Those are the brief facts of deBit's early years in Kansas and Idaho. But there was a concurrent story. The impulse that had directed him to the forests of Idaho was of deeper significance than appeared on the surface. He was being moved by forces of which he was only partially aware.
"It seemed," he recalled, "that my footsteps were guided to this place--to the aloneness of the trail, to the close rapport with nature, to all that transpired in my days. But to what end I did not know."
For extended weeks he lived alone in the deep forests. Besides the horse he rode, his only companion on the trail was the Bible he carried. He read it diligently and pored over its content but he found no answers for the vague questions that stirred him.
"I was certain that the something that I sought to know," he wrote, "that indeed my very soul demanded I know, was recorded here in this work. But I could not read it out; I could only feel its presence."
One day this man would decipher the truths hidden in the allegories of Scripture. But for the present his fundamentalist background dictated that he rest his faith in the revealed Word as written.
In those years, as he merged imperceptibly to attunement with his natural surroundings, subtle change began to take place within the man.
"It seemed that a kind of remembering from a past beyond recall was integrating into my conscious mind. I could find no reference to anything I had previously known or read for the knowledge I was thus obtaining."
As the recapitulation of his former evolvement was being summoned from the depth of his unconscious, he was ever extending his awareness toward Mind level perception. In speaking of one such incident he says:
"I had some difficulties along the trail that day that I knew would slow me down considerably on my appointed schedule. That night at campsite I was gazing into the fire and mulling in my mind how long it would now take me to complete my swing. Time and distance were my considerations. Without intending to do so I seemed to focus on the concept of time.
"Suddenly I was no longer at fireside. I was standing bodiless at a juncture where all past and all future merged into an eternal Now. I was made cognizant of the mechanism within the consciousness of man that spatially positions and sequentially orders all images and events received by the senses--thus determining the concept of time and space. But in the dimension I was experiencing, time had vanished into eternity. Eternity, though, was not endless time. It was the absence of time. The Biblical phrase came to mind, 'Time, time shall be no more.'
"Then I was back again, seated on the ground, staring at the campfire."
One can but marvel at the man's Yankee heritage of imperturbable self-confidence. He was undergoing an awesome orientation to new levels of perception and awareness. He had no teacher, nor even any reliable books to explain his experiences. His background provided no references. The sweeping changes in his psychological functioning might well have caused a lesser man to doubt their sanity. But his stubborn practicality allowed him to accept all such phenomena as natural and providential to his development.
"I believed," he said, "that God alone was my mentor. When I could not understand the nature of things experienced, I prayed in simple faith: 'The Lord is my shepherd...'"
He often experimented with the extensional faculties he was newly discovering. One such instance is described in his superb work The Christos:
"On the trails in the evening I would oft-times select a young evergreen or other tree and sit down a short distance from it. I would withhold thoughts from forming a concept--that is, thing, object, green, tree, etc.--and I would also restrain thoughts from wandering off into other remembrances. After a few months of this practice, flickers of what looked like flame began to appear here and there, in and out of the tree. As time passed, with more opportunities to practice, these flickers of flame became more steady, until they enveloped the whole tree. As this envelopment proceeded, I lost the ability to see an object--that is, what we call a tree--and I knew with intuitive certainty that I was seeing the real. I learned in time to transfer this seeing at will from the objective level to the real in regard to any 'thing' or 'object.' I could only assume that for reasons unknown to myself I was able to function in two worlds. I accepted the fact with gratitude."
Then, as footnote to the straying power of his self-certainty, he adds, "Not until years later did I realize I was able to see the One world in two distinct ways: as it appears in Light's structure and as it is crystallized into pictures of things and objects that we see and experience. This is the phenomenal world having no existence outside of our own mental formulation."
This occurrence of seeing the archetypal structures of objects--i.e., the dynamic energy patterns of Light that describe objective reality and from which we perceive our phenomenal world--has been witnessed by seer and initiate alike, from Moses and the burning bush to Carlos Castaneda and his experience of 'stopping the world' and 'seeing.' The faculty to perceive on this level is a natural development in self-unfoldment. But the how's and why's of it are seldom explained by the authors who write accounts of it. One will find, however, a detailed description of the phenomena and a precise methodology to attain it in Vitvan's The Christos.
And years later, when he spoke of the great fire that was to be the prelude to his leaving the Northwest, deBit further attested to paranormal faculties awakening in himself:
"I left home before sunrise. I saddled my horse and rode north along the trail I had set as my regular route. When I reached the first rise I looked across to the far range and saw that the horizon was ablaze. I watched in horror, my mind trying to work out the direction of the fire and what lay in its path. Then I turned and rode back to the Forestry Station as quickly as possible.
"When I arrived I sent all available riders out to the threatened territories. I made a call for help to the railhead and then saw to the safety of my family. Afterwards I rode back to the spot from which I had first seen the fire to check its course. Searching the area, to my utter amazement, I saw nothing. There was no fire.
"Stunned, I blinked several times and looked long at the quiet horizon. Then I headed back to the fire station with haste to rectify my mistake. The place was deserted. Everyone had ridden out, per my earlier instructions.
"I deliberated on riding after them but decided instead to contact the railhead and turn back the relief train. I was too late. It had already been dispatched.
"I was so overcome with the magnitude of my folly that it was several hours before I remembered that I had left my family in an abandoned tunnel down the line. I was just preparing to retrieve them when a man rode in on a lathered horse shouting, 'Fire, fire! The forest is burning!'
"I rode out in the direction he had specified and returned to the very spot I had been twice before on that day. The forest was burning. The flames leaped and roared over the trees, exactly as I had seen in the early morning.
"Days later, when the fire had run its course, I knelt down and thanked Providence that I had been granted to see the conflagration hours before it became a reality. Many lives were saved by the warning."
In the first week of October following the fire, deBit embarked on a trip into the Bitter Roots. Snow had fallen earlier but now the ground was clear. The weather was bright and warm for that time of year and he thought to make one final swing into the territory before the heavy snows closed the trails. One evening he was camped near a small stream a day's ride from the Ranger Station. The sun was in its last twilight and he had gone down to the water to rinse his mess gear. Suddenly he heard his name called.
He looked around and shouted, "Hello! Over here! Hello!"
His heart skipped in anticipation of some unexpected company. He loved the aloneness of the wilderness, but on those rare occasions when someone wandered into camp from the trail he enjoyed the companionship.
There was no answer to his greeting and he called again, "Hello, there! Over here!"
There was silence.
In a moment, however, his name was called a second time. Thinking whoever it was might be standing on the far side of the campfire and therefore not visible from where he crouched, he gathered up his equipment and returned to the campsite. There was no one there.
Curiously, he made a circle of the area and searched the woods around. He called out periodically but there was no answer, nor could he find a sign of anyone. He returned to the fire, puzzled.
He sat up later than usual that night, but finally, when the embers of his fire were dying, he prepared for bed. Just as he put his head down his name was called a third time.
Grabbing his rifle he leaped to his feet and called out, "Come out, damn you, whoever you are. Come out!"
All was silence.
Then the voice spoke again. "It is for you to come out, my son. Come out of the woods to the city. Come out and begin your work."
The young ranger stood frozen for a moment. Then he rekindled the fire, took his flashlight and rifle and began to search the woods around his camp. He found no one.
Finally he lay down in his blankets, but he did not sleep. He headed home the following day, perplexed and distracted.
In the weeks that followed he took every opportunity to sit alone in the forest, contemplating the strange event. The voice that had called him had been real, clearly audible to his hearing. But his meditations revealed nothing further, nor did he hear the voice again. He spent much of his time deliberating what he must do.
He said later, "The words that came most frequently to my mind were 'Thy Will be done,' and I struggled to accept the admonition.
"But by mid-November I had made no decision. The power and intensity of the command given me was still very vivid in my mind, but winter was fast approaching and it was very difficult getting in and out of that part of the country when the heavy snows fell. I could not leave my wife and children behind, yet to abandon one's cabin, horses and pack mules without supervision for any extended time was just plain bad business. My practical objections to the move were taking precedence over the voice in the forest.
"Then an odd thing occurred. There was an old itinerant preacher by the name of Parson Ned. No one knew his last name. He had wandered the Bitter Roots for many, many years. Every few months or so he would arrive at Avery and conduct open meetings a couple nights running. Usually he held the service on a slope above our cabin where fallen logs and stumps could be used for seating. We had no church.
"I didn't know the Parson well. I was away so often that his visits seldom coincided with my trips home. He had come to Avery the night before but I had had some sheriffing to do and had not gotten to the service. This night I went. There was nothing special about the meeting but I always liked to hear the gospel preached and I enjoyed it. We were breaking up to go home when he called to me.
"'Ralph deBit,' he said, 'you hold on there.'
"I told Jessica to go ahead and I walked over to him. He glared at me a moment and then said,
'I'm going away, deBit. You won't see the likes of me again.'
"It did not concern me but out of courtesy I asked, 'Where are you going, Ned?'
"'Where the woodbine twineth,' he replied. 'But that's not the point, Ralph. The point is, when are you going to be about your Father's business?'
"I was so taken back by the question that I could only stare at the man. He held me in his gaze. Suddenly I was being rocked by some force pulsating in and around me. I had never felt anything like it before. He continued to stare at me for a moment, then turned and walked away. No one ever saw the Parson again after he left Avery that night. The sensation he had engendered in me remained for several hours.
"I decided that night to leave for Spokane. The following morning I requested a leave of absence. A week later we left the Bitter Roots.'
next chapter 4
Carlos Castaneda's Journey to Ixtlan, chapter 19, Stopping the World.