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.
Here is an excerpt from a Vernon Howard talk given December 21,1988. You will find it very insightful and necessary for your spiritual growth. You can find this talk on Vernon Howard’s Higher World – Volume 25.
Don’t Fall in Love with Being Lost by Vernon Howard
The deliberate invitation for badness to be destroyed within is one of the first small preliminary signs that you, as a wanderer on the path, have decided to decide all over again to allow the destruction of the phony belief in the supremacy of your ways and choices.
You’re going against not just the whole world of wickedness; you’re not just going against that. You’re going against everything you have labeled as good for me. That boyfriend is good for me. You haven’t the slightest notion of what is good for you. You only know what is bad for you, and you call it good. That’s the wrong path.
I’m telling you, face the fact I just gave you. That everything in this world is against you waking up. Everything is working against it, everyone you know. The lies hurled at you since you were a little kid. The lies, which were intended to keep you getting worse and worse, the lies are numbered by the trillions.
Don’t fall in love with being lost! That’s taking one of the wrong roads. You listen to the way I state it; it will help you. Right now, tonight, you will give attention to falling out of love with being sad, with thinking you have to figure things out. You can’t figure things out! Don’t be afraid to face that.
Anger is an extremely self-destructive emotion. It seems to affirm the existence of our phony, non-existent, invented self. I can scream out in rage over “my” stupidity for making the same mistake over and over again or I can lash out at someone who I believe has wronged or challenged my imaginary picture of myself in some way. I can say, “They’re the one to blame for all my troubles and difficulties! How dare they suggest something different.” We always tend to have self-flattering but inaccurate images of ourselves.
In Conquer Harmful Anger 100 Ways, Vernon Howard defines anger as this: “Anger is the mechanical reaction of the thought-self which feels that someone or something threatens its imaginary existence which it calls real, causing human damage and misery.” This booklet goes into great detail of the harm that anger causes and how anger can be conquered. It is not an impossible task to conquer this destructive emotion, which is great news. We can put an end to this detrimental behavior.
What we must start doing is to see clearly the harmful effects that anger has on us and others who might be around when the volcano erupts. If you will study your angry state carefully, you will see that it causes you to lose energy, puts you in distress, results in you doing stupid things which you later regret, leads to despicable behavior, wrecks human relations, leads to loss of self-control and gives you headaches. Vernon Howard says when you allow anger to take you over, it “imprisons your spirit.”
But with a right attitude and a desire to live freely, we can begin to turn this fateful path around. We no longer need to keep paying the price for going along with this foreign invader that has taken us over. In a 1956 movie entitled Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter, alien plant spores fall from space and invade a small town, replicating the residents one body at a time. The pods were able to take over humans and duplicate them when they fell asleep. Anger can be likened to these intruders which take over the human mind, body and emotions to wreak havoc.
Instead of falling asleep we must learn what it means to wake up and to take our lives back from these extraneous plunderers/interlopers. See through the trick that’s being played on us. Develop spiritual daring and “… discover the goodness of the Spirit of Truth, which will carry you above yourself and humanity.” This isn’t just another platitude or saying; it’s something you and I can authenticate and experience personally for ourselves.
When I was a little boy growing up my father emphatically instructed me to never put my hand on the electric stove. Of course, in spite of your father trying to protect you and save you pain and treatment if you were to burn yourself, you usually had to find out the hard way why his warning was so unequivocal. Truth is like a strong father who looks out for our well-being, but we stupidly ignore the warnings and instructions of what to do and what not to do and so pay the painful price.
Anger is just one of many wrong negative states that we have allowed to take us over. All we have to do is have a sincere wish to no longer want to suffer from these agitated anomalies. Being enraged is not natural but over the centuries it has become an abnormal acquired behavior, and everyone has excused it, given it false power and allowed it run amuck in our daily lives. We must stop putting up with it.
It’s time to change and be different. Vernon Howard assures us, “Use wrath to get rid of wrath. It can be done because you are wiser than wrath.” There is such a thing as strength without anger. Discover this true and verifiable way for yourself.
Vernon Howard said to use strong words when describing human behavior. Nobody wants to think about hatred, much less admit the possibility of being possessed by it. We may live from a label that says, “I’m a good person, I don’t have hatred in me,” in which case the hatred has been repressed into the subconscious. Though pushed down deep inside, this strong emotion, this shockingly negative state still causes tremendous pain and separation from God.
I recently observed someone as a great study in refusing to acknowledge personal hatred by aggressively stating “I don’t hate anyone.” But to an alert observer, this person’s speech, actions and facial expressions gave the show away, revealing great repressed anger and enmity. Of course, this person is not alone. These days, you see people going more and more insane and tearing themselves apart with hostility and malice. And they seem to be enjoying it!
But happily for us, Vernon said, “The world is enough to drive you crazy, but you don’t have to go.” We’re not stuck here; we have a chooser. We can go up, not down. We don’t have to sell out and give in to the temptation to hate, though millions have.
Here’s one truth we must understand. We externalize the problem. We always think it is the other person who is wrong. Evil has no power except what we give it, so where is the problem? Anything we fight, we give power to, so when we react negatively to angry and disruptive people and events, what exactly are we doing? We’re abandoning our chance for inner peace to whatever storm comes along.
So to find the higher life, those same harmful traits must be eradicated in us. Why? Because Vernon said, “The enemy is you and there is no other.” When we apply this law, we are letting Truth trap us. My false self hates to hear this, but a right part of me loves it and is eager to get free of every bit of wrongness that possesses me, whatever it takes. No more blaming other people and events for my pained and wrong reactions. This is what is imprisoning me. I want out! Don’t we actually want to belong to God, not just imagine we do?
An exercise on the New Life website encouraged us to ask God to ‘Please turn on the light.’ This invites the Supreme Spirit to help us to see our actual condition, to observe and admit what we are really like. This is an utterly necessary step, though the admission is very hard on our egotism. When we extend the invitation for understanding, we’ll undoubtedly see all sorts of negativities that take us over and are in charge of our very lives. And when they have authority, goodness cannot be in charge.
Once in a talk Vernon gave in Los Angeles, he very forcefully exclaimed to a large audience, “All you know is to hate.” Of course, it caused a volcanic reaction inside of me and no doubt, the entire audience. Only those who felt the truth of this statement came back to hear more. This was an example of destruction to make room for something higher. All negativity must be seen through and dissolved by the Light itself. We cannot do this for ourselves; transformation can only occur through a willingness to yield to the higher, to God.
The following work project from Vernon helps me perhaps more than any other, when I remember to do it! He said we should be jubilant about it because it provides the way out. Here is one version. Stop many times throughout the day and look within. Ask yourself, “Am I in a harmful state right now? Answer “Yes,” then name the state. Naming the state clarifies and elucidates what is happening inside. Now when painful feelings and thoughts come up, I know that instead of fighting, I can identify and shine the light on what is really running the inner show.
Here’s another aim I have. To watch my reactions to the news (designed to terrify us, by the way). No more being just a mechanically reacting machine! Be very alert and awake to what’s going on. Is there fear there? Is there hatred towards the politicians and the people in “power”? Am I in a harmful state right now? Yes, the dragons are inside. But if we allow what is wrong within to be fixed, the world changes as far as we are concerned. And New Life provides the help we need.
Vernon gave us this encouraging prayer: “God please help me in spite of myself. In spite of myself, save me.” With a sincere request, God will keep after us. That prayer, he said, “will contact God and God will save you.”
Laziness is defined as the quality of being unwillilng to work. On a worldly level, human beings have learned from the environments they have been raised in and surrounded by since childhood. Those environments have formed how that human will live his or her life on this earth. As children, we really were at the mercy of these influences, which might not have been very merciful. Yet, even as young people, we saw things that we knew were wrong but didn’t have the ability to change.
We may have been taught to have a sense of self-responsibility growing up or perhaps we learned to rely on others, to one degree or another, to do our work. In the latter case, living from an attitude that we‘re owed something will never work. The false nature wants the easy way out. It doesn’t want to put forth much effort to understand life. It is lazy and wants others to take care of it. Responsibility or the willingness to be accountable for our own actions is resisted. The artificial nature thinks it is clever to have others do what it should do. But being lazy creates great suffering and prevents us from having the new life that we could have.
Spiritually speaking, it is essential for a person to develop self-responsibility. Worldly actions to support ourselves, paying our own bills and being good householders, though preliminary steps, are essential because we can then go on to be responsible for what God has given us. It is a spiritual law that if a person is given unearned benefits, it harms both the giver of the benefits, and the receiver of the benefits.* Both are living out an imaginary dream in which the false nature is all-powerful and they wrongly believe they are taking care of life on their own terms. One group is getting perceived goodies without actually having to work for them and the other has a self-image of being a ‘good’ man or woman. What an affront to God! In reality, all good things come from God. But people try to take credit for and completely forget that there is a Higher Power in charge. Like God doesn’t see this? Besides, it is a spiritual truth that only when a person raises his own level (with light from God to see and to let go of the darkness inside of himself) can he can really help others. Vernon says, “You have to face your responsibilities to evolve” and “Your first responsibility in life is to live a life of Truth.”
Spiritual treasures are only given to workers. Vernon Howard talks about the workers, the loafers and the saboteurs. He explains that only the workers are dedicated to trying to contact the Kingdom of Heaven within. They have the best chance to experience genuine awakening. Loafers can become workers but saboteurs have no chance.
Rather than letting the earthly life consume all of his or her time and energy, a worker comes back to conscious awareness of thoughts and feelings as often as possible because that is where the light comes from. Laziness is spiritual sleep. We were never taught as children to watch the thoughts that come into our minds. Now, we can stop being lazy and learn. These teachings can change anyone’s life — and all for the better. Interestingly, when a person really puts God/Truth/Reality first, everything that really matters is taken care of for them.
Rest is important and necessary but the spiritual mountain awaits our climbing. There is always more to see in the higher life and the experience is the most fun a person can have. We must never stop. It is a life journey up the mountain, dedicated to letting the unnecessary fall away. Vernon said that Christ was on a spectacularly high level, which allowed him to do the miraculous things that he did. And Christ said we could do even greater things than he did. What are we waiting for? One of the biggest lies of Satan is that we have to die in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let’s go to work! The spiritual banquet and all good things await us. Suffering only exists outside the Kingdom of Heaven.
* A Treasury of Trueness, #889.
The dictionary defines contempt as “the feeling that a person or thing is beneath consideration, worthless or deserving scorn.” That is a very negative, antagonistic way to see something or someone and that perspective will not be able to help a person understand any type of situation as it actually exists in reality. If I’m not willing to consider someone else, then perhaps it’s my attitude that needs to be examined.
Contempt prevents us from learning or deeply understanding anything at all about the person or situation in question. Now think about that for a moment. Something is causing me to suffer and I resist taking a look at it. I have just sentenced myself to a lifetime of pain and all because I won’t step back from the sour attitude and make an effort to get outside of myself to understand.
When I was about 8 years old, I had an uncle who made me take a family picture when I didn’t want to and I actually refused to speak to him after that. A few years later, he died at a fairly young age and I felt terrible about it. But I learned that we don’t always get a chance to make things right, we don’t always take the opportunity to learn the lesson from the experience when it happens. What I have learned from this work though is that we are given the chance to grow spiritually as long as we are in this life – and we do that by aiming to understand each challenge that comes our way from a higher viewpoint.
Contemptuousness toward someone means that I’m filled with animosity toward that person. Perhaps he or she didn’t treat me with the respect I feel I deserve, and that means I’ve decided the person owes me something. Maybe I’ve spotted a weakness in him/her and I feel that gives me the right to adopt a superior, haughty attitude. Actually, the mindset behind this is “I have been hurt/disappointed, so I have every reason to strike back with contempt.” But truth says that all of this is damaging nonsense that stops self-examination of my own behavior and ultimately blocks any higher healing from coming to me.
From the spiritual perspective, a next logical step would be to ask myself why I want anything from that person in the first place. Vernon Howard’s teachings tell me that I’m to be self-sufficient, not relying on other people, things or situations to provide me with feelings of rightness. And if I’m willing to be completely honest about it, I would see that I’m trying to get something from the world of people and things that should naturally flow from the Spirit of Truth within.
The whole world is desperately looking in the wrong direction for someone or something to lean on. People are counting on human egotism to provide relief but the false natures of human beings have nothing real to offer. It must become apparent to us that everything we’ve ever tried, everything this society says we need to achieve, attain and value, cannot provide permanent relief. If we’ll go to God, Truth and Reality instead, we’ll end up understanding and dropping all the nonsense.
In Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge, under the heading Correction of Misunderstanding, Vernon provides the answer to the whole mess — contempt and every other pain and problem that we have. The key point is “... you still think that you possess a separate ego, a distinct identity apart from the Whole.”
The work encourages us to come to an end of ourselves. If we’ll just do that, we won’t have to strain or worry about anything because God will take care of it for us.
The grass is always greener in that memory and those memories are rarely accurate as to how things really were. The trap of comparison is looking at the way things used to be or wishing you could go back to that place in time. You may look back to that past relationship and think, “Why did I ever leave him, he wasn’t really that bad and we had so much fun!” You compare your loneliness now to what you thought was a lack of loneliness when you were connected to that person. What you’re probably forgetting is that when you were in the relationship, there were a lot of times when you just couldn’t wait to get away from that person! The ideas we have in our heads about how things used to be compared with how they currently are cannot be trusted. Sincere students of these teachings are lucky enough to have the chance to see through all of this and to be free of it.
In Esoteric Mind Power, pages 59-60, Vernon says, “Unhappiness is caused by comparison. You feel unhappy only when you unconsciously compare your present state with another state, perhaps when you were younger or healthier, or perhaps when you had a certain companion or possessed certain public honors. Where there is no comparison, unhappiness is impossible.”
In the spiritual world, there is no place for comparison. A part of us senses the truth of this fact, but the attitude and act of comparison is so deeply ingrained in the false nature that we have no idea the extent to which we’re living and operating from it. Our aim is to develop a deep awareness of the personal unhappiness this causes.
At an early age we start looking up to the adults around us and in the world, thinking they have got it figured out. We begin dreaming of how our lives will be some day when we grow up and have a “great” life like they do. As we get older, we constantly refer to those people we believe are examples of how to look, how to run a business, how to ski, how to have a good relationship, what kind of car to drive, where to go on vacation…and on and on. The list is endless.
I need to honestly ask myself, “Why do I want to imitate or be like anyone else?” Vernon said, “Never acknowledge any other person on earth as being superior to you in the opportunity to become spiritually intelligent” (Your Power of Natural Knowing, page 130). If I’m interested in bringing the pure truth into my life, isn’t that really the point of my life? I’ve personally wasted a lot of energy in comparison and competitiveness, trying to be better than those around me and I’ve suffered from a constant nagging to do more, go faster, and try harder. My whole life I have heard nothing but “losing is not an option” and “if you’re going to make it out there in that world, you’d better be better than the rest.” This has all been in the name of “winning,” and for the most part, I’ve not been conscious of behaving this way at all. This is just how you live life, right? No, it isn’t! These teachings are showing me that to follow this path leads to nothing but suffering.
Comparison divides everything into inferior and superior qualities and automatically makes you the winner or the loser. And oh, the torture that comes with losing. Then there’s the unseen pain that comes with the winning, being equally as torturous, knowing that it can never last.
Vernon said, “Comparison is the essence of sickness.” It truly is sick to live our lives this way, succumbing to the games society plays, when in reality, there is no winner or loser, just unhappy, discontented people. We cannot afford to brush aside the spiritual intuition that’s available for us to develop because that is what can lead us to genuine happiness. There is tremendous relief in knowing that when you slow down and tune into higher guidance, there is no need to look around at what anyone else is doing. We can listen to our own higher guidance and receive the opportunity to live a happy life like no one else in this world does.
At first glance, resistance might not appear to be a form of suffering. However, resistance to Truth, to a healing power, can be looked upon as a negativity that can cripple our journey towards awakening.
Resistance can take many forms. One form is laziness, just wanting to drift with life. A word that comes to mind is drifter. A drifter is one who travels or moves about aimlessly. We cannot afford to drift or wander, but we must remember our aim! Our aim is to wake up from our usual state of unawareness, of psychic sleep. At one of our recent classes in Strawberry, we were given an exercise. The exercise is: Shake your head awake right now! Don’t let anything keep you asleep, shake your head awake right now, and listen to your old nature scream its objections to your going against its tyranny over your current life.
The phrase old nature refers to the self that has been acquired from the world. It is sometimes called the False Self, and it dominates our life and wants us to think that we are one with it. We all have a False Self and we also have something called the True Self. The False Self, which is really not us, contains all the negativities like anger, fear, worry and resistance. The True Self, the real self, has no negativities because it is connected to the Higher World. Through awareness, and with help from this Higher World, the True Self can grow to the point where it can replace the False Self.
Resistance resides in the False Self. This artificial nature dimly senses that our aim to wake up is going to put it out of business, so as a defense mechanism, it will bring up one of its favorite weapons, which is resistance to Truth. Another form of resistance that the False Self employs is to make the outside world seem more important than the spiritual journey. Maybe you never thought of sporting events, the news or the ice cream bar in the fridge as being forms of resistance. If you are distracted from moving into awareness, then that is a type of resistance. Now there are times when we have to think practically, but during our day we should be alternating between practical thought and awareness. Actually, I can see the resistance I have in myself as I sit down and spend some time to write a few words about resistance.
Sometimes resistance comes in the form of physical discomfort in the body. I remember going to my first Vernon Howard class. I was driving to a local library where the class was to be held. As I got closer to the library, my stomach started to hurt. I became aware of it and somehow something higher helped me and I made it there. By the end of the class I felt so much better. I later realized that the old nature was trying to use physical pain as a defense, as a form of resistance toward Truth.
Try to see different ways that resistance comes up and tries to derail your upward journey. As an example, it might appear as voices inside of your psychic system as explained in Vernon Howard’s booklet Freedom From Harmful Voices. Remember that neither the harmful voices nor the resistance is the real you. And if you ever feel like you are straining with all of this, Vernon Howard reminds us that Truth has already won.
Vernon told us when we feel bad, to know we feel bad. And then track it back, to see where the disturbance originated. Many times when I find myself in a negative state it’s because I expected something different to occur than what actually did. I preferred or even demanded that something different happen. And it can be almost anything. At first glance expectation may seem to be a more minor negativity or form of suffering. But it’s often not so because expectations are actually based in a nature that not only expects, but demands, that its wishes and desires be met.
These underlying demands that manifest as expectations can even take the form of wanting things to go just the way they’ve always gone. I had a humorous reminder of just such a thing when I was waiting my turn to order a sandwich at the local sandwich shop. A woman ahead of me had ordered three meatball sandwiches and I joked a little with her that it was a good thing I didn’t want a meatball sandwich, because that was it for the meatballs — they were now all gone. And then we both admitted we almost always ordered the same sandwich when we came in. By way of explanation she then blurted out to me, “I hate change!” Don’t we all? That’s how it is as long as the false self is in charge. Its expectation is always for things to go smoothly, with no shakeups or shocks. No thwarted demands. No unwelcome changes.
We’ve been told that Truth is always one with change. That makes intellectual sense to me, but I’ve got to work much harder to allow that higher nature to actually come to me, to be in charge of me more and more. It’s exciting to ponder the possibility that I can get to the point where I remain rightly in charge of myself in all circumstances, to the extent that no event can shake me.
Demands and expectations come in all shapes and sizes. Hoping society improves. Demanding that others behave above their actual level. Expecting the absence of challenging physical aches or pains. Insisting that others react to me in a pleasing way. And so on. Vernon addresses one specific form of this kind of suffering in There is a Way Out, Chapter 5, “Feelings of Rejection,” when he says: “The real cause of your rejection was your expectation. Most people fear to live without expecting agreement from others, but you must not be like most people.” Expectations always involve wrong thoughts which lead to painful and shaky emotional vibrations. These states also try to pull imagination in, which is not real life at all. They’re something I must work to rise above if I’m ever going to get out.
There can be a right separation where I can see the entity operating in me that didn’t get its way, that didn’t get its demand fulfilled — and be a dispassionate observer of the whole situation. Instead of being taken over by reacting negatively, then losing energy, the observer detaches the false sense of self from whatever happens. When I fail at this, it’s a good reminder of how I don’t accept the higher help that is always available. As if Truth can’t handle whatever the situation or circumstance may be! The whole key is to be as alert and conscious as possible to what is going through me. And then I can rightly take what comes my way, whatever it may be.
Let’s explore why Vernon Howard would say that “Comparison is the essence of sickness” (A Treasury of Trueness #1189). For one thing, the presence of comparison in the inner world results in suffering. To be clear, we’re not talking about every day, practical comparisons of food prices or cell phone brands; we’re referring to human behavior, the tendency to gage our own worth by comparing ourselves to the circumstances or attributes of other people.
We compare ourselves with them, often surmising we’re worse off than they are or we contrast now with the past, like imagining that life was so much better years ago when I was younger, thinner or felt more loved. The faulty reasoning is that I’m good or bad only in relation to another person or another time.
This type of comparison inflicts useless pain plus it offers a way to avoid honest self-facing. It just plain makes us feel bad. So why do we allow its entrance into our thought and feeling life? It’s because we WANT to suffer, we want to give in to it. Strangely enough, its familiar negativity provides a bogus thrill that we take as life.
In an Aesop’s fable about a peacock, in spite of the spectacular beauty of its multicolored, iridescent tail, it envies the song of a nightingale. It was told to “make no complaint, for if your present wish was granted, you would quickly find cause for fresh discontent.” It seems the dodo bird is not extinct after all; he still lives inside of the peacock and in us!
Why would we continue to compare like this when the result causes us grief? A primary purpose of this self-concern is the wish to prove that I exist as real and separate person. Protecting and adding to the false self is not a healthy action. An earnest spiritual student needs to be working to get rid of all false self-descriptions based on memory and habit. We’re also contrasting this imposter “I” with an equally fictitious other person.
Vernon has a fascinating and very high explanation of comparison in relation to time in The Answer, Letter 4: “Man’s mind creates two artificial items which he takes as being real. These two items are time and his belief that he possesses a personal and separate self.”
Comparison is mostly a detour, an avoidance of actually facing the reality of the real purpose of our lives here. That’s why we must continually point the arrow of awareness both ways, to see ourselves in that other person’s actions and in the world of wars and disputes.
There is a way to use comparison constructively to change ourselves. When I observe or converse with others, often they merely serve as a reflection that allows me to look back and think about myself – in the wrong way. Instead, these observations can be used wisely to see they are negative just as I am. For we share a common wrong human nature and traits. Vernon has said when undeveloped we’re really basically all alike. But looking at it another way, we also must remember that inferiority and superiority as we define those terms do not exist in the Kingdom of Heaven. Vernon once said there is no competition between anyone living in this higher state because there is plenty of light to go around.
Recently in class a student recalled a childhood event and said that’s why she’s still afraid of a certain thing. This fear based on a past memory was still being carried and used to justify a present wrong emotion. This is something everyone does – unconsciously. Human beings have the bad habit of clinging to memories, identifying with and vibrating over them.
We can use the observation of other people and the world to see through not only them but our own delusions. We continue to believe and live from old conditioned, mechanical fears unless we are brought up short. And that may well require someone else, as in a truth class, pointing it out to us. We need all the help we can get to see and to change.
It was mentioned in a recent class in Pagosa Springs, “Your problem is you think too much.” Comparison is just another way we let the mind run amok. As always, Truth’s solution is so simple. We must transcend thought and time-thinking and remain in the present moment. This journey is finally an individual one only between me and God; to contact God and become one with his spirit. Then I will no longer think about a false self in relation to other people; it will have no meaning or importance at all. I will be able to easily relate to others and to learn from them, but it won’t define who “I” am, for then there will be higher knowing.
Sarcasm is one of the most cherished forms of suffering on the planet. Almost all television shows, movies & commercials are laced with it. Try to find a TV show or movie that does not glorify sarcastic behavior in one form or another. Our society tries to convince us that it is funny and witty to be sarcastic, and that it is a normal way to behave in human relations. Nothing could be further from the truth.
All sarcasm is poison, and anytime we enjoy being scornful by using its barbs, we are poisoning our system. If you see a sarcastic human being, know that he is trying to alleviate his self-torment by striking out at others. There is no such thing as being positively sarcastic as all sarcasm is steeped in hostility, and any hostile person is in hell. In fact, the dictionary definition of sarcasm includes the point that it is intentionally meant to wound and hurt its target. While nearly everyone is sarcastic on occasion, there are also those who take great pleasure in wielding it like a weapon with the desire of belittling and ridiculing.
A couple of months ago, I was under the influence of this negative trait. I was being sarcastic about everything, and the behavior had gathered such momentum in me, I didn’t want to put an end to it. I was definitely on a roller coaster of negative emotion which caused strain and tension. One thing I remember about allowing it to take over my system was being drained of energy. It robs us of our life force, taking us further off the path to true life and keeping us in darkness and fear.
One of the ways to end sarcasm in ourselves is to become much more aware of the harm it does to both us and to others. We must see that it is not a harmless habit, but a very self-destructive one. In a Strawberry class we were told that whenever we’re in a sarcastic state ask, “Am I in a harmful state right now?” I have been working with this exercise for some time and realize that I am often in some type of a sour state. Whenever I see this, I always look around and become aware of what I am doing right then so that the state is broken. Vernon gave us a way to help snap the spell when he said to “break the mental movie.” When we find ourselves in a negative mindset, we’ll discover that the cause is in the faulty use of the imagination or in the ‘mental movie’ that keeps returning to mind again and again. Once the mental movie stops so does the pain because the mental movie IS the pain.
When in a sarcastic mood, we can always ask for help from above. One of the things we must understand is that we do not exist as a separate ‘sarcastic self.’ Something took control and made that derisive comment in our name. It wasn’t us at all. Vernon gave us another beautiful exercise, “You do not exist”, which is a profound reminder that we are not our negative thoughts or feelings. Never identify with sarcastic thoughts and moods, but see them as coming from the false self, which really does not exist. Vernon said we must dare to see we do not have a separate mental self. If this is truly seen, then we will be free of all darkness and negativities.
The waves lapped at the shoreline as I heard the palm trees blow in the breeze. The sun hit my shoulders as I walked down the white sand beach. I’d really been longing for this moment. As far as I could see there were no people who would disturb my solitude on this remote, tropical beach. Suddenly, I was startled by the realization that I’m sitting at my computer and on the screen in front of me is a picture of Fiji, adorned with a box that is asking for my password. I breathe a heavy sigh as I look out the window at the snow piling up outside, realizing there will be more shoveling in my future than long walks on the beach.
My momentary tropical vacation seemed so innocent, a quick escape from the seemingly mundane reality of my workday. What could be so bad about a little daydreaming here and there? Vernon said, “The trap is both inside you and outside you. You must first break the inner trap of your own delusions in order to be free of the outer trap.” Our delusion comes from the impression that our current reality is not what we really want it to be. We have so many ideas about what happiness looks like and where we have to be to find it. Happiness is only in this conscious moment. The mental escape that we seek only makes us conclude that our present situation on this Earth is not where we truly should be. This is not the case. Truth has put us in this exact place for a reason and we must take every opportunity to learn from it.
Over the years that I’ve been studying these teachings it has become easier for me to recognize the traps that people put themselves in. Friends who are disappointed that they are not married or have kids, or even worse, that they are currently single. A job that doesn’t pay as much as they believe it should and on top of that they must work many more hours than they wish. Our body has aches and pains that seem to get worse all the time and no one ever seems to have any answers that offer long-lasting help. When we reside in a delusional mindset, reality is never what we think it should be. Vernon encouraged us to welcome the hardships and problems that come our way and not to resist them. Instead say, “What is that to my true self?” This esoteric question elevates our spirit and state to a place that resides far above our painful daydreams of what our lives should look like.
Keeping our heads out of the clouds and our feet consciously planted reaps psychological and spiritual benefits, as well as physical safety. While our minds wander so frequently into imagination, the exterior mistakes can pile up quickly. How many times have you slammed on the brakes while driving your car and barely missed hitting the car in front of you? Or maybe your mental wandering had you so deeply out of reality that you didn’t miss hitting the car in front of you. The ramifications of situations like this place a lot of physical, financial, and psychological burdens on us. For example, going into instant regret, worry, and fear, and we’re mentally gone again. This quickly opens us up to another mistake that would do nothing but compound the predicament even further. “The truly spiritual is also the truly practical.” These teachings are so simple, yet following them all the way out is the most challenging thing we will ever do with our lives. Thankfully, for every ounce of energy that we put into waking up from our daydreams, Truth, God, Reality will meet us halfway and the evidence of our efforts will be undeniably felt and made visible.
“I’m so enthused and grateful to have found the teachings of Vernon Howard. I have been searching for years and at last have found something that makes perfect sense!”
— Woman via e-mail