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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.
How many of you breathe? Live and breathe? Some of you could have fooled me. (Laughter)
I’m going to give you a very classic exercise which must be thousands of years old. An exercise in breathing. You say you already know how? Your unconscious parts know how to breathe.
When is the last time you ever consciously thought of the fact that you inhale and exhale? Twenty years? Have you ever thought of it? You’ll do it now as a start with this exercise. You will now be conscious of your breathing.
You breathe in and you breathe out. And in a moment you’re probably going to forget all about it. But bring yourself back to the fact that you breathe.
Now what’s spiritual about learning to breathe? You just see ― because you’re going to take this breathing exercise home with you. When you’re conscious that you’re breathing, that doesn’t mean that you’re thinking about it. You’re not counting “in breath, out breath, in breath, out breath.” You don’t have to gasp. You are quietly, consciously knowing that you’re breathing.
What an exercise! It’s with you all the time. You can refer to it and practice it any time you want. There it is, right there. You simply know that the breath is going in. You know that the breath is going out. What’s spiritual about that? Because it’s the first stage in you getting a higher understanding of you being conscious of something. Not thinking about it, not frantically worrying about it, but you just know what is happening with your breath.
Next step. “Oh, that’s pretty good. I’ve been trying that for a few days, and I just know I’m breathing. I don’t have to think about it. It’s just happening and there’s a consciousness in me. It is not thought. It just knows that it is happening.”
Now take this exercise into your mind. Don’t think about your thinking. Just know that you’re thinking. And when that first thought comes up, know it was there and let it go, just as you let your breath go when you exhaled. Then you watched the next inhale, the next exhale.
Thoughts are the same. All kinds of thoughts, thousands a minute, colliding inside your mind. What you want to do now, because you’ve learned with your breathing exercise, is to be able to single out that one thought out of the thousands a minute. And you can do that. You can do that because you’re only thinking one thought at a time. It may go so fast (like a millionth of a second) that you think you’re thinking ten things at a time, but you’re not.
You can, by continuing with this exercise, isolate that one thought. You must do this to separate it from all others, so that it does not become the first domino that you knock over which starts the next domino, the next domino — dominos in a row falling down. That process is cancelled because you did not go into agitation, worry, over the first thought that you became conscious of. Not thinking about it, you simply know it is there. And when you know it is there, you’re able to let it go. Like the breath comes in, you’re conscious of that and it goes out. It’s really one double process, isn’t it? The breath goes out and it’s gone.
That bothersome, worrisome, self-centered, painful scary thought — when you can become aware of it, conscious of it then that consciousness is stronger than that one thought. And your awareness of it is what allows it to go out as it should go out in a healthy mind. It will go away.
All right, evil is persistent. Of course it is. It’s always shooting harmful bullets. So, the next one comes in. What? A different kind of worry. You’ve run out of the first thing to worry about, so you invent something else to worry about.
But regardless of the nature of the harmful thought, the kingdom of Heaven is eternal, and it is all-powerful. And a clear conscious awareness is one of the parts of the kingdom of Heaven. When a wolf-thought tries to trick you to bring it in and be your friend, your awareness makes it clear to you. And then the very awareness that it is a wolf-thought is also what makes you want to let it go away, trot away, of course, and leave you alone.
It’s not you handling evil anymore. It’s allowing Heaven itself to be your strength, to tell you what to do.
There are four billion [now going on 8 billion] humans on the face of the earth. Besides that, there are evil spirits who inhabit human beings. They are evil spirits. I haven’t counted them lately, but let’s say there are fifty trillion of them. Fifty trillion enemies, evilers, and all fifty trillion of them are ganged up against you. They are! If there were fifty trillion trillion, they’d all be ganged up against you finding God. They hate the human race. They hate men, they hate women, they hate children, they hate old people, and they hate middle-aged people. They have nothing but a desire to destroy every human being they can.
Now I’m telling you what the odds are. No problem at all because you as a human being were put here on earth by God. When you were put here by God, do you know what he gave you? He gave you an opportunity, enough instruction, information and willingness to learn. Don’t forget that one — a willingness to learn.
Now I'm going to give you a method, a revelation, that’s a little different than what you usually hear. And you're to expand the illustration I gave you of you being disturbed when talking to someone, to when you're disturbed over anything from another human being.
The other person says something that you call offensive. He's sharp, she’s rude, whatever happens. Now follow, don't miss this. You don't understand it yet, and I don't want you to miss it because it's going to set you free. You are to know with absolute certainty about that person, and when you do know it, you will never again react wrongly. You'll never fall into an egotistical reaction. “Why did he talk to me that way?” But it's going to take a long, hard time for you to allow this naturalness to be revealed to you because you still want to be you.
And here it is. Your natural spiritual knowledge that that offensive person is lost, absolutely lost, your knowledge that he or she is lost will set you free. It is your knowledge, of course, of his or her condition.
I’ll go into detail on it now. When you understand that a rude person, a vulgar-mouth person, a violent person, when you know absolutely that he can’t do anything but that, you won’t ever expect him to behave better toward you, because you know he can’t! And your knowledge that he can never, and he can’t for the rest of his life, he won’t be able to be a good human being, a good man, a good woman.
Their whole life is going to be filled with sarcasms, with lies. All right now listen to what I'm telling you. It is your natural self that can see clearly the absolute hopelessness and helplessness of that rude, crude, offensive, insulting person. It is your new nature that is always able to identify an old nature in action, and when that is done, you are free.
Wouldn’t it be nice to never suffer the pains and wounds of being offended by your husband, your wife? Oh, I'm bringing this very close to home. Wouldn’t it be amazingly natural and pleasant, and oh, and relaxing — you'll be at home, all the time relaxed — to know that whatever you see that is violent, that is despicable, that is devilish, that is wrong, that is cruel, wouldn’t it be nice for you to not react in fear of that, but to know that that’s the only way it can be in that man, in that woman, in that group.
When you know that, all power that they used to have to make you mad, to make you jittery, they lose all their power, which they never really had in the first place. You gave it to the situation by you wanting to get offended, and you had better write that down.
A willingness to learn: with that, you can arrive at the place where you go through your whole day watching the evil forces working through another person and working through you. You can watch it leap up and try to tell you what to say, feel, how to react when that man spilled the coffee all over your new $20 book, for example. But instead you say to evil spirits, “Who do you think you’re kidding?”
That is a true natural statement which will grow in intensity, and in power, and in frequency inside if you continue with it. LISTEN! You’ve got to remember to do it for the first time! For example, when something offends you, something that wants to hurt you, is about to try it for the hundred thousandth time, you, with your right choice, ask God to empower the statement, “Who do you think you’re trying to kid?”
That simple attitude, because it is spiritual, has all power over fifty trillion trillion devils — all of them surrounding you and trying to keep you in their power. They don’t stand a chance! I know that. I want you to know it.
You must be aware and catch dark forces. You must remember to say it. Then make notes on it. That is cooperation with God, with joining yourself with heavenly forces. The old nature becomes weaker and weaker.
You hope the world can give you something to do with yourself; that it can be entertaining and profitable. Stop trying to take life from a life stage. That is mere movement. That is what you are looking for to make yourself feel comfortable, to feel excited. You want that person, position, advantage.
What do you want from the world? Everything you get you’re going to live to regret. You are going to be sorry. No matter how many successes you get, you don’t feel happy. The inner has to be corrected. Work hard on yourself. Rise above — from the inner to the outer.
Now you don’t have to go after that man or woman anymore. There is such a thing as spiritual indifference! This means where you used to look out and envy that person, want that, you’re indifferent in the sense that you don’t want it to give you anything because you know it can’t. You are not free of that world! You’re tied to people, ideas. You can’t see things clearly because if you did, you’d see there’s nothing out there.
You’re no longer trying to get a feeling of stability from someone or from money. No! Your problem is alienation from God!
It takes your willingness to be knocked around until the nonsense is knocked out of you. You still want your way. Give up your plans on how you are going to be happy, including food and entertainment. Give up what you are doing in order to get a feeling of accomplishment. You don’t like those sudden revealing glimpses into what you are like. You want to have what others have. They are secretly miserable because they are alienated from Truth. Recover your perception to see how sick and sad those people are.
You haven’t spent your days studying the movements of your mind. You think that thinking can change your life. You invest your money in business, want to be the boss, get high rent. You think that will make you happy. You have done that how many times already? The reason you are unhappy is because nothing works. Success won’t do you any good. That is outer, not inner.
Within you is a center that is not a part of this world. It’s real, permanent. But it’s overwhelmed by your foolish desires to always be surrounded by people. That little part is small and is bluffed and intimidated and can’t grow.
You are lonely because you don’t have God in your life. If you did, there’d be no difference in being all alone or in being with someone else, or in being in a busy office. Notice how insufficient you are; pretty awful living with you. Within you is the possibility but you are going to have to be a lot more willing to break out.
Be honest! Know that you can’t live without having a lot of people around you, including friends and enemies in your own mind. You had to have that enemy. How many hostile thoughts? You think having an enemy will help you get over your loneliness. You know you are a terrified human being.
Your actual state: you can’t stand being alone. You take dreams and nightmares from the outer world and bring them in. No wonder you are horrified. You spend and waste your life trying to get a petty favor from people. You are very, very angry — hostile — because you want to be bigger than God. You don’t exist. God is everything!
Billions of lost souls all trying to find themselves by taking away from someone else.
You could have started to change your nature years ago. Look at all the time you’ve wasted. There is something else! You must not try to create your own salvation. You don’t know how to make yourself happy. You don’t know how to push away the aching loneliness.
“I don’t know how to straighten myself out. I don’t know how to be happy.” See that another part of you doesn’t mean it at all. Start with the awful mind — that’s all you’ve got. In order to grow, say, “I don’t know how to straighten myself out, how to be happy.” This is an exercise in self-honesty. “I’m just lost altogether. I don’t know how to uplift my nature.” It is essential not to try to be sincere, but to see that you have no sincerity at all in saying that.
Use that as an exercise over a period of years so you can see there is a lying part underneath that in the next five minutes, you go out and do something to make yourself happy. You’ll see that you’ve lied to yourself all your life about wanting to change.
One day you will say it with the center inside and you’ll realize that there is no way you know how to rescue yourself. Then God will enter and teach you. Give up. When your will is no longer your will, then God’s will becomes your will.
Be aware that you have facial muscles. Your face moves and smiles. The first thing is to see that you have all these facial muscles, of course. Be aware right now, and the rest of the day, how seldom they are relaxed. Notice that even now here, you have allowed an unseen force to take over more than your face, but we’re concentrating on your face now.
Unseen forces take over the muscles, your facial expression, and cause you to obey them. That’s because you don’t know what’s happening, but you can know if you want. And at the proper time, just don’t have any expression at all, which is what you have at home. How many can see a difference in your facial expression when you’re with other people than the one you have at home?
All right, you’re going to spend the rest of this weekend, or whatever, going over this with yourself. I don’t mean to sit in stony silence. No. After you leave, whatever your facial expression is, smiling or whatever, you’re to go back to where you were. Now it could be a nice look. How many want to look nice? You know, a nice quiet look and I'll tell you something, a truly spiritual facial expression is innocent. It is attractive.
You know unattractive looks when you see them, don’t you? A conscious man or woman can suddenly catch himself in a strained, awkward facial expression and realize it’s just a carry-over habit. You do it today because you did it yesterday. And you find to your astonishment and delight that you are stronger than your face. The spiritual kingdom within is stronger than any false move you might make. But you have to be alert, as always; you have to catch yourself playing a role, right?
Now look, I didn’t say when you’re smiling you’re playing a role. I’m asking you to find yourself smiling when you are playing a role. As I said before, this doesn’t mean you sit around with a blank face, but you smile when necessary and in between that you just relax. That relaxation of your facial muscles will be accompanied by relaxation of the rest of yourself, both the visible and invisible parts, because the original source of your spiritual contentment and quietness spreads itself throughout. And you will see how this exercise not only affects the well being of your face but of your speech, of where you go and what you do. It affects everything. But you see, this exercise is giving you a small concise clear opening that’s with you all the time. You’re always with your face [laughter] and so you can be conscious. Now let’s see, say to yourself, “I have my facial muscles there and just now they’re doing this or they’re doing that. Do I feel strain at what I’m doing now? Well, I know that when I get furious, I feel strained. So therefore, the facial expression itself is unnecessary and incorrect and self-punishing, so I’m going to drop it.”
See, you just drop a little part but the part is connected with the whole. Say “I’m going to let my facial muscles relax and I’m going to look intelligent, but I’m not going to remain in a false condition when it comes to my facial movement.” You will find that it affects favorably — it will transfer itself to everything you do. Therefore, everything about you feels better. There’s no strain to conform to the expressions of yesterday. You see it is not necessary to give that other person a certain kind of look. You can just relax and be yourself. Isn’t that appealing?
Remember to put into practice the exercise you were just given.
To be conscious of something means to know it, to understand it with your entire system. It means to understand thoroughly because there is no entity, no individual, no personality there to misunderstand.
Can’t you see for yourself the wretched, defeated way you are presently living — that there is a so-called self, a person, a personality there who does not understand anything? There is you and there is misunderstanding. And you groan and say, “I don’t know what life is all about. I can’t figure it out.”
I want to explain the terms awareness, consciousness, understanding, insight. Are you conscious of how everyone has problems? You aren’t. You don’t know deeply, thoroughly, altogether, that this is a horribly suffering sick world. And it’s because you don’t know how badly off you are. Not having any consciousness, any insight into your own emptiness, you can’t look out into the world and see how sorrowful other people are, because you’re always thinking about yourself. And don’t ever say that you care for other people because you don’t. You’re utterly, completely, painfully self-centered.
Can you begin to understand everyone is loaded with troubles? Look at their faces, how sad they are. Look how they chase around looking for solutions, for something that will ease the pain, just as you do. Not only do people have thousands of difficulties, but they want you to supply the solutions.
No one you see in that world out there has answers to anything. Not the answers to economic woes of the nation, of the world, or the answer to crime, to alcoholism, to drugs. They are all fakes, just like you are.
What do you expect of this society when this is the way it is; when you want to play the same sick game that society is playing? I’m talking about you listening to me right now. Yes, you, not your neighbor, not some other group. They are just as bad off as you are.
I’m looking for one man or woman who will listen to what is being said and say, “Yes, that’s right. It’s absolutely true. I see it. I didn’t want to admit it for years. I know it’s true and I’m not going to be a part of society or my own sickness anymore.”
Show a little right initiative in the right direction so the truth can begin to come to you and begin to change you. You’re not going to change the way you’re doing it now, all wrapped up in yourself, angrily insisting that you already have the answers. How did you sleep last night? Some of you couldn’t shut your mind off, could you? How many have chronic headaches? Constantly hate someone? Want to fight all the time? To argue? To prove you’re right when you’re wrong?
[Vernon then gave a story of windmills in Holland all breaking down and everyone insisting the cause was external.] That’s what you’re doing. You’re looking outside yourself.
Maybe one intelligent, honest, decent man said, “Let’s see, my windmill isn’t operating properly and that makes me unhappy, so maybe I’d better look inside and see where it has broken down internally. Maybe that is where the problem is.” Then it’s going to work again, become creative again.
Do you know who all the other people are who refuse to investigate internally? They’re society as it now operates, lying, lying, lying; placing the enemy outside of themselves. What is it, the other political party, an ex-spouse, bad luck? There’s always an enemy out there, never inside, so they think.
No longer be a part of sick society and you won’t be as miserable as they are. You’re miserable now, every one of you. You know that.
You have picked up from sick society the habit of getting mad when you could go into understanding. Did it ever occur to you, that instead of getting distressed or angry over any problem at all, to try to understand it?
Again then, no excuse for not changing! The next time you have a hurt, a difficulty, a confusion, a jealousy, a self-punishing attitude or emotion — if you try to understand the problem involved in it, instead of fight it with anger, the problem will go away. It has to go away. It will dissolve and how delightful your life will be!
For the third time, the next time you have a problem, a difficulty, try to understand why you have it instead of getting mad. Fourth time: when something bothers you why don’t you turn internally and say, “Why am I churning, nervous like this?” Do that so you can understand the problem out of existence instead of flaring up and blaming something outside of yourself.
Aren’t you beginning to get excited about what I’m talking about? Did you ever hear anything cheerier, more positive? I’m going to hammer at you, for that one man or woman who doesn’t want to be a liar anymore, but instead wants to turn into a good, decent, truly peaceful, truly innocent, truly spiritual human being.
You can enter this other world which has no usual you in it at all, but which simply sees and knows, and is completely at peace. This is called true spiritual life. Very few attain it, but you can have it if you want it badly enough, if you seek hard enough for it, and yield yourself to truth.
Now you listen to me. I want to tell you that you value your fear. It’s precious to you. You don’t know how deeply valuable your haunted house is to you. You don’t see that it is your food, it’s your drink, it’s your daily way of living. And you come to a meeting like this, or you read a book and the truth or reality or a fact is presented to you and the fear of that fact becomes the only defense you can think of because you have everything reversed! What you are not just possessing but are living — what you are living is death!
If you have not risen above your ordinary mind you are living in a state of death. There’s no life to it at all. There’s no life, there’s no freshness, there’s no spontaneity. There’s only fear, tension, anxiety, wanting to hurt people — the whole thing.
This false life, and you should know by now, is so capable of telling you that this is all there is, that you put out your arms and embrace your fears as your friend, as your savior, as your life-giver. Nothing sounds more logical to you than to do this because you’re saying “I, look, no man in his right mind wants to die.”
I’m telling you that you don’t have to die asleep! Now what are you going to do about it? You only know you’re asleep when you can look back and see the state you are in without being horrified by it. If you’re horrified by the state that you see, you’re still identified with it and you’re still asleep. You have to be nobody. You can’t be anybody and be awake. You simply have to be impersonally awake — seeing everything and not being afraid of anything or anyone, any circumstance, or any future.
Then you know you’re untouchable. No matter what the world does to you, you’re untouchable. You’ve got something that isn’t of this world. You know about the other world now. You know it and you live in it. And that awareness, that consciousness, that living in that new world makes you adequate and makes you sane as you presently are — also without division — living in the physical world.
When you are sane, that very sanity never for one millionth of one degree ever tolerates insanity. Not that you can do anything about it. Not that you have to do anything about the insanity of the world or about the insanity of those people out there. We’re trying to make sanity appear. Then I’m no longer contributing to it as I used to do, as you used to do. Are any of you aware of how you used to contribute to the insanity of this world? And what you did unto this world you did unto yourself at the same time. Why don’t you make an agreement to call it off? You don’t have to go along with it. There’s something else.
The people you are living with and the people you know and the people you work with, they don’t want to go. They don’t want to travel to this other world. They want to stay right where they are, they’re so happy in their sickness and in their misery.
One value of this class is that you are associating with other people who want to be something different than what they now are. As bad off as we may be — and it’s pretty bad — there’s a little part of us that says, “I want to find something else.”
You read and listen to talks, you work on yourself and you will find something else. You won’t have to be a self-tormentor anymore. You won’t have to hide out in the closet fearful of what’s outside the door, as you now are.
If you ever say, “I’ve got mine,” you’re a brute. When you have nothing, you have everything you need.
Start all over again. Work all over again. If it took you 90 years of your life to find God, you’ve found him forever.
In this exercise, Vernon compared our inner states to a vibrating rod where unconscious negative reactions to people and events are going on inside, though we have a picture of being a nice person.
Everyone and everything is there to teach you what they are like and what you are like!
Our work is to become conscious of and honestly observe the suppressed rage, to see that you’re possessed by something that is using you, that’s taking you over. It really is taking you over.
Please write down three words: Just do it! Here’s what that means. It means that all day long your suppressed rages are going to express themselves somewhere. While everyone else has forgotten the instruction I am giving you now, you’re going to remember it. If everyone else forgets it, you’re going to remember.
You can engage in a conversation. People are going to talk to you, but you’re going to notice the vibrating rod of suppressed rage and strong emotions. And you’re going to stop it by grasping this. Internally, spiritually, you stop it by watching it until you understand it completely.
To put that in another way, evil is not a necessity. Well, of course we know that evil is bad. Look, you think right now that badness, evil, is necessary to your life. But it only gives you an appearance of life. So regardless of what anyone else does — if everyone else falls asleep and you look around and see they’re asleep — you’re going to stay awake.
If you’re made a little nervous — wishing they wouldn’t talk to you quite so much, for example — you’re going to notice that. You’re to notice the nature of every reaction you have all day tomorrow. Oh, how much gold you’ll have at the end of the day.
The phrase is so simple. Please take it as being magnificent. If everyone else forgets what he or she is supposed to do, you’re going to remember it. You’re going to be especially watchful of where your wish to impress people with your niceness is not matched by those boiling thoughts that just came up and steamed inside you.
That’s called seeing a contradiction. That’s called going through an embarrassing incident within. That person threw an apple, a remark over at you. Maybe he thought it was funny, but you took it personally. And it hurt a little bit, but you went along with the laugh. You’re going to notice yourself throwing the apple against the wall. That is, notice the hostile inner reaction to that remark — how you really felt.
This is what will happen by noticing your actual inner condition. The pressure will slowly but absolutely lift. The tension will drift away. Where you feel like that inwardly, you’ll feel not so hard, not so pressing.
You’re going to see that person who made that remark to you as someone you’ve never seen before because you’re seeing him differently. Listen to this. You’re not going to see him as an enemy anymore in order to outwit, or to strike back in some way, to throw an apple back at him.
Thank heaven there is a heaven that can teach us lessons, and here it is. That man who made that rude remark didn’t know he was rude. You’re not to say things like that to people. That man is your teacher. So is your wife. So is your husband. See, you’ve forgotten this — the world is not supposed to be your enemy or something to win over.
Everyone and everything is to teach you what they are like and what you are like! And when at last you know what you are like, you will know what they are like, and you’re free of them. You can walk in and out now — anywhere you want. You don’t have to stay anywhere or go anywhere. You can stay home or go. You can do anything you want to do because you’re not seeking something.
Summary: Watch the vibrations that correspond to what you do at home — occasionally throwing the apple against the wall — and know that person inside is not really very nice. It’s certainly not an intelligent person. It’s certainly not a spiritual person. So you’re going to see that you’re possessed by something that is using you, that’s taking you over. It really is taking you over. And when you know that you are taken over, when you know that, it will fall away. And the pressure, little by little, will be relieved.
Do you know what the word urgency means? You've got to allow yourself to have a feeling of urgency, a passionate feeling, desire for self-change to come over you. This sense of urgency is the extra energy you need, so that you can refuse to listen to the screams for fun, for habit, for being with the crowd.
Don’t you have the honesty to know that your life is nothing but a wreck? Now there's no alternative to you seeing that because that’s the fact. It's chaotic and you justify it. You say, “Well, it's because of other people.” You would rather complain, accuse other people than save your soul!
Remember the word urgency while we go on to the word agree. You possess the source of energy which is called agreeing to the truth, with what it says.
Think of you being trapped in a building at night and the lights go out. Nobody knows you're in the back room. You don’t know how to get out and you get panicky. Then you yell out, “Turn on the light.” Remember you have no strength of your own. You're helpless inside there. You can't turn on the light. You do agree that you want out of there. So in your helplessness, in darkness all around, and in terror you cry out, “Please someone, turn on the light.” A minute later, the light goes on. Whew, and there's the nice smiling guard there, and he says, "Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know you were back there."
Here's the point if you will do it. You're capable of saying, “Yes, heaven, turn on the inner light. I need it so badly. I'm helpless here in the dark.” You've forgotten that the word Yes is sufficient to heaven.
All you have to do, try it, try it all the time: Sit back in your chair shaking with what's happening on earth, shaking with the thousands of griefs you have. Just sit back there and see if God is more faithful to you than you are to Him.
See, God is quite willing and eager to prove himself to you. Will you let the higher source come down right in the middle of all your desperation? Are you willing to not enjoy being terrified! You do enjoy it now. You love it. It's nine-tenths of your life — feeling you.
Will you let yourself see that there is a crisis, that you do have to break out of what you call yourself? Please see the urgency of stopping in the dark building of your life, which you know very well you're in; stopping there and just be calm — deliberately.
Oh, I know what will happen for the first ten thousand times you just go limp and calm and non-excitable. It’ll start to scare you. "What happened to my friend ‘frantic mad screams’?" Peace is startling at the start. You're not used to being intelligent. You're used to yelling out like an idiot, like the world is going to continue to do. But you're going to break apart from the world. So you sit there in the dark. And you don’t know in your present level that there is a God; there is a supreme watchman of the night; you don’t know that.
That's not a problem. The problem is you inventing your own fantasy guards that are going to come and save you — the new boyfriend, the new raise in pay, whatever. You don’t know that rescue exists because you've never been rescued. So you haven't had the experience of being lost and having the heavenly night watchman come and show you the way.
Now all you have to do is say Yes in the dark. Say, “I don’t know what I'm supposed to do, but I am willing to have the light turned on inside myself.” That's all that’s required of you and don't you dare do anything else! You'll spoil it all! “God, I don’t know what I'm doing. Please let something come to me that I can't go to. I can't go to you, God. I don’t know where you are. I can't go to it but I can let it come to me. Will you let the light come to me?" Stop right there.
That’s the problem. You want to get in on your own salvation. You want to be able tell people you meet how much you know about spirituality and all the religious verses you can quote. You want to brag that you saved yourself. Will you stop supplying your own solutions to your unhappiness? Please abandon, throw out all those papers and books and plans and blueprints you've had. It’s the only chance you have to get out of the dark.
Then you can't depend on yourself anymore, can you? You have to depend on the watchman of the night to turn on the light, which he will do. Do nothing about your own salvation, except know that you need it very badly and that you can't do a thing to save yourself.
When you cry out, “Please turn on the light,” the light will turn on. You don’t have to know who you're talking to, because you don’t know who you're talking to. But who you're talking to has heard your plea and the light will come on.
Now I want to go into an extremely important topic and I’d like you to think about it over the next few weeks, and more.
You have an active self. You also have a witness self. The witness witnesses the active self. The active is the mechanical part of you — the unseen, unconscious, not understood part of you. You are now in the grip of the unconscious, active, moving self within you.
You will now understand and develop the witness self which is now very weak. And you will train it to be the boss of the active self — to be the healer of the blundering, painful, active self. The witness self is apart from this whole world. It’s free; the witness self is free. There’s no way it can be hurt.
Picture yourself in a nice, comfortable, pleasant home, and you’re looking out the window at a savage raging storm. The witnesser inside is peaceful, in charge, looking out through the window at the lightning, thunder, the fury of it. All right, you remember this illustration, it’s very basic to understanding this.
No matter how raging your human relations get. No matter how you feel all tight inside yourself. No matter how hard you try to cover things up, trying to prevent yourself from seeing the storm inside of you, remember this. No matter what happens in the storm inside of you, there is another part to be developed to full strength inside of you that has no relationship to it at all. We’re talking about you being apart from yourself.
You are not the storm outside! You are not! Get that once and for all. Never get away from that point so that the next time you’re doing business out there and something goes wrong and you’re getting nervous about it, remember, “I am not really that storm.” Don’t believe in it.
All right, you're developing, growing, a witness self. It is the absolute commander over what happens outside. It’s very quiet. “No, I’m not going to go any more!” Use those words. “I don’t need pain. I don’t need to protect myself. I am not going to be so asleep any more.”
You must fall in love with being peaceful. You must fall out of loving what is stormy.
Continue with your spiritual work and see that you’re going to let something else be happy for you. You can’t do it of yourself. You know very well you haven’t done it. “Oh, let’s see; well wait a minute, I don’t want something else, I want me!” All this is loving the storm....
Don’t ever, ever, ever try to quiet the storm. You can’t, you are the storm. Think about how closely a storm describes the social life, the business world, the money making world, the sex world, the whole business.
The witness self will teach you that you don’t have a you that needs to have that certain person in your life that you’re crying over. You don’t need to be a financial success. You don’t need to have people around you all the time. Look, please, Truth is everything. What else do you need?
You’ve been tricked into thinking that it’s better to have a rerun than to keep the set blank for the night. No, it's better to keep the set blank so you could see how crazy you go when you don’t have a television show to watch.
Ah, you’re coming face to face with the storm. And you’re going to dare to go back and sit down in a chair and just watch the storm rage. And you don’t turn TV on for weeks at a time, maybe. And say — “What’s going on with me? — Hey, hey, this is a new experience. This is different. I don’t know what I'm supposed to do to be happy. I knew it last night when I saw the tenth rerun of that movie. Oh isn’t that amazing! Wow, I don’t know what to do to be cheerful. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do to keep myself going.”
Stay with it. Don’t think that you don’t need it. The last thing you need is your present nature.
So all the time, you’re developing the power to stand aside from yourself and look out the window, and have no reaction at all. And if you see yourself reacting, which you will do for a long time, know it has nothing to do with you. Not in reality. At the same time that you see what’s going on out there in the world, down in your office, in your home, the witness is also pointing inward, so you see your response to what you see out there. And it will always be wrong. There’s no response when you’re free.
You’re going to see that you can’t do anything for yourself except see what’s going on inside of you. You can do that. An enormous amount of work. And more and more the Heavenly will take over the earthly and you will change.
How many of you have a troubled mind? How many would like release and relief once and for all?
You ask yourself, “Why is life so difficult? I have this mental torment, all right. Why is it so hard to break it! I’ve done everything, everything I know to do, and I’m still tormented and the slightest thing can set me off. How come pain is so powerful?”
All right, switch the word ‘pain’ to ‘satanic spirit.’ “How come satanic spirits, evil — which causes crimes, wars, breaking hearts — has its own way in my life and everybody else’s? Nobody I know is free and happy and content.”
Satan, bad people, psychopathic people, who fool you by looking normal, have nothing to lose. At a certain point these millions of human beings decided to step over the line — from the possibility of spiritual regeneration and contact with God — into eternal darkness. Having rejected the grace of God, there is absolutely nothing left for a satanic spirit to do but to do evil. Just as a true spirit gains the reward of a little more light every day, a little closer to God, a little less mental torment — so most of the people have their reward, which is total insanity.
Do a lot of thinking about this exercise, and try to connect it with what you see — the news, friends, acquaintances. For example, have you ever been in a situation where someone tricked you, fooled you, took your money, time, anything, and afterward laughed at you? Satan laughs at you for your stupidity. There is absolutely nothing that a sin-sick soul can do but the next sinful, destructive act. If you got that one point you’d see people differently than you see them now.
Now maybe it’s a little clearer why you’re tormented so much. And you didn’t even know it. Don’t forget this. Evil’s whole time, energy, force is aimed at destroying as many men and women as it can. It’s an awesome picture of how overwhelmingly powerful on this earth are the forces of hell. To say that you have underestimated the enemy is to underestimate the idea.
Fortunately, you have begun to wake up to see what you’re up against. You’ll be watching all day long and understand better that you do not originate evil thoughts or impulses. You do not create criminal emotions. They are imposed on you from the outside.
If you had complete free choice within would you choose to be tormented? But the problem is that somewhere between your birth and now, you lost your power of free choice. But in your heart if you could choose to never suffer again you would choose it. If you still want to find God, you would choose to put pain away. You can’t say, “I’m not going to think those horrible thoughts anymore.” Your power of choice has yet to be developed to where you can know what to do when one of these evil thoughts comes to you.
First of all, see how presently helpless you are. Just admit that right now. They can implant shameful sex thoughts into your mind. They can pass a quick scene through your mind where you’re beating up an enemy physically. Just nod inwardly because you know that’s true. You don’t yet know how satanic spirits come from hell, outside of you, and plant them inside of you, and make you think that they’re your thoughts. And also tell you, “Oh how shameful you are! You get rid of those thoughts!” And you fall for that! And because you can’t get rid of those ideas, torment is added to torment, right?
But now we’ve exposed the devil. And you can think clearly toward any kind of a sick, psychopathic, ill thought that comes to you. One, “It is there all right. I did not originate it. I am not its sickness, its insanity. Yes, it was in my mind. It was in my body. But I am not that thought, and I am never again going to fall for the sinister, satanic lies that try to make me think that I am because I can see the consequences of believing that lie! See them! I lived in the hell of them for as long as I’ve been on this earth!
“I receive those thoughts, which is different from being them. I am not them. I had them, but I will never again believe that they make up my self, my identity, my nature. I’m going to go with that true belief. But in my ignorance, in my spiritual sleep, because I’m not aware of the outside hells that have been doing this to me all these years, they were able to do damage like causing anguish and confusion and even contort the physical body.
“Because of the new information, spiritual insight, I can start all over and realize that while in my ignorance and spiritual sleep, I have been a victim, I also know that though I couldn’t save myself, there is salvation.” And now, you have brought God into the picture.
Your very wish to comprehend, to absorb and work with this is in itself pro-God. It means that you are choosing the upper side. You’re going upward simply by wanting to know more. And you can know more about how pain comes in, how evil thoughts are planted in your mind, but they’re not really your thoughts.
“Thank you so very much. I love Vernon Howard. He was a great prophet that I continue to enjoy reading, watching his videos and listening to his
He continues to inspire and lift our souls to the highest levels of our being. He is truly
a master in contacting the divine within to inspire us all.”
“Vernon Howard was always and forever living proof that there is something else.”
— Regina N., Retired Teacher
All of the above exercises were transcribed by Sally Forrest or Regina Netherton from a class lecture.
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