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.”
If we were to go deep enough within ourselves, we would see that the root negativity behind all our other negativities is fear. Look at it — anger, confusion, uncertainty, jealousy, depression, loneliness, our addiction to false thrills … fear is underneath them all. Fear is rooted in our separation from Truth, our apartness from knowing who we really are. Dark forces are well aware of this and will do absolutely anything to lead us into a state of fear, because then they can manipulate us, herd us, drain us, control us. And block us from hearing higher messages, which is always the ultimate goal of darkness — to prevent us from hearing and feeling the healing, energizing message of Truth. A Treasury of Trueness #164 reminds us: “Fear disperses natural powers of growth and protection”.
On Vernon Howard’s Higher World Volume 10, Track 20 (talk given on April 5, 1987) he begins the talk with “The aim of society is to drive you crazy — how’s it doing?” And he goes on to say that it will “cram everything down your throat whether you like it or not.” It’s the perfect description of what is going on right now in the outer world. I need to ask myself, How much of this craziness have I taken into myself, how much does it now also occupy my inner world? I encourage all of you to get MP3 CD Volume 10 and listen to this talk. It is as timely and pertinent as when it was given over thirty years ago. Vernon told us fear attracts what is feared, so I’d better get busy seeing just how far along this thing has progressed inside of me.
Yes, it would be nice if circumstances were more sane, different. But whether we’re aware of it or not that isn’t what we really want. What we really want is the ability to be calm and poised in the face of whatever we may face in our time in this world. What we’re really afraid of isn’t the financial crisis, our relationship problem, or the insane people and contradictory, dictatorial authorities out there. What we’re really afraid of is our seeming inability to stand up in the face of it all.
I’m far too mental. Truth has told us that thinking is always on the level of opposites. So, it’s either good or bad, scary or not, exciting or dull. This kind of thing always leads to fear, it must. Because I’m always driven to get the labeled good and to be afraid of the labeled bad. And even when I temporarily get the “good”, I’m then afraid of losing it. The only truly good thing to do is to drop this whole mess and let something above my mental machinations show me what I need to see.
Christ assured us he had overcome this world. He still has overcome it. Just as Vernon Howard has. And that overcoming, that total victory, is ours if we want it badly enough. It can come to us. Drop fear. Just drop it. Drop it every single chance you get! At home, in your car, when with others and when all alone. Rise up and refuse absolutely to ever again be afraid of anything at all. Anything! If we’ll do this, we are on our way to an authentically peaceful life, regardless of outward circumstances. Because although we’re presently incapable of being truly fearless men and women, our right efforts toward this aim will be rewarded with Higher Help. Something wants to come to us that is not afraid of anything whatsoever. It never has been afraid, and it never will be. So, as best I understand it, I must do the right thing. I must do what is right. Not in a foolhardy or egotistically aggressive way, but more and more to give Truth the chance to come to me, and to act through me. Truth can tell us when to speak up, and when to remain silent. When to actively engage in a situation, and when to turn and walk away.
Vernon gave us very high universal truths, but if they are to help me as an individual, I must allow them to become extremely personal with me. I must listen and hear when Vernon tells me (tells all of us) to get up off my knees, stop cowering and to stand up like a true man, a true woman. In A Treasury of Trueness #170 Vernon says: “In the true world fear doesn’t exist.” So now, right now, we are called to faithfully follow the lessons we have been given and to prove the truth to ourselves of everything we have learned. I can be free of fear forever, free of fear and every other negativity. I can experience a New Life.
It’s no accident that the words SELF and RIGHT are part of the word self- righteousness. This actually describes the basis for all suffering: the belief that there is a self and that self is always right and must be protected at all costs. Let’s admit it, in spite of our protestations to the contrary, we still feel “I am right and you are wrong.”
How can that be, the rational mind says? But our negative, insecure feelings proclaim this universal lie is true. The false self is actually non-existent, but let’s face it, until we wake up, we’re still convinced underneath that it’s real. Hence, the ugly Knower keeps arrogantly raising its voice, its opinions, its demands: “Why can’t he/she see it my way?” “I know what is best for me — and for you too.” This falsehood leads to all the other negativities that hurt us so much, like frustration, conflict, anger.
Recently in class we talked about having strong opinions. (See Inspire Yourself, Chapter 5, about people who had different opinions about their mayor.) We have opposing opinions based on self-interest and acquired attitudes. To have “practical clarity,” there can be no false self, no false personality, no “me” that is identified with the person or situation. Ask yourself where did that strong opinion come from and when did I begin to call it mine? Does it make me feel like somebody special to express it?
Here’s an illustration. I listened to a one-sided phone conversation in which the owner of a motel was telling a potential customer about the motel’s policy regarding pets. During the course of the conversation, the volume of her voice went up and up. After she got off the phone, she continued the argument with me, even though I happened to agree with her policy. One lesson to be learned from this is to never express an opinion when someone is just looking for a fight. They will not stop if you engage with them! As her voice got louder and louder, the fight went on though she was really yelling at no one.
People love “a false feeling of life,” love to feel the vibration in the fury and indignation, which just feeds and solidifies the sanctimonious, hypocritical self.
Moral indignation coupled with self-righteousness adds a dangerous element, like a match to dynamite. “How dare that person and the exterior world not agree with me and give me what I want?!” If I feel morally superior, the opinions/feelings of others don’t matter at all. Vernon, in A Treasury of Trueness says, “Self-development begins where self-righteousness ends.” Insight into this truth can help us when we’re gathering knowledge about human wrongness. As in the current social/political climate, where instead of reasoned, courteous debate we have hateful shouts, blind threats, physical violence, and the wish to silence all other viewpoints. Talk about a self-destructive emotion. Self-righteousness wrecks our health and spirits, relationships and country. It utterly blocks and prevents awareness.
The higher answer is to be a watchful sentry. First, we must get a very strong taste of this bitter, burning state so we can’t love it anymore. Observe at the moment it occurs how uncomfortable it feels. Pain always emerges when I’m trying to prove I’m right, when I’m defending myself, when I’m arguing internally or externally with others because they won’t agree with me. We are capable of recognizing and feeling deeply the discomfort, the unhappiness in this. Vernon also gave this remarkable lesson in Cosmic Command, #1732: “There is no need to force other people to agree with you.” What a relief when we remember and live that freeing truth!
Studying how self-righteousness only feeds the belief in the false self will aid our right aim in dropping it. We can’t hear too often that the imaginary self is really non-existent. So how can it be in the right, when it is nothing and nobody? For more on how to “judge righteous judgment,” see the New Testament and 700 Inspiring Guides to a New Life, #605.
And remember that when we indulge in self-righteousness, our aim to be conscious is thrown out the window. It takes super-effort to give it up and choose a new way but this is all wonderful news, for without the old nature, we will be free of all its suffering.
Depression is a state that we all have experienced to one degree or another. It’s certainly not pleasant to be depressed and it’s not just mental — the physical body is affected by it as well. You can pretty much tell when someone is depressed. There’s no joy in their face. They look serious. Even the tenor of their voice reveals how unhappy and fearful they are. Someone who has been beaten down by depression looks weary and doesn’t move very quickly either. You easily sense how little energy and enthusiasm they have.They’re drained by what has taken them over. You know this is true because you have undoubtedly experienced depression yourself.
Depression has no right to exist ... so where does this dark thing come from that overtakes us so convincingly? It comes from reactions to thoughts that we have and emotional responses we make to the events that happen — or don’t happen — to us. We wrongly use imagination to create unrealistic expectations. Then along comes reality. The bubble bursts when something doesn’t turn out the way we want it to. We experience a sudden loss of someone, either physically or from a relationship breakup … or it could be a surprise event that upends our lives in some unexpected way. Your marriage should have lasted for a lifetime but your spouse left you for some reason you don’t understand. You worked hard for 40 years at the company and you feel you should have been made president but the big promotions and all the glory never came. We compare ourselves to others and come up painfully lacking. You thought your life had purpose but you haven’t found out what it is. In The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power, Vernon writes: “Be willing to see through your pretensions of having a purposeful life. This is an awakening shock. But when we abandon a pseudo-purpose, when we have nothing left of the False Self, a true purpose enters the life. Then, depression is absolutely impossible.”
Depression can come from a variety of events and causes, but the end result is a painful, heavy and sad fog of a feeling that overwhelms us and it doesn’t go away easily. Unfortunately, we think the pain of depression is genuine. And certainly people will insist, “It sure does feels real to me.” We then become desperate to ease the dreadful feelings that hold us prisoner. Misery loves company and we look for solace in others but don’t find it. Some turn to drugs to ease their pain. Others turn to alcohol. Or food. Yet, no matter what we consume, it doesn’t take the suffering away. I was visiting some recently-married friends of mine and it was very apparent that the woman’s husband was having an eating problem. His weight had ballooned after they had gotten married. He had given up drinking but was now at the mercy of something that told him that comfort would come by eating more and more food. Away from the table, he was trying to reduce his girth by exercise but it wasn’t working. Clearly, he’s suffering from an inner emptiness that he doesn’t want to face.
We know that medication and psychiatric counseling are conventional resources for the treatment of clinical depression and New Life has always recommended professional help if needed. This question, however, must be asked: “What is the spiritual cure for depression?” This is answered by recognizing what depression is not. It’s not real and in fact, it’s actually a hoax that comes from a very, very dark place. It’s what Vernon characterizes as death trying to pass itself off as life. It’s the False Self trying to prove that it exists. Suffering results when its demands have not been met or when the rewards you have been giving it have been taken away. The feeling of depression is an attempt to create something out of nothing. It’s an exhausting effort to fill the emptiness of the ego with something the person thinks is real and solid but is actually just more emptiness. Because this won’t work, the only thing the ego can give us is psychological pain.
Vernon tells us to “break out of the shell of egotism and self-reference.” (MP3 CD - Volume 20) In another videotaped talk called “Self-Questioning is Everything,” (DVD - Volume 29 or Blu-ray - Volume 10) he instructs us to ask ourselves why we react to things the way we do. He says, “When you inquire into any kind of a self- punishing condition, you are beginning to break that level. You are beginning to qualify yourself for something higher than yourself.” This questioning interrupts the train of negative thoughts carrying more negative thoughts behind it. Keep on interrupting the tormenting thoughts but know that the False Self is very tricky and will wait for you to fall asleep at the switch. Don’t let it!
The application of spiritual principles takes work but these are the life-saving principles that serve to keep us awake and hence out of trouble with ourselves. And remember this from Vernon: “Take the idea that painful feelings cannot enter a conscious mind.” Work at becoming conscious moment-by-moment and we can break the torment of depression.
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.
“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