Back in January 2019 I posted 3 essays based on The Betty Book by Stewart Edward White. The book is a classic of communicated writing, containing ideas of great sophistication. The key character, Betty, and began communicating in company with a body of more advanced entities, called the Invisibles.
On my reread, in 2018, I was struck by the remarkable similarity with Frank DeMarco’s works – his series of Rita books. Both White and DeMarco present challenging ideas ‘from the other side’.
Unlike much ‘channelled’ writing the content is mentally taxing and often confronting. Engaging with it, in my experience, is often difficult because I have found myself reacting to the content in ways that making staying focused hard.
Quite a lot of ‘channelled’ content I have explored has been hypnotic and emotional, with no real content of value. Most of it has been admonition only – something the ‘channeller’s own psyche has either completely made up, or so interfered with an original message it has been rendered useless.
New ideas, or new takes on familiar ideas, are a different matter. In this case, as with DeMarco, there is an acknowledged difficulty in translation – putting into words ideas formed where no words, such as we know them, exist. So not just new notions, but a challenge in expression as well.
White represents a further challenge as well. The Betty Book was published in 1937. The writing style has changed a great deal since then, and it will seem a lot out of date to many readers.
I have reformatted the original text as dot points re make reading easier.
Do I believe what is written? Not necessarily. I don’t think it is a matter of belief. It is whether the content resonates with the reader – and it resonated with me.
Some mental and emotional effort is required in engaging with the text and the ideas it contains. For some, it may be rewarding.
Back in the late 1970s my then girlfriend started to channel a discarnate entity (see earlier posts for more on this). She freaked out and thought she was going mad. On the other hand, I set out to do some research on the phenomenon. That’s when I encountered Stewart Edward White’s 1937 classic, The Betty Book. It was an account of another instance of the spontaneous development of the ability to convey thoughts from ‘the other side’.
I last read The Betty Book in the mid 1990s, and recently I decided to write a post on in it, for reasons that were not clear even then, just an urge. But as I started, I paused. It had been a long time, so maybe I should have a quick look to refresh? That was a good thing to do. It was nothing like I remembered! So, I reread it in its entirety, no skimming or skipping.
It was not an easy read. White is an accomplished author – his extensive body of works endure on Kindle. Maybe part of the problem is simply that, 70 years on, writing styles have changed and I am habituated to what is, for me, a more fluid style. However, another thing seems to be commonplace with writing that introduces new ideas – the thoughts need to be chewed over, and not simply swallowed. The reader has to work at the task of consuming the book’s content.
This time I made notes. Actually, I imaged the Kindle app’s page on my iPad, and used OCR to turn the quotes into Word docs, albeit with some persistent formatting issues. What I want to do here is provide a list of the captured quotes plus some commentary.
The reason I want to do this is that The Betty Book seems to me to lay out a perfectly coherent articulation of a vision of human spirituality that confirms understanding in the deeper esoteric tradition – and contradicts many other claims. The ideas merit re-engagement.
This exercise will be undertaken over 3 posts. There seems to me to be 3 distinct phases in the book. I encourage readers read the words of the quotes deliberately and stay reacting to them while reading. Of necessity, a lot of material, that may elaborate on what is quoted, is missing. If you want to read the who text, you can buy a copy of the book or download it from sites like https://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301111.txt
There are 3 voices in the text excerpts below – the author’s, Betty’s (as a participant in the process of communication) and “the Invisibles” (the present but unseen informants).
- Furthermore, the degree of our ability to deal with it is a pretty good indicator of how far we have travelled.
- For we have by no means come all the same distance. In evolution we do not advance in company front, but string out irregularly like a crowd going to a ball game.
- “You all live together on earth at different levels – levels of consciousness, we mean.” the Invisible expressed this. “Certain prerogatives pertain to each level of capacity.
- Your voluntary capacity or the level you attain, contains certain growths, senses or prerogatives peculiar to that element, altitude, substance or level. This of yours is the level of dawning perception.”
- In the course of our development, they went on, we progress from one level to another, like going upstairs. And each step must be lived out to the full before we can go on to the next.
It is, to me, a critical insight that our human family comprises people at different levels of development – or spiritual maturity. This has nothing to do with delineation by race or culture, but within cultures and communities. It means that some folk are motivated by high ideals and others by more fundamental imperatives, and neither is inherently better or worse than the other.
There is an implicit suggestion that each individual has to meet the challenges of their ‘level’ before moving on. This can be interpreted to mean there is an essential ethos, or morality, that guides human life.
There is no basis for judging another person as inferior – we are just at different stages on our own journeys.
The value of material experience
- “There is so much leisure of mind and soul and time for your attitude toward people,” explained Betty, “none at all for getting things two cents cheaper at another store, and all those dinky-dinks.
- It’s like the difference in size between the fingers on a moving picture screen and human beings in the front row. I argue that I can’t live in the material world without doing many little things, and THEY argue that it is just what we are sent here for, to find out what things are worth doing and what are not.
- They have great respect for the material labour and necessities and such things; but they are only so important.
- They are not asking me to do what the big idealists have done, like Buddha or Confucius; throw humanity aside and walk with fixed gaze; but they ARE asking me to approximate that freedom.
- It’s a case of focus as near as I can come to it.
- You must change your focus so that all the little things near you will not look sharp and important.”
I am struck by the notion that we are sent here to find out what things are worth doing and what are not. It seems like such an innocent statement – until you think on it. Things are worth doing – but only up to a point. Where is that point? What do we invest in our material being as a priority – and when do we turn our energies inward and ‘upward’?
Mind and body are one
- Both mind and body are human manifestations of one reality, the human consciousness.
- The body is a material manifestation of the sort of consciousness that is human.
- The mind is a link between body and what we call spirit, or cosmic germ.
- Spirit or cosmic germ, the actual I AM of the individual, itself has a definite body, with weight, form count, colour, substance.
What we call mind, as we know it, arises as a node in our consciousness that is situated in relation to our physical being – it is aware of time and space and the necessities of being in material existence. While our consciousness operates in a larger domain, our present awareness (as mind) has a particular material angle only.
The limits of the brain
- We over here cannot work through the brain very well because of its great educational and perceptual restrictions.
- Don’t be so OFFENDED in your intellect. Give us a chance.
- We won’t do more harm than present your precious intellect something for it to work on for the rest of its natural life.
- Leave it in to soak and keep it flexible, and we can go on. It’s bound to be satisfied later.
- When this becomes the leader of your intellect, it MUST immediately react on it; it MUST, just as the blood goes through your body to nourish all the parts.
- I thought maybe I could make you see the point; it’s always a great stickler. That’s why I came.
- Working only in the limited knowledge of the brain is slow business. It takes generations to develop new respectable symbols.
The brain, as a physical thing, is shaped and configured by ‘education’ and experience. That means it is either responsive to, or unresponsive to, certain information or experiences. There’s a suggestion here that in consequence to exposure to some BIG IDEAS it will take quite time before desired effects manifest. This is an argument for developing habits of exposure to fine or noble notions, as opposed to base input (like porn or violence) if you want to change your mindset.
On the other hand, we are exposed to enriching ideas that register with our non-brain-based awareness – so we may end up in a kind of inner tension – of ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ kind.
Heaven forbid that I should decry the human brain, but it should be proportioned.
- The eternal self must be developed as a fit controlling power.
- In trying to act DIRECTLY on the highest – call it organ – possessed by man, his eternal spirit, we are constantly interfered with by the more developed, the more easily developed side of him which clamors, INSISTS on translating every instinct into its own language and limiting it to its own experience and comprehension; insists we should go no further than the facile ready-made symbols its world education sanctions.
- We have to ignore it as much as possible, keeping it quiet by systematically baffling its efforts at restriction.
- Meanwhile, under this anaesthetic we work directly, stimulating the enduring part, trying to develop it. It should be the dominating part of man.
- When this has been developed to its proper proportion, then the intelligence will have its innings again.
- The intelligence is an essential part of the whole, but it simply must be quieted down and made flexible in any way possible, in order that we may give insight beyond its comprehension.
It seems that efforts to stimulate us spiritually are often thwarted by our insistence on translating everything into physical terms – emotional, instinctual intellectual. You can see this as an explanation as to why religions turn out the way they do – converting high spiritual ideals into sometimes shameful brutalities, disgraceful enmities and mind numbing dogmas.
The higher faculty of perception isn’t framed in intellectual terms – and scarcely in language. If we are conditioned to internal dialogue (self-talk) as our norm it will be hard to escape the merely intellectual.
Perception beyond reason
- An animal dwells in his equipment of instinct, sensation, emotion and habit; with fragmentary incursions into an adumbrated faculty of reason.
- Man uses these also; but he has moved the centre of his being more into the mental field, so that, as he develops, more and more intellect dominates his life.
- But reason is not the end of the line. Beyond it lies perception.
- And, again as he develops, more and more will he transfer control, until eventually it will hold in his life the same dominant position he now accords to intellect.
- This thought, we are told, is not fantastic – as the ultimate possibility.
- Probably we, as individuals, in this present life, shall not reach any such attainment.
- But how many of us have got even as far as complete intellectual control? However, we can move along that path. We can increase, little by little, our use of perception in the management of our daily affairs.
- And if we do so easily, normally, without forcing, without strain, we may astonish ourselves.
- Mistakes? Of course! But, the invisibles pertinently remind us, what is our batting average of correct decisions of pure intellect.
I like this notion – that beyond intellect (which is a processing thing) is perception (which is awakening into knowing) – though I think there is some refinement in the definition of perception needed here.
This first instalment deals with some basic, but essential ideas:
- We are at many different stages in our evolution as spiritual beings – so expectations and judgements must be tempered accordingly.
- There is value in physical existence – it fosters a capacity for discrimination in action and desire.
- Our minds are not our highest sense of awareness but are attuned to physical existence.
- By education and experience our brains are configured in ways that can impede our ability to assimilate spiritual ideas.
- As a result, spiritual ideas are translated into renditions that can debase and distort the intended meaning.
- There is value developing refined habits of mind – of ‘soaking’ the brain in finer ideas so that the rigidities of education and experience will eventually soften.
- The intellect is transcended by the capacity for perception.
- Our goal should be to inhabit a state of perceptive awareness.