention: I could connect up if I could get
Anyone who has in any way become interested in “occult” or “mystical”
matters knows the back-kick to which one is liable if he tries to pass
this interest on to others. He can avoid that particular form of
laceration, of course, by just keeping still about it–which is generally
the best thing to do. But when it comes to the actual use of the
principles which these subjects inevitably convey, it is no longer
possible to sidestep so conveniently. We are then faced with the
alternative of abandoning altogether what we believe to be our best
course; or of evolving some practical, and not too vulnerable method of
adapting it to an imperfect world. As to the latter the Invisibles had
some illuminating suggestions.
INVISIBLE: In seeking to apply the higher consciousness to daily life,
the first thing we must learn is to take for granted the usual
resistances and obstacles encountered in any paths except those
established and much travelled. When we are very young we foolishly
expect gangway for ourselves anywhere, and we thrash around in fine style
when we are jostled by others possessing exactly this same idea. But with
more experience in life and heightened vision, we accept the obstructions
as part of the game of living. This is a very important step in progress,
for the first application of wisdom is to accept opposition so in its
entirety, so completely, that thereafter not one speck of attention power
is ever wasted on it, except for the intellectual appraisement of its
strength and the planning for control of its effect.
The most important factor in this control is arranging to work from a
safe insulation. Otherwise you will be constantly in danger of being
drawn into the sphere of influence of the opposition and captured by
disharmony. This principle is not a new thing. In your accustomed routine
you often utilize destructive forces–such as dynamite, for
instance–without hesitation, because of the mastery your knowledge and
skill give you over them. This knowledge and skill constitute a species
of insulation, which keeps you from becoming entangled in the sphere of
influence of these destructive forces.
With difficult and destructive personalities it should be exactly the
same. Take, for instance, somebody who is cock-sure of his own little
universe–who is intellectually mind-proud of the content of human
knowledge. Or, hardest of all to resist, the rollicking, amused,
raconteur type: the loveable, charming stand-patters who are supplying
the needed uneffortful vacationing atmosphere. Their function is
perfectly good: We all need it. But one guards one’s aspirations for the
stars from them. One enjoys them as one does puppies or babies and such
things, and guards one’s self against them.
Now, your insulation can be of two kinds: negative and positive,
characterized by the drawing-back person and the going-out person. In the
past we have instructed you only as to the negative aspect–the
retirement to your inner fortress. That conception was the best we could
convey with the force of illumination it was possible to use on you at
that time. And it still holds good–but only to point the way to that
other insulation which makes of yourself a sphere of influence stronger
than the ones around you. That is a positive insulation–one in which you
take the initiative; not a withdrawal.
This principle, also, is not a new thing: you have always used it in some
degree without knowing it. Look, with critical dispassionate eye, on
yourself as presented on the average to the world. How much do you
register the impress and reflection of others; and how much do you
register on and impress them? This is a very simple criterion of how much
you are already using this primary creative capacity.
BETTY: I’m beginning to understand it now. It looks something like
keeping a natural, healthy manner in a sick room. You just maintain vigor
in each directed thought.
INVISIBLE: The waterfall sweeps clean the mind contemplating it: its
refreshing, misty spray claims the beholder in a temporary
waterfall-companionship. Likewise the sun expands and evaporates the
contractions and isolations of the body. In just this way the power of
the higher consciousness extends its influence. It controls by blanketing
the opposition with its own quality.
BETTY: That’s very amusing; the body does that. It surrounds and isolates
disharmonies, rendering them innocuous. Oysters do it, too, in making
pearls. Lots of things in nature do it. They just capture and overcome
any smothering, irreconcilable bit of trouble with a blanket of health
wrapped around it. It is one of the very best ways of dealing with these
spots. They are to found everywhere, but if you can’t absorb or transmute
or eliminate them, you can always blanket them in this way. I can’t do it
myself, but outflung selves can.
INVISIBLE: A real outflung self is of such superior happiness that it is
much less contaminable by world infections. Its resistance can be raised,
just as bodily resistance is raised. You know what the comfort of
physical health radiation is, but you cannot imagine the joy of true
spiritual health. It is strange that people do not want it–try for it.
Coin of great value is offered them, and they prefer a penny of their own
Later on the Invisibles had more to say on this subject of meeting
opposition. Apparently it is one of the fundamentals with which we have
BETTY: (after a pause) I have been studying the possibilities of
protecting ourselves by projection. It is a very far-reaching subject…
One positive fact: throughout the universe there’s a great current of
absolute stability, progressing force,–call it what you please. Around
it, below it is a sea of related living bits, representing all conditions
of progress toward conscious unity with this great current. How they got
that way I don’t know; but they represent all the resistances of
fife–the calumnies, opposing activities, ponderous masses of ignorance,
Now it worried and puzzled and discouraged me at first to know how I
could cope with so much surrounding wrack and misdirected energy. It
seemed so hopeless for me to set my aspirations against them. Then I
remembered that as long as I can keep my volition magnetized to the point
of unity with this is treat current, it finds the way for me through
clarity of vision and revelation of the obstructions. Endowed with power
through association with it, I comprehend directions to take and find my
way. Paying the penalties of the contact: oh yes! Outwardly damaged,
perhaps; but inwardly unscathed and strengthened.
INVISIBLE: In using this method of self-protection there is really only
one serious danger: depletion of your supply of power. As water
evaporates under the influence of the sun, so does the absorbing quality
of world life diminish your spiritual supply. Therefore the first
principle to keep in mind is the constant uninterrupted renewing of
power. Have complete confidence in the power house, of which you are the
distributor. Its force must be constantly maintained. Do not enter the
lists depleted of this vital force.
Evaporation of force is so subtly accomplished that you may not always
recognize your depletion; 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.
So watch out for these two points: the minimizing of your sensitiveness,
your susceptibility to adverse influences; and your work on maintaining
your force by keeping it in conscious association with the power house.
Practice these at your leisure, so that in moments of crisis the clash of
action will bring automatic functioning. Make, in this way, a stockade
for yourself. Then in times of siege arm yourself with your two points of
protection: withdraw attention from your own sensibilities; work
courageously with the associated power.
BETTY: If you do these things, combat actually becomes more or less
comfortable and enjoyable! It takes on a kind of Irish quality–any fight
better than no fight at all.
INVISIBLE: One more thing in this connection: psychic DISSIPATION is not
the only ill to which beginners are subject. There are also those who
languish from psychic ANEMIA. These are the ones who, through an
incomplete apprehension of service, seek strenuously to give before they
possess. This desire of service, excellent in itself, unless it is kept
strong from its source must inevitably bankrupt itself through
unrecognized vanity. Thus impoverished, it necessarily loses the
authority of amplitude.
BETTY: You have to watch this so carefully at first! I am realizing this
acutely just now, because at present I am working under the greatest
difficulty I have ever had. You see, I used to be like a reservoir that
was filled to overflowing, but with no sluice gates for regulation.
Consequently I just overflowed automatically, without control, and a lot
went to waste. Now I am no longer helped to a superabundance, but have to
make my own current by opening definite outlets. As a result, what used
to be a great outpouring is now only a thin trickle.
INVISIBLE: Do not be deceived. This thin trickle is worthy of your best
attention–even though it does not equal the feel of the current which
you first received and sent on its way. That, of course, was a supremely
pleasurable sensation: an experience of life itself, the fundamental
creative power. But it was not something you could expect to maintain in
full force. On setting forth with it, you must anticipate finding it
checked, encountering many diffusements. Naturally, this is discouraging.
There is an artistic pain in forsaking the full reservoir and strong
current with which you started. Nevertheless, a trickle that finds its
way contains the same particles of life as the full stream. Remember
BETTY: I have come to the conclusion that my only REAL responsibility is
the trickle, even if it only amounts to a damp spot!
INVISIBLE: Be content. 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, and never allow any depletion. 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.
BETTY: That’s just about like me: to have a reservoir, and reduce it to a
It is one thing to talk in large general terms about Meeting Life with a
Smile, and quite another to struggle successfully through the underbrush
of trivial human shortcomings. Even our best friends have small annoying
habits, physical peculiarities, heretical views. As someone has truly
said, we like them in spite of, and not because of. The problem of how to
meet these imperfections was one which the Invisibles particularly
BETTY: (after a pause) They put me just now in the midst of rubbishy,
cluttery, dust-bin conditions–like those areas of made-land built up out
of old tin cans. In city dump heaps I have often seen that kind overlaid
with good earth, and things growing on it.
Now the problem is: how do I accomplish this in conditions of MENTAL
They brought me a deposit of new substance akin to the earth overlaying
the rubbish, only this is a mental, more creative substance. They say you
can always do that when conditions are rubbishy–even when they seem
quite hopeless. And if you persist in it, you can’t help winning out….
You see, one of the most fundamental things about all the obstructive
refuse you have to contend with, is that it has released its relationship
with the ultimate source of life, and is cooling off and dying of
decomposition. Once you realize and understand this, thoroughly, you will
never be tempted to lose hope and give in. For with this engraved on your
mind, it is impossible to entertain personal antagonism: you know too
well the reason for things being the way they are. And once above
personal antagonism, and aware of your own free power of relationship
with the source, you find the way cleared for the bringing in of the
fresh, healthy, over-laying material.
INVISIBLE: In this connection it might be helpful to set down something
on imperfections. The great trouble with novices in the use of spiritual
substance is that expanded consciousness tends to set up a reflex of
awkwardness in their treatment of half-formed, imperfect things. Their
usual procedure is to wrinkle their brows, tense their minds, and grow
harsh-mannered demanding perfection.
Now, one of the most important attributes of the skilled worker and true
artisan is that he cherishes the character of the materials he works
with–even to the point of utilizing a knot-hole for a decoration.
Therefore rule one is always to accept your material’s limitations and
imperfections–especially in human beings. Never waste time on their
faults. A fault commented on with coldness, even if the element of
irritation is controlled, is but chilled and set and deprived of the
warm, life-giving quality which would make it susceptible to being
overcome and transmuted. Your attention on it is of no help. It merely
increases the disjunction of the consciousness you are trying to
What, then, to do? The best course is always to reduce your aims to their
essential simplicity, and then seek the co-operation of your material,
however imperfect. If you do this, you will quickly find there are
endless ways of drawing together in the main issue, without throwing all
your force into the byways of imperfection. Nor will you find this too
difficult to accomplish–provided you keep as your chief aim the
determination to proceed with the least friction and the most skill and
sympathy, in the sense of an artist’s sympathy with his work and
This is always the best approach, and in the long run is bound to be the
most effective. Observe the lives of those who have gone farthest and
given most. Wisdom, a type of tender understanding, surmounts all else in
their human relations–even to the point where they seem to have lost all
ability to censure, and have only the outpouring desire to hearten. By
contrast, how disheartening is amateur spirituality!
Again and again the Invisibles returned to this problem of keeping away
from imperfections and antagonisms. I will quote one more discourse which
seems peculiarly illuminating.
BETTY: I am looking at the simple practice of approaching sympathetically
our problems of human relationship. It looks so obvious and easy, and yet
I am having trouble taking definite hold of it.
INVISIBLE: The first point of attack should be the deliberate inspection
of egoism in each living creature–especially in yourself–and coming to
terms with it. What you desire, fundamentally is a generous and
spontaneous blending with other lives, but there is a toughened
ego-membrane which obstructs. This is that part of you which can be
wounded, and which is already sadly scarred by contacts with life. It is
the first thing with which you must deal–which you must strip off, if
you are to free for action the indestructible self that cooperates with
BETTY: It is very interesting to look at an individual’s personality that
way–to see his inner potency and possibility compared to his surface
representation. It makes it possible to ignore the misrepresenting agents
of the man,–his habits, indulgences, dormancies–and insist on dealing
with his possibilities: to regard, not what he gets snarled up trying to
do, but what he has inside him that he wants to BE. I must remember
that’s the way to do with people.
INVISIBLE: The first requisite, if you are to accomplish this, is to
develop a humor of the heart in contemplation of the foibles and follies
of people–much as one is undisturbed by the pranks of children. Then
your outside will be able to joke and appreciate and be as earthy as you
want with their peculiarities, leaving your more fundamental movements
under the direction of your inner vision.
This may sound simple and easy at first, but it will require your best
efforts. It is very hard to be always big enough to overlap
peculiarities, to drag forth the enduring element in each–the PERPETUAL
person,–to throw calmly into the discard the barnacle parasite part of
people that makes the trouble between them.
BETTY: In future I’ll try to think of it that way–to think of the poor
barnacles as coatings which can be stripped off. After all, there’s no
sense, after I’ve discarded my own false front, in dealing any more than
I have to with the masks of men. I must lay them aside with what I have
stripped from myself, and deal as directly as possible. Then these
irritating obstructions and cynicisms will not worry me, because I’ll
know they belong with my own discards. No use in trying to deal with
them, for that just turns you back to your own.
INVISIBLE: It is very important to remember this: that all the
disagreeable, snagging contacts with imperfect human nature can be
comfortably relegated to a common refuse pile. All you have to do is to
regard them without criticism, as a wise physician would; forgetting to
blame the cause of the disease, and occupying yourself only with keeping
from the contamination of it, in order that you may be in a position to
call out healing powers. You will then find it quite simple to confront
with your own harmony the problem of disharmony.
BETTY: Now that’s settled! I’m never going to forget that refuse pile for
the frailties of human contacts. It’s going to be very comfortable to
have to throw things on; both those which I strip off myself, and what I
strip off others.
Even granted the best intentions and the most skillful approach, we
cannot always be successful. In fact, the best causes often suffer the
worst reverses. Therefore our attitude toward defeat is most important.
It is more than that: it is one of the most significant threads in the
fabric of our days.
INVISIBLE: Confidence in the law is faith. Faith is often called upon to
survive seeming defeats of the law. When this occurs, always examine,
patiently and trustingly, the seeming defeat to find a wider application
of law. It is not defeated. Its enduring materials are simply overlaid
with impurities. Some people, for instance, get such avidity for this
work that they attack pest spots, and are apparently themselves overcome.
But only apparently, and by the lower standards.
Failure you must always regard as an inevitable step toward success. It
must not be looked on as a faith-destroying monster. If you search
carefully, you will find you can always see around it. Sometimes, of
course, you must experience grievous disappointments, but the bitterness
of these inevitable failures must be washed away as promptly as the sweat
of toil. And once you sensibly accept the probable percentage of
negatives in your experiments, knowing that the positive does exist, you
will not find it difficult to regard your occasional successes as a
The important thing is always to keep on as a faithful scientist and
explorer. Never let go of your ideals, even if they don’t work, except to
exchange the particular hold you have on them for a better. Nor must you
ever give up treating humanity as though every aspiration of your own
were also theirs. Reason tells you that all men are at different stages,
and one does not concretely expect responses from the undeveloped.
Nevertheless the attitude of always calling forth the qualities of
manhood, even from a child, is an accepted standard of the proper
educational relation. If you are to succeed, it must be maintained,
always and always, in spite of reverses and in spite of fitful response.
The radiance of the sun on the waves is as bright as ever, in spite of
the fisherman’s disregard of it. His myopic concern is mostly with his
fish lines, but whenever he lets the beauty of the radiance enter into
him, then there is greater unity in creation. Therefore remember this
well: radiance should not wax and wane in power depending on the earth’s
recognition. It is the private affair of I a surface continually existent
whether or not someone sees the sun shining on it.
Repeated application in the face of defeat: that is the formula. Impress
on yourself the necessity for REPEATED TREATMENT to overcome recoil. It
is the one great danger, because so many fine people become discouraged,
embittered, not understanding. You see it everywhere, for all sensitive
individuals feel this recoil. They withdraw in despair, and do not always
re-enforce themselves to return. Examine always your reactions in
withdrawals. They are fraught with great revelation. Why do you withdraw?
Generally because you are not strong enough to fight for your side.
Persistence is not too difficult if your anticipations are moderate. So
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
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.
One strives for one’s ideals. One seeks to overcome opposition, to take
possession of one’s opponents, to fulfill to the best of one’s ability
the particular vision entrusted to him. One must recognize that even in
one’s success one has incorporated the strength of the opposition, as one
incorporates an alien substance for strength in reinforced concrete. Or
in the case of failure, one has given of one’s best to temper or modify
others’ success, which is perhaps merely temporarily necessary for the
greater stability of the whole. In general one does one’s part, always
conscious that the final results will be reviewed by a higher judgment.
SEARCH out your ambitions and contemplate them. Stand up and reveal
yourself for what you are. Thus only is wisdom and self-direction
obtainable. What have you to contribute of your distillation of life?
What have you the strength to take of its enduring substances? Rally
yourself. Utilize your forces. A boundless universe of unimaginable
rapture surrounds each one of us, seeking ever closer relationship. The
moment is now to face the slowly obtainable ultimate wisdom of divine
THIS completes the main outline of the teaching given us by the
Invisibles. A quantity of material remains untouched in our “records,”
but it is more in the nature of detail, either practical or cosmological.
As such it would here only confuse the main issues, and must be reserved
for possible later publication.
In conclusion I think certain explanations are in order. This book has
been made possible only through Betty’s pioneering work. It is she who
has done the really hard and thankless job of breaking trail. We have
simply followed along with the pack train, guided by the charts she has
Why, then, have we presented all this from our own, more mundane, point
of view? Partly, as already explained, it is because this individual
approach and manner of progress is more typical of the great majority
than is Betty’s rather specialized experience. Her skyscraping, it seems
to us, is something special; something not to be attempted by most. But
partly it is because we feel that in this manner we can offer valuable
testimony as to the accuracy of Betty’s charts: do a trifle better than
merely exhibit them. Some of the trails herein described we have tramped
back and forth so often that we have proved their reality. Up to a
certain point in the teachings we can actually accomplish, and with a
fair degree of certainty. We know that they work because we have tried
them out with success. And that success has given us confidence in
Betty’s tracings of the route ahead.
By this we do not mean to imply any important personal accomplishment. In
our sophomoric beginnings we were inclined to be moderately cocky, but we
have long since got over that. Now we can see that we have not even made
a start. We have merely, as the darky said, been getting ready to begin
to commence. As to real life, beyond prep-school, we are no more
qualified to speak than is any other undergraduate.
On the other hand, this doesn’t mean that we are dissatisfied to be where
we are; or that we are impatient to “get going.” It is simply that we
have come far enough along the way to realize that, wherever one happens
to be, the road immediately ahead stretches level and far. It is only in
the blue distance beyond that one traces the loom of the–as
yet–inaccessible peaks. It is only in retrospect that one realizes this
point, where he stands, itself once looked high and unattainable.
This strange journey of ours toward eternity is not unlike horseback
travel across the spaces of Arizona. I will quote what I mean from
something written thirty-odd years ago.
“After a time we came to some low hills helmeted with the outcrop of a
rock escarpment. Hitherto they had seemed a termination of Mount Graham,
but now, when we rode around them, we discovered them to be separated
from the range by a good five miles of sloping plain. Later we looked
back and would have sworn them part of the Dos Cabesas System, did we not
know them to be at least eight miles distant from that rocky rampart. It
is always that way in Arizona. Spaces develop of whose existence you had
not the slightest intimation….
“The country was pleasantly rolling and covered with grass. Far in a
remote distance lay a slender dark line across the plain. This we knew to
be mesquite; and once entered, we knew that it too could spread vastly.
And then this grassy slope, on which we now rode, would show merely as an
insignificant streak of yellow, It is also like that in Arizona. I have
ridden in succession through grass land, bush land, flower land, desert.
Each in turn seemed entirety to fill the space of the plains between the
* Arizona Nights.
So here: the phase of awareness through which we are at the moment moving
fills to the Emits of our visible world, so that its passage shall bring
us to our horizon. But it does not, in actuality, fill our cup; and we
shall eventually look back on it as “an insignificant streak of yellow.”
Do not mistake, however. This is no prospect of discouraging, infinite
and barren effort to reach something that will eternally elude. On the
contrary every step of the way is interesting and rewarding. We have not,
to repeat, got very far; but already we have been rather overpaid. There
is small sense in trying to catalogue all the gains and rewards that
warrant this belief. Suffice it that any of us feels it would have been a
positive catastrophe had we been able by some magic to overleap to this
point; for we should then have here arrived so ill-equipped that we
should have groped into further exploration without eyes to see. By its
very nature, this expedition of ours is not a straining rush to a distant
goat, but a savoring of the way. For without the full savoring THERE IS
One of the most profound and satisfying truths, which is one of the
rewards of the way, is that we should always be delighted that we have
not reached any important goal, and that there is still so much more to
do. How else are we to get our pay? When a job is over, wages cease.
Youth leaps eagerly, all too eagerly, at the end it has envisioned. It
needs maturity to realize that culmination is a thing to be touched at
last with just a little of regret. For after all, however glad we may be
of a comfortable camping place toward night, the thrill of morning is in
realizing that the trail leads on and on, into more, and still more,
I WANT you to know that it is all here: everything that you will find
anywhere is right here in this world. For instance, this moment I have
all the joy and expansion and power that comes from being of the superior
substance called spirit, but at the same time I am in a shady street of
little garden homes, all leafy and lilacs, with shadows and dropping
blossoms. It is as ready here as anywhere for the taking….
Now I am over a gently heaving sea, a sea of sparkles and playful
lappings–calm, breathing the deep-bosomed life of ocean-knowing folk. It
is very beautiful here, but I think I find more big spirit in the
mountains. Their tops are in rare pure sunshine, and all the big elements
are their playmates–I like the great thunder coifs they wear on their
heads. It is easy to find the spirit of things there.
I find it, too, in the heavy-massed light-shifting sands of the desert,
with all its imperturbable wisdom and stoic beauty of indifference–an
aloof siren of eternity.
I BEAR WITNESS
FOUR months ago the manuscript of this book was put in final form and
sent to the publishers. And so was completed another full turn in the
spiral of Betty’s work. But not, apparently, the work itself. According
to the Invisibles something of this yet remained to be
accomplished–something they refused to define, except that it was
different from what had gone before.
“Like a blossom,” said they.
“A blossom?” Betty asked.
“Something that occurs at the end of effort, as a demonstration to
others. It is a natural attribute of your accomplishment. Of course you
could go on living as you are, but then you couldn’t have the
demonstration at the top of your endeavor.”
At that time the true meaning of this escaped me altogether. My
interpretation was that Betty was about to begin another spiral of
instruction, with the difference they mentioned appearing largely in the
treatment. Accordingly, when she was overtaken only two weeks later by a
serious and rackingly painful illness, I was convinced that the success
of the job demanded her recovery. It seemed to me defeat at this point
would mean that everything we had built up through all these years, and
that so many people had taken from us and believed, would crumble into
disrepute. And so I fought with every means at my command to hold her
back from the Great Adventure.
Another strong incentive to battle, of course, was our natural dread of
separation. I shall not dwell on this, but it is necessary to touch upon
it sufficiently. We had been married for thirty-five years. In that time
we had been apart for but three periods of any length: twice during my
explorations into unknown parts of Central Africa; and once during my
service in the World War. We had met together the adventures of life, and
they had been varied: years of pack horse travel in the Rockies and
Sierra; the cattle ranges of Arizona before the movies came; fourteen
months in Africa; sixteen seasons in Alaska–here, there, and everywhere
in the wild and tame corners of the earth. And adventures also among
people, and ideas, and for twenty years the pioneering in these strange
dim regions of the higher consciousness.
In the course of this last exploration we had finally arrived at the
settled conviction that permanent separation is impossible. Nevertheless
it is only human to dread the temporary parting: to contemplate such an
interim as something dismal to be endured. I feel sure that this was a
stronger consideration with me than with her. There is always a
difference between any conviction, however profound, which is arrived at
by study and inference; and the understanding belief which comes of
experiencing directly the thing itself. For years Betty had been running
back and forth to the other consciousness as easily and naturally as a
cat in and out of a house–remember her various essays at experimental
dying–whereas I had stayed on the inside only looking out. That she
should face her final transition to this consciousness with serenity,
then, was only to be expected. And it was equally inevitable that, in
spite of any amount of philosophizing, there remained in the depths of my
being, essentially unmodified, the primitive fear of death and
Accordingly, I now realize definitely, Betty’s strongest incentive in her
fight was myself. This was not clear to me then, or my own attitude might
have been different. She could not foresee how I would take her going,
and she was reluctant to bum her bridges. For over two months it was just
this that held her, in spite of the greatest pain and in face of what
must have been almost overwhelming temptation.
“I could go so easily!” she told me, “at any minute. I have to fight
against it in the night.” She asked me a little wistfully, “If it came
about that way, you wouldn’t mind too much letting me go, would you?”
And I, in my ignorance, replied emphatically:
“I most certainly would!”
Two months passed and she became weaker and weaker, until finally the
physical frame was worn to the point where only her fighting spirit held
her. By now she could only whisper a word at a time, gathering strength
for each effort. In the evening the doctor came to the house. I took him
to see her, but was not myself looking toward her, when I heard him
exclaim: “My God! The woman still smiles!”
Then for the first time I allowed myself to entertain a doubt as to the
wisdom of our persistence. What job could there be that was worth such
suffering? A little later Betty closed her eyes. We were not sure whether
she was conscious or in coma. I went into another room, sat in an easy
chair, and “projected” in her direction as strongly as I could these
“You are now where you can decide whether or not the job requires you to
stay here and endure this. As far, as I am concerned, I release you
gladly. I will take you by the hand, go with you just as far as I can,
and place it in the hand of the one who is waiting.”
A minute or so later the doctor came to tell me it was over: that
suddenly Betty had spoken up, as clearly and gaily as had always been her
“It’s all right,” said she. “I’ve had a talk with my boy. You can take me
Now comes the part I almost despair of setting down adequately. But it is
the big thing, and I must try. My first momentary reaction was of relief
that she need no longer go through such agonies. The next was a faint but
growing surprise that the apprehension of death as a dark veil, an
impenetrable barrier, a sharp division was whisked away. It became as
thin as a mist. Instead of being a big portentous thing, it was really a
comparatively unimportant and trivial detail, after all. Then, as the
minutes passed, I became literally astounded that all the things I had
been dreading, and bracing myself for, simply weren’t there. For it was
becoming increasingly, most gloriously, evident to me that the only
serious threat of death did not exist.
This next is very difficult to convey. Let me see if I can give an
You know the cozy, intimate feeling of companionship you get sometimes
when you are in the same room; perhaps each reading a book; not speaking;
not even looking at one another. It is tenuous, an evanescent thing–one
that we too often fail to savor and appreciate. Sometimes, in fact, it
takes an evening or two of empty solitude to make us realize how
substantial and important it really is.
Then, on the other hand, you know how you draw closer by means of things
you do together. And still more through talk and such mental
interchanges. And most of all, perhaps, in the various physical
relationships of love and marriage.
Now when you stop to think of it, all these latter material contacts,
right through the whole of life, are at root and in essence aimed at
really just one thing: that rare inner feeling of companionship suggested
feebly in the sitting-by-the-fire idea. That is what we really are
groping for in all friendly and loving human relations, hampered by the
fact that we are different people more or less muffled from each other by
the barriers of encasement in the body.
Well, within a very few minutes that companionship flooded through my
whole being from Betty, but in an intensity and purity of which I had
previously had no conception. It was the same thing, but a hundred, a
thousand times stronger. And I realized that it more than compensated for
the little fact that she had stepped across, because it was the thing
that all our physical activities together had striven for, but–compared
with this–had gained only dimly and in part. Why not? Actually it was
doing perfectly what all these other things had only groped for. So what
use the other things? and why should I miss them?
Does this sound fantastic? Maybe; but it is as real and solid as the
chair I am sitting on. So much so that I have never in my life been so
filled with pure happiness. No despair; no devastation; just a deeper
happiness than I have experienced with her ever before, save in the brief
moments when everything harmonized in fulfillment.
And furthermore it has lasted, and is with me always.
This, I now believe, is the “great blossom” of which the Invisibles
spoke; the final significance to which all of Betty’s twenty years of
work was to lead. Here is her concrete proof of one reward that can come
to those who follow in her footsteps, her final evidence that her
instrument of twenty years’ forging is strong enough to withstand the
Of course I do not delude myself that those who pursue Betty’s teachings
to this culmination are going to be able, all of them, to gain this point
of view in face of loss. Not all of them, nor completely. But it is a
demonstration that it can be done; and it is forerunner of what will, one
day, be the universal experience of those who follow the trail she has
blazed across the unknown.