The Higher
Trance State

Part I


     In previous essays,1  we've seen how trance states can be used in spiritual development.

      In the essay "The Essence of Hypnotic Trance Induction" we discovered how the conscious mind can be de-activated and the subconscious brought into dominance.

      The highest form of ordinary hypnotic trance reaches its ultimate achievement in activating the subconscious mind and exploring its super-normal capabilities--quite an achievement in its own right.

      However, gaining entry into Higher Consciousness is a much more advanced power and is possible only if a person can achieve a higher trance state and if that person develops advanced understanding and attainment.

     In this essay we'll explore the nature of this higher trance state and outline how this superior state of consciousness can be achieved. We're most fortunate that one major Western twentieth-century mystical teacher achieved this higher trance state, described its nature in detail, and taught how to develop this advanced state of consciousness. This teacher was Betty White.

      We must pay close attention to the various aspects of consciousness that are involved in achieving the higher trance state.

     With conventional hypnotic induction, the subject can learn to enter what Frederic W. H. Myers called the "hypnotic stratum." From that state of consciousness, ordinary persons can go back to the subconscious-subliminal state.
     Only those who have been initiated into Higher Knowledge are able to move from the hypnotic stratum to Higher Consciousness--through learning to understand and develop the higher trance state.

      In the higher trance state the subconscious and conscious minds are both much more active, whereas in the deepest ordinary trance state--somnambulism--the conscious mind becomes almost entirely quiescent and is no longer in control.

      In learning to achieve a higher trance state similar to Betty's, the serious student must pay close attention to the various states of being and the different states of consciousness, how the different states connect, and how the "station's" mind affects the entire process. We must distinguish clearly between states of being and states of consciousness.

State of Being






Higher Ideas

Higher Consciousness
Spiritual Body



Higher Concepts
Higher Symbols

Higher Reason




Lower Consciousness
Sensing, Feeling, Thinking

Terrestrial: Subconscious




     Our entire being--terrestrial (bodily) and metaphysical--has its locus in Spiritual Being. This was eloquently expressed by Paul when he addressed the Greek philosophers in Athens.
"Paul got to his feet in the middle of their council (the 'Areopagus' where the philosophers of Athens met to discuss new ideas), and began, 'Gentlemen of Athens, my own eyes tell me that you are in all respects an extremely religious people. For as I made my way here and looked at your shrines I noticed one altar on which were inscribed the words, TO GOD THE UNKNOWN.
"'It is this God whom you are worshipping in ignorance that I am here to proclaim to you! God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he ministered to by human hands, as though he had need of anything - seeing that he is the one who gives to all men life and breath and everything else. From one forefather he has created every race of men to live over the face of the whole earth. He has determined the times of their existence and the limits of their habitation, so that they might search for God, in the hope that they might feel for him and find him - yes, even though he is not far from any one of us. Indeed, it is in him that we live and move and have our being.'" 2  
     It's necessary to remind ourselves "where we are" in terms of states of consciousness as we examine the higher trance state.

     The higher consciousness impinges on our ordinary state of consciousness, resulting in inspiration and revelation. Where the ordinary conscious state merges with the subconscious, we experience dreams. We move our locus of consciousness out of our body into either a lower or higher trance state. The lower trance state (hypnosis) and other altered states of consciousness allow us to "enter" the subconscious, activating its super-normal powers.

     If we gain the advanced capability of a higher trance state, this enables us to enter into and learn about higher consciousness. Within this domain we activate the higher faculties of our spiritual body and contact higher intelligences who teach us about the reality of higher consciousness.

Achieving a Higher Trance State

     We're studying Betty White's trance state in minute detail because of all the persons reported to have achieved a higher trance state, she is one of only a few who were able to enter into the superconscious realm, the world of Higher Knowledge. Among other mystics who appear to have achieved a similar high trance state were Plotinus, Rumi, Ibn 'Arabi, Jacob Boehme, and Emmanuel Swedenborg.

"Ibn 'Arabi was above all the disciple of Khidr (Khadir). . . such a relationship with a hidden spiritual master lends the disciple an essentially 'transhistorical' dimension and presupposes an ability to experience events which are enacted in a reality other than the physical reality of daily life, events which spontaneously transmute themselves into symbols.
"He [Ibn 'Arabi] envisaged an answer which is neither the separate Active Intelligence, one for all, nor an active Intelligence immanent in each individual, but a plurality of separate and transcendent active Intelligences, corresponding to the specific divergencies among the multitude of souls. 'Some souls . . . have learned everything from invisible guides, known only to themselves. . . . The ancient Sages . . . taught that for each individual soul, or perhaps for a number of souls with the same nature and affinity, there is a being of the spiritual world who, throughout their existence, adopts a special solicitude and tenderness toward that soul or group of souls; it is he who initiates them into knowledge, protects, guides, defends, comforts them, brings them to final victory, and it is this being whom these Sages called the Perfect Nature. And it is this friend, this defender and protector, who in religious language is called the Angel.'"
Corbin, Henry, Alone With the Alone:
Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi
, 1969

The Betty Book

Stewart Edward White       The Betty Book was written by Betty's husband Stewart Edward White. However, the descriptions of her higher trance state and all other material in the book were worked through thoroughly by both Betty and Stewart, so in a very real sense they were co-authors of all their many books.

      Note that from the beginning the Whites describe Betty's higher trance state as one of "double consciousness." Her real awareness is in a "deeper consciousness," but she reports her experiences through her ordinary consciousness.

     They also recognized that she was in what they called the "super-consciousness," as distinguished from the subconscious. Betty was "in" the superconsciousness in that she actually experienced realities that she "absorbed direct," and was in touch with ideas conveyed in words heard by her "inner ear" or discerned through mental impression.

      From her work in the superconscious, Betty reported these words and impressions back to her ordinary consciousness which communicated them to Stewart. Throughout their books, Betty emphasizes the important difference between what she is experiencing and what is finally transmitted onto the printed page.

     To begin, Betty communicated ideas and reported experiences in her own words or quoting directly from another intelligence. Then a third method was added: Betty began speaking either in her ordinary voice or in a voice "used" by another intelligence.

The Higher Trance State 3

"Apparently this ["double consciousness"] was due to the necessity for running two consciousnesses at once. The normal, from which she [Betty] spoke . . ; her real awareness being centered in a deeper consciousness, from which she reported back.

"The idea seemed to be that Betty was to be brought in touch, through the superconsciousness, with realities which she absorbed direct, and with ideas conveyed sometimes in words heard with the 'inner ear,' sometimes by mental impression. These things she transferred down to her habitual consciousness, which then reported them to me.

"She constantly complained of the dilution caused by this transfer. What reached the paper was, according to her, but an unsatis-factory pale shadow of the actuality.

"Nearly a year after the beginnings . . . they began to experiment with a third technique. Betty's voice quite altered in quality and timbre. Her phraseology, too, changed. Some third personality purported to be speaking directly through her.

"Sometimes the direct voice speaks, at others Betty herself reports word by word as though taking dictation, and again she describes her impressions and experiences in her own way. Sometimes if difficulty arises all three methods are tried."

"There exists a faculty in the human mind which is immeasurably superior to all those which are grafted or engendered in us. By it we can attain to union with superior intelligences, finding ourselves raised above the scenes of this earthly life, and partaking of the higher existence and superhuman powers of the inhabitants of the celestial spheres."

Iamblicus (250-325 CE), The Egyptian Mysteries

Betty's Trance State:
Intelligent Cooperation

"'What we want is, not merely facility, but a trained intelligent co-operation,' they [the invisible intelligences] told us in effect. 'Only thus can we command invariable reliability.'"

"Betty was to be fitted for an introduction into the realities of another consciousness,--that of these invisible intelligences. She was to go to them, instead of their coming to her. . . . Basic concepts were to be added to hers, new perceptions were to be developed. In a word, her equipment was to be expanded. And as intelligent co-operation presupposes participation, her consciousness was not taken from her in the customary deep trance. That does not mean she remained conscious as you and I are conscious. She was unaware of her physical surroundings,--she went 'somewhere else.' But in that somewhere else she retained her faculties of thought. She was not put out, drugged, put asleep. She was transferred.


     The Whites interpreted Betty's experience as putting her in touch with separate intelligences. Stewart and Betty acknowledged that others might choose to interpret her experience as a manifestation of her various states of conscious-ness, not communication from separate intelligences or beings.

     Betty developed the ability to enter a trance state involving "intelligent co-operation:" moving her consciousness to "somewhere else" but retaining her faculties of thought, her ordinary consciousness.

     Betty entered a separate domain, left her body, in other words. In that higher state of consciousness, she was introduced to new concepts and perceptions; her thought and feeling "vocabularies" were expanded.

     Psychically entering the world of these intelligences, Betty became familiar with its features and developed new capabilities that allowed her to understand and participate in this higher reality.

Khidr      Betty developed--on her own--the ability to enter into a higher trance state, which is truly amazing. This involved mental and psychical expansion of her consciousness--conceiving of and realizing (making real) new, super-normal capabilities.

      Neither Betty nor Stewart had any interest in focusing on these occult powers, and warned others of becoming obsessed with such trappings. One of the things which makes the Whites' exploration of the higher consciousness so valuable is that they approached this entire field in a straightforward, common sense way. They made their interpretation of the investigation clear, but encouraged others to form their own opinions.

"It was conceivable that all this might be a product of Betty's 'subconscious.' If so, this experiment was bringing to light a trend of thought distinctly foreign to her usual consciousness, and outside her remembered experience. If this were so, and if by this
simple technique we could make this unsuspected part of herself available, why then we would be very foolish not to use it."
"It may originate in Betty (in which case she is more of a wonder than I had supposed): Betty may by this mechanism tap some wide source of wisdom, some reservoir, some 'universal mind': or in this state of divided consciousness she may fall into harmony with the stored or accumulated experience of humankind. I do not know; and anybody is free and welcome to adopt any hypothesis that appeals."
     We've seen that Betty's higher trance state was:
  • a product of her own initial development--she appears to have had no teachers who taught her how to achieve this trance state

  • interpreted by the Whites as putting her in touch with separate "intelligences"

  • an altered state of consciousness in which her ordinary conscious mind was not put into abeyance, but remained active so that she could achieve "intelligent co-operation" with the "intelligences" teaching her

  • a means of her "entering" a separate, higher realm of being where she developed new understanding and new capabilities
     It's possible to dismiss Betty White as nothing more than a channelor, an ordinary trance medium. But a careful study of ordinary channelors reveals that almost all of them went into an altered state of conscousness in which their conscious mind was placed in total abeyance and a foreign "personality" took complete possession of their body and mind.

      This is clearly not the higher trance state that Betty White achieved. She retained her ordinary consciousness, moved outside her body to another locus of awareness, learned from outside intelligences of a higher realm, and reported what she learned and experienced. Even when a separate "intelligence" spoke through her, Betty retained conscious awareness.

     In technical parlance, we can call Betty's higher trance state self-induced. In this aspect, her state of consciousness appears to have similarities with that of Edgar Cayce, who put himself into a trance state. Cayce, however, had learned to induce his kind of altered state from working with a hypnotist and he was unconscious during his "readings."

     In Part II of this series of essays we'll examine how Betty and Stewart Edward White presented a practical methodology in the achievement of the higher trance state.

Norman D. Livergood


1 These essays are included in the forthcoming book,
Portals to Higher Knowledge

2 Acts 17 (Phillips rendition]

3 All quotations are from The Betty Book, (1937)