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“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
Here are some frequently asked questions that we have heard over the years. The responses should help to give you a better understanding of these life-healing teachings. They can also clear up common confusions and misconceptions. Take them in with a receptive spirit and many mysteries will be dissolved in the light of higher understanding. The first eleven FAQs are brand new ones. (Last updated March 1, 2017)
Question: Why study Vernon Howard’s teachings?
Answer: The reason to study the teachings of Vernon Howard is that they really work. They open the gateway to the higher understanding of everything we experience and will provide a new calmness and command in daily life. You will find them unlike any other teachings … but don’t take our word for it. You must keep in mind an unusual request that we’re often reminded of in New Life classes: “You don’t have to believe anything you hear or read. The proof that these principles can transform your nature is in the experiencing of them.” Only then will you really be on your way to encountering something authentic, lasting and ultimately, very satisfying.
Question: I’m confused about what is actually good for me. My family and friends say one thing but in my heart I sense that nothing they recommend, like pursuing more activities, getting more friends or more money, is working for me.
Answer: This sensing can be the beginning of a stunning breakthrough because a necessary stage you must go through is to realize that nothing you’ve tried up until now has worked. While there is temporary excitement, there is no deep and lasting contentment.
Question: But how do I know if Vernon Howard’s teachings can really help me?
Answer: You must be willing to work with the teachings to begin to enjoy their life-healing benefits. When inner willingness meets an outer truth, something rings true inside of you with a definite certainty and purity. Imagine that a friend enthusiastically recommends a movie to you. You can listen to your friend tell you about how great the movie is but until you actually see the movie yourself, you only have someone’s opinion. You then go see the film and after that, you have gained first-hand experience. You are now able to decide for yourself because you went beyond mere words.
Vernon Howard once said that the Truth itself is a million miles above the words used to describe it. There is absolutely no substitute nor can there be any substitute for the personal witnessing of the power of Truth. And the further you go with this, the more you will learn about and experience this power for yourself.
Question: I am upset that I am not going fast enough or far enough on this path.
Answer: Who are you talking about? Who is not going fast enough or far enough? Always go back to the basics like the knowledge that there exists within you both a true self and a false self. It is the competitive and petty false self that feels discouraged with progress because it wants to call itself spiritually enlightened. This false nature has had its sway over our thoughts and feelings for a very, very long time and it will not give up easily. But the assurance exists that there is a true part within that wants to grow up spiritually. This part can be developed and nurtured to the point that our lives belong to it and not to the imposter.
Question: I want to experience this liberation for myself more than anything!
Answer: With a right intention and aim, there will be moments where you feel that something higher is present and trying to reach you. Vernon once said that an experience with God can never be taken as an experience with man. You will know and feel with certainty that you have been touched by something outside of this world.
Question: What explains why things happen to us and why some people seem to have so many troubles and problems?
Answer: “Level of being” explains it all. The level of being is the actual life level that a person occupies, not the level he or she claims to occupy. How much understanding a person has of human nature, his own and others, determines what happens in his or her outer life. Vernon once gave a story illustrating this principle. It was about a father at the beach with his children. He threw a stick out into the ocean numerous times and showed them that the tide always brought the stick back into shore. Whatever is put out by us comes back to us. The lesson that “The waves never lie” are words of wisdom that everyone can take out into life. A low level of being, like a life lived in interior anger and bitterness, is released into the world and will always come back to the sender. Are you beginning to see how higher knowledge can not only raise our level of understanding but can also protect us from all kinds of harm?
Question: Nervousness is a much bigger problem for me than I had previously realized. Could you comment on this?
Answer: Ah yes! Nervousness and all its dark buddies. Vernon said in A Treasury of Trueness #348: “The reason human beings are so jittery is that they are trying to pass counterfeit money.” And in #349: “Your single greatest cause of nervousness is your unawareness of it.” So we’re nervous because the pretender in us is faking its way through life. But amazingly, merely becoming more aware that this is what is actually happening begins to loosen its hold on us.
Question: This warring world seems to be getting completely out of control. How can I discern truth from falsehood in this crazy atmosphere?
Answer: Only the spirit can cut through all the deception to discern right from wrong but a beginning can be made by seeing that wild emotions want to rob us of all logic. In Treasury of Positive Answers #266, Vernon says, “Substituting emotion for pure logic is like burning a book instead of reading it.” To want to develop mental clarity, common sense and simple logic are a fine starting point in the aim to increase spiritual understanding.
Question: In society it does seem as though things are deliberately being made ambiguous and obscure which results in producing even more agitation, confusion and fear.
Answer: That’s a good insight. One way we’re kept slaves of our negative reactions to everything is to be so dazed and overwhelmed by what is going on that we just stay stuck in a whirlpool of base thoughts and emotions. A person tied up in psychic knots cannot decide which way to go. But the incredible news is that any destructive state can be conquered.
Question: More and more often I seem to be overwhelmed by fearful states like anxiety and dread. I know they’re interfering with my ability to handle what comes my way in life but how do I conquer them?
Answer: To quote Vernon, “Fear can be conquered but you must rise up against it with tremendous emotion, then settle down to study and understand the entire process of fear.” (Secrets for Higher Success,
page 213). Studying the entire process means to study ourselves. God did not intend for fear to dominate our mental and emotional lives but in our panic to feel better, we forget all about God. The honest truth is that we are not alone here. A Higher Power is with us every step of the way if we will yield our will to it. And these teachings provide us with endless resources to understand what that means. It’s very inspiring to remember the following statement that Vernon once made in class: “God fears nothing!”
Question: I have been reading Vernon Howard’s books, listening to his MP3 CDs and find his work to be wonderful. I’ve thought of coming to a class or banquet but just don’t seem to be able to make it. I’m resistant to taking that next step.
Answer: How much resistance do you have when invited to participate in one of your favorite activities? Hardly any when the interest level is high. So, work to develop more and more enthusiasm for living a life of true command and not one of surrender to the impression of the moment. One day it can dawn on you that resistance in the spiritual realm is literally the choice between light and darkness. More and more you can learn that being asleep is dangerous and that you feel much better when being alert, aware and awake. When refusing a morose, apathetic sleep state, you can have the experience of being a much happier, lighter human being.
Where New Life classes and banquets come in is to bring the choice between right and wrong into much sharper focus. Truth says it is your life and it is your choice, but also makes it clear that the rewards of choosing the higher are so refreshing and so renewing, why would you ever go back to the old, lazy way?
Question: How can I correct my mistakes, so they aren’t continually repeated?
Answer: Come to a full, conscious stop at the moment you see you made a mistake. Here’s an instructive example of something that occurred recently while two students were proofreading The Power of Esoterics for a new e-book publication. The men in the Southern California classes were using this book for a class, and one discovered a fairly serious mistake in one story, and it was sent to Richard by email. The proofreaders in Pagosa Springs read the same story and came to a place where they both sensed something wrong but didn’t come to a stop, just went full speed ahead reading. Sound familiar? The proofreaders received the correction email the same day they had read the story — what are the chances of that “coincidence” happening!?
This incident illustrates what we should and should not do about an error. When we sense something wrong, when the still small voice speaks to us, we must listen and come to an immediate halt! If we ignore it and listen to contrary voices that tell us to keep moving blindly ahead, our impulsivity will get us into trouble. But if we see we didn’t stop, we can still just say “I was wrong” and now I can learn. Remember, to correct a mistake I must first see it as a mistake. “It is good to see the bad.” Don’t avoid and condemn the revelation of your mistake. The sensing of something wrong is a friend, not a foe.
Question: Tell me again what New Life is all about.
Answer: Another way of life exists without problems or pain. It contains no heartache or regret and is free of pretense, emotional torment and financial struggle. Isn’t that what your heart really wants? You’ll find it here.
Question: How in the world can it be that human beings love their psychological pain, that I love my misery? Why does everyone want to feel bad?
Answer: Tormenting thoughts are allowed and even welcomed into an undeveloped mind. How strange that people are so in love with the familiarity of dark and gloomy thoughts that they cling to them with everything they have. It is fantastic but there does exist a low-level force operating in the recesses of the mind that is working overtime to keep the pain going. Hypnotized by this false feeling of life, humans actually fight Truth when it says to just walk away. If you are a sincere student of these teachings, you have been called to “come out from among them.” It takes genuine courage to face the fact that it is my love of and dependence on the lower that is preventing my ascent to the higher. In his book There is a Way Out, Vernon puts it this way, “It is cosmic law that you cannot retain anything you cease to love.” Stop loving the pain and it will depart.
Question: As I go through my day I seem to be very tense and on-edge, even when no crisis is looming.
Answer: Relaxation is actually painful to the average human being. To relax and to let go of the problem is viewed by the unnatural personality as an enemy state. We are perpetual motion machines, if not physically then certainly in our thought lives. Vernon Howard often said things like “Be real honest now — what do you really love? Do you love peace and quiet or do you love your noisy mind and your dramatic feelings?” The artificial nature urges us to never stop, to keep going the way we have been for all these years. Go against that bad advice by relaxing right now as you are reading these lines. One of the astonishing things you’ll see is that when letting go is welcomed by the small seed of rightness within, tension has nowhere to go.
Question: What in the world is going on with this planet? Awful events, endless wars, economic depressions, fear, confusion, insane solutions from obvious idiots. I want to know what’s really going on and what I should do!
Answer: Most people are afraid to even bring this question up to consciousness for fear that there is no answer. But if we are ever to make it out, we’ll have to honestly ask ourselves “What in the world is going on?” And what is going on is that there really is a destructive force, which wants to ruin every individual’s chance to reach the higher. Don’t fall for it when you’re urged to take the path of least resistance, to just go along with crowd thinking, like believing the falsehood that things in this world are actually getting better. Don’t listen when it insists that you will be safer staying in the confinement of your mental prison than to begin to ‘Question Everything’.
This force operates in this world through human beings. Have you ever been excited about a spiritual principle you’ve learned about in these teachings and have tried to relay the excitement of that new insight to someone else? For example, the dawning of awareness of how easily we fall into negativity. And you’ve been met either with the assurance that they live with no negativity or that any exploration of our own confusion and torment would be too scary? You need not be affected or discouraged by others’ lack of interest because you can make the vow right now to go all the way in spite of everything.
Simply know that we must stop fighting the world and stop trying to save it. We need only leave it, psychologically, spiritually in order to rise to a higher level that is a million miles above this warring world. Really understand what runs this planet and the confusion and torment will end. God has not left us here without an escape route. Understanding the truth protects us from all worldly chaos and evil because “When you understand you do not fear.”
Question: I can’t help but think that all of the mistakes I‘ve made over the years, especially when I was younger, are going to disqualify me from finding the New Life you talk about.
Answer: Stop identifying with your mistakes. In reality, there is absolutely nothing that glues the present you to who you were at 18 when you made that stupid blunder. What you did back then has no power to block your wish for genuine understanding now. This is important now — you don’t pretend that incident didn’t happen. You don’t repress the memory of it. You don’t yell at the memory to go away. You remember the incident with clarity but withdraw the idea of ‘self’ that you’ve attached to it. It is perfectly possible to do this. But right now, these excursions into the past seem to provide a ‘secure’ anchor to who you think you are. Only something higher than your memories can show you how to rightly refuse their intrusion into your mind.
Question: I was recently faced with a very difficult situation. Harsh thoughts, questions and bad feelings were tormenting me and just wouldn’t stop coming. My thoughts and feelings were out of control. But then I remembered the spiritual directive, “Dare to not think about it.” Even though I was still struggling, I made repeated attempts to say ‘NO’ to the crazy thoughts and internal chaos. What happened astounded me. The weight of the pain disappeared and I was able to handle the problem in a calm and mature way. Everything turned out just fine but most importantly, I learned that these principles do just what they say they’ll do — they work!
Answer: This is exactly what applying this Work in our daily experiences means. Where else do we really live but within our own inner thoughts and feelings? There is nothing more important for personal growth than to rightly apply these very high principles rather than just talking or thinking about them. There’s a famous Vernon Howard story about a character he named Cabbagehead Q. Dummo. Cabbagehead went out and bought cans of paint for his barn over and over again. He just kept buying and storing the paint but never painted the barn. In other words, he never applied the special mixture that could have taken his barn building from an unsightly mess to a completely new structure. It’s precisely that way with the genuine spiritual life; this Work is made to be applied and used so that the day comes when the torment is taken out of every challenge, every situation. You don’t have to hold back from working with these ideas because of laziness or for fear of failure. Yes, it’s hard work but the reward is a free mind and a brand new life.
Question: Please go over again exactly what these teachings will do for me.
Answer: The Vernon Howard principles available in all of his materials and taught in the New Life classes will allow you to extract the meaning of life from the most unlikely situations. You can actually understand why life is the way it is and you can learn how to flow peacefully and richly through it. For example, a simple trip to the Post Office to mail a package will be an entirely new learning experience. When you see the long line you have to wait in, you actually notice your irritation, whereas before you were completely overtaken by it. You are aware of other bored and impatient people around you but by being conscious of these states within yourself as well, you can choose not to behave like them. When you finally reach the window and realize you left your wallet in the car, you become fully aware when you got out of the car and hurried into the building, you were “asleep” when you could have and should have been awake. Finally, when the clerk tells you it’s okay to go get your wallet and come back without waiting in line again, you get the full experience of seeing how much what we call the ups and downs of life are really caused by our own life level. We see how much we have a part in why things happen as they do. It is you and I, not “them” or those events that ruined the day. And how does this help us to understand the meaning of life? By becoming aware of my responsibility for my own life, I take command of it. And the roller coaster existence of highs and lows is gradually replaced with a “peace that passeth understanding.” Where there was once agitation, confusion and pain, there is now an inner calmness that transcends the human intellect.
Question: I’m not sure I’m a person who can be honest, really honest with myself. Maybe I’m just not capable.
Answer: Vernon Howard used to say, “Is anything too much for God?” It is extremely good and helpful to recognize that right now you may not be able to tell the truth. Ask for help. Say “God show me what I’m really like and then teach me that I’m not that either.”
Question: Why has my nature not changed? Or to put it another way, why is my level still so low and my behavior so childish?
Answer: You need to reach the point in your studies where being told the truth about yourself is a pleasure, not an upsetting or unwanted experience. Truth can never force itself upon you, but is always right there with the explanation when you are ready to enter into mental silence.
Question: The other day I saw a thought flash through my mind that was completely contradictory to my usual attitude about a particular subject. I never thought I would say this but I got excited to see proof of the contradictory mind-machine in action!
Answer: All of these small steps will one day lead out of the human jungle into spiritual sunshine. Can you see how this kind of enthusiasm provides the energy for more and more liberating discoveries? It is supremely positive to know that we now dwell in the cellar because only this kind of an honest and forthright admission will motivate us to make the “great escape.”
Question: Society’s chaos and disorder frighten me. Shouldn’t we all band together to bring some sense to this warring world?
Answer: Saving the world and helping other people is one of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated on unsuspecting mankind. It took an awakened and highly evolved human being, Vernon Howard, to expose this gigantic falsehood to deluded humanity. Darkness knows it can tempt almost all lost souls who are searching for a way out to take this detour because: 1) it provides an easy escape from seeing our own wrong nature and 2) we then forget our real purpose in life — to find the way back home. Banding together with other lost people always places us in a dangerous position, for the masses are mad and can never think correctly and logically. They tempt you to take sides, to adopt a viewpoint and to fight an enemy. Of course, you are now “right” and they are “wrong”. You have found an identity as a “good” person and they are labeled as the “bad” people. As Vernon said (on MP3 CD, Volume 8, Talk 11), “You’re depending on enemy forces for you to feel angelic.” You’ve lost yourself in a cause, added yet another identity to the shaky false self and are farther than ever away from finding your true and real self. Don’t go there! Don’t go with them. Walk away and start heading toward home.
Question: I feel I already know who I am. I have a lot of activities and a lot of friends and family that provide me with security. Oh, of course there are moments of doubt and unhappiness but that’s just part of life, isn’t it? I don’t understand. Why should I study myself?
Answer: When taken all the way, sincere and intense self-study will provide you with the life you really yearn for. But most people prefer to remain where they are, believing they already know and that they know who they are. This is one of the most solid defenses of the Old Nature. It is imperative to see that a mere idea about life is not real life. How in the world can we learn anything new when we’re clinging to the false premise that we already know? What is really fascinating is that there is a part deep inside that senses it does not know. It feels the emptiness in all of the activities and distractions and it is definitely aware that nothing in this world has ever brought permanent contentment and peacefulness to daily life. You’re not running toward senseless distractions; you’re running away from the emptiness you sense and from the fear that nothing else exists. Something Else does exist. Try very hard to be silent and to receive its message.
Question: Other people at work seem to be getting promoted faster than I am. I’m beginning to feel left behind. Can these teachings help me to advance more quickly in my job?
Answer: Lots of people in the workplace struggle to understand why things happen as they do in their vocation. It seems that those who work the hardest are often rewarded the least. Inexperienced people with seemingly little knowledge are put in charge and given a fancy title. Personal integrity doesn’t seem to count for anything anymore. But listen to this. With these teachings, you are actually being given a pair of X-ray glasses with which to see the real motives of people, including your own! It’s fine to do the best job you can but it’s a huge trap to connect success in your occupation with your inner worth.
Vernon Howard makes it clear that there is really only one true definition of success and that is simply the attainment of genuine personal happiness. This is an authentic state not dependent on an object or a person or a societal reward, but a happiness that flows from the inside out. If you’re sincerely working with these ideas, your whole focus will change. For one thing, you’ll catch your mistakes before they happen. You’ll no longer be caught up as fiercely as you once were in jealously and “people-pleasing.” Work will take on a new richness because you’re in tune with using your skills to the fullest. Your reward is not a pat on the back from someone else but the new understanding that resides within you. Interactions with other people will become more pleasant and phony behavior will be replaced with genuine communication. Because of expanding awareness, the work that you used to call drudgery now becomes a tool for learning something new about yourself, about others and about life. At the end of the day, you come away with a real sense of satisfaction and you feel richer, not poorer.
Question: Why do I suffer?
Answer: I suffer because I don’t really understand myself. I suffer because I live from ideas about myself that clash with ideas others have about me. I suffer because I live from illusions about life that crash into reality. I suffer because I live from a false nature that suffers. I suffer because I want my way, but with everyone else wanting his or her way, who can win? I just do spiritually stupid things, like living from a hostile nature, which can only result in self-suffering. Thank God I came in contact with something higher than the suffering. Vernon Howard explained that suffering is stupid and doesn’t have to be endured one minute longer. The sufferer must declare independence from the suffering nature and then, where is the problem?
Question: How can I face reality and not run away and hide?
Answer: Come back to NOW. Don’t think about yourself. Now you’re safe — with nothing to run away from.
Question: When I ask God for help, it doesn’t seem to come. What’s wrong?
Answer: We’ve been told if we are sincere, if we really want higher help, it will come. Also we’ve been told that people are often not really praying to God but only to themselves or to something very base and low. (See the “Prayer Mountain” story in Solved — The Mystery of Life, for example.) So first always watch and question your prayers: What is my state? What am I saying? What are my real motives? For years we’ll observe wrongness, yet it is right to keep watching and asking, to “cry out for help” (see A Treasury of Trueness, #2303). Daily, minutely, ask what is God’s will instead of my own. Of course the false self only wants its own way, but seeing that consciously will weaken and change the state to a right request for trueness and innocence. God is helping us in ways we don’t yet see. We will gradually be able to see more as we become free of the bondage of self.
Question: We’ve been told to go out into the world and to use our daily experiences to observe the folly of human nature. One thing I observe all around me is that a lot of people seem to be just going through the motions. They’re very active but when you look at their faces and observe their states of mind, they seem to be bitter toward life.
Answer: These teachings say that futility is doing something without knowing why you’re doing it. People go through their whole lives doing things, pursuing things, without really understanding why they’re doing them. They have their money, their friends, their businesses, their families, but they do not operate from an independent spirit, they do not own their own lives. And rather than look for the real cause of unhappiness, they become bitter and hardened when life fails them.
In reality, the underlying cause of all discontentment can be tracked back to this feeling of futility. At the core, underneath all of the rushing around, there is a voice saying “What’s really the use of all this?” There is a sensing of missing the point of life but unfortunately it’s often accompanied by a pervasive, almost paralyzing fear that lasting relief is not attainable. But Truth assures us that we haven’t been left here alone with no answer, with no way to escape this fierce, mauling world. The solution comes with knowing this feeling of futility is with us constantly, but that we must not try to fill the emptiness ourselves. Everything comes back to wanting authentic fulfillment. You see, when you’re on the spiritual path laid out by these teachings, there is always true purpose. There are no nagging doubts about whether what you’re doing is right, if what you’re doing is good for you. You will feel the fulfillment and you will know that God can lead you all the way out.
Question: We often see the ‘attack’ or challenge as coming from outside of ourselves. But in reality, it’s frequently coming from our own mind. Right?
Answer: Yes, right. One student recently told this story in a New Life class. She drove a long distance one day to attend an exercise class but when she got there, found out it had been canceled. At this point a choice presented itself — either fall into disappointment and annoyance or try to be fully present in the moment and enjoy the drive back through the beautiful countryside. She chose the latter and stated, “It was so nice not to be attacked,” that is, it was a huge relief not to be attacked by the harping mind which would have complained about the time wasted, about the gas money spent, about not getting the anticipated exercise, etc. Remember that phrase “It’s so nice not to be attacked” the next time something negative wants to act in your name, the next time the impostor inside of you demands that it has the right to tell you how to feel.
Question: Why do you say you must follow this teaching by Vernon Howard in order to wake up spiritually? I already know another spiritual teacher.
Answer: Sooner or later you must decide for yourself whether that person really lives what he teaches or is just another one of the many examples of "the blind leading the blind and both fall into the ditch." Wrongness is not going to announce itself as wrongness. False teachers are very clever at leading us astray and will often even include a few truths in with the “weed seeds,” so question everything. Here is a general principle to follow when evaluating any teacher or teaching: the teacher or teaching must challenge you to see what is wrong first. It will never work if you first try to focus on your own “goodness.” Only when self-work is put in this sequence will the right eventually be revealed to you.
Question: Vernon Howard’s books and audio recordings have been very, very helpful to me. I thought my friends would find them useful too, but they have no interest at all whenever I talk about them. In fact, it seems as though they would rather I not bring the subject up. Why aren’t they as interested as I am?
Answer: It is said in these teachings that Truth is the only real friend you’ll ever have so consider yourself very fortunate! Truth continuously calls everyone but only a few can hear. Just about everyone’s peace and quiet is drowned out by the loud noise of society making its silly and dangerous demands, not to mention our own inner voices that add to the cacophony. Vernon Howard once said, ‘Truth is the most unpopular product on earth’ but of course what is right and what is godly is the only true liberator. People say they yearn to be free but almost everybody would rather stay shackled to their fear and their suffering. It’s their idea of security and they don’t want to give it up. They don’t want to learn about the keys that could open the prison door and teach them how to live a happy life with real meaning. Keep walking your own path and don’t worry about doing it alone. Ultimately, you will learn a great deal about your friends and you’ll be thankful for the insights. There is great significance to the saying “And the truth shall set you free.”
Question: Give me something I really need to know.
Answer: If you were to find out who you really are, you could be right in the middle of this cruel world and it would not be able to touch you at all.
Question: I make a spiritual aim and then almost immediately forget it.
Answer: Suppose you make an aim to get up early to study your spiritual lessons. You set the alarm for 5:30 am with every intention of getting up and doing something right for yourself. But when the alarm goes off at that early morning hour, you don’t get up but turn over and go back to sleep, forgetting the aim entirely. Why? Because the person who made the aim and the one who turned the alarm off are not the same person. The truth is that any unawakened man or woman lives from a very fragmented, scattered, contradictory and changeable nature.
One of the hallmarks of genuine spiritual work is to begin to observe our own internal life. Even a small bit of work in this area can lead to the shocking realization that we are being pushed this way and pulled that way by internal forces beyond our command. Living in this way tears us up inside. This insight should not be frightening, it should be immensely encouraging and freeing because at last we’re becoming acquainted with the enemy.
Question: How do I keep a spiritual aim?
Answer: To keep a spiritual aim, a super effort is required. Have you ever been at a sports arena after the game is over? People are pouring out of the exits, carelessly jostling others and pushing everyone else aside in their mad rush to get out. The spiritual parallel here is that if you want a different kind of a life, you can’t join the crowd but must deliberately and consciously walk against that tidal wave of humanity to reach safety. You must go against everything familiar to reach the other side. Make an intense effort to become aware of yourself at each moment and the needed help will come. Directing your energy in this way strengthens spiritual memory, which in and of itself can begin the process of uniting all the disparate parts of us. Instead of living from inner chaos, the whole nature can then begin to feel and understand events as they come to us.
Question: Sometimes I catch an imp in me that is shockingly resentful and hostile toward these ideas. Why do I block out and push away what could help me?
Answer: It is absolutely necessary to be aware that what has always had us in its grip will not easily let go. The impostor is very reluctant, resistant and yes, very hostile toward what is trying to shake us awake. Wrongness is extremely clever in making seekers believe that what is good is bad and what is bad is good. Is it bad for a prisoner to wish to escape his or her chains? Just know that your authentic wish to understand is stronger than all the opposing voices and forces in the world.
Question: What can be done to straighten out my mind? I want to be happy and free of suffering and problems but who can I trust to really help me?
Answer: These teachings say, “Follow only Truth.” The dawning light within a sincere student is perfectly capable of discerning the pure truth from an artificial version based on the personal interpretation of some so-called expert or teacher. Pure truth will never try to appeal with flattery nor will it ever compromise with human nonsense. For example, a real teaching will not mix in strategies of how to succeed in business or how to ‘get rich quick’ because these matters are not at the heart of true transformation.
As much as you’ll allow it, these teachings will get very personal with you. We’ve been fooled and hurt so much by following false paths we carelessly assume that Truth is out to hurt us or cheat us or take something ‘important’ away from us. But in reality it can offer the ultimate help precisely because it is not of this world, it is not like we are.
We can be very grateful for Truth’s clarity, directness and bluntness in exposing our actual position here on earth. We can also be very grateful for its flexibility as when it provides spontaneous lightness and humor to help us get rid of our stuffy, self-righteous images of being wise and profound. In essence, the spiritual path cuts straight through the jungle of sick human nature and avoidance of the path is avoidance of the Supreme Reason for being on earth.
Question: What is an example of an unseen enemy?
Answer: Well there are so many, like vanity, fear, hostility and pretense, even sadness which we take as us. Or how about insisting on winning the argument, which ends up ruining your relationships with the people in your life? You may not even know you always have to have the last word and insist you are always right and the other person is wrong. We see it in others but not in ourselves. Isn’t that really the cause of all divorces? This is sleep. This is being possessed by an unseen enemy we take as our friend. That is why it is always stressed to turn our attention inward and ask ourselves what is going on in there.
Question: Some people believe that because Vernon is not with us, they don’t need this teaching anymore, or that maybe another teacher will do it.
Answer: I quote, “Happiness is always and only the Spirit of Truth coursing through us.” What are the chances of finding that out there in this wicked world? For example, we need to be constantly reminded to break the mechanical flow of thought and come awake so something higher can reach us. But how many people can remember to do it on their own? The sleep state is too deep. Once you have found a True teaching hold on tight.
There are many traps along the path. Vernon once gave a great story about this. Briefly, he said, people heard about the great treasures (spiritual wealth) somewhere beyond the mountains and so began the journey. But one by one, because the journey was long and hard, they came back. They lied and said they found the treasure and began to tell others how to find it.
The world is filled with those who start the spiritual path but before finding the treasure, begin to deceive themselves and others in saying they know the way. Maybe a few of them even heard Vernon Howard at one time. Vernon once said, “New Life is like a café, which prints at the bottom of the menu “No substitutions allowed.”
Question: These teachings state that we can become free. It seems to me that I’m already free. What do you mean?
Answer: Are you free from psychological suffering? Are you free from anger, jealousy, anxiety and other negative states? Do you go about your day happy, knowing that God is truly in charge of this life that you’re living? Or do you feel a haunting and compelling need to protect the things in your life from being taken away from you — like money, people, power, possessions? Is that freedom? We must earnestly ask, “Who is this person that these things can be taken away from?” Any description of this person is not a description of your True Self — your Kingdom of Heaven within. There are no words to accurately describe the True Self — it is something that must be lived by you. As Vernon Howard wrote in There Is a Way Out, page 104:
“Describe to me the nature of this new life.”
“Describe to me the taste of a peach.”
Freedom is like that. You must taste it for yourself. You must see what it is not and it is not worrying about a past or future event. It is lived in the present moment, consciously.
Question: What does it mean when you say to think from Truth about life, not from life about Truth?
Answer: Thinking from life about Truth leads to distorted viewpoints, for example, treating Truth studies as one compartment of life, separate from work life, family life, social life, sports life, etc. This separation blocks the understanding that the one and only purpose of life here on earth is to completely abandon the old nature so that an entirely new nature can be born within us. In other words, everything in this life must be put into the service of the higher. Right now, we suffer from a divided mind and spirit. If Truth is the supreme force that can heal any wound, any heartache, which it is, thinking from Truth about life will bring together all of our disconnected parts into one unified whole and that is what the heart is really yearning for.
Question: I’ll have a higher insight that I know does not come from my mind but then I’ll fall back into depression. What’s going on?
Answer: What you’ll encounter when truly working on yourself with these principles is that a period of light will be followed by a period of darkness. It was once explained that when you start out, the periods of darkness last for a long, long time with relieving insights coming at short intervals. The further you go, however, the longer the stretches of light become and the shorter the periods of darkness until you are living 100% in the light. The key is to persist during the periods of darkness. Do not give up. Do not give in to the feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless. God wants you to succeed. But the reward will come on Truth’s terms, not on our terms. The light comes because we’ve gone through the wrenching process of giving up what we call ourselves. Spiritual success hinges on the willingness to leave the old nature behind without knowing what will replace it. If we’ll do this, the empty space will be filled with Truth’s light.
Question: Why do these teachings continually emphasize being aware and awake and staying in the present moment?
Answer: “Instead of falling asleep and becoming more of yourself, stay awake!” This is the way out of all problems because what we call ourselves is the problem maker. Staying awake where higher help can reach us is what our hearts really want.
Question: What does it mean to be saved?
Answer: Can you see that there is something wrong with the world and with your life in particular? Honesty and self-study will reveal that a sinister force within is lying to you day and night. Its purpose is to hurt you and to prevent you from rising above yourself. This force does not want even one human being to escape. One of its lies is to place the blame outside — to point the finger at other people and events for the choices we ourselves have made. To live an authentically free and happy life, to make it out, to be saved, we must take full responsibility for our thoughts, feelings and actions. We cannot blame anyone for anything but must come to the freeing realization that the inner determines the outer. The inner state is like a magnet that attracts people and events to itself. Work to release negativity and to raise the level of your state with these workable principles and all will be different. For example, do we need fear or anxiety or anger? NO, of course not! But we must face the fact that if we suffer from these painful and destructive emotions, we’re somehow inviting them into our psychological home. We’ve been hoaxed into believing they are our friends. To be saved means to boot out all of the nonsense so that it can be replaced by genuine celestial guidance. While this is bad news for the artificial nature that’s controlled us for so long, it’s wonderful news for who we really are.
Question: My friends say I don’t need this. They say what I need to do is to believe in Jesus because the bible says we have to believe to be saved.
Answer: Haven’t you met a lot of people who say that but who are still secretly sad and hostile? Notice people, people of all ages, when you go out into the world. Notice the facial expression of those elderly people as you pass them in the grocery store. Do they look relaxed and happy or do they look defeated? Just believing is self-deception and is an excuse for not doing the hard work required to wake up, which is what Christ really taught. Did he not say “Awake, awake, thou that sleepest?”
Nothing that is worthwhile is ever going to be attained without work. We understand this in relation to our efforts in daily life — on the worldly level — but why do we think that merely saying we ‘believe’ is going to result in spiritual awakening? In this work, we’re told to not believe anything but to prove the validity and viability of everything we’re learning here for ourselves. Truth offers us ample encouragement. For example, when trying to be aware of what’s going on both inside and outside of you, have you personally felt a sense of true power in awareness? Awareness and thought are very different states. Thought is circular and repetitive; awareness is alive and vibrant. As Vernon once said, “Why believe when you can know?”
Question: Sometimes these teachings seem to be too tough on us.
Answer: It is the false self, the egotistical self, which is insulted by these spiritual facts. Who we are in reality is someone else entirely, someone who is not afraid of anything in this whole world. Although undeveloped at present, there is an authentic part of us that loves hearing the truth and responds with delight. This is the part Vernon is trying to reach but because our resistance is so great, shocks must be given to awaken it. Though people search the world over, happiness can never be found without discovering and living from the true self within. It is an illusion that any success in this world can make us content. All of us have known people who, when they reached the height of success, became exceedingly depressed because the promised reward turned out to be an empty package. Still, this teaching will never be popular with the masses; in fact, the truer the teaching, the fewer the students.
Question: I am beginning to sense the shallowness of the so-called rewards of this world, but still feel compelled to try to achieve public popularity and success.
Answer: Realize what a dreadful price you pay to society for its smiles and pats on the back. If you were elevated to the greatest level of public popularity ever achieved, it wouldn’t reduce your self-doubt one bit. Never fall into depression because you fail to win accolades or wealth or excitement. God doesn’t care one bit if you succeed in this way.
Question: I recently was very hurt by the betrayal of someone close to me. What should I do?
Answer: Know that the pain does not reside in the situation itself. What causes the hurt and the shock and the disappointment is the expectation that the person should behave differently, should behave in a decent way toward you. Each one of us is perfectly capable of ceasing to live in fantasy by beginning to understand that lost human nature can do nothing but betray. The only thing that will never ever hurt or betray you is the truth itself. Truth will explain, inspire and heal in a way that the ordinary solutions of this world never can.
Question: Recent events in the news are shocking and scaring me.
Answer: Because we have a physical presence on this earth, it is very difficult for us to understand that the real rewards of this life are spiritual, invisible. No matter what horrors are going on around us, there is a higher power within that can transcend it all. We are not at the mercy of a society gone mad.
Never forget that God is stronger than anything that happens to this planet. If we carelessly fall into fear from what we see, we are feeding the negativity, both within ourselves and in everyone around us. The feeling of helplessness can disappear but we must cooperate in our own rescue. That means making an intense effort to see what is really going on.
Question: It seems as if pursuing Truth will take a lot of my time. Why can’t I just work with these principles when it’s convenient for me?
Answer: In order for our true nature to be liberated from the chains of the false personality’s demands, we need to make an unshakeable inner resolution and commitment to understand all of these things. In reality, we are in dire need of Truth’s help. To ever be different, to change our nature, we have to give up something. What we are now must vacate the premises to make room for the new. The beauty of Truth is that it can go wherever we do. This work is not just something we must take time out for in our busy day from a sense of drudgery. As a matter of fact, once we begin to fully realize what we’ve made contact with here, the real adventure starts. The tendency is to live a divided life in which there is ‘my life’ and then there is Truth. Working when we don’t want to work provides the chance to put our petty little life and concerns aside to gain something of real value. Start to use every opportunity to apply these spiritual teachings as you go about your everyday affairs and the division will start to fade. When you walk into that business meeting, for example, vow that you will use it as an opportunity to learn everything you can about yourself by alertly watching what goes on. Perhaps you’ll remember the higher principle of not being concerned with results and that will make all the difference in your feeling toward the meeting’s outcome. The false nature will feel threatened that it’s under scrutiny but do it anyway. This is the path to real self-wholeness.
Question: How did Vernon Howard become spiritually enlightened?
Answer: Vernon persistently and courageously did what he’s always urging us to do — to use this life in order to understand that there is another power in the universe besides the human mind. He wanted a transformed life with a direct connection to the Higher Power more than he wanted any temptation that the world could dangle in front of him. It’s really a matter of what we value. Everything depends on how much a seeker really wants out. One blockage that hinders a sense of urgency toward this aim is thinking from life about Truth, not from Truth about life.
Do you really want to continue to meekly surrender to a ruthless world that will use you and then toss you aside? Then work to know that a person’s level of spiritual understanding is his or her most valuable possession. If we’ll put Truth first, last and always, we’ll begin to see and feel the miracle of spiritual transformation for ourselves. But of course this release does not come without much resistance and fighting on the part of the hostile inner nature. As Vernon once said when asked how he woke up, “I fought with God until He won!” Anyone who reaches authentic enlightenment must break through every single wall of resistance and endure unto the end.
Question: I have heard that awakening can take place in a matter of weeks or even days. Is this true?
Answer: There is no such thing as instant salvation. To use a worldly example, would you expect to become a medical doctor in a matter of weeks or days? Of course you wouldn’t. You would know that to gain a certain level of expertise in this field would require a long period of study. It is the same in the spiritual world. We’ve been under the spell of our own habitual nature for so long that it will take an extraordinary effort to begin to truly ask God to help us break out. We must do this over and over again. But as we go along, it becomes our great pleasure to rid ourselves of delusion and to get ourselves out of our own way so we are in a position to receive heavenly impressions all day long.
Question: When I’m in the middle of the crisis, why can’t I remember my spiritual lessons?
Answer: There are a lot of reasons, but first and foremost it’s because we don’t want to. No, the false self asserts, I want to do this work, I want to obey right instructions. But as Vernon has often said, we fail to turn to higher truths because we’re having too much ‘fun’ being the center of our own attention, the star of our own dramatic stage performance. To truly grow, we must get off the stage altogether. Perhaps there is a part of us that loves what we’re hearing, but another part wants its own way and wants to only pretend to be a good and obedient student. This is a fascinating thing to observe and can lead to the realization that there really is a very dark force that will do anything and everything to stop our escape from living as we always have. This is not a gloomy or frightening perception at all, but a good and bright revelation. How can we know what spiritual riches await us if we do not thoroughly know the nature of the enemy?
Question: Why can’t we see more? Some people seem to have no “eyes to see or ears to hear.”
Answer: Watch how people actually see only what they want to see and nothing more. Then see it in yourself too. As the world increasingly spirals downward, it seems safer to hide one’s head ‘ostrich-like’ in the sand. But of course this doesn’t work. No matter how many times we turn our attention away from reality, the deep-seated fear is still there, isn’t it? Likewise, the old nature really has no wish to see its own wrongness, hostility, defensiveness, so it finds endless distractions to blind us to the pain. Do some work right now and consider what some of these distractions are. Keeping busy, pursuing the trivial, never slowing down long enough to watch our own thoughts and feelings, obsessing over something, using alcohol to dull the senses, to name but a few. Vernon Howard said, “I’m trying to get you unrepressed!” and we unfortunately are fighting against that kicking and screaming. The way out is to stay with the pain, to face it completely and to release our fear of seeing more deeply. Never, never run away or it will never go away! This is how to have a truly new experience. There’s no condemnation or judgment here, none at all. We’re simply watchful and aware of the inner states passing by and as we do this, the dawn starts to break. We realize that beyond the tyranny of the pain is the New Life we have wanted all along.
Question: What is Truth?
Answer: That is like asking “What is God?” It can’t be explained in words but we can join Truth by discarding all that is false within. Then all is well forever.
Question: Why doesn’t everyone want the pure truth?
Answer: Most people prefer to remain where they are, while believing they already know and that they know who they are. They go on blaming the exterior world for their difficulties instead of learning to do the right thing, which is to change the inner. This is the cause of all earthly woes, including war, but they will fight anyone who tries to disturb this identity (their ego) and will never know what they could have had. We can be different. We can choose to go all the way with this.
Question: How can we tell a true teacher?
Answer: Unless he continually urges us to work on ourselves by trying to wake up, to be aware, to turn our attention back on ourselves, to watch what is going on inside and to be honest about our actual inner condition (which is much different than the picture we have of ourselves), he is just another phony teacher. A true teacher doesn’t believe in the artificial identities we have built up for ourselves and doesn’t go along with them. He knows we are suffering from what we are hiding from ourselves and will help us to see it in order to be free. He will also help us not to be deceived by the exterior performance of others. He knows that everyone is especially terrified and confused when first hearing the truth and though right encouragement is given, there is no compromise. False teachers, not having first found the inner treasure themselves, are very shrewd at deceiving the masses. It is much worse than we think. But those who really want to know can begin to discern the difference by working according to these principles. All of this is good news but to see how good it is we first must see how bad it is.
Question: What if none of my relatives or friends supports my interest in these teachings?
Answer: As long we are more concerned with and attached to worldly things rather than focusing upon our own spiritual aims, we will be in danger of being dragged away from those higher aims. Until we’re living from real self-command, our relatives are often those who can ‘push more of our buttons’ than anyone else. We grew up with them; our sense of ‘I’ is strongly attached to them. We continue to believe we are still that small child or that person we remember, or the spouse, the mother, the brother, the sister or whatever label we place on ourselves. But truth reminds us we are not these identities that tell us how to feel, how to think and how to behave. True freedom lies in getting free of all of these identifications and the emotional baggage attached to them. The incredible fact is that their dissolution rids us of the fear of disapproval and rejection once and for all, allowing a genuine enjoyment of our human contacts and relationships for the very first time
Question: People attend New Life classes but is New Life a church or a school?
Answer: New Life is both. In a higher sense a church is a place where people gather to make a connection with God and that is certainly true of New Life. Anyone who has been to a New Life class, however, will not mistake it for a conventional church service. There are no people in robes, no religious ornaments on the walls, no statues in alcoves, no choirs, hymns or group prayers. New Life is a school for higher spiritual education where you learn that none of those things have anything to do with contacting God. With persistent effort, called ‘The Work’, you’ll come to understand the real purpose of your life and why you’re here on this planet. You’ll see that you can actually enjoy life instead of suffering from it but you’ll be asked to give up your old dark nature as the price. Incidentally, there’s no degree awarded in New Life classes because you don’t graduate from the Truth, you become one with it.
Question: There are areas of these teachings that I simply do not understand and this is causing me stress and frustration. What do I do?
Answer: It is great to admit you don’t know. To know you don’t understand something is a big, first step. That in itself is not a problem. Now don’t go on to make it a problem, to misunderstand. Stop right there and stay with that. This is a perfect example of the false ego-self trying to get an identity — “I am frustrated” — and therefore causing a difficulty in order to get a thrill, a vibration out of it. You only add more difficulties and pain by thinking and stirring up the waters. Just quietly watch and stay with not knowing. Let understanding come to you. It can’t come when your mind and emotions are full of “me” and “my stress.” If we already understood everything, why would we need Vernon Howard’s explanations to understand and receive the truth? We are like the child sitting in the highchair screaming “I want my food now.” We have to give up our childish demands and wait on God.
Question: I have heard things like this before. What makes this different?
Answer: We have all heard higher truths and maybe we can quote them glibly, but applying them will require all the help we can get. As we learn to see and drop the falsehoods that have made us unhappy, dark forces will use new and more devious means to prevent progress. The dark forces we are up against will give you 99% truth in order to deliver the 1% of falsehood that will stop your final spiritual success. Only a 100% pure spiritual source can give you the warnings about self-deception that will protect you from start to finish. Vernon Howard is a 100% pure spiritual source.
Question: What is something shocking I need to realize concerning my inner life?
Answer: Most people waste their entire lives thinking. Nothing from the higher world will ever be experienced unless a person drops thought, though few ever do. The answer lies in mental silence.
Question: Why are Vernon Howard classes not held in fancy church-like settings, with men in beautiful robes conducting the classes?
Answer: If something is real, it never needs window dressing to convince people that it is real. If there is something in you that longs for the higher life, that small part will know that these teachings are genuine guides to the way out and that is all that is necessary.
Question: Why are my prayers not answered?
Answer: Actually, they are, but because life works in a different way than we imagine, we don’t see that the cause of what we get is the result of our actual inner nature. By raising our level of being, we can request new and better things. How? Stop fighting what life brings. We have to stop blaming outer people and events. The inner determines the outer. As Vernon Howard said, “When you rebel in the wrong way against society, any other human being, against conditions, you are doing the very thing that keeps those conditions in place.” We are either working on ourselves and going uphill or going along with our old mechanical reactions and sliding downhill. What we really want is freedom from all that is wrong inside including the big phony actor. Then we will actually have a New Life — something real and lasting. And yes, we know it is right to keep calling on something for help that is not a part of the darkness.
Question: Why is it all so scary?
Answer: We have it backwards. It isn’t scary to who you really are. It is scary to the false parts inside that presently control your life and that are terrified that you will wake up and go to work to boot them out. These voices adamantly protest all along the way, but if you continue, some day you will see that this is the only real friend you ever had, because it is the only thing that can help you to win your own life back. And as we persist we begin to think, “How lucky can I be to have found this and stuck with it?”
Question: What does Mr. Howard mean when he says don’t plan your life?
Answer: On the everyday social level it’s fine to plan your life. We have to be good householders and take care of our day-to-day responsibilities. The psychological planning is where we go wrong. We constantly engage in mentally planning for future happiness, like trying to get someone into our lives or out of our lives or looking for security using our ideas of what security means. For example, perhaps we believe that if we get the right employment, we’ll make a reasonable amount of money and feel respected in this society. But this type of planning can never provide the true and lasting contentment our hearts really yearn for. What we gather to us from the outside world can never be used to convince ourselves that we’re happy inside. At some point haven’t you gotten what you wanted? And doesn’t a part of you know that it didn’t bring you authentic security? Anything that represents happiness in the future can’t work because true happiness can only be in the moment with a calm, quiet and aware mind that does not need anything outside itself to tell itself that it’s happy. Happiness is a state of being where trueness flows through us and directs us with ease and purpose through our days.
Question: Truth seems to require so much from me.
Answer: All Truth wants is for you to live a free and happy life. These teachings help us to understand why we have all these headaches and heartaches and how to get rid of them. We do not have to give up anything except what is hurting us. The truth of how we hurt ourselves is in plain sight, but we cannot as yet see it. Go to work with every bit of self-honesty you can muster in order to understand more deeply how the negative states that we so carelessly invite into our minds and emotions are interfering with our ability to live a decent, contented and truly free life. Each new insight will provide right excitement for uncovering the next needed revelation!
Question: I need practical solutions for dealing with daily problems with people and money; I don’t have time for pursuing the lofty.
Answer: Stick with these principles, apply them to your daily personal life and watch how old problems begin to disappear. The only proof you need is to investigate and experiment for yourself.
Question: How long does it take?
Answer: Your only requirement is an open mind and a willingness to learn and you will find help and relief at the very beginning of your studies. As you continue, you will find more and more helpful insights along the way as the progress continues. You won’t want to go back to the old ways of dealing with situations that used to drain your energy and time. The New Life will be yours forever.
Question: Won’t we become a dull person if we don’t allow ourselves to experience life with the full range of emotions we were given?
Answer: We were given feelings and thoughts as part of our human nature. However, there are valuable thoughts and feelings, and there are destructive thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, we’re spending most of our time giving way to all sorts of negative states, calling them right and necessary. The ability to use the mind and the emotions rightly comes from an intense wish for a higher purpose in life.
Try to see that something has taken possession of us and feeds on our mental and emotional energy. It twists this natural source of life into something wrong and destructive and worst of all, we believe that it is us. It is NOT. It is our great pleasure in this class to boot this wrongness out! What is left is a New Life that God is just waiting to give us.
Question: Vernon Howard said he was an ordinary man who found the extraordinary. What is meant by ‘the extraordinary’?
Answer: The same as the Kingdom of Heaven within, freedom from pain and suffering, uncovering the truth, which is hidden beneath numerous false identities and pretenses that we take as us but which in fact imprison our essence or spirit. Vernon once said if he could put only one sign on the New Life building, it would be, “There is something else.”
Question: What does it mean to be a spiritual detective?
Answer: It is a beautiful state where there is no judging, no condemnation, no set idea about how life should unfold according to the demands of the old nature. The spiritual detective is ever watchful, alert and open to facts about the inner states he is observing. There is no pushing away of what is found. He is unattached to the results of his experiment. He sees clearly without mental judgment what the cause and effect of certain actions are. For example, weakness is accompanied by other low states like fear, nervousness, guilt, irritation, etc. Through trial and error he begins to see for himself that personal weakness is destructive and harmful. Eventually this pure watching can take him all the way home to spiritual wholeness.
Question: I’m afraid by following these teachings, I’ll lose my friends.
Answer: It depends on what you and what they want. Certainly we are social beings. Friendship on the level of this world is often based on things we have in common like a love of sports, cooking, raising children, etc. But something different happens when we begin to question our lives in a new way. We found these teachings when we wanted something more — an authentic life — free from suffering, heartache, problems. Others like you found them too. It is this growing inner spiritual aim that draws to itself like-minded people with whom you have only things of value in common. As you follow these teachings, you’ll find that old friendships may fall away of themselves only to be replaced by a dawning understanding of life that provides all the comfort and understanding needed by the developing spirit.
Question: What are Vernon Howard’s credentials? Does he have philosophy or psychology degrees?
Answer: Vernon went a billion miles above and beyond the conventional credentials of this world. His book The Mystic Masters Speak reveals how widely he explored men of true wisdom, but his own awakening lifted him out of the world of words (though he was a supreme master there too) into a world of direct perception. Thus he inspires us to break free of the burden of memorized thought and to receive Truth directly.
Question: I overheard someone say that he stopped going to church as a young man because no one there could answer his questions. They just told him to “believe.” How do these teachings differ from religious doctrines?
Answer: These principles are based upon the same healing truths that Christ taught — that we must first die to what is wrong in us before we can experience the New Life. Then and only then will we discover how to live our lives rightly. You won’t find any rituals, self-flattery, or hypocrisy in Vernon Howard’s works. What you will find is how to truly understand yourself, why you do what you do and why things unfold the way they do in your life. We can discover how to find relief from society’s pressures right here, right now. True strength lies deep down inside but all false ideas of what it means to be strong must be discarded before it can be uncovered. We can learn the value of having a silent mind and that it is in this silence that God is finally able to speak to us.
Question: Is awakening a sudden experience?
Answer: No, awakening requires the long hard work of uncovering and recovering your natural essence. It’s a lengthy but necessary process, because the more F.P. (false personality) you have covering it up, the more work and the more resistance. There comes a point where you must turn completely toward heavenly help and it will be done for you. But not in imagination. Self-deception is our constant foe, always justifying our vanity and wrong behavior. Be still and listen for the true voice within.
Question: Isn’t there a gradual and increasing awakening of people all over the planet?
Answer: No, the hypnosis is becoming worse and the sleep deeper. Society’s propaganda has greatly increased in the last few decades. The myth that there will be a mass awakening is part of the fantasy sold to the millions to keep them imagining that they are all right the way they are, don’t need to change and are already on a higher level than most. We have been tricked long enough. The game is fixed. Get off life’s mad merry-go-round as Vernon Howard put it.
Question: Sometimes these teachings seem full of contradictions.
Answer: Isn’t Truth fascinating! It is far above the mind of opposites. We were trained, especially in schools and universities, to debate, to look for the opposite point of view, to argue about every little statement. This is on the mechanical level of thought that leads nowhere. Truth has no opposite. If you truly want to find understanding, answers about God and Reality, you must go to a higher level yourself.
Question: Why is Vernon Howard so negative?
Answer: I’m very glad you asked that question. People actually think that Truth ― including what Vernon teaches ― is out to hurt them but it is only out to expose what has been hurting us. Can that be negative? But to begin to sense this, an individual needs more insight into himself. A part of him must begin to suspect that he simply does not understand what is going on inside, though the false nature will try to convince him that he does. As Vernon puts it, “The healthy information you must acquire, the right information, at first seems to be the enemy.” The part of us that resists these teachings is the real enemy and knows it will be defeated at the hands of Truth so it desperately fights to hold on to us. It doesn’t want to lose a single soul. But anyone who continues to listen with an open mind will sooner or later be ever grateful for persisting in these studies despite everything.
Vernon Howard was fierce against the wrong parts of us but a conscious man cannot be negative. His strength was coming from a higher place. You could feel it in his presence during his lifetime and you can feel it now on films and recordings of his lectures. He is fighting for the essence within ― for who we really are. But Truth does not and cannot force itself on anyone. It is up to the individual to choose between the old life and the new and bright life that awaits us if we will love what we’re hearing.
Question: Why does so much emphasis seem to be placed on what is wrong with us? Isn’t it helpful to also remind ourselves of the good things in us?
Answer: Truth wants us to see things, including ourselves, as they really are. The reason we have every problem we’ve ever had is because we still see things the way we want to see them, not as they are in reality. It is the beginning of real sanity and decency to see that we’re really not at all the way we like to think of ourselves as being. No man can be truly helped until he at least begins to sense that he is in urgent need of help.
Question: Now that I’ve been working with these principles for a while, it seems that things are much worse than I had imagined, both in myself and others. Is this a correct view?
Answer: Actually things have always been as bad as you’re now sensing. It is simply that your awakening awareness is now revealing for the first time the reality of how things are. Few wish to see the emptiness of others’ lives, let alone their own. But do not despair, Vernon Howard told us that a deeper look into hell is always equaled by a higher look into heaven. You are on your way out!
Question: These teachings seem to emphasize personal development over helping others. Is there not something to be said for helping others?
Answer: No one can give to others what he has not first truly found for himself. The world is full of people who spread badness while calling it goodness. Honestly now, what have you given to yourself up until now in your own life? You have enough to do to save yourself. Dedicate your life to finding what is real and true. Then you will have something real to offer those who may approach you.
Here is a special lesson from Vernon Howard about helping others entitled Unearned Benefits: “It is extremely dangerous to give people unearned benefits. It first destroys the receiver of unearned benefits, then it destroys the society that gives out unearned benefits. The receivers destroy the givers and themselves. It is an absolute spiritual law that every benefit in life must be individually earned.”
Question: What is the proper sequence in which to study these materials?
Answer: We are used to studying programs that start with the fundamentals and then proceed to the more advanced material. But authentic, workable spiritual principles are not like that. You need not follow any sequence; jump in anywhere and if you’re sincerely willing to work with the principles, you’ll immediately find help, new understanding and relief. Often, when we choose a book or lecture whose title appeals to us, it contains exactly what we’ve been looking for. This is not an accident because a genuine prayer for higher understanding is always answered.
Question: Why does Vernon yell like that in his talks?
Answer: Because our psychological walls are so very thick. Only strong talk will begin to break down the buffers and barriers we have erected around ourselves and our PDF’s (Precious Darling Feelings, as Vernon Howard called them). What distinguishes a true teacher from the many charlatans is whether or not the teacher forcefully exposes our wrongness. If you are never urged to turn the light of attention onto your own behavior, you will never change. False teachers blither and blab with high-sounding words like “harmony” and “love”, but Vernon Howard actually taught us how to reach those states.
Question: I have noticed something remarkable about Vernon’s books and the recordings of his talks. I’ll go back and listen to a talk for a second or third time or re-read one of his books and it seems as if I come across more and more things that I don’t recall reading or hearing the first time. More of what he is saying seems to be clearer and easier to understand. What is going on?
Answer: Truth only gives you what it knows you can handle. Through your studies, you are absorbing true spiritual wisdom, which develops your ability to see and hear in new ways. In the New Testament it says “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” By accumulating as many spiritual facts as you can, you give the Spirit more to work with, more to resonate within you. You begin to see more deeply and to understand more. Revisiting something said or written by Vernon always yields new insights. When the dark curtains of a window are pulled aside, light can come in, making everything in the room visible.
Question: How do I overcome resistance to obeying Truth’s instructions? I like the precept of going against myself but I can’t seem to do it very vigorously or very often.
Answer: Whether we are aware of it or not, there is a constant battle going on inside of us between the wish to do the right thing and our stubborn self-will. Much of our resistance is quite simply based on weakness and laziness. We have spent a lifetime taking the easy way out, getting by with the least amount of effort possible. Vernon told us to start with small steps. For example, if you wish to do a written exercise he gave us, pick up a pen, put paper on the table and start with a word. If you can get one center, like the physical, pointed in the right direction, one foot on the path up the mountain, then it’s much easier to take the next step and then the next step. Remind yourself often that if you don’t go against yourself, you will inevitably continue in an endless circle (of self), repeating the same mistakes again and again. So if you want a different life, you must break the pattern. Just say, “Please God, help me to be willing in spite of myself.” All change of being is really “in spite of myself” — for the false self never wants to change. Genuine help does not reside on the lower level. We must voluntarily approach and welcome the higher without hesitation for this alone can begin to develop real strength within.
Question: I still want the approval of others. How can I learn to detach from them?
Answer: Recently I watched a dog show at our rural County Fair where young 4-H-ers were learning how to show their dogs. Afterwards in the parking lot in front of my car a father was angrily berating his son for losing. The boy, neatly dressed and standing tall, had done a nice job trotting his lab around the ring. But the father wanted him to win! So he was sneering and scoffing at the boy’s efforts. Interestingly, the boy who won was stooped over, dragging his equally timid dog around, and always looking at the judge. As it turned out, incredibly, that’s why he won — he kept his eyes on the judge.
Parents and leaders do untold damage to children, beating them down with wrong demands. They grow up with a “please don’t hit me” attitude or an arrogant, hard, intimidating manner, to mask fear of failure and criticism. Is it any wonder that spirits are crushed by the cruelties of this world, which will always pounce on weakness, and reward dependence and compliance with false values?
Vernon Howard explained you can either feel right or feel accepted by others but you can’t have both [DVD Volume 3, Talk 4 or Blu-ray Volume 2, Talk 1]. Find out who you are looking to for agreement and approval, then say “No! I’ll stand alone!”
Question: I still think if I can get the right man [or woman] in my life and enough money, and maybe the right place to live, I will be happy. What’s wrong with that?
Answer: How many times have you attracted someone into your life you thought you wanted and in Vernon’s words, “The love boat turned into a battleship”? The reality is no other person and no amount of money will ever quell the awful ache inside that, by the way, no one ever talks about. The emptiness and craving in a person’s inner life will never be satisfied by accumulating people, experiences or wealth. But who will be honest enough to admit that this is the truth and so go on to be qualified to receive the authentic answers?
Question: I seem to be caught in the “time-trap.”
Answer: It is common for people to live either in the past or in the future, often rapidly flip-flopping between the two. Looking back at the past often brings up feelings of nostalgia or regret. Trying to peer into the future creates equal chaos with worries about possible dire outcomes or nervously hoping things will work out in our favor. In this condition, there is no possibility of enjoying the present moment, what is right here, right now. Our efforts to prevent the past from happening again result in things turning out exactly the way we don’t want them to. It’s like trying to walk forward while looking backward. Our lack of understanding of the principles of life only insures that no matter how hard we try to bend and twist reality to conform to our mental wishes, we will never be happy when suspended between the past and the future. It takes a lot of spiritual work to see that the past and the future don’t really exist. There truly is only the moment of now and that is where a new and enjoyable life resides. As Vernon wrote, “Don’t let the past control your thinking. Accept the offer of newness in the now.”
Question: I have followed dozens of different philosophies and teachings over the years but none of them have ever led to lasting contentment or have ever given me the real answers.
Answer: Just because a hundred false paths haven’t worked doesn’t mean the authentic one doesn’t exist. You’re reading about it right here.
Question: What are these teachings and classes all about?
Answer: Everything taught at New Life is about you reconnecting with the natural higher energy that created you. You can call that energy God, Truth, Reality, the Higher Force — whatever you like. This energy, which does exist, is extremely high, supremely intelligent and 100 percent pure. It is the same eternal energy that causes the flowers to grow and that allows you to walk across a room. Your duty is to realize that while you are not living from this supreme source right now, there is something existing within you that is not a part of the habitual nature. It is this unique part within that responds to the Truth when you hear it and that is eager to uncover your true purpose of life.
Question: What is the true purpose of life?
Answer: Your true purpose in life is to attend Cosmic College. This Work is the Cosmic College! Forget how others choose to spend their time and their energy here on this earth. You were placed here to grow, to develop, and to be guided by what Vernon Howard has termed the “Sacred Spirit.” Part of your duty is to see how everything on the repetitive, horizontal level of life is trying to fritter away your energy in order to prevent you from reconnecting with the source of all higher energy. The problem is that almost everyone has allowed the noisy chaos of the world to take over his or her inner resources. People constantly lose themselves in other people and events. But you can learn how to turn all of this around by using the physical power of attention rightly. Directing a concentration of fresh energy toward self-study is what is needed. Don’t waste one more minute of one more day fearing that the task is too overwhelming or that no one else supports your efforts. If you put conscious awareness of all that passes through you first and foremost, you will be supplied with both the power of persistence and with the very valuable ability to put your attention where it should be.
Question: But I don’t understand how turning my attention inward is going to help anything.
Answer: This question has brought up a vital principle that always makes up a cornerstone of any true spiritual teaching. It can be put very simply but what a world of revelation can be opened when it is understood by a receptive mind and spirit. That principle is: “The inner always determines the outer.” In other words, the inner psychological life of the individual is what determines the quality of the outer life. This has nothing to do with financial status or with attaining all of the external trappings that society equates with happiness. It has to do with the kind of energy that is being generated inside of you and being put out by you every day. Is there fear in there? Is there rage? Is there depression? Is there a feeling of being cheated and left out? Those negativities go out into the world around you and always come back to the source that put them out in the first place. The problem is within and that is where conscious awareness that has neither desire nor egotism must be placed. Turning the arrow of attention inward and simply observing what you see there will eventually reveal that you are under no obligation to feel bad. This is the means by which the higher in you can connect with the higher above you.
Question: If I’m honest about it, I get glimpses that deep down I feel powerless. How can I gain true power in my life?
Answer: The only true power is the Creator of the Universe or God, Truth, Reality as Vernon calls it. It is the supreme power and it knows that what our hearts really want is to live within its guidance and protection. What is blocking this? The conditioned, acquired human nature that we have carelessly allowed to control our thought and feeling processes and which causes us to live from all sorts of negativities. You must get to know not only this part of yourself but also the true part, which is seeking to reunite with the Creator. You ask for permanent power by applying these teachings in your daily life, by sensing more and more how you are not presently in command of your own thoughts and feelings and by observing this destructive nature in action. But never forget that this nature has been built up through many years of living in the pressure cooker of this man-made society. In reality, man and Cosmic Intelligence are one so as Vernon puts it “Your aim is to be one with yourself.”
Question: What is the purpose of self-observation?
Answer: The purpose is to see your actual condition, not what your flattering self-images say you are and not what you pretend to be. Have you ever faked a confident manner when you really felt very, very shaky inside? That is what we’re talking about. Vernon said the angels of heaven rejoice when you honestly admit how confused and uncertain you really are. Because only a truthful admission like that can attract real help.
Question: How do I stop feeling trapped by what other people think of me? I’m always afraid people don’t like me or approve of me.
Answer: This is a persistent problem for almost everyone. We just don’t realize what slaves we are to the opinions of others. Vernon Howard said in a talk [Higher World Volume 14, 10], “You need account only to God for your actions.” What a relief! If we lived by that principle, so much worry and heartache would be eliminated. But he also explained that there is such a thing as having “right remorse” when we begin to see what a horror our life has been, and that we should be sorry for how we’ve acted. But always come back to the basic understanding that that is not actually who we are, no matter what we said or did or thought. The real or true nature is Something Else and we can find it through this work.
Question: How can we hear more?
Answer: To develop a ‘hearer’ apart from the touchy, irritable and nervous habitual nature, it is necessary to become better acquainted with the essential quality of our thoughts. An important part of growing up spiritually is that we start to grasp the fact that the actions of someone operating on a lower level of being cannot bring about a “good” or “happy” result. Mechanicalness only produces more mechanicalness. A mind obsessed with getting its own way is not capable of providing clarity, insight or real goodness either for itself or for anyone else. Try small experiments in letting go of harmful self-will without knowing what will take its place, perhaps by realizing you don’t need to win the argument with that other person. Find out what it is inside that is insisting you get one up on someone. That really gets to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it? Ask, “What is it that drives me to bulldoze other people to get what I think I want?” Remember how many times you’ve gotten your heart’s desire and then wondered how to get rid of it? If you will put growth before grasping, you’ll realize that you don’t need to compete in the lowlands when your spirit can live happily and freely on top of the mountain.
Question: What is something I may never have realized that will inspire me to keep going on the path?
Answer: That darkness cannot follow you out of hell.
Question: What is my biggest problem?
Answer: You are so busy trying to make an impression on this world, you are so fiercely engaged in futile attempts to have your worldly demands met that you have forgotten there is a spiritual home you must reach before dark. To get home is the true purpose of your life.
Question: I’m just beginning to notice how everyone is so divided and compartmentalized. For example, a friend will talk about the need to be kindly and generous and the very next moment will make a biting, cruel remark.
Answer: Division and lack of wholeness is the price we pay for living outside of the Kingdom of Heaven. We were made by the higher power to be whole and complete within ourselves. In this state we no longer suffer from living in the opposites (for example, “kindly/cruel”) but with great relief and freedom, effortlessly act from the oneness of our original nature.
Question: Why do nonsensical ideas draw large audiences but few want to listen to a Truth talk?
Answer: Vernon once said that people are more stimulated by crowds than they are attracted by Truth. He further explained that these teachings will never appeal to the masses of humanity and will never attract a huge following. These astounding truths coming down from on high are for those men and women who are sick and tired of giving their lives over to psychological suffering and who want to risk all to find “the pearl of great price.”
Question: Sometimes I feel really strong in these teachings and other times I’m overwhelmed by what I’m learning about human nature.
Answer: These principles can be a great shock to the aspiring spiritual student who has been taught and compelled to live in Dreamland for years. Truth is trying to tell us that a dream existence is a pale imitation of real life. We must be shocked by how bad it is but at the same time be aware that no one can ever function normally and naturally when living within the confines of an unreal fantasy world. Reality is limitless while daydreams put us into a prison of our own making. So persist on the path and go through the jolts and shocks willingly and you’ll experience something very few people on this earth know anything about. You’ll understand that beyond the terrible facts about human nature lie the wonderful truths about our potential to return to our ‘cosmic homeland’, as Vernon once put it.
Question: A lot of terrible things going on in this world and on the news scare me to death. Is there really an answer to this?
Answer: Yes. Vernon was a perfect example of an unafraid human being in this warring and hostile world and he assured us that we could be too. We can actually reach the point of freedom from all fear and anxiety but must go through the terror of leaving all of our self-images, hardened beliefs and emotional props behind. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from seeking the higher solution and from understanding the necessity of trying to reach the spiritual mountaintop. Be assured that purity of spirit does exist and the healing answer lies beyond the worsening insanity of this world.
Question: Why don’t I always do what’s best for me?
Answer: If we’re living from the ego, it has no interest in doing what is truly best for us. Its only plan and purpose is to lead us into destruction. If we can start to see where it is stealing our life, forcing us to live in negativity, chaos, heartache and defeat, we can go to work in a beneficial way. Is it wise to do harm to ourselves? Absolutely not! These teachings give us so much practical help, as when Vernon tells us to slow down and begin to carefully observe our thoughts and feelings in a new way. Slowing down leaves room for the voice of wisdom to enter and nothing is more useful in everyday affairs than this inner voice. “We must be practical. What good is it to be a nervous scholar or a frustrated hero or a miserable leader? The only worthwhile philosophy is that which shows us where to go at every step of the journey.” Secrets for Higher Success Nothing is more practical than living from our True Self, which always does what is best for us.
Question: Give us a helpful exercise to do.
Answer: In the morning when we get up, at night when going to bed, doing errands, walking into a room, watching TV, surfing on the computer — wherever we are, whatever we’re doing we must always have a true aim in front of us. Start the day with a new note, a specific lesson or guiding principle to focus on for that entire day. For example, you can say, “Everywhere I make a move or have an encounter, I will try as best I can to put God first. I am here to learn from what is happening at this moment, not to just ‘get it done.’” Always having a Higher Mission at the forefront is one way of fulfilling our purpose here on earth.
Question: I’ve always been taught that if you believe you will be saved.
Answer: Where is the growth in that, the effort in that? Anything worthwhile can only be gained through personal effort. But this is a very special kind of effort, one that requires genuine courage. You are asked to abandon your false source of self-wisdom so that the eternal source of all wisdom can take its place.
Question: Where do we tend to go wrong when trying to understand and apply these teachings?
Answer: One of the biggest stumbling blocks is that we believe the mind has the ability to understand the higher way. The mental always demands rigid guidelines and “proof” on it own level, which leads to a belief in surface appearance and the blockage of instant perception. Truth doesn’t operate like this. It provides thousands of facts, clues and hints but the student is required to make the higher connections that will open up a completely new avenue of seeing and understanding. Not even the teacher can force someone to go beyond what the mind insists is accurate and obvious. Nevertheless, the stubborn refusal to do so causes tremendous conflict and pain. Only when someone starts to sense how caged and limited they are by literal thinking will they begin to make efforts to break out.
Question: Why haven’t I heard of these teachings before?
Answer: Society and the mainstream media that influences it aren’t interested in a true and lasting solution to human problems. Their focus remains on what brings more notoriety, more fame, more wealth and more of everything of this world. These teachings are ‘esoteric’, ‘hidden’ from the knowledge of the masses, not by intent but from humanity’s choice to pass right by real aid in favor of what is trendy and popular.
Question: As I study these teachings and apply them to my life, I have noticed my idea of what’s funny isn’t the same as it used to be. I now find myself recoiling when friends tell off-color jokes. Even humor on television seems really offensive. I listen to what people are laughing at and I think, “That’s pretty bad.” Whatever happened to clean wholesome entertainment?
Answer: You are beginning to see how vile and low the world really is. Truth opens your eyes to what is actually going on. You have no doubt noticed that society’s idea of humor becomes more tasteless and vulgar with time. These are simply dark forces diligently working to bring the world down further into self-destructive chaos. It is done through shocks and assaults on what is good and right. As society sinks lower, the offensiveness becomes more brazen. Once people get used to a new “low”, the next assault is going to be more forceful than the last one. Have you noticed that what is “acceptable” today on television and radio would never have had a chance of being broadcast just a few years ago? Unfortunately, the world is so sick now that it’s just going to get worse but you don’t have to be a part of any of it anymore. There’s a very insightful talk Vernon Howard gave called “The Devil Is a Chipper” that explains it all. The date of this talk is June 6, 1987 and it’s on the MP3 CD Vernon Howard’s Higher World - Volume 12, Track 3.
Question: Why can’t I ever find any happiness that lasts? My emotions are like a roller-coaster. They keep going up and down, excitement one day, then depression the next.
Answer: Real happiness is not made possible by any exterior occurrence because happiness has no object. If we think it does, we’ll fall victim to every outer change of circumstance, every unexpected event and every challenge to the “comfortable” routines we live from. Since “God has hidden the treasure inside of you” that’s where you must work. Authentic contentment can only come as the result of an interior change of being. And even if we mentally agree with this statement, we must begin to feel and to sense it more and more or we’ll continue to endlessly go flying off to the next distraction or dream.
Question: I want nothing more than to reach the higher center within myself.
Answer: Then you must want to be guided by the Spirit of Truth more than you want your old life and your old ways. This means a voluntary letting go of the old life and the old ways that you want to cling to so desperately. You must get rightly emotional about not wanting to live with a tormenting mind anymore. When you’ve exhausted every other avenue of escape, God knows that and will come to your rescue.
Question: Can you give me an example of a helpful exercise?
Answer: Here’s an exercise given by Vernon that’s been very valuable to me. The gist of it is to always check your work. It sounds strange but before working with these studies, I never wanted to proof or double-check anything I did. But just yesterday, I looked over a bill for the second time and found a serious mistake that could have been very costly. I actually smiled and silently thanked Vernon and these teachings for saving me from so much grief. Nothing could be more practical or rewarding than this kind of self-correction.
Question: I’m amazed at what a master Vernon is at presenting these principles in clear and understandable language from every conceivable angle.
Answer: Cosmic principles express themselves in a myriad of ways and he wrote in a variety of styles to reach the widest possible audience. For example, Inspire Yourself is full of parables and stories while Treasury of Positive Answers is composed in a question and answer format. Other books focus on visual pictures (Psycho-Pictography) while some are written in a narrative style like The Power of Your Supermind and Pathways to Perfect Living. But within all of these different elements is contained the pure truth with its combination of classic wisdom and practical guidance that will provide new life-command and lead the way to inner freedom.
Question: I’ve always gotten bored very easily but that isn’t true of these teachings. I keep coming back to them over and over again.
Answer: Your continued attraction to the teachings has created a spark of excitement for what you’re learning. Whether you are aware of it or not, there is a part of you that is not of your usual nature and it is this unique part that responds with interest to the various truths presented here. These authentic spiritual principles will always give you something real to do with yourself so how can boredom set in? And if you persist, your love for what you’re hearing will increase and you’ll come to see that self-work with the aim of self-understanding is great fun. In fact you’ll be stunned to realize that in all honesty every other pursuit, every other thrill you ever went after led absolutely nowhere. As Vernon once put it, “There is no thrill like the thrill of finding your own soul.”
Question: When I fall into a bad state, how do I get out of it?
Answer: In a recent class, a student told of a humorous but valuable experience she’d had years ago, before she ever found this work. When she was young she’d had a romantic breakup of some sort and was going around putting on a “Sarah Heartburn” act. One day, a song came into her mind and she said to herself, “What is that song?” — finally realizing it was “Happy Days are Here Again”! In that moment of recognition, the spell of despair and depression she’d been under was completely broken. This was an early experience of something higher becoming conscious in her and breaking the false power of that negative state. Always remember that a painful state is lifted by the power of the higher. Our aim is to more and more invite that healing force in to do its good work.
Question: New Life has helped me tremendously to understand life and myself. But I still feel like I’m standing in my own way. The principles work but I don’t. Am I hopeless?
Answer: Never forget that evil does not want one person to escape, to get free from its clutches. So as soon as you realized that Vernon Howard’s truthful message was real and necessary, dark forces unmercifully attacked you. These forces give people who are not interested in truth the rewards of this world: perhaps they get money, a great sex life, a big family or career, travel and adventure, whatever is needed to keep them distracted and deluded. Yet when you learn there is a way out and turn your heart towards escape, the demons of hell are put on alert: they must go after that one and bring him back. Now is when you must work, fight for yourself. Truth is stronger than anything. Let God do the fighting for you; you only need fight to stay awake and watch. This is when seeing is everything: that you are not a victim, that only your thoughts are tormenting you, that you can indeed be free. Then the upward horizon becomes limitless.
Question: I’m really worried about all the bad things I hear in the news these days — financial crises, horrible crimes, terrible tragedies and war, war, war. The world seems to be getting worse every day. Where’s the good news these days?
Answer: The world is getting worse but the good news is that you don’t have to be a part of any of it. Dark and unseen forces want nothing more than the destruction of mankind and there is nothing too low for them to do to make it happen. Mankind is walking around in a state of psychic stupor, unaware of the influences of these dark forces and the results are horrific. If you yourself work on becoming more conscious, then you can begin to wake up and your life will start to change! From an awakened state of consciousness, you’ll see that man can never rise above his greedy, cruel and warring self as long as he is in a state of psychic sleep. A sleepwalking man is not aware of what he is doing. Only after falling down the stairs and injuring himself is he vaguely aware of what’s happened. Even then, he’ll probably blame the stairs and not himself. The awakened man sees all the evils and dangers in front of him and understands them completely. As Vernon says, “No human being knowingly harms himself.” The keyword here is “knowingly”. Make it your aim to become more conscious every day and you won’t be terrified by world events because you will see and understand what is happening.
Question: As someone with a religious background, I’m interested in what Vernon Howard says about heaven and hell.
Answer: Vernon made it very clear that heaven and hell exist right now, right here at this moment. A truly higher level of being is heavenly, just as the punishment of a low level of existence is hellish. And both must be seen as such in the here and now — not in some far-off future.
Question: I recently had someone cancel plans to do something with me and was surprised by the intensity of my reaction. I was angry and upset, couldn’t stop thinking about it and lost a lot of energy from it. I’m just beginning to realize that maybe I ought to focus on my reaction and not on the cancelled plans.
Answer: An experience like that taken with a genuine wish to not suffer anymore can be the starting point for an exceptional breakthrough. For example, you can realize with a jolt that never in your entire life did anyone ever tell you that what goes on inside of you is more important than anything happening outwardly. Parents, friends, teachers, co-workers all in one way or another conveyed the message that the externals are not only vitally important but are the only important thing. We spend a lot of time roaming around the jungle of our minds but authentic inner study is almost never mentioned and is certainly not valued in this society. You can realize with tremendous relief that “You have not failed the world, the world has failed you!” By not giving you true information that could lead to spiritual rebirth, the world has betrayed you. On the MP3 CD Vernon Howard’s Higher World, Volume 31 Talk 1, he goes into this in great detail. If you want to know more, I urge you to listen to this talk because written words cannot do justice to the urgency and right emotion with which he gives this explanation.
Question: I want to introduce my friends to Vernon Howard’s teachings because I’ve received so much help from them myself. What book would you recommend to tell them to start with?
Answer: Mr. Howard’s classic book is considered to be The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power but all of his writings and talks are jam-packed with messages that will both inspire and challenge any sincere seeker. If you give a friend our catalogue, they’ll often come across something that they’re personally drawn to. Vernon himself said a person wouldn’t go wrong if they start with the book or books whose titles and descriptions are most appealing to them.
Question: What are the benefits of studying and applying this information to my life?
Answer: Oh, there are so many benefits! A person’s life becomes so much easier and so much more comfortable because after all these years, real understanding is beginning to dawn. Life becomes pleasant, better in all worldly aspects and filled with moments of great relief and delight. Mere existence can be transformed into a life of wonder in which astounding things can be seen. One of the most valuable benefits is the development of a deep understanding that there is no natural need to feel bad about anything — ever. How wonderful is that?
Question: Right now, I’m going through a period of discouragement as I work with these principles. What’s going on?
Answer: When you are working hard to understand all of life, including your past follies and mistakes, embarrassment is going to come up and you’re going to want to turn away. Don’t! To see a pain consciously is no worse than living with it unconsciously. To face this directly leads to the way out. There is tremendous relief when it begins to dawn on us that although hurtful decisions were made and destructive things were done, pure memory exists. You can remember the incident with no pain or guilt attached. What a miracle it would be to be free of the tremendous burden of the past in this way.
Question: Give us some basic information for transformation from the mental level to the spiritual level.
Answer: We are presently dominated by what Vernon calls the false self, the false personality that has been formed by acquired attitudes and beliefs and has actually been imagined into existence. This artificial nature is the cause of all our problems and suffering. It separates us from our essential self — who we really are — from our true and spiritual self. The false personality wants to be a god unto itself and fights fiercely to deceive us and keep us in the dark. Few people ever see through it but we can. Start by interrupting thought and becoming aware of where you are dozens of times a day.
Question: I feel like there’s something preventing me from waking up. It’s like wanting to swim in the ocean but being affected by the constant pull of an undercurrent. Is there a force stronger than my desire to wake up?
Answer: There is absolutely nothing that can prevent you from being a truly conscious human being. In these spiritual studies, you are given the tools of attention, of persistence and perseverance, of observing obstacles, of checking your actual motives, of honest inquiry and of earnestly studying your actions, intentions and wishes, to name only a few. The tools for waking up are as inexhaustible as your willingness to use them.
Question: I sense the liberating power of these truths but I don’t live from them yet.
Answer: Know that “what you seek also seeks you.” The knowledge and the capability to act from the higher viewpoint already exist within your higher nature but must be activated and animated by an intense desire to know what your life is all about. Cosmic essence wants to communicate with your personal essence in order to explain, to clarify and to teach you. The only real question is “Will you be receptive enough to let it?”
Question: How do these teachings relate to what is written in the New Testament?
Answer: A number of New Life students have remarked that New Testament teachings took on new meaning for them once they came into contact with Vernon Howard’s works. Put in another way, these principles you’re studying will help you to see something in spiritual literature you never saw before; that all true teachings have the same essence no matter where or when they’re delivered to sleeping humanity. The language and style are different but the message is the same. For example, you’ll realize sayings from the Bible like “The truth shall set you free,” “No man can serve two masters” and “The things which are not seen are eternal” are vital principles that can provide powerful insight and fresh inspiration in your daily life right now.
Question: What does it mean that Vernon Howard broke through to another world and anyone can find it?
Answer: It means that for anyone who wants it badly enough, there is a way out of the illusion of suffering, fear and loneliness that plagues us on the worldly level of existence. There is no suffering in the Kingdom of Heaven. Why do we endure a life of negativity when we can align ourselves with the power of the Universe? That’s what God, Truth, Reality wants to give us.
Question: Hearing Vernon Howard for the first time on a recorded talk astonished me. I exclaimed inwardly, “What is that?! Who is he?” Even though the words were clear and simple, I had never heard anything like that before. What makes him so unique?
Answer: His message is alive! For it contains the pure Truth. Though his words are familiar, the presence of something very high moved through him from above this world, from out of this world. So his words glow and pulse with energy and life. And we sense that with receptivity we too can have real life.
Question: Why do you say you must follow this teaching by Vernon Howard in order to wake up spiritually? I already know another spiritual teacher.
Answer: Sooner or later you must decide for yourself whether that person really lives what he teaches or is just another one of the many examples of "the blind leading the blind and both fall into the ditch." Wrongness is not going to announce itself as wrongness. False teachers are very clever at leading us astray and will often even include a few truths in with the “weed seeds,” so question everything. Here is a general principle to follow when evaluating any teacher or teaching: the teacher or teaching must challenge you to see what is wrong first. It will never work if you first try to focus on your own “goodness.” Only when self-work is put in this sequence will the right eventually be revealed to you.
Question: When can I expect to reach the end of the spiritual journey? Is there an end to these teachings?
Answer: When I first heard Vernon Howard speak, he described his adventure with Truth, which of course can be our adventure too. He told a story of a man who climbed mountains just to see what was on the other side — a very curious man, one who discovered daily newness. The story was so appealing. With evident enthusiasm, Vernon said, “And the spiritual journey never ends, it goes on and on and on. I climb for the pure pleasure of it.” I never forgot this.
In my goal-oriented mind, having to “arrive,” I thought there was a finish line to reach with everything. To be connected to a never-ending school of unlimited learning that can provide a steady flow of realizations that just grow and grow is a new and marvelous experience. And what an opportunity it offers. What an inspiration!
Look at all the books and booklets Vernon wrote and all the talks he gave. He never wrote or said the same thing in the same way twice. He was in touch with endless discoveries and we can be too!
Question: What is one of these discoveries?
Answer: We are not meant to be afraid of our own weakness. Realize that it’s not so much the world out there that frightens us, it’s the fear that we can’t handle what happens to us that’s so scary. By allowing a certain attitude and understanding toward life to be developed within us, this explanation can turn from being mere words into a personal experience. That attitude is: You cannot expect life to give you what only authentic higher teachings can.
This Work is not about taking life as an end in itself and hoping to eventually achieve some kind of final success and triumph in this world. Your individual life is intended to be used as a means to reach a completely different psychological state with absolutely no fear attached to it. If you place yourself in right relationship toward these teachings, if you understand the direction you’re supposed to be going in, then whatever happens in life will not be able to shake you or destroy you. You’ll care less and less about what the world calls victory and loss and more and more about living a simple, decent and pleasant life with all of its accompanying insights and mental and emotional perceptions.
Question: Vernon Howard seems so stern as a teacher.
Answer: Any true teacher is stern and uncompromising with what’s wrong in an aspiring student. But because “Truth has 10,000 flexibilities,” Vernon Howard is also funny, relaxed, casual and truly compassionate when inviting the student to start the inner discovery process. For example, Vernon once began a class by saying “How many of you would like to live on a level above a tuna sandwich?” Of course, this brought laughter from the audience but also brought home the point that by taking higher information and ‘insults’ with humor, we have achieved a small bit of separation from the stiff, stuffy and constrained false nature that so often controls our actions and feelings.
Question: Could you give us a central theme of Vernon Howard’s teaching?
Answer: Self-facing. We must as much as possible examine our actual inner state at any given moment. This will eventually show us the extent to which negative and agitated mental pictures and feelings overtake us. If we’ll keep at this, the shock of seeing the low level and mechanicalness of our inner life will eventually open the door for something of a truly higher nature to come to us. “Spiritual riches follow awareness of poverty. That is the one and only order of things” (Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge, “Astonishing Discovery”).
Question: What is a Vernon Howard exercise? Why do them?
Answer: Vernon has given us many exercises in his talks and his writings. In fact, there are literally hundreds of them. He put such a great emphasis on them because they give us a focus for our spiritual exploration. When done consistently and honestly, these practical exercises reveal what we presently do not know and cannot see about ourselves. Some exercises are physical, some mental, others emotional — all varied and enjoyable to do.
People live very unbalanced lives, relying on habitual thoughts, mental repetitions and their companions — negative emotions and false excitements — to provide security. Most have no idea that it is possible to fully live from God-given essence which will provide all the security needed for a pleasant, peaceful life. Practicing the exercises will help us to develop into the integrated, harmonious human beings we were meant to be. Nothing aids inner insight more than to work on ourselves to see how we operate. And one blunt fact that we must face is that we’re almost always in a state of sleep or unawareness. Why else would we act in ways that hurt us?
“Vernon never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for keeping His work alive. The only thing I need to correct is my harmful thinking problem. I have rejoiced in his wisdom since 1979. Thanks again.”
Dale via e-mail
“Thank you New Life for all your great pearls of wisdom, love and understanding. I truly appreciate them all. They come to me especially at times when I am in doubt, or I have forgotten who I really am. So grateful to you all, with love and continued grace.”
Eleanor via e-mail