Welcome to New Life Foundation
Vernon Howard Founder
“It is wise to seek immortality for time defeats all other ambitions.”
“What you want also wants you. If you seek the celestial, the celestial also seeks you. There are no unanswered requests in the universe. If we do not like what we are receiving, we can learn to ask for something different.”
The commentary series below is focused on a particular negative emotion, painful feeling, negative trait or state of human beings that causes us tremendous pain and suffering. Perhaps you will recognize that you yourself have had personal experience with this condition. You’ll find the explanation of how it causes suffering and how it produces detrimental effects in your daily life. You will also be shown how Truth can help you to lessen these effects and how you can eventually eliminate them from your life altogether. A new negative characteristic of human nature will be gone into each month. It will be great fun to explore these things in order to help us see through them and to be rid of them.
“Excellent guides. Like air that uplifts the eagle. Keep up the good work.”
— E-mail from man in Michigan
ANNOYANCE by Dr. Lynne Wooldridge
There are negative states and emotions whose destructive vibrations are so obvious that you can’t miss them. Rage, fury and aggressive outbursts of anger, for example, produce effects that may linger long after the actual incident that brought them to the surface. But there are also other reactions, more subtle and much more frequent, that are just as harmful and invasive.
One of those reactions, annoyance, is something that operates in everyone. That quick flash of irritation, the exasperated facial expression or gesture of impatience may seem trivial and unimportant but, in this work, it’s the small things that count. Vernon once said if you’ll work for freedom from fleeting, seemingly petty negativities, you’ll be qualified to tackle bigger challenges. Learning how to stop the downward momentum of falling into aggravation and annoyance would be of immense benefit to any sincere truth student. For one thing, it would help to calm the mind and emotions so that higher instructions could be heard and acted upon. Truth offers to give us the gift of complete life understanding but a clamoring mind and ragged emotions act as the great interferers blocking clear reception.
Sometimes annoyance is focused on personal behavior that is forgetful or otherwise inconvenient, but quite often the irritation is directed outward at other people, circumstances and events. This society is very noisy and has set a lot of things out there to waste our time, distract, pressure and frustrate us. If we allow it, pretty much everything we have to deal with in this life can bother us at one time or another. A few instances that come to mind are robo-calls, aggressively talkative drainers, interruptions when working, bad weather, people who ask endless and pointless questions, traffic jams, someone who bulldozes his way to the front of the line and dealing with people who say they will take care of something but don’t. Even experiences with inanimate objects like wrestling with an immovable jar lid or trying to use a cumbersome tool provide opportunities for the false self to gleefully express its annoyance. Yes, gleefully. A very wrong part of us actually gets delighted and excited when it can be the intimidator and, even briefly, lash out at a hostile world.
As a first step, it is essential to understand that these kinds of expressions are intrusions on our natural right to live a relaxed life. Stop foolishly believing that an irritated, aggravated reaction provides some type of protective defense against perceived external enemies. Not only does it not afford protection, but it also serves to strengthen and solidify the tight grip unconscious, habitual thoughts and emotions have on us.
In our natural state, which can be reclaimed, Vernon said “You are above all problems.” Wow! This means the essence within does not belong to noise but to quiet command. Part of the difficulty, however, is that human beings are like demanding children who want others to cater to all of their desires and whims and to grant every wish, no matter how foolish or damaging. We have arrogant expectations and stubbornly insist that it is our right to sail through life with no obstacles or impediments from anyone or anything. To even get a glimpse that this irresponsible attitude is based in the domineering mind can lead to this shocking realization; the intellect is a tyrant always wanting its own way and having absolutely no cognizance of the existence of other people. To develop a distaste for this unpleasant and offensive attitude is a valuable part of our spiritual work.
When I decided to write on this topic, I became much more aware of the hit-and-run tactics of pesty and painful annoyance. Vernon explained that the solution always lies within the problem itself. Focusing on just this one negativity actually revealed practical and relieving solutions that have simultaneously weakened the hold of the lower nature and welcomed the presence of something higher.
Here are a couple of personal examples that will illustrate this relationship between awareness and relief. One morning I was at the grocery store going through the produce section. I encountered an older woman who was spending an inordinate amount of time looking at the lettuce. She was in the exact spot I needed to be in to pick up what I needed and was completely oblivious that anyone else was in the vicinity. I was aware as a feeling of irritation tried to creep in but remembered an exercise we had been given in a recent class. It was to notice any type of negativity trying to enter and to cut it off immediately. I relaxed, observed and waited and when she moved on, picked up my own lettuce. I did a little more produce shopping and it happened again. I wanted to get something else and there she was. Once more, I relaxed, observed and waited. I laughed to myself when it happened for a third time and became very aware of the feeling of relief I had been given by not caving in to the temptation to become annoyed and frustrated.
Someone who I am around on occasion has the habit of always performing the same action to get attention from others in the room. This has bothered me for some time, but recently I’ve been deliberately slowing down my thoughts, feelings and even physical movements when this occurs and have realized it’s not really the other person’s action but my own repetitive and automatic internal objection that is causing the pain. Using the classic ‘Slow Down’ exercise has helped to rein in the impulse to vibrate to others’ behavior, which is a very freeing experience. Vernon writes that this exercise “is the secret method for mental clearness,” (1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle, Chapter 14, page 182). Its application also creates an essential separation from the false nature, thereby strengthening the development of the “detached observer” that quietly watches everything but is not overwhelmed or dismayed by anything.
All of this is a fascinating and truly enjoyable study. To awaken is the true purpose of life on earth. The healing influence of successfully working on one harmful state extends itself out to all other problems in life. Much dedicated work is required but we are capable of throwing off the weight of thousands of negativities, an unburdening worth every bit of effort we must put into it.
The dictionary defines guilt as feelings of deserving blame, especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy. It could also be a feeling of deserving punishment for perceived offenses of the past. All of us have felt guilt at one time or another in our lives. There have been times when I am driving to work on the freeway and another driver cuts me off. At that moment, if I am ‘asleep’ or unaware, feelings of rage will take me over and I’ll have dark thoughts about the other driver. Afterwards, a tremendous feeling of guilt comes up that tells me I should know better than to have had this reaction, or that I should not have these thoughts at all since I have been a New Life student for a long time. Guilt can wreak havoc on our whole day, let alone our whole life. Millions of people have past regrets and a heavy sense of guilt buried deep within them which they don’t even see. This makes these states very dangerous because they are drainers and tormentors that are hellish to live with.
One of the things Vernon gave us is the wonderful exercise of instant recovery, of starting life all over, which means bringing your attention back to the present moment. If done correctly, all harmful feelings vanish because there is no negative thought in the awareness of ‘now,’ and if there are no condemning thoughts or judgments, there is no pain. In the beginning it takes a lot of effort to do this, because we are so conditioned to react with hostility, we’re oblivious to the thoughts when they take us over. It’s like a dark cloud of negative energy that’s within us, which we must dare to look at so that we can see how destructive it really is.
If we are totally honest with ourselves, we will see with a tremendous shock that we do not want to give up our painful guilt. It’s like an old friend that we’ve tolerated all this time because we would rather feel contentious emotions than face our inner emptiness, which is terrifying to the ego. Guilt is one of the tricks used by society to keep everyone afraid and to prevent them from knowing that there is a way to escape the insanity of this world.
I once put myself in a dangerous situation because I said yes to doing something with my friends. I wanted to say ‘NO,’ but felt guilty that I would be letting my friends down and that I’d be known as a coward or as someone who was weak. Being young and insecure, I wanted to fit in. This put me under the influence of wrong people, who I now realize didn’t care at all about my well-being and wanted to manipulate me by making me feel guilty. There is something higher in us that is completely free of guilt, but we must be willing to see through the trap, the hoax that guilt is nothing more than darkness masquerading as light.
Vernon once gave a talk about the Cosmic Sheriff. The story was about an outlaw who was always running, and no matter how hard or how long he ran, the sheriff was right behind him. After many years, the outlaw began getting tired and weary, and decided to give himself up and surrender to the sheriff. He let the sheriff take him all the way back to town, all the while not knowing what would happen to him. You can imagine the fear, guilt and uncertainty that captured his mind and emotions on the trip back. But as soon as they arrived in town, the sheriff gave him a spiritual pardon!
This is what we all must do if we want to be rescued from our pain. We must get so tired of fighting our suffering that we give it all up and allow the light of truth to dissolve it. No matter what you have done in your past, if you will surrender to the light of truth, you’ll live a New Life where every day is pleasant and free. You will no longer be punished by thoughts of guilt or shame. Even if someone comes up to you and reminds you of something wrong you once did, it will have no effect because you know that what did that destructive thing was not the True Self. It was something that was done in your name by the false nature. The real you can never do bad. And always remember this encouragement from Vernon: “Truth never condemns you.” It only wants you to come back to your spiritual home where all is well.
This article will focus on a common type of stubbornness: the obstinate unwillingness to let go of the familiar and to welcome the inevitable and ever flowing changes of life.
A visit to the chiropractor recently revealed a nice connection to our inner studies in this regard. We hadn’t been to Durango for an adjustment in weeks, and afterwards there was a painful reaction to the crunch. ‘Dem bones did not like being moved out of their rut. The connection to psychological change is that the old nature too has “settled” and has tremendous resistance to being different. It prefers to remain hardened, frozen, crystallized like rock.
As mentioned last month in Gary’s article on Resistance, it is our resistance to life that causes the pain. Change itself is not the enemy. Rather, the adversary is the objection to Reality, to events as they occur. The unexpected and unplanned is not a foe. But we see it that way in our “delusion of control,” demanding to keep things as they are, or people as we want them to be.
Though the old self says it wants to change, it is stubbornly “set in its ways” and has no real wish to be transformed. Just try to change one little habit, for instance your morning “coffee ritual” or whatever it is you do after getting up. As an exercise, as we recently did in our Pagosa Springs classes, try this for a week and watch the mind scheme to cheat on its resolve to do something new for a change.
The artificial nature hates change and wants to retain its routines and have its own way. We revert to the familiar habits, opinions and distractions from an inability to handle life’s changes as they come. We fight and argue and oppose with “it’s my way or the highway.” That’s why giving up something is called a “sacrifice,” for to let go of the old is to lose part of “me.” If we didn’t value it, it wouldn’t be hard and cause us suffering. If we observe it faithfully, as we’re instructed, we soon realize it is painful, not pleasant, to get our way.
My new neighbors recently sold their big old family home and downsized to a small place. The wife/daughter/mother/grandmother was in torment parting with all the accumulated stuff of a lifetime. They even put their 17 Christmas trees into storage, unable to give them up! This seems ridiculous to an outsider who is not identified with their memorabilia, but believe me, we firmly grip our own attachments, our own past and identifications. Who wants to be a nobody?! And that is the reason we experience inner psychic change as difficult and painful.
To change in a spiritual sense means an upheaval, an earthquake, a profoundly deep inner wrenching that cannot occur superficially. For it means giving up me, my old ways. And those old ways will object, will scream NO. Those are the screams of the dark demons being torn from the grip on their victim. We must see them, hear their screams and then ignore them and march away.
On the other side of giving up, of seeing through the false attachments, is a huge lifting of burdens. How freeing to not have to protect a non-existent entity! Observe that false self dragging around its enormous baggage of regrets, guilt, fear, bitterness, hurt and Christmas trees. It is heavy, while the newly emerging true self is Light and Life.
Let’s welcome change! We can cheerfully work to end the self-inflicted suffering in change by giving up our beloved negativities, opinions, demands — and come awake. After catching wrong thoughts, quickly cut them off and come back to the present moment. What am I doing? Where am I? “Now” is a friend. “Value the present moment.” It can handle the daily routine or the unexpected change. It is freedom. From what? Why, the heavy baggage of my old stubborn self, of course.
I have been having many reactions to events in this year of 2020 when the COVID-19 virus began affecting nearly every aspect of the lives of all people in this country and beyond.
Where I work, most of the employees were panicky, spouting off predictions of terrible and fatal outcomes. People were afraid of: catching the disease, the closing of their businesses, running out of paper goods and living in isolation, to name just a few. Even then, I suspected the appearance of this virus could be used to frighten people, to make them feel lost and helpless and to make them extremely hostile, since fear and hostility always go hand in hand. I connected the situation with something Vernon Howard often mentions in his talks: how evil can easily manipulate us when we are scared and afraid, when we are “crazy with fear,” as he puts it.
The people around me were getting more and more nervous and worried every day, which made them very touchy. Amongst my coworkers, I felt like I was the only one who thought we were all overreacting, and because of this, I began to keep my views and my observations to myself. I also saw a lot negative reactions coming up inside of me, though on a certain level I knew these unsettling feelings were not going to help me to handle a difficult situation with real maturity.
I watched all the mayors and governors grow in power. It was, “Do as I say, or else!” Watching human nature in its grand performance shows the low level part of human beings in action! What is now happening out in the world is a spiritual attack against human beings. But mainly what I became aware of was that I was trying to fight the situation in a wrong way, primarily with the ‘weapon’ of hostility.
One event that happened early on really bothered me. At the gym where I work, a lady patron insisted that all of our employees wear masks, though at the time public mask wearing was not mandatory in our town. I told her it was fine for her to wear a mask, but that we took everyone’s temperature before entering, cleaned the equipment often during the day, and limited the number of people in each room per social distancing guidelines.
This woman wrote to our bosses demanding that we change our policy. It did not work, but her actions really antagonized me. It was becoming obvious that while a lot of people were miserable wearing masks, others actually liked it. Many took it as an opportunity to tell others what to do, but some people were glad that they could hide their true feelings behind a face covering. The circumstances reminded me of the time during World War II where it was encouraged to tell on your neighbors. When not living from Truth principles, human beings like to bring other people down.
Also, watching the news and seeing innocent people being hurt bothered me a lot. I had an image of myself going out there to protect those who were being injured and I wanted to get back at the people who were hurting them. Everything that was going on had me steaming inside.
But then I began watching myself in earnest and became more deeply aware that the hostility in me was weakness, and that it was destroying me. Vernon said, “Hostility is a harmful substitute for perception” (Cosmic Command #1280). I had been taken over by wrong thoughts, feeling out of control and wanting to lash out, while at the same time getting a phony thrill and an identity from being an imaginary so-called hero. Wrongness was in charge, not rightness. Trying to stop this onslaught with my own willpower was impossible. To get genuine help, I needed to admit that giving in to the hostility was the real cause of my suffering. Honestly observing these biting thoughts and feelings made me realize how wrong they were for me. Vernon Howard often points out that wrong reactions to negative events are very destructive and damaging to us.
There is so much to see. For example, observing the lies that people know what to do with themselves in the midst of a crisis. Everyone we meet is presenting us with a made-up image —“I am Successful, I am a Knower, I am Scared, Angry,” and so on. What is needed is to see and therefore understand everything from a completely different viewpoint, without hostility, without wanting to retaliate, without the false “me telling me” what to do. What is needed is a complete separation from what I see, with no compulsion to be involved in any of it.
We have it within our power to break the chain of negative thought. Just cut off that painful, hostile thought and take a moment to be aware of where you are. Just stop for a moment and notice things around you. This exercise has been of tremendous help in bringing my own awareness into the present moment. If I break thought, and do this often enough each day, it will break the spell of the hostile me trying to handle what I cannot handle.
Asking for higher help all the time is also essential. Truth has guaranteed that with faithful application of these principles, we will one day see everything clearly and will not be affected by the cruel world we live in, either inside or outside of us.
Lying is an interesting topic and critical to understand. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as:
— a false statement or piece of information deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
— anything meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.
Reading and listening to Vernon Howard over the years, I’ve realized that lying is pervasive amongst human beings and that most of the time, people are unaware of it and asleep to it.
But let's break lying down to help make it easier to understand in human psychology. Whether extreme or simple … the basis of lying is often fear of non- acceptance as we are. It usually involves shame, guilt, self-concern and many other negative states and emotions as well.
Sometimes lying is so blatant that it seems inescapable. As an example, there was a man who was in a foxhole in World War I. In the dark of night his mates ran out, under fire, to save another officer. This man cringed in the foxhole, but it was assumed he'd been with them and he was awarded a medal of honor. The lie about what really happened that he held inside led to destructive behavior that eventually caused his death. Fear and shame had kept that falsehood deep within, but it had profoundly affected the rest of his life.
From this extreme we can go to lies so simple and habitual that we don’t even notice them in our daily lives. They can be broadly characterized as either exaggeration or minimization. Both of these types of distortions can be used to make the false self look better, either in our own eyes or in the eyes of someone else.
Exaggeration: Sometimes it feels necessary, as with a boss or authority, to make ourselves appear more capable and confident than we actually are. How easy it is to slip into padding how much work we've accomplished or how tired we are as a result of putting forth so much effort.
Minimization: When we clearly feel inadequate, minimization often comes in the form of excuses to try to cover up self-doubt and to avoid self-responsibility.
These two types of lying, exaggeration and minimization, cover LOTS of territory. Often income is exaggerated and debt minimized. However, some years back, I caught myself minimizing my income, fearful that if it looked like I had sufficient funds, I would not be given financial gifts by particular family members.
In one talk Vernon stated, “You have to get the liar out of you.” He doesn't always use the word lying, though the intent is obvious. He often talks about the unwillingness or the inability to recognize our own ego faults such as vanity, self-righteousness, greed, anger, etc. Whatever the false self habitually thinks about or feels is often based on a lying state. For example: “I’m a good person” (except when I behave badly); “I’m not vain” (except when I compare myself to you); “I’m not self-righteous” (except when I’m right and you’re wrong). This separation between illusion and reality is an entrenched habit that creates persistent psychological strain.
And here is the biggest lie. The “I” we believe is us … is a lie! The “i” that we think from, feel from and live from is the fictitious, deceitful nature, the runaway ego, that we identify with. We must stop believing that projecting an image outward acts as a positive self-affirmation. The self that we so fiercely protect has an almost paralzying fear of being nothing. But it’s actually within the “nothingness” that our happiness lies. We must tell the truth to ourselves about our actual inner condition and therefore one essential antidote to the whole problem resides in the practice of absolute Self-honesty, one of the Four Golden Keys to finding true life that Vernon discusses in Chapter 1 of his book Psycho-Pictography.
Once I was wondering how many times I would need to recognize and acknowledge such harmful things in myself in order to be free of them. When I heard Vernon say 5,000 times on one talk, I was shocked. Then gradually I heard 10,000, then 100,000 times stated by him and I felt strangely comforted. I began to understand that though the journey is lifelong, I am not alone. God goes with any student who sincerely and persistently will hear what his or her heart says is true even when it hurts. Vernon told us to “never quit.” To be free, I must constantly be vigilant and aware when I react with lies and falsehoods, 5,000 times for a starter! And to do that, I need to stop ‘doing’ and to simply watch, listen and observe.
Anxiety is a very common feeling which runs deeply through human beings. The dictionary defines anxiety as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, especially about an imminent event or a circumstance with an uncertain outcome.
Chronic anxiety and its relative, stress, can cause problems on a physical level in the form of headaches, pounding heart, breathing problems, teeth grinding, upset stomach, clenched muscles, extreme fatigue, increased blood pressure and insomnia.
Some people are overcome by a sense of doom and suffer panic attacks and depression due to anxious states, which then lead to difficulties on the mental level, resulting in confusion and limited logic. I can think of many current examples of this going on right now.
The disturbance of anxiety also leads to emotional difficulties. It is an unnatural state and when left unchecked will eventually erupt to the surface in anger, rudeness or hostility, just like an exploding volcano. It hides out beneath the surface (underground) of our awareness in order to torment us, causing us to be ill at ease with ourselves and with almost everyone and everything around us. No natural calmness or casualness can be present in an anxious state.
Anxiety is energy wasted. For many years, as a basketball player, I remember experiencing it and its accompanying tension the night before a big game. These alien states would sneak in and result in restless nights while draining energy which was needed for the next day’s sporting event.
And now the COVID crisis has arrived on the world stage. How about this as an imminent event? What better way could evil come up with to keep anxiety alive in almost every person in this country and indeed in the entire world? Though there is obviously something happening, an illness that is affecting the human body, many are nervous and literally worried sick that they’ll catch it, which can actually attract the condition to them. Or perhaps they fear it will be their friends or a family member who may contract it. Maybe their employment could somehow be affected which brings up the panicky feeling that they may soon be without a job.
I’ve actually found myself stunned by how easily people have succumbed to the dictates of the power-mad leaders in charge of our societal, commercial, educational and governmental systems. Few seem to understand that the authorities are taking away our liberties one by one, symbolically imprisoning us through stay at home quarantines and by muffling our voices with masks, for example.
On one recent occasion I entered a store to purchase an item which I brought to the counter. I had been wearing a mask and adjusted it due to the discomfort and unnaturalness I felt. At that point the cashier, a young man, curtly said, “You’ll have to wear your mask properly in the store.” I replied that was difficult to breathe with it on. He exploded with, “That’s what we have to deal with every day!” At this point he had rage in his eyes and followed up with the retort, “If you can’t wear your mask properly in here you’ll have to leave.” I started to feel the burning lava of the volcano heating up inside of me. My false nature wanted to retaliate and say something sharp and clever in return as it has done many times in the past. This of course is a wrong reaction. Why respond in this way when the real cause is always within myself? I am destined to continue experiencing such negativities and to pay the price as long as I give in to this behavior. When I straighten out my own mind, the emotions will follow and it will be as if I am invisible to all turbulence and upheaval.
When we are receptive to truth we can be properly and perfectly guided through life. “We can always do anything good for ourselves that it is good and necessary for us to do and the evidence of that will now be presented. Please just relax. Let’s just relax, knowing that in this room right now it is not necessary for you to have a mask on.” Vernon Howard’s Higher World MP3 CD Volume 16, Track 2 (11/21/87).
To take back our lives from anxiety, it is imperative that we become very alert and aware when it flares up inside of us. Catch it, and the earlier the better. Feel its burning intensity and use that to push our awareness of what it is doing to us to a higher level. When we see that this false state is not who we really are, a separation is created and it magically starts to dissipate. This can be done persistently and with great results. We can go even farther and see that when anxiety returns, as it always attempts to do, there is a wrongly active part within that accepts it and may even welcome it. But with steady and consistent work, it can be refused!
Ultimately, anxiety is what we feel due to a tug of war going on inside of us. There is a battle between the imposter that’s too often in control and the superior spirit, which is a true entity that appears when we’ve yielded to its entrance. The imposter tells us who we fiercely want to believe we are, such as our thoughts, past experiences, achievements, our bodies, fame and fortune or the lack of these very same things. THE IMPOSTER IS WRONG and it is in terror that we are catching onto it and beginning to eliminate it altogether from our lives. If invited, an essential inner influence is whispering, then speaking loudly and eventually shouting this message to us: “You must see through all this fiction! You are not that!” And then the heavy burdens, worries and anxieties will go away of themselves because they are not needed or wanted any more. What tak
“The simple alternative to worry is to remain receptive to a force higher than misunderstanding.” — Vernon Howard, Cosmic Command, # 807
What does that quote from Mr. Howard mean? Is it possible to live without worry? How do I reach for “a force higher than misunderstanding”?
Before I came across these teachings, I never questioned the state of worry. Due to my lack of knowledge, my lack of understanding of the dark forces that run this planet, and because I took what everyone else did as being the right thing to do, I just suffered quietly. My mind told me that “they know what they are doing,” so I never questioned any of the tormenting inner conditions that I suffered from. I was scared to let others know that I was worried or afraid.
“One of the deepest despairs of man is that he can do nothing about the thousand and one worries that his day dishes out. He sighs, ‛Well, that’s life, never realizing that all can be different.””(The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power, The Authentic Answer To Worry, page 117).
Even as a young person it was obvious to me that everyone worried, everyone was in fear of losing something, everyone was anxious over the outcome of tomorrow. It was spoken of daily. So I took that as meaning it was right; that worry would help me solve problems, and show me how to put an end to worry! I felt that others knew more than I did and told myself, “I will follow that.” No! They were simply following the mechanical flow of life, just like I did, doing whatever was dictated by this fierce, unrelenting inner force that’s in charge of us.
These teachings have shown me that worry will NEVER try to end worry, and that there is a higher level, that there is something else, that the life we presently know is not all that exists. Through Mr. Howard’s books and recorded talks we can follow the various exercises he gives us to see for ourselves what he is talking about. He walks us through how to do our inner work to the point of being capable of receiving genuine understanding. It is done through self-watching, which slowly but surely brings self-insight.
Moving to Boulder City, Nevada to regularly attend Vernon Howard’s personal classes was the best thing I ever did. I had just finalized a divorce and was absorbed and overtaken by many familiar negative feelings, including worry. The old nature loves the vibration of negative emotions and yes, it loves to feel gloomy and helpless.
One simple exercise that Mr. Howard gave us was, “Keep your mind where your body is.” When those feelings would overwhelm me while working in my cleaning business, I would practice this exercise. By feeling the pressure of my hand against the sponge as I pushed it up and down the shower wall, and being aware that the hand was pushing the mop back and forth across the floor, I was pulled out of pain instantly with a feeling of relief. It was like taking a deep breath of fresh air.
But being in love with my pain, I would jump right back into that whirlpool. Mr. Howard had described the process to us many times over, so I would bring myself back again, and again, and again.
Today I am grateful to know that we only accept the miserable way of life due to our lack of knowledge about there being another life available to us. Through hard inner work we can see through the illusion of worry and other negative states by continually looking inward until we ‛see’ with spiritual vision what is being done against us without our knowledge.
The holiday season this year is being approached by many in a subdued and muted way. The seemingly overwhelming events of 2020, as well as the contradictory emotions associated with year-end holidays, is making a lot of people feel overburdened and sour.
With these studies, however, we learn how to enjoy the holidays, to enjoy it all and to refuse to allow negative events of any kind to distract us from our purpose, which is to understand and to rise above pain and to experience real contentment and pleasure in this life. Reaching for the Higher is what brings ‘good tidings of great joy.’
You have childhood experiences that are more vivid and memorable than what happened to you five minutes ago. Each of those experiences was a revelation in some way about our situation here on earth — we suffer. It was one piece of the scattered spiritual treasure map that Vernon Howard said we had to personally collect and put together to rise above the suffering so we can freely enjoy the life we’ve been given.
When I was about five years old, I met what Shakespeare calls “the green-eyed monster” — jealousy. A girl cousin was staying with the family for a few days. At one moment my mother just gave her some normal attention, and out of nowhere I felt intense fear, confusion, anger, and suppressed violence. My whole little world seemed threatened. When my delusory self is rejected in favor of another, even in a very small way, the pain is intense. You have no doubt felt this too.
Many years afterwards I read this in Vernon Howard’s 1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle, #114: “Awareness of how easily life can hit and hurt us is the first course in the cosmic college.”
The spiritual journey is to meet one dragon after another inside, try to conquer them yourself and fail, and then gradually allow Truth to vanquish them for you.
Comedy often conveys the truth about us. In plays, movies, and real life you have heard this exchange in some form: “I think you might be a little jealous.” “I AM NOT JEALOUS!” We laugh at how absurd the denial is. But this humorous scene contains the hint that before we face the jealousy monster, we might have to come face-to- face with a different monster, that of vociferous denial. Recently in a Vernon Howard class in Strawberry, Arizona we received help from his book Secrets for Higher Success for doing just that:
“Consider the words ‘seriously’ and ‘lightly.’ In higher thinking, these are not opposites, but the natural and productive way of meeting everything. It means to meet every event of life with a deep thoughtfulness which does not include negativity…. To think seriously-lightly means to meet everything with a new mind, a mind without hardened judgments formed by past experiences. Experiment with this. Today, take everything seriously-lightly.”
What keeps our suffering in place, whether from jealousy, anger, fear, depression, or any other negative state? We can approach this question seriously-lightly, which will help us to take on the DENIAL DEMON. This malicious force takes people over and makes them deny that they suffer or that they’re jealous or that they have any responsibility for unconsciously inviting heartache — and this force will attack anyone pointing this out. Have you not seen this in other people or in yourself?
The DENIAL DEMON says to anyone who tells me the truth about myself — regardless of their motive — “Who are you to tell me that?” The DENIAL DEMON will go all out to try and negate any truth said about me, for instance: “She said I was petty, but she is disorganized, therefore her criticism can be ignored.”
If I try to conquer the DENIAL DEMON by thinking about what to do, I will fail. The seriously-lightly conquest begins when I simply become deeply thoughtful, relaxed and alert in the presence of any negativity or defensiveness.
Vernon Howard told us that we need all the help we can get and that when you are dealing with human nature it is always worse than you think. When it comes to jealousy there is a motion picture that dramatically captures this and is worthy of study. Leave Her to Heaven was one the biggest films of the 1940s. Visually, it is a bright, sun-lit movie done in Technicolor. But it enters deep into the darkness of someone possessed by possessiveness, dominated by suspicion, whose jealousy knows no limits. This may seem too extreme and remote from us, but then I remember my jealousy at five years old produced suppressed violence.
You will neither forget the ending of this movie nor will you dismiss it, especially with the guidance we get from Vernon that says when you understand human nature, you are never surprised by anything it does.
Leave her to heaven was an instruction taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet on how to deal with a specific person’s evil. Evil is separation from God. Suffering is separation from God. Almost everything in us and out in the world relentlessly conspire to keep us separated from the permanent source of power. We are learning from these teachings that in order to end this separation, we must leave everything to Heaven.
One of the directions we’re given in New Life classes is to leave people alone. Although this would seem to be a simple, commonsense rule and most people would claim that they follow it, human nature is actually quite intrusive. The dictionary definitions of the word intrusiveness include aggressiveness as evidenced by interfering in the affairs of others, advancing yourself or your ideas without invitation, being pushy, meddlesome, overbearing or bothersome.
What does it really mean to leave people alone? A few of the more obvious characteristics would be to refrain from unnecessary blabbing, to not force yourself or your company onto other people, to not ask wrongly inquisitive or prying questions and to respect others’ personal space.
But leaving people alone covers a lot more than the obvious. There are also more subtle, cunning forms of intrusiveness that may not even be noticed as intrusions. Some that I have observed personally have a lot to do with attention-getting, like when someone walking into a room makes a big commotion or a person slams a door or abruptly drops their keys on a surface, thereby making a sharp, loud noise that disturbs the atmosphere in the room. These acts could indicate carelessness, but they could just as easily be deliberate attempts to broadcast anger or displeasure or to create a sense of power or dominance. We also use our facial expressions, gestures and body language to negatively intrude into the minds and emotions of other people.
All forms of intrusiveness are attempts to elevate the false nature and to bolster the imaginary self-images we presently live by and protect. That is why this work is all about going against the false self. Knowing that others have intruded on you and that you have intruded on others, sometimes in subtle but devious ways, can clearly be seen and understood but the seeing and understanding require consistent self-noticing on our part. Everything always comes back to self-observation. Awareness is the key so that we neither fall into mechanical intrusiveness nor do we weakly allow the obnoxious behavior of others to invade our psychic space. Awareness of how these offensive acts hurt everyone involved can be of great help in learning to drop them.
In A Treasury of Trueness in the section entitled ‘Blabbermouthery,’ Vernon gave an exercise in going against the tendency to always “put our two cents” into the conversation. He said, “Deliberately rob yourself of the pleasure of making that remark.” Stop listening to the noisy mind that insists we are required to “contribute” to the discussion. There is no genuine need to habitually and forcefully impose our ideas, thoughts, moods and feelings on others.
We must work with these principles to begin to feel how valuable they are. Vernon says to not believe anything anyone tells you, but to find out for yourself if what you are hearing is true. We’ll find authentic relief in leaving other people alone and in making the spiritual aim to elevate, rather than to disturb, every place we walk into.
At this moment one of two things is happening: you are moving upwards spiritually, or you are moving downwards spiritually. Vernon Howard said an individual’s state of higher understanding is never static; it is either growing or diminishing. However, there seems to be another position in which a student convinces himself that he has reached a “comfortable” level of understanding and can now relax the intensity of effort and just coast along. But this is stagnation, this is suffering. You have, as Vernon said, “settled” for yourself as you are.
This seeming third position is an illusion, a trick of the mind and will have you slipping downhill quickly if you fall for it. The mind could insist that you have done enough work, that you can rest now. Or it might say that you can work tomorrow but not today, not in this present moment. Or, it could even have you believe that you’ve reached such an advanced state of self-development that you know it all. Vernon Howard himself said that he never claimed to be on the mountain top. If he said that he would be cutting himself off from reaching new heights on the spiritual mountain. He was going to keep climbing and gaining new insights and inspirations every day.
Here are some ways to counter stagnation:
Read a passage from a Vernon Howard book or booklet every day. It’s good to do this at the same time each day, for example, early in the morning before work and/or in the evening before you go to sleep.
Listen to a Vernon Howard talk on CD or MP3 CD or watch a video on a DVD or Blu-ray on a daily basis.
Put a small message on a post-it note and place it on the fridge or a mirror which will serve as a reminder of your spiritual aim for the day. One example would be: My aim is to wake up. Another would be to remember that worry is darkness masquerading as light.
Shake your head to snap the spell of hypnosis. We tend to be hypnotized by the world and sudden awareness breaks that hypnosis.
Look up. The looking up reminds you that there is something higher that is trying to help you.
Relax. Stagnation involves tension. Relax the shoulders and the rest of the body. Also practice letting go of thought and relaxing the mind which always wants to be tense.
Watch your emotional states. As you watch sadness or depression these states will begin to fade and fall away. The energy that was being wrongly used in negativity will then be freed and can now be used properly to aid your upward journey.
Pick a spiritual exercise to work with for an entire week. A helpful exercise we were given in a recent class was to not mechanically follow the moods of other people. This is one way to take your own life back from societal influences.
There are many more ways to go against falling into a state of stagnation and the tendency to “rest” at your present level. Come up with your own and never forget that in order to transcend the false nature and to wake up, consistent superefforts must be made.
I’m amazed at how often I find myself rushing. This behavior is so mechanical, so unconscious; it just happens. And I’m so used to it, it has become commonplace and habitual and even seems natural to me. Even as I’m writing this article about how rushing hurts me, I’m rushing, for rushing has no consciousness. It hurts everyone around it. No wonder I need the Truth.
I could move quickly and efficiently and never rush but my thought-self loves the franticness of it. How else am I going to be able to do everything that needs to be done? Just beware if anyone dare interrupt me! I can angrily tell them they are stopping me from reaching my goal.
When I talk too fast, people are confused. When I walk too quickly, I can’t see that chair in front of me. When I hastily dress, I’m not aware of putting on one green sock and one blue sock which of course don’t match! Rushing makes no sense at all. Slowing down my race through life makes me self-aware and corrects every problem caused by all the mindless rushing and hurrying. Step by step, I can become more and more cognizant and watchful of my own behavior. I can watch what I’m doing and look where I’m going. I can slow down my speech and make sense. I can see that chair and not trip over it when I walk through the room. I can always wear the same color socks. I can know I’m eating and so on and so on.
I must never say: “Oh no, there I go again rushing. Will it never end?” No. I must catch myself rushing and STOP. Why am I in such a hurry? There is no plausible answer to that question! I can just STOP and SLOW down. My job is to see the pain in unconscious rushing and to allow Something Else to stop it. It doesn’t matter how many times I fail; each attempt is a prayer to God to help me. The whole point is to allow God into my life to slow me down, to heal me, to drive me sane, to end my suffering.
While living through the past year and a half, more than likely you’ve experienced a feeling of helplessness many times. Confusion, desperation, anger, frustration and anxiety have been right there as well, counterparts to this state of helplessness. It has seemed that many negative issues were magnified in a huge way, both personally and on a world-wide scale.
Not that the feeling of helplessness is a new phenomenon to any of us, but in the past for me it would come and go depending on the circumstances and current situation. But this felt different. Everyone seemed to be experiencing high levels of apprehension and foreboding that just didn’t let up. A tidal wave of fear swept over the world on a scale that I have not experienced in my lifetime. However, some of us are lucky enough to be studying these teachings and that is what has made the difference for me personally. A feeling of right dissatisfaction with giving in to the onslaught of helplessness and fear has been inspired by regularly going to classes and making a consistent effort to read and listen to Vernon’s talks. After all, the ultimate purpose of all true spiritual studies is to teach us how to allow a higher power to command our thoughts and feelings so thoroughly that we are able to handle anything that happens to us and that means anything.
The more you study any of these negative states such as helplessness, the more you start to see that they fluidly interchange. A “small concern” when left to run amuck in your mind can quickly turn from worry, to panic, anger, sadness; it really can come on like a flood when emotions take over instead of practical thought. When your intention is not set on being conscious and an effort is not being made to come out of a negative state, the thoughts turn into an out-of-control train. I’ve always really liked the mental image of a runaway train, because at first glance it’s just a speeding whir of cars, bound together by the track. But if you study a train long enough, eventually you will start to see the space between the cars and that is the key to this work. You must relax and slow the train of thoughts enough so that you can see one at a time and begin to release yourself from the hypnotic state induced by the unbroken procession of uncontrolled thoughts and feelings. That pursuit and the right sensing that there is something infinitely higher that can guide your life will release the negative feeling of being helplessly out of control.
Vernon’s teachings are fundamentally based on the principle of self-responsibility and all negativities and issues lead back to the concept that if you’re unhappy and discontent in life, it is your duty to make a change. You are not required to surrender to feelings of helplessness and despair when society presents its next set of bad news. Worrying and being consumed with anxiety not only lessen personal energy but attracts more negativity into a person’s life. I have seen this in my own life many times and I know that the only answer is to relax and to allow something higher to guide you. You don’t have to “believe” that this is possible, but you can go out and prove it for yourself. And you will then know, with unmistakable certainty, that a higher power is always available to show you the way.