The first nine Questions & Answers were added 4/1/13
Question: I have noticed something remarkable about Vernon’s books and the recordings of his talks. I’ll go back and listen to a talk for a second or third time or re-read one of his books and it seems as if I come across more and more things that I don’t recall reading or hearing the first time. More of what he is saying seems to be clearer and easier to understand. What is going on?
Answer: Truth only gives you what it knows you can handle. Through your studies, you are absorbing true spiritual wisdom, which develops your ability to see and hear in new ways. In the New Testament it says “Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.” By accumulating as many spiritual facts as you can, you give the Spirit more to work with, more to resonate within you. You begin to see more deeply and to understand more. Revisiting something said or written by Vernon always yields new insights. When the dark curtains of a window are pulled aside, light can come in, making everything in the room visible.
Question: What is my biggest problem?
Answer: You are so busy trying to make an impression on this world, you are so fiercely engaged in futile attempts to have your worldly demands met that you have forgotten there is a spiritual home you must reach before dark. To get home is the true purpose of your life.
Question: How do I overcome resistance to obeying Truth’s instructions? I like the precept of going against myself but I can’t seem to do it very vigorously or very often.
Answer: Whether we are aware of it or not, there is a constant battle going on inside of us between the wish to do the right thing and our stubborn self-will. Much of our resistance is quite simply based on weakness and laziness. We have spent a lifetime taking the easy way out, getting by with the least amount of effort possible.
Vernon told us to start with small steps. For example, if you wish to do a written exercise he gave us, pick up a pen, put paper on the table and start with a word. If you can get one center, like the physical, pointed in the right direction, one foot on the path up the mountain, then it’s much easier to take the next step and then the next step. Remind yourself often that if you don’t go against yourself, you will inevitably continue in an endless circle (of self), repeating the same mistakes again and again. So if you want a different life, you must break the pattern.
Just say, “Please God, help me to be willing in spite of myself.” All change of being is really “in spite of myself” — for the false self never wants to change. Genuine help does not reside on the lower level. We must voluntarily approach and welcome the higher without hesitation for this alone can begin to develop real strength within.
Question: Why do nonsensical ideas draw large audiences but few want to listen to a Truth talk?
Answer: Vernon once said that people are more stimulated by crowds than they are attracted by Truth. He further explained that these teachings will never appeal to the masses of humanity and will never attract a huge following. These astounding truths coming down from on high are for those men and women who are sick and tired of giving their lives over to psychological suffering and who want to risk all to find “the pearl of great price.”
Question: Sometimes I feel really strong in these teachings and other times I’m overwhelmed by what I’m learning about human nature.
Answer: These principles can be a great shock to the aspiring spiritual student who has been taught and compelled to live in Dreamland for years. Truth is trying to tell us that a dream existence is a pale imitation of real life. We must be shocked by how bad it is but at the same time be aware that no one can ever function normally and naturally when living within the confines of an unreal fantasy world. Reality is limitless while daydreams put us into a prison of our own making. So persist on the path and go through the jolts and shocks willingly and you’ll experience something very few people on this earth know anything about. You’ll
understand that beyond the terrible facts about human nature lie the wonderful truths about our potential to return to our ‘cosmic homeland’, as Vernon once put it.
Question: A lot of terrible things going on in this world and on the news scare me to death. Is there really an answer to this?
Answer: Yes. Vernon was a perfect example of an unafraid human being in this warring and hostile world and he assured us that we could be too. We can actually reach the point of freedom from all fear and anxiety but must go through the terror of leaving all of our self-images, hardened beliefs and emotional props behind. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from seeking the higher solution and from understanding the necessity of trying to reach the spiritual mountaintop. Be assured that purity of spirit does exist and the healing answer lies beyond the worsening insanity of this world.
Question: Why don’t I always do what’s best for me?
Answer: If we’re living from the ego, it has no interest in doing what is truly best for us. Its only plan and purpose is to lead us into destruction. If we can start to see where it is stealing our life, forcing us to live in negativity, chaos, heartache and defeat, we can go to work in a beneficial way. Is it wise to do harm to ourselves? Absolutely not! These teachings give us so much practical help, as when Vernon tells us to slow down and begin to carefully observe our thoughts and feelings in a new way. Slowing down leaves room for the voice of wisdom to enter and nothing is more useful in everyday affairs than this inner voice. “We must be practical. What good is it to be a nervous scholar or a frustrated hero or a miserable leader? The only worthwhile philosophy is that which shows us where to go at every step of the journey.” (Secrets for Higher Success). Nothing is more practical than living from our True Self, which always does what is best for us.
Question: I still think if I can get the right man [or woman] in my life and enough money, and maybe the right place to live, I will be happy. What’s wrong with that?
Answer: How many times have you attracted someone into your life you thought you wanted and in Vernon’s words, “The love boat turned into a battleship”? The reality is no other person and no amount of money will ever quell the awful ache inside that, by the way, no one ever talks about. The emptiness and craving in a person’s inner life will never be satisfied by accumulating people, experiences or wealth. But who will be honest enough to admit that this is the truth and so go on to be qualified to receive the authentic answers?
Question: Why has my nature not changed? Or to put it another way, why is my level still so low and my behavior so childish?
Answer: You need to reach the point in your studies where being told the truth about yourself is a pleasure, not an upsetting or unwanted experience. Truth can never force itself upon you, but is always right there with the explanation when you are ready to enter into mental silence.
Question: I seem to be caught in the “time-trap.”
Answer: It is common for people to live either in the past or in the future, often rapidly flipflopping between the two. Looking back at the past often brings up feelings of nostalgia or regret. Trying to peer into the future creates equal chaos with worries about possible dire outcomes or nervously hoping things will work out in our favor. In this condition, there is no possibility of enjoying the present moment, what is right here, right now. Our efforts to prevent the past from happening again result in things turning out exactly the way we don’t want them to. It’s like trying to walk forward while looking backward. Our lack of understanding of the principles of life only insures that no matter how hard we try to bend and twist reality to conform to our mental wishes, we will never be happy when suspended between the past and the future. It takes a lot of spiritual work to see that the past and the future don’t really exist. There truly is only the moment of now and that is where a new and enjoyable life resides. As Vernon wrote, “Don’t let the past control your thinking. Accept the offer of newness in the now.”
Question: I’m just beginning to notice how everyone is so divided and compartmentalized. For example, a friend will talk about the need to be kindly and generous and the very next moment will make a biting, cruel remark.
Answer: Division and lack of wholeness is the price we pay for living outside of the Kingdom of Heaven. We were made by the higher power to be whole and complete within ourselves. In this state we no longer suffer from living in the opposites (for example, “kindly/cruel”) but with great relief and freedom, effortlessly act from the oneness of our original nature.
Question: Tell me again what New Life is all about.
Answer: Another way of life exists without problems or pain. It contains no heartache or regret and is free of pretense, emotional torment and financial struggle. Isn’t that what your heart really wants? You’ll find it here.
Question: How in the world can it be that human beings love their psychological pain, that I love my misery? Why does everyone want to feel bad?
Answer: Tormenting thoughts are allowed and even welcomed into an undeveloped mind. How strange that people are so in love with the familiarity of dark and gloomy thoughts that they cling to them with everything they have. It is fantastic but there does exist a low-level force operating in the recesses of the mind that is working overtime to keep the pain going. Hypnotized by this false feeling of life, humans actually fight Truth when it says to just walk away. If you are a sincere student of these teachings, you have been called to “come out from among them.” It takes genuine courage to face the fact that it is my love of and dependence on the lower that is preventing my ascent to the higher. In his book There is a Way Out, Vernon puts it this way, “It is cosmic law that you cannot retain anything you cease to love.” Stop loving the pain and it will depart.
Question: As I go through my day I seem to be very tense and on-edge, even when no crisis is looming.
Answer: Relaxation is actually painful to the average human being. To relax and to let go of the problem is viewed by the unnatural personality as an enemy state. We are perpetual motion machines, if not physically then certainly in our thought lives. Vernon Howard often said things like “Be real honest now — what do you really love? Do you love peace and quiet or do you love your noisy mind and your dramatic feelings?” The artificial nature urges us to never stop, to keep going the way we have been for all these years. Go against that bad advice by relaxing right now as you are reading these lines. One of the astonishing things you’ll see is that when letting go is welcomed by the small seed of rightness within, tension has nowhere to go.
Question: What in the world is going on with this planet? Awful events, endless wars, economic depressions, fear, confusion, insane solutions from obvious idiots. I want to know what’s really going on and what I should do!
Answer: Most people are afraid to even bring this question up to consciousness for fear that there is no answer. But if we are ever to make it out, we’ll have to honestly ask ourselves “What in the world is going on?” And what is going on is that there really is a destructive force, which wants to ruin every individual’s chance to reach the higher. Don’t fall for it when you’re urged to take the path of least resistance, to just go along with crowd thinking, like believing the falsehood that things in this world are actually getting better. Don’t listen when it insists that you will be safer staying in the confinement of your mental prison than to begin to ‘Question Everything’.
This force operates in this world through human beings. Have you ever been excited about a spiritual principle you’ve learned about in these teachings and have tried to relay the excitement of that new insight to someone else? For example, the dawning of awareness of how easily we fall into negativity. And you’ve been met either with the assurance that they live with no negativity or that any exploration of our own confusion and torment would be too scary? You need not be affected or discouraged by others’ lack of interest because you can make the vow right now to go all the way in spite of everything.
Simply know that we must stop fighting the world and stop trying to save it. We need only leave it, psychologically, spiritually in order to rise to a higher level that is a million miles above this warring world. Really understand what runs this planet and the confusion and torment will end. God has not left us here without an escape route. Understanding the truth protects us from all worldly chaos and evil because “When you understand you do not fear.”
Question: I can’t help but think that all of the mistakes I‘ve made over the years, especially when I was younger, are going to disqualify me from finding the New Life you talk about.
Answer: Stop identifying with your mistakes. In reality, there is absolutely nothing that glues the present you to who you were at 18 when you made that stupid blunder. What you did back then has no power to block your wish for genuine understanding now. This is important now — you don’t pretend that incident didn’t happen. You don’t repress the memory of it. You don’t yell at the memory to go away. You remember the incident with clarity but withdraw the idea of ‘self’ that you’ve attached to it. It is perfectly possible to do this. But right now, these excursions into the past seem to provide a ‘secure’ anchor to who you think you are. Only something higher than your memories can show you how to rightly refuse their intrusion into your mind.
Question: I was recently faced with a very difficult situation. Harsh thoughts, questions and bad feelings were tormenting me and just wouldn’t stop coming. My thoughts and feelings were out of control. But then I remembered the spiritual directive, “Dare to not think about it.” Even though I was still struggling, I made repeated attempts to say ‘NO’ to the crazy thoughts and internal chaos. What happened astounded me. The weight of the pain disappeared and I was able to handle the problem in a calm and mature way. Everything turned out just fine but most importantly, I learned that these principles do just what they say they’ll do — they work!
Answer: This is exactly what applying this Work in our daily experiences means. Where else do we really live but within our own inner thoughts and feelings? There is nothing more important for personal growth than to rightly apply these very high principles rather than just talking or thinking about them. There’s a famous Vernon Howard story about a character he named Cabbagehead Q. Dummo. Cabbagehead went out and bought cans of paint for his barn over and over again. He just kept buying and storing the paint but never painted the barn. In other words, he never applied the special mixture that could have taken his barn building from an unsightly mess to a completely new structure. It’s precisely that way with the genuine spiritual life; this Work is made to be applied and used so that the day comes when the torment is taken out of every challenge, every situation. You don’t have to hold back from working with these ideas because of laziness or for fear of failure. Yes, it’s hard work but the reward is a free mind and a brand new life.
Question: Please go over again exactly what these teachings will do for me.
Answer: The Vernon Howard principles available in all of his materials and taught in the New Life classes will allow you to extract the meaning of life from the most unlikely situations. You can actually understand why life is the way it is and you can learn how to flow peacefully and richly through it. For example, a simple trip to the Post Office to mail a package will be an entirely new learning experience. When you see the long line you have to wait in, you actually notice your irritation, whereas before you were completely overtaken by it. You are aware of other bored and impatient people around you but by being conscious of these states within yourself as well, you can choose not to behave like them. When you finally reach the window and realize you left your wallet in the car, you become fully aware when you got out of the car and hurried into the building, you were “asleep” when you could have and should have been awake. Finally, when the clerk tells you it’s okay to go get your wallet and come back without waiting in line again, you get the full experience of seeing how much what we call the ups and downs of life are really caused by our own life level. We see how much we have a part in why things happen as they do. It is you and I, not “them” or those events that ruined the day. And how does this help us to understand the meaning of life? By becoming aware of my responsibility for my own life, I take command of it. And the roller coaster existence of highs and lows is gradually replaced with a “peace that passeth understanding.” Where there was once agitation, confusion and pain, there is now an inner calmness that transcends the human intellect.
Question: I’m not sure I’m a person who can be honest, really honest with myself. Maybe I’m just not capable.
Answer: Vernon Howard used to say, “Is anything too much for God?” It is extremely good and helpful to recognize that right now you may not be able to tell the truth. Ask for help. Say “God show me what I’m really like and then teach me that I’m not that either.”
Question: Society’s chaos and disorder frighten me. Shouldn’t we all band together to bring some sense to this warring world?
Answer: Saving the world and helping other people is one of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated on unsuspecting mankind. It took an awakened and highly evolved human being, Vernon Howard, to expose this gigantic falsehood to deluded humanity. Darkness knows it can tempt almost all lost souls who are searching for a way out to take this detour because:
1) it provides an easy escape from seeing our own wrong nature and 2) we then forget our real purpose in life — to find the way back home. Banding together with other lost people always places us in a dangerous position, for the masses are mad and can never think correctly and logically. They tempt you to take sides, to adopt a viewpoint and to fight an enemy. Of course, you are now “right” and they are “wrong”. You have found an identity as a “good” person and they are labeled as the “bad” people. As Vernon said (on MP3 CD, Volume 8, Talk 11), “You’re depending on enemy forces for you to feel angelic.” You’ve lost yourself in a cause, added yet another identity to the shaky false self and are farther than ever away from finding your true and real self. Don’t go there! Don’t go with them. Walk away and start heading toward home.
Question: I feel I already know who I am. I have a lot of activities and a lot of friends and family that provide me with security. Oh, of course there are moments of doubt and unhappiness but that’s just part of life, isn’t it? I don’t understand. Why should I study myself?
Answer: When taken all the way, sincere and intense self-study will provide you with the life you really yearn for. But most people prefer to remain where they are, believing they already know and that they know who they are. This is one of the most solid defenses of the Old Nature. It is imperative to see that a mere idea about life is not real life. How in the world can we learn anything new when we’re clinging to the false premise that we already know? What is really fascinating is that there is a part deep inside that senses it does not know. It feels the emptiness in all of the activities and distractions and it is definitely aware that nothing in this world has ever brought permanent contentment and peacefulness to daily life. You’re not running toward senseless distractions; you’re running away from the emptiness you sense and from the fear that nothing else exists. Something Else does exist. Try very hard to be silent and to receive its message.
Question: Other people at work seem to be getting promoted faster than I am. I’m beginning to feel left behind. Can these teachings help me to advance more quickly in my job?
Answer: Lots of people in the workplace struggle to understand why things happen as they do in their vocation. It seems that those who work the hardest are often rewarded the least. Inexperienced people with seemingly little knowledge are put in charge and given a fancy title. Personal integrity doesn’t seem to count for anything anymore. But listen to this. With these teachings, you are actually being given a pair of X-ray glasses with which to see the real motives of people, including your own! It’s fine to do the best job you can but it’s a huge trap to connect success in your occupation with your inner worth.
Vernon Howard makes it clear that there is really only one true definition of success and that is simply the attainment of genuine personal happiness. This is an authentic state not dependent on an object or a person or a societal reward, but a happiness that flows from the inside out. If you’re sincerely working with these ideas, your whole focus will change. For one thing, you’ll catch your mistakes before they happen. You’ll no longer be caught up as fiercely as you once were in jealously and “people-pleasing.” Work will take on a new richness because you’re in tune with using your skills to the fullest. Your reward is not a pat on the back from someone else but the new understanding that resides within you. Interactions with other people will become more pleasant and phony behavior will be replaced with genuine communication. Because of expanding awareness, the work that you used to call drudgery now becomes a tool for learning something new about yourself, about others and about life. At the end of the day, you come away with a real sense of satisfaction and you feel richer, not poorer.
Question: Why do I suffer?
Answer: I suffer because I don’t really understand myself. I suffer because I live from ideas about myself that clash with ideas others have about me. I suffer because I live from illusions about life that crash into reality. I suffer because I live from a false nature that suffers. I suffer because I want my way, but with everyone else wanting his or her way, who can win? I just do spiritually stupid things, like living from a hostile nature, which can only result in self-suffering. Thank God I came in contact with something higher than the suffering. Vernon Howard explained that suffering is stupid and doesn’t have to be endured one minute longer. The sufferer must declare independence from the suffering nature and then, where is the problem?
Question: How can I face reality and not run away and hide?
Answer: Come back to NOW. Don’t think about yourself. Now you’re safe — with nothing to run away from.
Question: When I ask God for help, it doesn’t seem to come. What’s wrong?
Answer: We’ve been told if we are sincere, if we really want higher help, it will come. Also we’ve been told that people are often not really praying to God but only to themselves or to something very base and low. (See the “Prayer Mountain” story in Solved — The Mystery of Life, for example.) So first always watch and question your prayers: What is my state? What am I saying? What are my real motives? For years we’ll observe wrongness, yet it is right to keep watching and asking, to “cry out for help” (see A Treasury of Trueness, #2303). Daily, minutely, ask what is God’s will instead of my own. Of course the false self only wants its own way, but seeing that consciously will weaken and change the state to a right request for trueness and innocence. God is helping us in ways we don’t yet see. We will gradually be able to see more as we become free of the bondage of self.
Question: We’ve been told to go out into the world and to use our daily experiences to observe the folly of human nature. One thing I observe all around me is that a lot of people seem to be just going through the motions. They’re very active but when you look at their faces and observe their states of mind, they seem to be bitter toward life.
Answer: These teachings say that futility is doing something without knowing why you’re doing it. People go through their whole lives doing things, pursuing things, without really understanding why they’re doing them. They have their money, their friends, their businesses, their families, but they do not operate from an independent spirit, they do not own their own lives. And rather than look for the real cause of unhappiness, they become bitter and hardened when life fails them.
In reality, the underlying cause of all discontentment can be tracked back to this feeling of futility. At the core, underneath all of the rushing around, there is a voice saying “What’s really the use of all this?” There is a sensing of missing the point of life but unfortunately it’s often accompanied by a pervasive, almost paralyzing fear that lasting relief is not attainable. But Truth assures us that we haven’t been left here alone with no answer, with no way to escape this fierce, mauling world. The solution comes with knowing this feeling of futility is with us constantly, but that we must not try to fill the emptiness ourselves. Everything comes back to wanting authentic fulfillment. You see, when you’re on the spiritual path laid out by these teachings, there is always true purpose. There are no nagging doubts about whether what you’re doing is right, if what you’re doing is good for you. You will feel the fulfillment and you will know that God can lead you all the way out.
Question: We often see the ‘attack’ or challenge as coming from outside of ourselves. But in reality, it’s frequently coming from our own mind. Right?
Answer: Yes, right. One student recently told this story in a New Life class. She drove a long distance one day to attend an exercise class but when she got there, found out it had been canceled. At this point a choice presented itself — either fall into disappointment and annoyance or try to be fully present in the moment and enjoy the drive back through the beautiful countryside. She chose the latter and stated, “It was so nice not to be attacked,” that is, it was a huge relief not to be attacked by the harping mind which would have complained about the time wasted, about the gas money spent, about not getting the anticipated exercise, etc. Remember that phrase “It’s so nice not to be attacked” the next time something negative wants to act in your name, the next time the impostor inside of you demands that it has the right to tell you how to feel.
Question: Vernon Howard’s books and audio recordings have been very, very helpful to me. I thought my friends would find them useful too, but they have no interest at all whenever I talk about them. In fact, it seems as though they would rather I not bring the subject up. Why aren’t they as interested as I am?
Answer: It is said in these teachings that Truth is the only real friend you’ll ever have so consider yourself very fortunate! Truth continuously calls everyone but only a few can hear. Just about everyone’s peace and quiet is drowned out by the loud noise of society making its silly and dangerous demands, not to mention our own inner voices that add to the cacophony. Vernon Howard once said, ‘Truth is the most unpopular product on earth’ but of course what is right and what is godly is the only true liberator. People say they yearn to be free but almost everybody would rather stay shackled to their fear and their suffering. It’s their idea of security and they don’t want to give it up. They don’t want to learn about the keys that could open the prison door and teach them how to live a happy life with real meaning. Keep walking your own path and don’t worry about doing it alone. Ultimately, you will learn a great deal about your friends and you’ll be thankful for the insights. There is great significance to the saying “And the truth shall set you free.”
Question: Give me something I really need to know.
Answer: If you were to find out who you really are, you could be right in the middle of this cruel world and it would not be able to touch you at all.
Question: I make a spiritual aim and then almost immediately forget it.
Answer: Suppose you make an aim to get up early to study your spiritual lessons. You set the alarm for 5:30 am with every intention of getting up and doing something right for yourself. But when the alarm goes off at that early morning hour, you don’t get up but turn over and go back to sleep, forgetting the aim entirely. Why? Because the person who made the aim and the one who turned the alarm off are not the same person. The truth is that any unawakened man or woman lives from a very fragmented, scattered, contradictory and changeable nature.
One of the hallmarks of genuine spiritual work is to begin to observe our own internal life. Even a small bit of work in this area can lead to the shocking realization that we are being pushed this way and pulled that way by internal forces beyond our command. Living in this way tears us up inside. This insight should not be frightening, it should be immensely encouraging and freeing because at last we’re becoming acquainted with the enemy.
Question: How do I keep a spiritual aim?
Answer: To keep a spiritual aim, a super effort is required. Have you ever been at a sports arena after the game is over? People are pouring out of the exits, carelessly jostling others and pushing everyone else aside in their mad rush to get out. The spiritual parallel here is that if you want a different kind of a life, you can’t join the crowd but must deliberately and consciously walk against that tidal wave of humanity to reach safety. You must go against everything familiar to reach the other side. Make an intense effort to become aware of yourself at each moment and the needed help will come. Directing your energy in this way strengthens spiritual memory, which in and of itself can begin the process of uniting all the disparate parts of us. Instead of living from inner chaos, the whole nature can then begin to feel and understand events as they come to us.
Question: Sometimes I catch an imp in me that is shockingly resentful and hostile toward these ideas. Why do I block out and push away what could help me?
Answer: It is absolutely necessary to be aware that what has always had us in its grip will not easily let go. The imposter is very reluctant, resistant and yes, very hostile toward what is trying to shake us awake. Wrongness is extremely clever in making seekers believe that what is good is bad and what is bad is good. Is it bad for a prisoner to wish to escape his or her chains? Just know that your authentic wish to understand is stronger than all the opposing voices and forces in the world.
Question: What can be done to straighten out my mind? I want to be happy and free of suffering and problems but who can I trust to really help me?
Answer: These teachings say, “Follow only Truth.” The dawning light within a sincere student is perfectly capable of discerning the pure truth from an artificial version based on the personal interpretation of some so-called expert or teacher. Pure truth will never try to appeal with flattery nor will it ever compromise with human nonsense. For example, a real teaching will not mix in strategies of how to succeed in business or how to ‘get rich quick’ because these matters are not at the heart of true transformation.
As much as you’ll allow it, these teachings will get very personal with you. We’ve been fooled and hurt so much by following false paths we carelessly assume that Truth is out to hurt us or cheat us or take something ‘important’ away from us. But in reality it can offer the ultimate help precisely because it is not of this world, it is not like we are.
We can be very grateful for Truth’s clarity, directness and bluntness in exposing our actual position here on earth. We can also be very grateful for its flexibility as when it provides spontaneous lightness and humor to help us get rid of our stuffy, self-righteous images of being wise and profound. In essence, the spiritual path cuts straight through the jungle of sick human nature and avoidance of the path is avoidance of the Supreme Reason for being on earth.
Question: What is an example of an unseen enemy?
Answer: Well there are so many, like vanity, fear, hostility and pretense, even sadness which we take as us. Or how about insisting on winning the argument, which ends up ruining your relationships with the people in your life? You may not even know you always have to have the last word and insist you are always right and the other person is wrong. We see it in others but not in ourselves. Isn’t that really the cause of all divorces? This is sleep. This is being possessed by an unseen enemy we take as our friend. That is why it is always stressed to turn our attention inward and ask ourselves what is going on in there.