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“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
“There is no real happiness for those on the wrong side. The greatest pleasure in life is the security of the true side. You can vainly try to win over the world or you can nicely be over the world. Your task is to change your operating center from strained imagination to relaxed reality.”
Over the years Vernon Howard had contact with thousands of people from all walks of life. In these encounters numerous questions were posed. So at a certain point he took the time to write out a number of these questions and to then supply the answers from the higher viewpoint. These answers are very direct and very uplifting. As you will see, humor and light-heartedness are also included. The following should prove to be very helpful on your spiritual journey.
Q: Why is criticism so popular?
A: Because it requires no intelligence.
Q: What is meant by instant recovery?
A: It’s a skill for returning to yourself instantly after getting kidnapped by a harmful feeling.
Q: We feel encouraged when you assure us we can make it.
A: Do you know what — it’s far more than an encouragement — it’s a beautiful fact.
Q: I don’t know how to change myself.
A: What’s that got to do with it? Keep going.
Q: You said I can change the entire world. How?
A: Change your reactions to the world and the whole world changes for you.
Q: Why can’t I get help from friends?
A: Why can’t a carrot get help from rabbits?
Q: Give us a liberating message.
A: You need never pretend to be unafraid.
Q: What must I understand about heartache?
A: It’s a condition but not a necessity.
Q: How can I see myself as I really am?
A: Ask whether other people might see you different from the way you see yourself.
Q: I feel tied down by invisible ropes.
A: The ropes are your own wrong thoughts which higher insight can break.
Q: Give us the first step for ending suffering.
A: Stop denying that you suffer from being you.
Q: It’s hard to even ask intelligent questions.
A: I’m just waiting for someone to ask if they’ll be tap dancing in heaven.
Q: Please summarize these teachings.
A: You suffer from being who you now are. We will show you how to end suffering by becoming someone else.
Q: I want to find this new world you speak about.
A: Then don’t be like a duck who thinks that his private pond is a great ocean.
Q: Why do riches and fame fail to satisfy?
A: Because a decorated dungeon is still a dungeon.
Q: Are my thoughts eternal?
A: No, but you are.
Q: Tell us one of the wonders we will see.
A: While still in this life you can discover what is beyond this life.
Q: I don’t understand what it means to be receptive.
A: It means to suspend your pride so that your deep confusion can be explained to you.
Q: How does knowledge of the mind conquer pain?
A: By seeing that thoughts must be allowed to come and go naturally, you give pain no den in which to breed itself.
Q: Give us an example of how we misunderstand life.
A: Anything that forces you to examine your present beliefs is a friend.
Q: What makes me feel in danger?
A: Trying to force life to conform to your personal notions of safety.
Q: Help us get rid of self-defeating ways.
A: See that your habits and impulses have been acquired, for that supplies power for dismissal.
Q: How can I tell whether or not I have a false position?
A: You have a false position if the opposite position makes you nervous.
Q: Tormenting thoughts scream for my attention.
A: We’ll teach you how to refuse to talk with them.
Q: What is profitable seeking?
A: Seeking without a cunning wish to find yourself in everything you find.
Q: How does awareness bring relief?
A: When you’re aware of playing a role you no longer play it, which ends self-division.
Q: How can I replace false confidence with real confidence?
A: You may wish to write down the following: cosmic confidence is constant confidence.
Q: Why can’t I hear the rescuing voice?
A: The voice is calling down into the cave but you must climb up within hearing.
Q: How can we tell the difference between fact and fantasy?
A: By not having an ego-investment in fantasy.
Q: What happens when I give up pretense?
A: Release and relief.
Q: When will I be right?
A: When you need no other person to confirm your rightness.
Q: I think I’m nice but others don’t.
A: I wonder who’s right?
Q: I like to have fun.
A: First take life as a school, not as a theater, after which you can have all the fun you want.
Q: Give us a helpful truth that our vanity doesn’t want to hear.
A: You’re doing the wrong things to solve your problems.
Q: Please explain hostility.
A: Hostility exists in the space between what you imagine you are owed and what you actually get.
Q: I live for thrills but you say this is foolish.
A: If you’re caught in a storm it’s senseless to stop and get excited over all your money.
Q: I lust after every pretty girl I see.
A: Lust is loss of self-command. You can see her without losing yourself to her.
Q: I need inner refreshment.
A: Truth-drops are as refreshing to the spirit as raindrops are refreshing to the earth.
Q: Tell me how to get more.
A: Give up more.
Q: What does it mean to think from my cosmic mind?
A: To NOT think from your conditioned mind.
Q: Give me a thought to take back to my local study group?
A: Be aware of what you are doing at the moment you are doing it.
Q: What do you know about me that I don’t?
A: That along with the rest of humanity you’re under a strange hypnotic spell and don’t see that you are.
Q: What do you mean when saying we have a false feeling of life?
A: Living from emotions such as anger or envy which produce a destructive thrill.
Q: You said a feeling of futility can be used wisely. How?
A: See the futility of solving problems with usual thinking, which is an upward step toward cosmic wisdom.
Q: Help me stop the mad pace of my life.
A: See how hard you work to make life hard.
Q: Why must we depart from our present beliefs?
A: Because you can’t reach the mountaintop by staying in the valley.
Q: What is an example of social slavery?
A: Giving your attention to a demanding person when you really don’t want to give it.
Q: Does a conscious man have eternal life?
A: A conscious man is eternal life.
Q: Help me to understand my artificial behavior.
A: You try to make other people feel liked by you so that you will feel liked by them.
Q: I try to be myself but fail.
A: Stop trying to be yourself and you'll be yourself.
Q: Help us conquer anxiety.
A: Self-detachment teaches you to not be anxious over your anxiety.
Q: In simple language, what must I do to change everything?
A: Let higher understanding break through the wall of habitual thoughts.
Q: I have a strange loyalty to hardened ideas.
A: How odd to be loyal to self-injury.
Q: How can I have the power of awareness?
A: Once you see the difference between thinking and awareness you can stop thought and be aware.
Q: What is suffering?
A: A message that something needs correction, which a wise person heeds.
Q: Is everyone as dumb as I am?
A: It depends on how dumb you are.
Q: I want a first glimpse of the higher kingdom.
A: Seeing that you must depart from usual thoughts is the same as sighting the kingdom.
Q: What do you mean by cosmic power?
A: The true power residing above all human deception.
Q: What is the new world?
A: Your new mind.
Q: I feel accused and condemned.
A: Only by your present misunderstanding of yourself.
Q: I like the idea of getting out of my own haunted house.
A: And when you succeed you’ll wonder why you waited so long.
Q: Does sadness connect with resistance to truth?
A: You can have a thousand reasons for resisting reality and all of them make you sad.
Q: Why does delusion fail to satisfy?
A: Because nothing can’t be felt as something.
Q: Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about after all.
A: That’s a positive doubt that can teach you to know what you’re talking about.
Q: I’ve been a phony all my life.
A: Isn’t it a relief to see it? Now you can become real.
Q: How can I end spiritual laziness?
A: Always do exactly what laziness doesn’t want you to do; for example, think about these ideas when you don’t feel like it.
Q: Why do I go to my relatives for dinner when I don’t even like them?
A: Probably for the dinner.
Q: You advise us to be spiritual detectives. What should we detect?
A: Detect the fact that everything that makes you unhappy has false power over you.
Q: Everyone is afraid. Please give us a fact about fear to memorize.
A: Fear is an unnecessary agitation that supplies a harmful distraction from what must be faced.
Q: I want something else but don’t know what it is.
A: Don’t let your usual thinking tell you what it is and you will finally know what it is.
Q: Life demands answers, but I don’t know what to say.
A: It’s marvelous freedom to have nothing to say.
Q: Maybe I have wrong ideas about goodness.
A: Wrong ideas about goodness make you the victim of charlatans who’ll hurt you.
Q: I like the idea of calling the bluff on my troubles. How is it done?
A: Invite troubles to do their worst to you. This gets them so confused they lose interest in you.
Q: I’m astonished that I neglected these truths so long.
A: But now your personal miracle has begun.
Q: I feel like a captive on a pirate ship.
A: Dare to leap into the sea and swim to shore.
Q: What is a first course in the Cosmic College?
A: Never fear that these lessons may be too much for you — the entire universe is your patient teacher.
Q: What is disturbance?
A: Disturbance is the interruption of your daydream by fact.
Q: I want to learn but what if I make dumb mistakes?
A: I give you permission to make ten-thousand mistakes.
Q: What am I?
A: You are what you actually value, not what you say you value?
Q: Why don’t I understand these teachings?
A: Because you can’t see above your own level. But cheer up — you’re raising your level.
Q: How will these ideas change our day?
A: The day will belong to you instead of to your anxiety.
Q: I feel like a soldier on a dangerous battlefield.
A: One day you will tell yourself the war is over.
Q: Is blabbermouthery connected with unhappiness?
A: Blabbermouthery is an attempt to convince oneself, but only succeeds in self-torment.
Q: Can my willingness open the door?
A: If you’re willing to be mistaken.
Q: What good things come from these teachings?
A: So many good things you won’t be able to count them.
Q: I’m guilty of foolish thoughts.
A: You can learn wise thoughts which will chase them out.
Q: How can I detect vanity?
A: Notice the pet flatteries you run through your mind, such as what a lovable little sugar-pie you are.
Q: Why do I tremble before life?
A: Who said you had to?
Q: I see the necessity for knowing who I really am.
A: Yes, because if you owned the entire world and didn’t know yourself you would be sad and scared.
Q: In moments of weakness I make phony promises I later regret.
A: There’s nothing sacred about phony promises and the sooner you see this the better.
Q: I don’t know how to act with other people.
A: Your inner self always knows how to behave outwardly, so find and live from it.
Q: I worry that there might not be something on the other side of my mental wall.
A: There’s something there but you must climb the wall to see it.
Q: I feel the existence of something higher than my own thoughts. What’s happening?
A: You’re making contact — making contact with Cosmic Command.
Q: I’m not at home with myself.
A: Listen carefully and you’ll learn how to move back home.
Q: I cry over the loss of the man in my life.
A: Believe me, he’s not worth it.
Q: Why does life seem to attack me?
A: Because you wrongly assume you have a self which life can attack.
Q: Why am I the victim of everything?
A: Because you fight everything.
Q: How is the higher life different?
A: Just as music is different from noise.
Q: I’m just plain lost.
A: Your real self can never be lost.
Q: The world is often too much for me.
A: The outer world pressing down on you is really your inner world pressing up on you.
Q: I don’t know about my future.
A: If you love these ideas your future can only be good — and that is all you need to know.
Q: How can a weary wanderer turn toward home?
A: By constantly throwing himself back on himself while not knowing what will happen.
Q: How can I stop feeling persecuted?
A: Stop having a secret love for persecution.
Q: I’d like a friend who is never angry with me.
A: Truth fits that description.
Q: I feel a new inspiration in this class.
A: Because you sense that you are doing what is truly necessary for yourself.
Q: What can motivate us to drop wrong attitudes?
A: See how they exploit you and you’ll drop them fast enough.
Q: How can understanding end grief?
A: By being grieved but not minding it.
Q: Please repeat what you said about a conscious rebuke of suffering.
A: One day you’ll be able to get so tough with sorrow that it will run away.
Q: Give us a liberating message.
A: You need never pretend to be unafraid.
Q: What is a good defense against hostile people?
A: The perfect defense is not to have a defense.
Q: How am I connected with universal power?
A: Just as a tree is connected with the entire earth.
Q: Help us to choose the higher life.
A: Choose answers that please your true self, not answers that please your vanity.
Q: What do you mean by a right kind of defiance?
A: This is when you defy your fears and tell them you won’t tolerate them any more.
Q: What does it mean to return to our spiritual home?
A: Basically it means to rise above the intellect to the lofty level of cosmic wisdom.
Q: How can I stop getting involved with the wrong people?
A: Stop getting involved with your own wrong values.
Q: Is there a way to soften the jolt of these facts?
A: You must never soften the jolt — it’s trying to jolt you awake.
Q: What can break my habit of worrying about everything?
A: Just see that you have something much better to do with your life.
Q: We’re not afraid to laugh in this class. What part does laughter play in self-development?
A: Laughter is often a good sign that we recognize nonsense as nonsense.
Q: I hide it from others but I fall apart a dozen times a day.
A: Learn what it means to fall apart consciously and you’ll build yourself a dozen times a day.
Q: Why are we so reckless with our lives?
A: Recklessness is energy uncontrolled by intelligence.
Q: I guess we’re not very logical.
A: What’s more foolish than to fight to keep the very errors that make us miserable?
Q: How do we keep ourselves miserable?
A: By trying to be good before seeing what this really means.
Q: What is antagonism?
A: A heavy curtain that blocks the light.
Q: In what way are shocks our teachers?
A: Shocks are trying to tell us we don’t know what we pretend to know.
Q: How strange! Why do we fight to preserve our conflict?
A: Because the emotional thrill in conflict is falsely called an exciting life.
Q: Why do we indulge in useless worry?
A: Worry supplies the illusion of doing something about a problem. Only a silent mind supplies real action.
Q: Our solutions only cause more problems!
A: The earthly can’t cure the earthly — the only cure is the Cosmic Cure.
Q: My mind gushes out with frantic questions.
A: Learn the secret of a silent mind and they’ll stop gushing.
Q: How can we teach ourselves?
A: Remind yourself to do what you know.
Q: What prevents natural living?
A: When the unnatural becomes popular it’s called natural.
Q: What action can free us?
A: Never be meekly obedient to inner tyrants. Instead, find the knowledge that overthrows them.
Q: I admit my despair, as you say we must do, but it leads nowhere.
A: Each admission of despair must be accompanied by a wish to find something higher than despair.
Q: Sometimes I resist the external discipline in this class.
A: The purpose of external discipline is to teach you internal discipline.
Q: Why do I make endless trouble for myself?
A: Because you don’t understand the foreign forces which have taken over your life.
Q: Supply an example of being in mental prison.
A: When you think about what others think about you.
Q: Why is all this good news?
A: Because there’s a key to the prison you’ll be glad to hear about.
Q: How can I take care of myself?
A: Stop asking others to take care of you.
Q: What is a step toward true security?
A: Simply try to see that all your present efforts to feel secure only increase your insecurity.
Q: Why are we so touchy and defensive?
A: Because you’re hiding something you should be studying.
Q: How can we detect a self-damaging attitude?
A: It’s any attitude that demands attention and agreement from others.
Q: Why do I crave admiration?
A: Because you think it will tell you who you are, which it won’t.
Q: It seems impossible to change things.
A: Your present nature has no choice but to think that, which is why you’re here to change your nature.
Q: I know I need to go beyond myself, but find it scary.
A: Start by making small decisions for yourself. This is a first daring step out of yourself.
Q: I feel anxious about the many things I don’t know.
A: That’s because your false self still demands its answers. This anxiety will finally fade.
Q: It seems we’re hypnotized by our own badness.
A: Yes, there’s a certain false fascination with badness, like watching a monster movie.
Q: What contradiction do we fail to see?
A: You hide in a mental cave and then complain about lack of sunshine.
Q: When will I see the value of tearing down the inner haunted house?
A: The minute you start tearing it down.
Q: How can I find a real teacher?
A: Be a real student.
Q: Why is it so hard to have an open mind?
A: Because we mistake an empty head for an open mind.
Q: What’s the difference between knowledge and wholeness?
A: You can be given knowledge but you must develop wholeness.
Q: I’m afraid of a certain cruel man.
A: Fear disappears when you see him as both cruel and pathetic at the same time.
Q: I sense the decency of these teachings.
Q: I never know how I’m supposed to feel about something.
A: Forget what you’re supposed to feel and see what you actually feel which will show you what to really feel.
Q: My mind is a mental museum.
A: Only because you choose familiar and dreary sights to the new world outside.
Q: If you’ll be frank with me I promise to not get mad.
A: If you’ll stop thinking you won’t get mad I’ll be frank with you.
Q: I feel caged
A: By your own thoughts. The sparrow feels at home in the sky, not in the cage.
Q: How does it feel to rise above ourselves?
A: It’s like dropping heavy oars to let the sail carry you forward.
Q: My impulsiveness gets me into trouble.
A: Impulsiveness is a form of escape where you prefer to believe in people instead of seeing through them.
Q: But human beings seem fairly friendly and cooperative.
A: Lions obey their trainers out of hope of reward and fear of punishment.
Q: I want to know what happiness is.
A: You’ll know when you’ve exhausted everything that happiness is NOT.
Q: How is awareness practical?
A: It lets you see the trap before you walk into it.
Q: Give us an idea for increasing inner light.
A: Nothing is more valuable than taking a humiliating experience with humility.
Q: Will the obtainment of these ideas help family problems?
A: When the underground stream breaks up to the surface it makes everything green.
Q: How can I know what I don’t know?
A: Honestly and patiently remain with your not-knowing.
Q: My life spins dizzily.
A: You can live from the part in you that doesn’t spin.
Q: What causes frustration?
A: Trying to do the impossible, like trying to prove you have a separate self apart from the cosmic whole.
Q: How can I behave rightly in a crisis tomorrow?
A: If you have to think about it you’ll behave wrongly. Only a time-free nature behaves rightly.
Q: Why do you teach that we must first drop our wrong thoughts?
A: Because the pebbles must make room for the pearls.
Q: May we have a deep idea to think about?
A: Habitual thought is frantically and vainly trying to arrive at where cosmic insight has always resided.
Q: We’re so careless with our minds!
A: We wouldn’t let wolves and tigers prowl our home yet we permit all sorts of beasts to prowl the mind.
Q: If a new life is offered how come I don’t have it?
A: You live on a mountain of gold but you have to start digging.
Q: My life is like a movie I’ve seen fifty times.
A: This class will show you how to get out of the boring theater.
Q: Why do I get hostile when told I don’t know what I’m talking about?
A: Because you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Q: What happens when I wake up?
A: You wake up cured.
Q: I’d like to make the most of this class.
A: Choose the healthy message of truth over the unhealthy reaction of your hostile nature.
Q: Give me a fact I may not want to hear.
A: Where you can be hurt by others is where you would like to hurt others.
Q: Show us how to help ourselves in class.
A: Practice at calling your wandering mind back to what is being said.
Q: If you knew of the cruel things I’ve done in the past you might not let me in this class.
A: Your past is nothing — your present wish for help is everything.
Q: I worry you might see through me.
A: That’s exactly why truth can help you. You can’t help yourself because you can’t see through yourself.
Thanks so much for making this Vernon Howard quote a regular mailing. It’s a great reminder of some important and very helpful truths.
— Man from Michigan via email
It’s so wonderful that you have kept Vernon Howard’s teachings alive for all people who sincerely want a true teaching and a true path to walk on. Thank you for being there.
— Lady from California