Producing
Understanding
A Dialectical Interchange Between Betty White,
Stewart Edward White, and their Teachers


STEWART: Why don't you say, in so many words, what you mean? I'm an intelligent human being; I can understand plain speech.

TEACHERS: 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.

STEWART: Nevertheless words will be necessary to explain to others who have not experienced the reality.

TEACHERS: 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 are capable of making them; but only as an accompaniment to the acquisition of the thing itself. Without the latter, explanations would be sterile.

STEWART: 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.

TEACHERS: That's better; that's much better. You kind of broke through then. That cleared up things considerably.

STEWART: I don't quite see why you did not say that before.

TEACHERS: You acquired it--produced it yourself.

STEWART: But it seems a simple enough intellectual idea....

TEACHERS: 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.

STEWART: But it could have been stated....

TEACHERS: 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.

STEWART: This jars me ahead a little. At least I have a new intellectual conception. I have 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 is an advance. But I must be an exasperating sort of pupil. I'm not yet decided just how literally Betty's experiences should be taken. SOMEBODY has to keep his feet solidly on the ground! And I have to be the one. Therefore, as I see it, I cannot lay aside my tried and tested reasoning powers in favor of something that looks to me pretty vague and nebulous.

TEACHERS: Do not 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.

STEWART: Your advice appeals to me, 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?

TEACHERS: You can 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 certainty.

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.