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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.”
Below are spiritual exercises and special lessons taken from classroom lectures by Vernon Howard. They are marvelous tools that can be applied to your life and will help you better understand what these teachings are
all about. Use them and gain the wonderful rewards and benefits which they can give you.
I am going to give you an exercise to take home with you, which will uplift your mind, spirit, which will give you a new way to think toward yourself and toward your life here on earth. We could call it Walk Yourself Awake. I’m going to explain it in detail, and write down notes because I want you to get every step clearly of what you’re going to do. It will do so much for you if you will have an interest in it and practice it all the time.
First of all, be alone in a room in your home or wherever. You MUST be alone in the room. Even if you have someone who’s friendly there, you’re going to have to give all of your attention to what you’re going to hear when practicing this, and someone else even being there, even if they’re silent, they distract your attention. You’re thinking about them, what they’re thinking about you, when you should be practicing the exercise completely, wholeheartedly.
Now you’re in this room. You’re going to walk at a selected starting place from one end of the room to the far end of it on the other side. You’re going to walk from your starting place to the opposite wall, turn around, pause a minute, and then you’re going to walk back to where you started. Now on your first trip across, you’re going to let yourself think anything your mind wants to think. You could be aware of your thoughts and you should be, but just be a watcher of your thoughts and don’t try to fight them, don’t judge them, don’t feel that they’re attacking you. Just let your mind think anything it wants to think on your first trip over and back.
All right. Now, this exercise has a second half to it. This is a two set exercise. The second time you walk across the room, pause, and come back, you’re going to do it in an entirely different inner spirit. You’re not going to think at all. You’re not going to let your mind wander where it wants to, as you did in the first walk. Instead, you’re going to work hard at understanding what it means to be a conscious, aware human being. You’re going to be spiritually awake, alert, to your inner state as you cross over and back again. If a thought creeps in, push it aside and go back to just knowing that you are walking across the room and back again. Just get a sensing that there’s this physical body, NO, NO, NO. — You’re not to think, “I’m being aware.” If you think you’re being aware you’re not being aware, you’re in contradiction. This is why it’s important to catch any intruding thoughts when they jump in — as they will — to try to tell you that they are a state of seeing, of consciousness, of knowing.
So you’re walking across the room and you pause at the far end just long enough to remind yourself of what you’re supposed to be doing, because you’re likely to forget so easily what you’re supposed to be doing. You’ve forgotten that the second trip is supposed to be different from the first trip. So, I’ll state it again. Just relax and REALIZE that this physical body is crossing the room and coming back again. I will use all the words there are possible to describe an indescribable state. Just KNOW what is happening to you in that room. You are to walk back and forth without SAYING “I’m walking back and forth.” ‘Cause if you say it, you now put yourself back into the picture, your false self back into it and you won’t have gained what you’re trying to gain.
One purpose of this exercise — which you must do over and over and over — is to begin to detect the difference between the two states. It will not come to you the first time you try it. You must do it over and over and over again and maybe a session would consist of you doing both sets maybe five or six times or something like that. At the start, on your first mental trip, you’ll wonder what it’s all about. You’ll be thinking about the second trip, and I said that’s all right. Just be thinking. But know that you’re thinking! See, for example, the sudden shifts of your attention. Think of the hundreds of things you can think about in just that one short trip. Just know you’re thinking, and for a long time thinking will be in charge of you.
Now one day, as you’re on your second lap of the trip, something will come to you. You’ve been trying to NOT think but to allow spiritual consciousness to be with you as you cross. It will come to you on one of your trips that there really is a different kind of “me” than the mental “me.” It was the mental “you” who took the first trip. Now, you’re AWARE of that first trip, because you’re on the second trip in which you’re trying to become aware of everything. Your attention on the second trip is not centered around “ME” and what “I” want. On the second trip you’re not to say, “I want to wake up, I want to wake up.” When you bring “I” in it you’ve brought in all the past. Instead, you can think about it in the proper way. You can say “there is awakening, there is such a thing as spiritual seeing, and I want that.” That’s not wrong to have that desire. But what I’m warning you against is the old ego nature that doesn’t want you to wake up — inserting itself when you’re on the second trip — and you get chattering about yourself. “Oh I wonder if I am doing this right.” “I wonder if I should do it five or six times?” “I wonder if my wife in the next room wonders what’s going on?” Really, all sorts of crazy thoughts can come into your mind.
One day, the dawn will break because you have been faithful to God, and that’s what you’re doing. God will be faithful to you. You see, spiritual consciousness IS God. God is conscious; Satan is unconscious. At a certain time when you’re not thinking but just watching yourself go back and forth, a little message will come into your mind and it will come into your heart — instead of a thought talking to you like there is now, there will be — YES this is accurate, listen to this — there’ll be a higher spiritual power talking to you. Consciousness, awakedness, awareness, seeing and living in the higher, will come to you. Remember, help has to come to you. All you have to do is yield to it.
Practice this exercise very often. Watch the whole thing that happens and the day will come when you will KNOW that you don’t have to live in that first, ragged, third-best type of human being. You don’t have to live in that kind of nature at all, because you’ve got your first glimpse of the spiritual nature, and you will be interested only in that. You’ll want above all to know what it’s all about, which you’ll find out as you practice this exercise. Go to work.
(Taken from a talk by Vernon Howard in 1991)
Carelessness is a curse. Well, isn’t it? Haven’t you experienced in daily events when your mind starts to wander off on its own lazy directions that you get careless toward the task at hand, whether it’s cooking or the office work, and things go wrong because you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing at the moment you’re doing it. That is a carelessness that wastes your time, gets you into trouble.
The opposite of carelessness is carefulness. Now, you want to be careful when you’re doing some kind of a task you like, whether learning to play the piano or studying something. You want to be careful about that because you’re eager to learn, you’re eager to improve yourself.
What greater task do you have than to change the kind of a nature you have? Don’t you want to be altogether careful toward that? Do you know what a synonym of carefulness is? Love, of course. Isn’t it sad, therefore, that there are so few people who are careful toward the life they have right now, therefore, believe it or not, they do not love their own life. They’re throwing it away. Now you have a lot of work to do on that subject already. You must stop throwing your life away. You must stop being careless because, if you continue to be careless, you won’t receive what is waiting for you. Something is waiting for you. You don’t know that because you’re not careful enough to see it; you haven’t worked. You just want to daydream and you want to find things to howl about. That is carelessness and that is a dreadful thing to be doing with your life.
Now there are lessons, there are ways, there are methods for you to learn to be careful toward your daily existence, so that that daily existence gives you something every day instead of taking things away from you — taking away your energy and taking away all the good things that you could have had.
Now, I’m going to tell you one way in which you have been remiss, where you’ve been careless, maybe because the fact has not been presented to you or, if it has, you were careless about receiving it, so let’s go over it again, and now’s your chance to become careful and thereby get something all day long instead of losing something all day long.
You have been careless in acquiring and possessing knowledge — spiritual knowledge, knowledge about your own life, about your own mind, knowledge about human nature.
Oh! Knowledge about the incredible evil that rules this world. You have not been diligent in reading, studying, viewing, examining; you have not been diligent in collecting a wide variety of facts that it is necessary for you to have. So I’m going to explain to you, give you certain ideas, which will make you want to read more than you read, to work generally more than you work so that you have facts, knowledge, wisdom, right ideas. And here we go:
I want you to understand that there is the spirit and there is knowledge. They are different things in the spiritual world. The spirit is the Spirit of Truth, of God, which is alive and invisible and which can take over your life when you have the carefulness to invite it, and then there are the facts. All the facts about yourself and about life and about God and about Satan. Now you must, in order to advance and be careful toward your life so that it becomes enriched, you must have a collection of knowledge. You just can’t have the Spirit of Truth; you also must collect facts because the Spirit of Truth operates through you, in you, with the facts that you collect. If you don’t have information, knowledge, right mental ideas, if you don’t have that, then the spirit has nothing to work on to help you with.
This means that you have to, more and more and more and more, take the initiative in acquiring facts, truths, right principles. It is your spiritual duty, and pleasure I might add, to acquire these ideas so that the spirit can come down and enter your mind where the ideas are and give them direction, give them life. In other words, in summary, the Spirit of Truth working through ideas, if you’ve collected them, will show you how to live properly; will give you all the necessary wisdom you need for everything on this earth. You’ve collected a certain amount of knowledge about human nature, for example, and you go out into the world and you’re not quite sure what to do with what you’ve learned. That is where the spirit comes in and says, “Take this bit of idea here and use that in order to handle that person.” But if there’s nothing for the spirit to work with, if there’s no knowledge there, then you will remain uninformed and you’ll get in trouble.
Now this requires a great sacrifice on your part, what I’ve been talking about, because you have careless clutter. That careless clutter is the flippant remark that you make, it is the drowsy, lazy, state of mind that you have. Those have become your substitute for the action of spirit directing your mind. And as long as you have a substitute for what is right, you will go wrong.
You be very careful. You keep the Spirit of Truth with you all the time. You know, it will really go farther than you finding your way out of all the jams you’re now in. You won’t get into them in the first place. Keep the light with you all the time.
You have to see what darkness tells you you’re not supposed to see. If you see evil, you can then go on to see goodness, to see what is right, but you have to see evil first, right? If you see evil first of all, that very revelation displaces the evil which makes room for what is good. Instruction: Watch your reactions and thoughts right now as you’re listening to this.
Exercise: I tell you if you will do this, you’ll make it.
Write down: What to do with your troubles. Instead of _______ing it, I will understand it.
Isn’t that marvelous? But you have to live it, you can’t read it, you can’t think it, you have to act it. How many had troubles this morning? Yesterday? The day before? Oh, you’re a very troubled group aren’t you? (Vernon laughs heartily here.)
What did you do with them? You battled them, you resented them, you hated them, you lied about them, you tried to evade them; it was someone else’s fault, right?
You are to fill in the blank with what is suitable for that blank — the event, the experience that comes up. Instead of resisting it, I will understand it. (Shouting) What could be simpler?
Now, let me tell you, when the devil hears simple techniques like this he wants you to forget them. He doesn’t want you to do them. Look, I give you a spiritual order from a higher headquarters than this room, although it’s in this room. The order is, you will write down the method, the technique; you will understand what you’re supposed to be doing in a higher way and you will do it.
If you want to learn archery, you know, go out and shoot at a target. If you get the archery book out and you just read the book you’re not going to hit the target are you?
Don’t you dare write that down and forget it. I have given you something that starts with the inner but you’re to connect it with the outer. Every day will present you with ten thousand targets to shoot at. Now, what was the exercise?
The exercise is: Write down What to do with your troubles.
Instead of hating it,
Instead of fighting it,
Instead of brushing it aside,
Instead of trying to explain it away … That’s a good one isn’t it?
Instead of trying to explain the problem away, I will understand it.
Please, why do you think we’re doing this? For the sake of this lady and that lady and that man and that man. Oh, you didn’t understand? This is for you! Why, because you have to work out your own deliverance, don’t you?
YOU WILL NOT FALL ASLEEP ON THIS EXERCISE. YOU WILL WRITE IT DOWN; YOU WILL PUT IT IN FRONT OF YOU WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT AT HOME. YOU WILL REMEMBER IT ALL THE TIME.
You will take the bow and arrow out and you go around and there’s a target over there and we’re talking about going into action. You have an opportunity at the break because you’re going to have all kinds of little incidences in which you maybe feel a little bit hurt or you feel a temptation to blurt out something, or you feel nervous about something and you go over and join someone else you think is stronger than you are. Don’t ever do that!
Do you know how to become a truly spiritual man or woman? I’ll give it to you and write it down: ALWAYS STAND ALL ALONE. And you’ll stand and shake for ten years. Are you willing to go through it? That river is pretty frozen. You’re going to have to do something to crack the ice! What do you care how long it takes as long as the right, true results come? You stand alone and one magic day at the end of 10 years or whatever it is, to your great astonishment, having done the right thing, the thing that God instructs you to do, to listen to no man, to no woman, including yourself, to listen to no one. Right there, in your shaking and trembling, at the end of ten years, right there to your astonishment, right in front of your eyes — your hands are shaking like this because you dared to stand all alone and cut yourself off from false support — your hands are going like that, shaking, and your eyes are blinking real fast; all of a sudden you’ll be astonished to see them be at half that shakiness.
What’s going on? And then less than that, because you’re standing all alone and standing very, very firmly, without shaking at all. And do you know why you’re not shaking? Because at last you are standing on sacred ground, which is the only solid ground there is — the solid ground where you are not present but Truth is and there’s an awareness in you of that Truth. You’re aware of that Truth and you are living it, and standing with it is now your whole life, both here and later. Want it? We’ll get it together.
Vernon Howard gave the following story, which illustrates an excellent exercise we can do:
There was a serious inner-life student whose favorite spiritual action was to read books that told him all about himself, the world and higher principles.
One afternoon because he was out of reading material, he went down to a very special kind of bookstore, which specialized in books about the higher life. He went into the store and asked the owner, “What do you have that’s new that I haven’t seen before?” The owner responded, “As a matter of fact, a new and rare book just came in the other day. It’s solid, very inspiring and the title is ‘The Secret Weapon that Guarantees Victory.’” The student was very interested and asked, “How much does it cost?” The owner said, “The payment, as you know, is not money, but by giving something up.” The student thought for a moment, then said, “In exchange for the book, I will give up any secret, reserved beliefs that I may have that I know more than the author, because I have noticed that,” the student confessed; “many times reading a book I found myself arguing with a certain statement, and after a long time I found out that I was all wrong and the author was right. So I will give up arguing, believing that I know more than the man who wrote the book.”
The owner then gave the book to the student, who could hardly wait to get home to obtain spiritual food. As he read the book the idea formed in his mind that the main theme in it was simply this, “You're not the point of my life.”
Now that means this: he’s a spiritual student trying to learn things and yet he’s in a mad world that’s insanely busy, and all these insanities try to steal his attention, divert his energy, and waste his life. He understood from this new book, the secret weapon was to tell the world, “You’re not the point of my life.” The student realized there are millions of things that weren’t the point of his life swirling around in the world trying to take him and everyone else over. He was determined with his every contact with life, the people, the telephone calls, the letters and so on, to remember and say to himself, “You are not the point of my life, because the point of my life is to wake up. Even if I don’t fully understand what that means, my point is to not be what I’ve always been — scared and sullen, moody, changeable, with fifty different people inside me instead of one unified person.”
While he was thinking about the higher principle he had read, a phone call came from a friend that he’d known twenty years or more. His friend invited him out to the country where he lived to have lunch with him and his neighbors. He intimated that they had decided they wanted to build windmills for generating electricity because of the wind power, and thought it a good idea for the student, who was an engineer, to come out and give them a hand, or at least give them preliminary knowledge of how they could build windmills so they wouldn’t have to buy electricity from the power company. The student remembered that this was not the point of his life, but he knew, as you should realize, how the tug of his old ways wanted to take him there, especially his old friend of twenty years or more, who invited him to lunch and particularly the appeal to his vanity, being the authority, the great engineer who knew about all these things. He saw the tug, and he realized that his very seeing of the tug, back and forth, wanting to go and yet not wanting to go, he saw that that very tug was evidence that he was doing the lesson. Before the tug would have been unconscious, he would have gone back and forth below the surface, but now he saw it. So going against his usual nature, he told his friend, “No,” but he felt guilty.
His friend asked him why he wasn’t going, and began to put a little subtle pressure on him when he said, “Who are we going to get?” See, as if it was the student’s problem, but the student knew it wasn’t his problem. He knew his friend and his neighbors out in the country were trying to get free advice from him and buying him off with a lunch, and compliments on how wise he was as an engineer. He defied his guilt because he remembered his aim, “You are not the point of my life.” That was one application of it.
Two days later he came across the second application. He had some paperwork to do, had to get some figures and facts on paper, but after sitting at his desk for an hour or so, he felt a natural feeling that that was where he should stop. He felt he needed to rest from it because his mind had been working concentrating on that and he needed to have a change, which is a natural change of pace. Additionally, to complete the job he needed more information.
When he left his desk and went about doing other things, the paperwork kept nagging him, kept telling him, “Come back and give us more attention, you have abandoned us, come back.” He understood this process so clearly, the nagging went on and on and on, and he repeated consciously, “You are not the point of my life, and you might as well give up trying to make me think that you are more important than what I must do right now.” And when he felt that statement as well as said it, when he knew it internally, the haunting stopped.
He went back to the book, The Secret Weapon That Guarantees Victory MP3 CD, and looked at all the jewels in it, all the things that he could now do that he couldn’t do before. He understood that it was very high knowledge that he had never fully realized up until now. How easy life became for him now. All the little tasks that seem to demand attention, you can look at them with a higher kind of intelligence and see whether you should give them attention now or later or never.
Thinking is just one part of yourself, and there’s the body and there’s emotions and reactions, when that point becomes the whole point of your life, you just walk through life without thinking because there’s something higher that’s doing your work for you and it’s called understanding with a capital “U”.
Protect the Candlelight is the name of this beautiful and inspiring exercise given to us by Mr. Vernon Howard. He said:
“There lived in a dry desert wilderness a group of people whose outward condition represented their inner states of confusion, stress and anxiety.” A wise man also lived in the wilderness. Some people went to the wise man and asked him, “Is there another place where there is NOT this wilderness and this misery that we have here? Is there a land different?” The wise man said, “Yes, there is, and I'll describe it to you. You won't understand it from the description but you will understand it when you get there. It's a land of pretty flowers, pretty sky, flowing waters and plenty of room, lots of space, not crowded, a place where you can be happy. Now if you want to go there, I will tell you how to do it because I live there — that's my home. I have just come back to tell you about it. Anyone who wants to come, I am at your service. Ask me and I'll tell you how to get there. I can go there any time I want.
“First of all, you have to understand that between this dreadful, deceitful place, where you now live and the Happy Land, there is a very long, dark path. You have to take this path and pass through it all alone. You can’t take your mother, your sister or your friend with you. You have to travel all alone. For you to get the reward, you must do the work. Now, I’m going to give you a candle if you want to go — one candle, strong and bright. Take this candle and start at the beginning of the trail through the dark path and, if you keep that candle lighted, if you protect it above all else, you will reach the Happy Land and you will live a different kind of a life. One unbelievably marvelous!
“I want to emphasize the need for you to protect the light of this candle above ALL else because along both sides of the path there are hordes of evil monsters in human form. They disguise themselves as human and their purpose is to get you to put out the light. They even put up strange winds that might blow the candle out. Or they call out to you. They will even call out to you for help hoping to make you feel guilty if you don’t respond. And once they get in there, they’re going to splash swamp water on your candle and it will go out and you won’t make it. I’m not scaring you — I am both encouraging and warning you.
“The single most important thing for you to remember when you walk the path to the Higher Land is to protect that candle against all evils that want to put it out because, once it goes out, if it goes out, you will lose the trail and you’ll never find your way to the True Land.”
I will tell you something else and I want all of you listening to this talk, to listen especially to this. It will sound dreadful to you but it’s a part of my warning, so as to make you so alert to not let anyone steal the light and snuff it out. Here it is ladies and gentlemen: If your light goes out through your arrogance, through your stupidity, through your carelessness, if your light once goes out, you will never ever know or remember that you once had it. When you fall off the path, that candlelight goes out because it fell with you into the swamp water.
When one of the demons comes up to you and says something like, “I see you put your candlelight out. That’s very good. That’s very wise. Now you can live in hell with us,” if a demon were to warn you that you once had a candle, you won’t believe it. Once the candle of light goes out, it is impossible for a human being to ever remember that he once had one. You talk to a person who’s had a taste of truth and it’s gone away, and you tell him the beautiful things that you heard in that class and you read in the book and you say, “Weren’t you attracted by that light?” That person will say, “What light?” HIS darkness has become his light. That’s what he’s going to call it. He’s floundering around with the rest of the monstrous creatures there, all of them saying that they have the light. They don’t even know what they’re talking about. I want you to know what you are talking about.
I want you to protect with every ounce of energy and alertness you have, the candle that all of you in this room and hearing this talk wherever you may be — I want you to protect it as the most precious, vital, the ONLY important thing in your life. I want you to protect that candle of light that you have just been given. Yes, yes, EVERY single one of you has been given the candle. Now it becomes your responsibility to care for it, to protect it, to not let ANY human being put it out, try to trick you, try to deceive you. I want you to listen to what other people say if and when you ever talk about right things. Can’t you see them trying to put it out. Can’t you understand that’s the only thing monsters can do. They want you to join them in the dark hell of that swamp, thrashing around hating each other, hating God. You be very sharp in your human relations now. Notice it with people who are close to you physically and strangers alike. Watch how the whole world is in that darkness wanting to destroy the smallest appearance of light.
This morning, God himself has given each one of you the light of the candle. It is now glowing right now if you have been receptive to it. I want you to keep it glowing. I want you to study and work harder than you’ve ever worked before. I want you to be willing to sacrifice everything, even your so-called friends who are not your friends at all. Sacrifice those habits that you love so much but which you know are all wrong for you. I want you to be willing to let God take them and sacrifice them for you. You can’t do it but if you’re willing to have them go, then they will go.
Above all else in your life, from now on protect that candlelight.
Here’s a beautiful lesson and story by Vernon about our need to remember our purpose in life.
Once upon a time a very interesting event took place in Heaven. What happened was that a chief angel called in a hundred or so men and women and spoke to them as follows:
“Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to be born in a place called the Planet Earth. You’re going to enter this world called earth and you’re going to be there for a while. Now I want you all to listen to me while I tell you the purpose for you going down into this earth and being born there and experiencing life on earth. The purpose is for you to develop a choice — a love for what is truly good. You are going to be given an opportunity to truly love God of your own will. Nobody can force any human being to love the Creator of this Universe, but you’re going to be sent down there, as many have been sent before you and after you, and you’ll be given a bit of time down there to choose what is true — what is right for you — because it will give you life up here eternally.
“So very simply stated, you’re going to be part of the world down there very soon now. And you’re going to be there for what is called a number of years, but you must remember the purpose for which you are there. And I want to warn you, the earth that you are being sent down to as a testing ground is a very, very wicked, sick, incredibly bad place. Now I don’t want that to frighten you. You don’t have to be frightened. You just have to remember what I said: That if you remember your purpose for being down there, then you will grow and you will develop, and you will find inside yourself something is occurring that hasn’t occurred up here because now you’re down there working — and you will find that you will add to yourself all the good things of life which are called strength, virtue, wisdom, and you will finally find that you have inherited a very, very high place eternally for yourself.
“Now one final word. Most human beings do not remember the instructions that they have been given. They forget and they get enticed and lured by the excitements of the world, and they forget the way back home. I want you to remember what I’ve told you and to make every effort possible to develop yourself, which is your purpose in going down there.”
So they went down to earth and, to their great surprise, it was a nice place physically and they liked that; a marvelous place with continents and huge oceans, and waterfalls, and animals and birds. No problem there. Then when they were about ten days old, the damage began for each one of these candidates for higher development. Just by being in the atmosphere of the planet itself, they began to forget what they were told to remember. And they grew up. They became teenagers. They became twenty years old. And they became forty and fifty years old. And practically every one of them forgot the instructions as to why they were there, which was to not be the kind of a person they were when they entered the world, but to add something to it — through their own choice — by simply loving the instructions that were deep inside them that they’d carried with them from the other world. Remembering those instructions, they could have followed them. Most did not.
Most made a horrible mistake, and I’m describing the mistake that the world has made, which is to believe that you are on this earth to fulfill your own self-created purpose. What do you think about all day long? What do you think your purpose is here? What was your purpose all day long today? Was it a lot more money making? Protecting your ego? Finding someone to talk to? Finding something to keep yourself occupied? All this is a part of you forgetting the original instructions, but you can begin to remember and reverse things even starting right now.
So do you know what happened to all these people who forgot? They thought they could remember. They were so confident at the start. Now do I have to explain it in any more detail for you to understand what this world is like? Everyone being weak, everyone being foolish and ignorant, those are problems to everyone, including the possessor of ignorance, and everyone he or she meets. Everyone became a burden to everyone else. Have I described it? Of course I have.
You have forgotten the instructions, and I will tell you they couldn’t see the angel that came down with them anymore physically, but that angel is circulating around the world today trying to tell a few people, trying to tell them what they have forgotten to remember.
That’s the purpose of this class: To remind you that you’ve made a mistake. You have forgotten something. You’ve forgotten the single most important thing of your life as to why you’re in life.
Vernon Howard gave us this special exercise, which will help us tremendously in our daily lives:
There is something higher than your present existence on this earth and it is your responsibility to find it, and I'm going to show you how. You do it by your own efforts, your own arousing of yourself and that’s how you can begin to develop. Development is an invitation to what is not thought, not in the opposites, which you will sense and you will live by. What I’m going to tell you, you must do, you can do, and if you will do it with a right heart the results will be right.
Here’s a little background on what we’re talking about. You fail to use life properly. You’re so crowded with yourself that nothing can come in to penetrate and displace what has been wasting your day, your mind and your spirit.
Nothing new happens, does it? The old pains, the old worries, the same old routine ways, always hoping for magic of some kind, always hoping that something will turn up, that something will come your way.
How many of you are in love with yourself? Being in love with yourself means having no inclination or wish to change the fixed pattern of your reactions that hit you in the outer world or inside yourself. It means that you lie about, justify, protect, promote and maintain everything as it was before because when the river starts raging, all you have to do is fall into it. Have you ever noticed how simple it is to fall into the crabby little nature and make the sharp remark on the telephone or in your mind to someone else?
You can start tonight to put yourself into a position called SELF-SURPRISING. How many of you are kind of unpleasant sometimes? Pretty dreadful, isn’t it? We’re going to pull a trick on the devil tonight, and you’re going to take it with you and work on it. The next time you feel tempted to react with a sharp word, a hostile feeling, which you’ll justify of course, a wrong reaction of any kind, you’re going to SURPRISE YOURSELF by being pleasant instead.
I have given you a guaranteed method for building a life that is stronger than anything else, anywhere on earth. When you know you’re in an unpleasant state within yourself, or a worried one, in that state of knowing, the strength to do what you’ll have to do thousands of times, and which you can do for the higher success, is available to you.
The rule is when you make an effort to work internally on yourself, when it’s terribly difficult for one reason or another, such as other people are around or you got a shock of some kind, when you work on yourself when it’s most difficult, you get a greater reward.
A repeated, faithful application of Self-Surprise, catching yourself playing a role, catching yourself anticipating the pleasure of hurting someone else with a sharp remark, that Self-Surprise produces the necessary different location inside of you, and since everything is different inside of you when you understand that you don’t know, then your false knowing is weakened.
Do take your notes home mentally or physically and Surprise Yourself all day long. Never have any fear of the consequences of deliberate, conscious Self-Surprise because they will be good. You will then know what it means to be on top of the mountain and look at the marvelous view.
Vernon gave us the following information on spiritual justice which we can all work on and get the many healthful benefits.
There is a popular word in the English language, which is much used and little understood, and that word is justice. We’re going to understand it in a profitable way inwardly tonight.
Now society has its own definition of the term justice and, unfortunately, all of them are distortions of reality, all shallow, all misleading and all self-serving.
To the average human being, justice is done if he gets his way, if he gets what he wants. If he doesn’t get it, that’s injustice and he goes around complaining what an unjust world this is.
The true definition of justice, the spiritual definition, is simply when goodness is rewarded and badness is punished. If you are good, you will be rewarded; if you are bad, you will be punished. There’s really no way to escape divine justice, it’s a fixed law. You always get justice from the spiritual viewpoint and it can be positive or negative. It is justice when a good man does good and feels good, and it is injustice when a bad man commits a crime or hurts someone. Justice is done, “Vengeance is mine,” says Heaven. You know that you can’t be a bad human being and be happy; only a good man can be happy.
Justice always follows either happily or unhappily every small move you make, every action you take. Every word you speak will bring upon you one of the two kinds of justice, but it’s up to your inner condition whether the justice is happy or unhappy. A negative cause will produce a negative effect.
Sure you're going to associate with people, spouse, friends, you're part of the physical world, but there’s no more anxious yearning when you see that crowd or go to the party, there’s no more anxious wish to change them in any way. How would your life be different if wherever you went, you didn’t want anything from anyone? That is the true spiritual life.
We have to come awake and stay awake. Then everything that used to conquer you, you now conquer.
In this true world of justice, there is no such thing as defeat, all there is, is a knowing of the true world, the divine world.
Listen to the following:
Do right even when tempted to do wrong.
Do right even if it means losing a friend.
Do right even if it means you don’t understand why you should.
Do right even if you fear the consequences.
Do right even if you don’t want to.
Do right even if it feels strange.
Do right even if it arouses criticism.
Do right even if it’s you against the world.
Oh how clear the whole world of badness will become to you because you're seeing it from the height of goodness and that height is also from which you have absolute power, spiritual power over the past.
You will know for yourself that the only world you have is the good world, and in that good, true, virtuous world no badness can enter.
When thunder and lightning strike your mind, remind yourself instantly, “I am apart from all that.” Now you translate thunder and lightning into your personal experiences — into your worries and your half-seen concerns over what’s going to happen to you. Remember this fact: What is known in heaven as a fact can be known by you as a human being here on earth.
It’s a heavenly fact and you can learn how to bring it down to you — yes — right at the office there, right at the home. It doesn’t depend on you to build it, to keep it going, but it is up to you to allow it to descend inside your mind so that something that is stronger than the thunder and lightning can take over your entire life.
The next time you feel a shaking and an unnamable bother of any kind that you’re only dimly conscious of, you will remind yourself of the heavenly fact that you are apart from all that. The thunder and lightning is not you!
Hostile forces want you to believe in them; they tell you “That’s you, therefore you’d better get sick and stay sick.” Don’t you believe it again! I know that the fact is not yet a personal experience with you and that’s not anything for you to be concerned with. What you should be concerned with only is being loyal to the fact that at the present moment you only know with the intellect, you don’t know it spiritually, yet. It’s not a living experience with you, but I’m telling you to remind yourself while here on earth of the heavenly fact. That is your work. That is where you make the mental concept your personal daily experience, and you will know it — not just with the intellect — that you have added something to it far above it. You will know it with the spirit of heaven itself and it all came about because you remembered, “I am apart from the thunder and lightning” and how many know what I’m talking about? Everyone raise your hand.
I, my real nature, is apart from that. Never forget it. Remind yourself every day. Say “In Reality, that’s not me at all.” You are not a single one of your doubts and your struggles. Who you really are is something else. You don’t know that yet. No, you don’t. Keeping in mind a heavenly fact about me can become a personal spiritual experience with me. Remember those facts and you will see how the light becomes brighter and clearer, for example, in your contacts with other people.
Remember and work very hard with the point, “My real ‘I’ is apart from all that.” That is, anything that is striking you, paining you, including what is now unseen self-deception. Yes [this is] giving up your suffering! Don’t be afraid to be apart from yourself. You don’t know who you are. If you abandon everything you’ve lived from up until now, then terror will go away and it won’t go away until we do that.
This will take away the smallest or largest anxiety and nothing else will do it. You’ve got to know how awful it is [inside] and don’t give yourself a solution. Don’t think that you know the answer to the problem that is you. Just say, “I’m a little lost child. I don’t know what to do.” When you really don’t know what to do, your head will lift up and you’ll catch your first glimpse of the open highway. You may crash again, you will get hurt again, but if you continue you will catch a glimpse of the little lost child.
Vernon gave the class this beautiful, practical exercise which, in effect, is about us not injecting ourselves into practically everything we talk about.
Let’s say several people go outside on a dark night and they all look up at the starry skies — millions, billions of twinkling stars up there. One man personalizes it and says, “That’s interesting! I think I’ll get a telescope and study the stars.” A woman in the group says, “Oh, I remember as a little girl back in the East where I come from, we used to go out and count as many shooting stars as we could in one evening.” All go on, they personalize themselves with the universe up there.
Now, you’re not going to be like that. You’re going to be that one person in the group who also looks up at the stars and instead of going into memory or ambition over it by saying, “I’m going to be a great astronomer” — instead of falsely using the observation of the skies, you say to yourself something like this: “You know that is a wonder out there and I wonder how in what manner this physical body, this what I call my life, I wonder if there might be a different kind of a connection between the universe, the world, the timeless state up there, I wonder if there might be something I’ve missed so far.”
Now, already that is good because you, unlike the other people who personalized it, you pulled yourself, you pulled your past experiences out of it, and your higher inner nature was responding to the physical nature of the nighttime skies. There was a certain connection there and the feeling and the right thinking about it developed.
Now the important thing in this sort of an experience which I want you to practice is pulling yourself out of the candy bar, the flower and the skies. The important point is for you to practice instant withdrawal of yourself from the whole world, so that when you go to the office or you look up at the skies — no matter what you do with the physical creation — you want to find a new and different relationship to it. That wish for something higher must develop.
This is a spiritual guarantee, if you will go in the proper spiritual steps of l, 2, 3, 4, 5 of first withdrawing yourself from the temptation of the candy bar or the flower or the temptation to get rageful over the insult, and instead withdraw yourself from your limited personal and truly nonexistent inner life that you have vowed is real. It is not real. It’s unreal masquerading as real and you haven’t seen through it yet.
This illustration of simply suspending usual hot feelings and wild thoughts, allowing them, daring them, daring to suspend them, this will increase the right kind of wonderment, which is a kind of questioning. And then your beginning right thinking will give you a beginning right feeling which will have nothing at all to do with the flower or candy bar or the insult or the praise of the outer world. It will be altogether inside you. It will be a feeling of affirmation that there really, truly is another kind of relationship that you can have with everything, which means you mustn’t try to draw the world into you in order to give you a feeling of life because it can’t give you a feeling of life. You get a feeling of true life by refusing the false.
Just make it an overall powerful vow and determination to refuse to be pulled back into the wrong delusory world inside yourself. That refusal in itself will make room for the next step which is to have an increased very quiet, silent, powerful insight that you have changed the kind of world you live in. Your body is still in the physical world, but your spirit is now in the higher world with all its qualities and all its purity and all its power.
Tell yourself forcefully and at the same time very calmly, “I have much better things to do with my life than to spend it in pain.” Now you say that several times a day. You will not know what you are talking about but the words are beginning guidelines so that you can go from words to feeling, to comprehension, and the light will burst upon you one day in which you won’t have to say it with your mind anymore because you will know it internally. It will be with you twenty-four hours a day so that pain of any kind — emotional, physical, psychological suffering — so when it tries to intrude into your life, you will have more power than it has because you will have received the inspiration and the explanation from the higher place that you don’t have to submit anymore!
Good morning, submitters! You know that’s accurate. You know that what I just said is true. You submit. Now, you’ve already had an enormous clue. The clue is you have been telling yourself what your life is all about. I have to tell you something very special about pain, about anguish. Of all the evil forces on this earth, anguish, hostility, any kind of pain is one of the most cunning in disguising itself as a needful friend. I want you to understand for yourself what I just said. The next time you feel any kind of apprehension or doubt about something and you start to shake, I want you to look at it so closely that you can see through the bluff that it has had on you. You can see that it is nothing but a faker that you thought was your friend.
It is never necessary for any of you to be in, or to fall into a state of anxiety, tension, any kind of pain at all. I just told you the fact of the matter. Now which are you going to believe? Well, you’re going to have some hard work in tossing out your beliefs in the necessity for you to be thrown off the track. And New Life teachings will show you how to do it, how to encounter the enemy with a new kind of strength and fresh vigor and higher intelligence so that pain, worry, feeling inferior, the whole business, so that you meet it with the light of heaven itself and that is what makes you strong; that godly presence living through you is stronger than the trillions of types of fear, tension, feeling awkward, feeling unworthy.
Identify to yourself the wide variety of pain and sufferings there are. See how they can grab you anytime they want. You’re not going to spend your days feeling at the mercy of other people, of the news headlines, of anything at all. The fact is freedom from agony exists. Shake those chains off. Don’t be afraid of anything! Instead of being afraid of your life, you’re going to be interested in it. You can do this! You can say, “Oh, I’m going to understand you. Instead of shaking before anything, I’m going to look at it as a scientist would look at a problem.” You’re walking around and you catch some small or large anxiety, whatever, and then remember what you’ve just read. Don’t forget it! Write it down. Look at it fifty times today. Put a little note in a prominent place at home that says, “I don’t have to be afraid or in anxiety over anything. I just have to be interested in understanding what is going on.” Already you’ve struck a blow against the enemy; you’ve taken some of the chains off and heard them clank down at your feet. You will understand the deeper meaning of this as you practice it.
Vernon gave us this most practical self-acquaintance exercise which we can use anytime.
Here’s an exercise to practice for at least the next seven days.
The action part is what you see with your eyes as you go about the world. The reaction part is what you do with your mind as a result of the action of observing something exterior to yourself. You go shopping. You go out into the front yard and you observe something with your physical eyes. That’s the first step.
And then the reaction, that is, what was your reaction to what you saw? And you’re to know both what you saw with your physical eyes and what you responded; what was the nature of your response to what you saw?
Now, you’re not to react to your reaction. You’re to leave it alone so that it flies away all by itself. But you’re to see it before it flies away. For example, you might see an ad for maybe your favorite dinner advertised. You see the ad and then you see what went on inside of you as a result of it. “I want that for dinner tonight.” Or, “I had it three nights ago.” Just see the reaction and then let the reaction go. Don’t hang onto it. Don’t try to get a sense of excitement, of possession, of identity over it at all.
Or maybe you see an accident and then you watch your reaction to that. A little bit of fear or maybe your major reaction was, “Well, I’m going to drive a little more attentively after this, after seeing that accident.” Notice what you see, then notice how you responded to what you see, and then let the response go. This is self-acquaintance at its best. Do that all the time and this way you will not unknowingly identify with or be caught up by what you see with wrong emotions and wrong reactions.
Eventually, you will have proper reactions instead of the wrong ones that now take you over because you were not conscious of them. Look at the world, look at a particular event or a particular person, then notice your response and then let it fade out and start all over again.
All right. Everyone come awake right now. Know where you are. Don’t be gone in the riotous thoughts of your mind. Come wide-awake. Be aware of yourself and of the exterior world at the same time. Have the flashlight pointed both outward and inward. Come wide-awake now. Now stay that way.
“I am inspired to send a note of thanks. I am 45 years old, married and a father. It is such a pleasant and helpful thing to see how Heaven’s Helpers have brought us a sincere and compassionate teacher like Mr. Howard. What a wonderful vision he had for mental health and emotional happiness and vigor! Really, really grateful — so keep up the good work. There are so many souls searching and hurting including myself. My journey is not over but along life’s path I am so pleased to see a teacher with some guts and common sense. Thank you again.”
— Julian P. via e-mail
All of the above exercises were transcribed by Sally Forrest or Regina Netherton from a class lecture.