Harold W. Percival


How This Book Was Written

by Benoni B. Gattell

There may be those who would like to read about the manner in which this book was produced by Harold Waldwin Percival. For them I am writing this with his permission.

Percival dictated because, as he said, he could not think and write at the same time, as his body had to be still when he wanted to think. He dictated without referring to any book or other authority. I know of no book from which he could have gotten the knowledge here set down. He did not get it and could not have gotten it clairvoyantly or psychically.

In answer to a question how he obtained the information, Percival said that several times since his youth he had been conscious of Consciousness. Therefore he could become conscious of the state of any being whatever, whether in the manifested Universe or the Unmanifested, by thinking about it. He said that when he thought of a subject intently the thinking ended when the subject opened up as from a point into completeness. The difficulty he encountered, so he said, was to bring this information into his mental atmosphere. A still greater difficulty was expressing it precisely and so that any one would understand it, in a language in which there were no suitable words.

Thirty-seven years ago he gave me much of the information now in this book. For thirty years I have lived with him in the same house and written down what he dictated. Since 1912, Percival outlined the matter for the chapters and their sections. Whenever both of us were available, throughout these many years, he dictated. He wanted to share his knowledge, however great the effort, however long the time it took to clothe it in accurately fitting words.

He did not use specialized language. He wanted anyone who read it to understand the book. He spoke evenly, and slowly enough for me to write his words in long hand. Though most of what is in this book was expressed for the first time, his speech was natural and in plain sentences without vacuous or turgid verbosity. He gave no argument, opinion or belief, nor did he state conclusions. He told what he was conscious of. He used familiar words or, for new things, combinations of simple words. He never hinted. He never left anything unfinished, indefinite, mysterious. Usually he exhausted his subject, as far as he wished to speak about it, along the line on which he was. When the subject came up on another line he spoke of it along that. He said this book deals with general things and there are innumerable exceptions.

Percival spoke freely to anyone who approached and wanted to hear from him about the matters in this book. At times he talked in answer to questions for more details. He asked that these questions be precise and on one point at a time.

What he had spoken he did not remember in detail. He said that he did not care to remember the information I had set down. He thought of every subject as it came up, irrespective of what he had already said about it. Thus when he dictated summaries of previous statements he thought about the matters once more and acquired the knowledge anew. So often new things were added in the summaries. Without premeditation, the results of his thinking on the same subjects along different lines, and sometimes at intervals of years, were in agreement. Thus in the eighteenth section of the chapter on Re-existence the views are along the lines of Consciousness, continuity and illusions; in the first six sections of chapter fourteen the view is from the standpoint of thinking; yet what he said about the same facts at these different times under these different circumstances was compatible.

Sometimes sections were re-dictated, if he opened a subject so wide that a restatement became necessary. The language which he used was not changed. Nothing was added. Some of his words were transposed for readability. When this book was finished and typewritten he read it and settled its final form, replacing some of the terms which were makeshifts by happier ones.

When he dictated this book and had time he formerly lacked, he created a terminology which accepted words which were in use, but might suggest what he intended when he gave them a specific meaning. In every case he gave definitions or descriptions when words were used by him with a specific meaning. He said “Try to understand what is meant by the term, do not cling to the word.” The only word he coined is the word aia [pronounced eye-uh] because there is no word in any language for what it denominates.

January 2, 1932