Welcome to New Life Foundation
Vernon Howard Founder
“It is wise to seek immortality for time defeats all other ambitions.”
“What you want also wants you. If you seek the celestial, the celestial also seeks you. There are no unanswered requests in the universe. If we do not like what we are receiving, we can learn to ask for something different.”
The commentary series below is focused on a particular negative emotion, painful feeling, negative trait or state of human beings that causes us tremendous pain and suffering. Perhaps you will recognize that you yourself have had personal experience with this condition. You’ll find the explanation of how it causes suffering and how it produces detrimental effects in your daily life. You will also be shown how Truth can help you to lessen these effects and how you can eventually eliminate them from your life altogether. A new negative characteristic of human nature will be gone into each month. It will be great fun to explore these things in order to help us see through them and to be rid of them.
“Excellent guides. Like air that uplifts the eagle. Keep up the good work.”
— E-mail from man in Michigan
There are negative states and emotions whose destructive vibrations are so obvious that you can’t miss them. Rage, fury and aggressive outbursts of anger, for example, produce effects that may linger long after the actual incident that brought them to the surface. But there are also other reactions, more subtle and much more frequent, that are just as harmful and invasive.
One of those reactions, annoyance, is something that operates in everyone. That quick flash of irritation, the exasperated facial expression or gesture of impatience may seem trivial and unimportant but, in this work, it’s the small things that count. Vernon once said if you’ll work for freedom from fleeting, seemingly petty negativities, you’ll be qualified to tackle bigger challenges. Learning how to stop the downward momentum of falling into aggravation and annoyance would be of immense benefit to any sincere truth student. For one thing, it would help to calm the mind and emotions so that higher instructions could be heard and acted upon. Truth offers to give us the gift of complete life understanding but a clamoring mind and ragged emotions act as the great interferers blocking clear reception.
Sometimes annoyance is focused on personal behavior that is forgetful or otherwise inconvenient, but quite often the irritation is directed outward at other people, circumstances and events. This society is very noisy and has set a lot of things out there to waste our time, distract, pressure and frustrate us. If we allow it, pretty much everything we have to deal with in this life can bother us at one time or another. A few instances that come to mind are robo-calls, aggressively talkative drainers, interruptions when working, bad weather, people who ask endless and pointless questions, traffic jams, someone who bulldozes his way to the front of the line and dealing with people who say they will take care of something but don’t. Even experiences with inanimate objects like wrestling with an immovable jar lid or trying to use a cumbersome tool provide opportunities for the false self to gleefully express its annoyance. Yes, gleefully. A very wrong part of us actually gets delighted and excited when it can be the intimidator and, even briefly, lash out at a hostile world.
As a first step, it is essential to understand that these kinds of expressions are intrusions on our natural right to live a relaxed life. Stop foolishly believing that an irritated, aggravated reaction provides some type of protective defense against perceived external enemies. Not only does it not afford protection, but it also serves to strengthen and solidify the tight grip unconscious, habitual thoughts and emotions have on us.
In our natural state, which can be reclaimed, Vernon said “You are above all problems.” Wow! This means the essence within does not belong to noise but to quiet command. Part of the difficulty, however, is that human beings are like demanding children who want others to cater to all of their desires and whims and to grant every wish, no matter how foolish or damaging. We have arrogant expectations and stubbornly insist that it is our right to sail through life with no obstacles or impediments from anyone or anything. To even get a glimpse that this irresponsible attitude is based in the domineering mind can lead to this shocking realization; the intellect is a tyrant always wanting its own way and having absolutely no cognizance of the existence of other people. To develop a distaste for this unpleasant and offensive attitude is a valuable part of our spiritual work.
When I decided to write on this topic, I became much more aware of the hit-and-run tactics of pesty and painful annoyance. Vernon explained that the solution always lies within the problem itself. Focusing on just this one negativity actually revealed practical and relieving solutions that have simultaneously weakened the hold of the lower nature and welcomed the presence of something higher.
Here are a couple of personal examples that will illustrate this relationship between awareness and relief. One morning I was at the grocery store going through the produce section. I encountered an older woman who was spending an inordinate amount of time looking at the lettuce. She was in the exact spot I needed to be in to pick up what I needed and was completely oblivious that anyone else was in the vicinity. I was aware as a feeling of irritation tried to creep in but remembered an exercise we had been given in a recent class. It was to notice any type of negativity trying to enter and to cut it off immediately. I relaxed, observed and waited and when she moved on, picked up my own lettuce. I did a little more produce shopping and it happened again. I wanted to get something else and there she was. Once more, I relaxed, observed and waited. I laughed to myself when it happened for a third time and became very aware of the feeling of relief I had been given by not caving in to the temptation to become annoyed and frustrated.
Someone who I am around on occasion has the habit of always performing the same action to get attention from others in the room. This has bothered me for some time, but recently I’ve been deliberately slowing down my thoughts, feelings and even physical movements when this occurs and have realized it’s not really the other person’s action but my own repetitive and automatic internal objection that is causing the pain. Using the classic ‘Slow Down’ exercise has helped to rein in the impulse to vibrate to others’ behavior, which is a very freeing experience. Vernon writes that this exercise “is the secret method for mental clearness,” (1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle, Chapter 14, page 182). Its application also creates an essential separation from the false nature, thereby strengthening the development of the “detached observer” that quietly watches everything but is not overwhelmed or dismayed by anything.
All of this is a fascinating and truly enjoyable study. To awaken is the true purpose of life on earth. The healing influence of successfully working on one harmful state extends itself out to all other problems in life. Much dedicated work is required but we are capable of throwing off the weight of thousands of negativities, an unburdening worth every bit of effort we must put into it.
The dictionary defines stupidity as, “the quality or state of being unintelligent or behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment.” Being stupid has to do with not understanding things as they really are, from failing to learn from past experiences and in general, from not applying common sense and good reasoning skills to life situations. Do you know anyone like that?
If we suffer, we are stupid. If we keep making the same mistakes over and over again, we are foolish. If we continue getting our feelings hurt, we are dumb. If we allow fear to rule our lives, we are idiotic. If we get mad or jealous, we are obtuse. Yes, these are human frailties, shortcomings, conditions, faults, weaknesses, but they are all completely unnecessary.
People do stupid things only because they have settled for an ordinary life. They believe that their particular situation is unique and that their life circumstances are fixed. They feel their fate is sealed. NO! It is not. These teachings offer an extraordinary life to any student who is willing to fully embrace them.
But since this is how most human beings view life, this is the attitude from which they live. Just settle for the mundaneness. Either ignore or simply go along with the sickness and depravity of this world. Get angry and shake your fist at those who don’t agree with you. Everyone has taken in ideas about what it means to be good and believes that if they live up to societal standards of goodness, they will be given a ticket to heaven. This is what organized mechanical religion teaches but believing it doesn’t make it so.
There are hundreds of instances that occur on a daily basis which can be used to observe ourselves and to learn about ourselves no matter what our position in life. For instance, let’s say you are the owner of a small restaurant and have been running it for 20 years. You’ve run all aspects of the business. You’ve cooked, washed dishes, cleaned tables, taken orders, served customers, hired people, hosted, etc. You have a good working, reliable staff after all these years. You’ve been looking forward to taking some time off and then you get the dreaded early morning phone call from one of your best waitresses saying she’s sick and can’t come into work.
You had planned to take the whole week off and have some fun and relax. Now, you must cancel those plans because there aren’t any reliable substitutes available. You must step in, secretly resenting that you must wait tables as long as your employee is sick. Monday morning the restaurant is packed, people are waiting to be seated and you get sharp with a customer because you wanted to be somewhere else.
This is a perfect example of the life of every man or woman. They suffer when they don’t have to suffer. Yes, things come up all the time, situations that don’t allow us to do what ‘we’ want to do. Life is always going to throw curveballs, but if we begin to live from truth rather than from habitual reactions, like dread and resentment, everything will be completely different.
Evil counts on our stupidity so it can manipulate and take advantage of us and get us to perpetuate the madness, such as going to war. Luckily, stupidity is not a permanent condition and by applying the truth principles we learn here, all can be reversed. We can rise above the curse of commonplaceness.
The world tells you in all sorts of ways that nonsensical, blind beliefs are to be accepted: Don’t ask questions, just go along with the dictates and mandates of society. In this circumstance you are to worry. In this situation you are to be frustrated. If you don’t do this or if you do, do this you should feel guilty. You can say “No, I refuse to remain dumb! With God’s help I’m going to rise above this stupidity.”
In Cosmic Command, Vernon Howard tells us, “Small minds are delighted with each other.” “Stupidity is highly popular with the stupid.” In this world, you will be hated for telling the pure truth about anything. But of course, this doesn’t mean you go out and confront people with their stupidity and stubbornness and start World War III.
Real intelligence knows how to handle every challenge, every circumstance, so work hard to grasp the higher meaning of all these cosmic principles you are being given. And then, since the outer is a reflection of the inner, all will be well both inside and outside of you.
This article will focus on a common type of stubbornness: the obstinate unwillingness to let go of the familiar and to welcome the inevitable and ever flowing changes of life.
A visit to the chiropractor recently revealed a nice connection to our inner studies in this regard. We hadn’t been to Durango for an adjustment in weeks, and afterwards there was a painful reaction to the crunch. ‘Dem bones did not like being moved out of their rut. The connection to psychological change is that the old nature too has “settled” and has tremendous resistance to being different. It prefers to remain hardened, frozen, crystallized like rock.
As mentioned last month in Gary’s article on Resistance, it is our resistance to life that causes the pain. Change itself is not the enemy. Rather, the adversary is the objection to Reality, to events as they occur. The unexpected and unplanned is not a foe. But we see it that way in our “delusion of control,” demanding to keep things as they are, or people as we want them to be.
Though the old self says it wants to change, it is stubbornly “set in its ways” and has no real wish to be transformed. Just try to change one little habit, for instance your morning “coffee ritual” or whatever it is you do after getting up. As an exercise, as we recently did in our Pagosa Springs classes, try this for a week and watch the mind scheme to cheat on its resolve to do something new for a change.
The artificial nature hates change and wants to retain its routines and have its own way. We revert to the familiar habits, opinions and distractions from an inability to handle life’s changes as they come. We fight and argue and oppose with “it’s my way or the highway.” That’s why giving up something is called a “sacrifice,” for to let go of the old is to lose part of “me.” If we didn’t value it, it wouldn’t be hard and cause us suffering. If we observe it faithfully, as we’re instructed, we soon realize it is painful, not pleasant, to get our way.
My new neighbors recently sold their big old family home and downsized to a small place. The wife/daughter/mother/grandmother was in torment parting with all the accumulated stuff of a lifetime. They even put their 17 Christmas trees into storage, unable to give them up! This seems ridiculous to an outsider who is not identified with their memorabilia, but believe me, we firmly grip our own attachments, our own past and identifications. Who wants to be a nobody?! And that is the reason we experience inner psychic change as difficult and painful.
To change in a spiritual sense means an upheaval, an earthquake, a profoundly deep inner wrenching that cannot occur superficially. For it means giving up me, my old ways. And those old ways will object, will scream NO. Those are the screams of the dark demons being torn from the grip on their victim. We must see them, hear their screams and then ignore them and march away.
On the other side of giving up, of seeing through the false attachments, is a huge lifting of burdens. How freeing to not have to protect a non-existent entity! Observe that false self dragging around its enormous baggage of regrets, guilt, fear, bitterness, hurt and Christmas trees. It is heavy, while the newly emerging true self is Light and Life.
Let’s welcome change! We can cheerfully work to end the self-inflicted suffering in change by giving up our beloved negativities, opinions, demands — and come awake. After catching wrong thoughts, quickly cut them off and come back to the present moment. What am I doing? Where am I? “Now” is a friend. “Value the present moment.” It can handle the daily routine or the unexpected change. It is freedom. From what? Why, the heavy baggage of my old stubborn self, of course.
The dictionary defines guilt as feelings of deserving blame, especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy. It could also be a feeling of deserving punishment for perceived offenses of the past. All of us have felt guilt at one time or another in our lives. There have been times when I am driving to work on the freeway and another driver cuts me off. At that moment, if I am ‘asleep’ or unaware, feelings of rage will take me over and I’ll have dark thoughts about the other driver. Afterwards, a tremendous feeling of guilt comes up that tells me I should know better than to have had this reaction, or that I should not have these thoughts at all since I have been a New Life student for a long time. Guilt can wreak havoc on our whole day, let alone our whole life. Millions of people have past regrets and a heavy sense of guilt buried deep within them which they don’t even see. This makes these states very dangerous because they are drainers and tormentors that are hellish to live with.
One of the things Vernon gave us is the wonderful exercise of instant recovery, of starting life all over, which means bringing your attention back to the present moment. If done correctly, all harmful feelings vanish because there is no negative thought in the awareness of ‘now,’ and if there are no condemning thoughts or judgments, there is no pain. In the beginning it takes a lot of effort to do this, because we are so conditioned to react with hostility, we’re oblivious to the thoughts when they take us over. It’s like a dark cloud of negative energy that’s within us, which we must dare to look at so that we can see how destructive it really is.
If we are totally honest with ourselves, we will see with a tremendous shock that we do not want to give up our painful guilt. It’s like an old friend that we’ve tolerated all this time because we would rather feel contentious emotions than face our inner emptiness, which is terrifying to the ego. Guilt is one of the tricks used by society to keep everyone afraid and to prevent them from knowing that there is a way to escape the insanity of this world.
I once put myself in a dangerous situation because I said yes to doing something with my friends. I wanted to say ‘NO,’ but felt guilty that I would be letting my friends down and that I’d be known as a coward or as someone who was weak. Being young and insecure, I wanted to fit in. This put me under the influence of wrong people, who I now realize didn’t care at all about my well-being and wanted to manipulate me by making me feel guilty. There is something higher in us that is completely free of guilt, but we must be willing to see through the trap, the hoax that guilt is nothing more than darkness masquerading as light.
Vernon once gave a talk about the Cosmic Sheriff. The story was about an outlaw who was always running, and no matter how hard or how long he ran, the sheriff was right behind him. After many years, the outlaw began getting tired and weary, and decided to give himself up and surrender to the sheriff. He let the sheriff take him all the way back to town, all the while not knowing what would happen to him. You can imagine the fear, guilt and uncertainty that captured his mind and emotions on the trip back. But as soon as they arrived in town, the sheriff gave him a spiritual pardon!
This is what we all must do if we want to be rescued from our pain. We must get so tired of fighting our suffering that we give it all up and allow the light of truth to dissolve it. No matter what you have done in your past, if you will surrender to the light of truth, you’ll live a New Life where every day is pleasant and free. You will no longer be punished by thoughts of guilt or shame. Even if someone comes up to you and reminds you of something wrong you once did, it will have no effect because you know that what did that destructive thing was not the True Self. It was something that was done in your name by the false nature. The real you can never do bad. And always remember this encouragement from Vernon: “Truth never condemns you.” It only wants you to come back to your spiritual home where all is well.
When I arrive early to my doctor’s appointment, the doctor keeps me waiting beyond the appointment time. I am bombarded by dragon thoughts. Why me? Why can’t people keep their appointments? What a maddening world to live in. Is it wrong to be early? Turning to these dragon thoughts for answers, I discover no answer at all. By seeing and separating from these thoughts, I will find that all these thoughts are false. These irritable dragons have no meaning in a higher life. Wanting a higher power to be in charge of my life, these creepy crawly invaders no longer cause me endless suffering.
I must see events as facts and not exasperations. When someone makes a promise and breaks his word, that’s a fact. At work the meal wagon is on vacation on the very day they bring my favorite meal. A fact. My mental addition of self-defeating thoughts produces an annoyed, grumpy me. This is a fact. There is a higher way to react. I can stop, watch, and realize that adding resentful cross-thoughts is the problem. Being cantankerous is not doing something about the difficulty. Seeing the blundering me interfering with the problem is the Higher Way.
Irritation is a valuable study. I can investigate my body at the moment I am irritated and see the harm it’s causing. My face is strained; my movements are erratic, jerky. My neck is stiff. I am unaware. I can be aware and free myself to engage fully in the next moment. I can catch huffy reactions, watch them, drop them. What an opportunity to just say NO and regain my life at that moment.
I am enchanted with Vernon’s principle of easy flow. Irritation is blockage; it interrupts life’s stream. It is an obstacle. Where did I get the idea that I know how everything should work in my world? Has life ever always gone my way all the time? I can just let life happen anyway it wants without cross and irritable me ruining life’s flow. By letting go of the grouchy me, I can live a relaxed life.
We can work to get rid of all our irritations. The coffee pot stops working. I order a rye bread sandwich and get whole wheat. The phone call I expect is delayed. My favorite market closes. Despite anything that happens, I need never be lost in irritability. It’s always right to see what’s wrong. That’s Success! It’s fun to see what’s wrong because we know that seeing is freeing. We want to wake up to a new life that can handle all events easily, perfectly, painlessly. Just as our physical wounds heal through a natural process put in place by God, we can allow God to enter our lives to heal the mind, emotions and spirit. Thank you, Vernon Howard.
Anxiety is a very common feeling which runs deeply through human beings. The dictionary defines anxiety as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, especially about an imminent event or a circumstance with an uncertain outcome.
Chronic anxiety and its relative, stress, can cause problems on a physical level in the form of headaches, pounding heart, breathing problems, teeth grinding, upset stomach, clenched muscles, extreme fatigue, increased blood pressure and insomnia.
Some people are overcome by a sense of doom and suffer panic attacks and depression due to anxious states, which then lead to difficulties on the mental level, resulting in confusion and limited logic. I can think of many current examples of this going on right now.
The disturbance of anxiety also leads to emotional difficulties. It is an unnatural state and when left unchecked will eventually erupt to the surface in anger, rudeness or hostility, just like an exploding volcano. It hides out beneath the surface (underground) of our awareness in order to torment us, causing us to be ill at ease with ourselves and with almost everyone and everything around us. No natural calmness or casualness can be present in an anxious state.
Anxiety is energy wasted. For many years, as a basketball player, I remember experiencing it and its accompanying tension the night before a big game. These alien states would sneak in and result in restless nights while draining energy which was needed for the next day’s sporting event.
And now the COVID crisis has arrived on the world stage. How about this as an imminent event? What better way could evil come up with to keep anxiety alive in almost every person in this country and indeed in the entire world? Though there is obviously something happening, an illness that is affecting the human body, many are nervous and literally worried sick that they’ll catch it, which can actually attract the condition to them. Or perhaps they fear it will be their friends or a family member who may contract it. Maybe their employment could somehow be affected which brings up the panicky feeling that they may soon be without a job.
I’ve actually found myself stunned by how easily people have succumbed to the dictates of the power-mad leaders in charge of our societal, commercial, educational and governmental systems. Few seem to understand that the authorities are taking away our liberties one by one, symbolically imprisoning us through stay at home quarantines and by muffling our voices with masks, for example.
On one recent occasion I entered a store to purchase an item which I brought to the counter. I had been wearing a mask and adjusted it due to the discomfort and unnaturalness I felt. At that point the cashier, a young man, curtly said, “You’ll have to wear your mask properly in the store.” I replied that was difficult to breathe with it on. He exploded with, “That’s what we have to deal with every day!” At this point he had rage in his eyes and followed up with the retort, “If you can’t wear your mask properly in here you’ll have to leave.” I started to feel the burning lava of the volcano heating up inside of me. My false nature wanted to retaliate and say something sharp and clever in return as it has done many times in the past. This of course is a wrong reaction. Why respond in this way when the real cause is always within myself? I am destined to continue experiencing such negativities and to pay the price as long as I give in to this behavior. When I straighten out my own mind, the emotions will follow and it will be as if I am invisible to all turbulence and upheaval.
When we are receptive to truth we can be properly and perfectly guided through life. “We can always do anything good for ourselves that it is good and necessary for us to do and the evidence of that will now be presented. Please just relax. Let’s just relax, knowing that in this room right now it is not necessary for you to have a mask on.” Vernon Howard’s Higher World MP3 CD Volume 16, Track 2 (11/21/87).
To take back our lives from anxiety, it is imperative that we become very alert and aware when it flares up inside of us. Catch it, and the earlier the better. Feel its burning intensity and use that to push our awareness of what it is doing to us to a higher level. When we see that this false state is not who we really are, a separation is created and it magically starts to dissipate. This can be done persistently and with great results. We can go even farther and see that when anxiety returns, as it always attempts to do, there is a wrongly active part within that accepts it and may even welcome it. But with steady and consistent work, it can be refused!
Ultimately, anxiety is what we feel due to a tug of war going on inside of us. There is a battle between the imposter that’s too often in control and the superior spirit, which is a true entity that appears when we’ve yielded to its entrance. The imposter tells us who we fiercely want to believe we are, such as our thoughts, past experiences, achievements, our bodies, fame and fortune or the lack of these very same things. THE IMPOSTER IS WRONG and it is in terror that we are catching onto it and beginning to eliminate it altogether from our lives. If invited, an essential inner influence is whispering, then speaking loudly and eventually shouting this message to us: “You must see through all this fiction! You are not that!” And then the heavy burdens, worries and anxieties will go away of themselves because they are not needed or wanted any more. What tak
The 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.
You have childhood experiences that are more vivid and memorable than what happened to you five minutes ago. Each of those experiences was a revelation in some way about our situation here on earth — we suffer. It was one piece of the scattered spiritual treasure map that Vernon Howard said we had to personally collect and put together to rise above the suffering so we can freely enjoy the life we’ve been given.
When I was about five years old, I met what Shakespeare calls “the green-eyed monster” — jealousy. A girl cousin was staying with the family for a few days. At one moment my mother just gave her some normal attention, and out of nowhere I felt intense fear, confusion, anger, and suppressed violence. My whole little world seemed threatened. When my delusory self is rejected in favor of another, even in a very small way, the pain is intense. You have no doubt felt this too.
Many years afterwards I read this in Vernon Howard’s 1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle, #114: “Awareness of how easily life can hit and hurt us is the first course in the cosmic college.”
The spiritual journey is to meet one dragon after another inside, try to conquer them yourself and fail, and then gradually allow Truth to vanquish them for you.
Comedy often conveys the truth about us. In plays, movies, and real life you have heard this exchange in some form: “I think you might be a little jealous.” “I AM NOT JEALOUS!” We laugh at how absurd the denial is. But this humorous scene contains the hint that before we face the jealousy monster, we might have to come face-to- face with a different monster, that of vociferous denial. Recently in a Vernon Howard class in Strawberry, Arizona we received help from his book Secrets for Higher Success for doing just that:
“Consider the words ‘seriously’ and ‘lightly.’ In higher thinking, these are not opposites, but the natural and productive way of meeting everything. It means to meet every event of life with a deep thoughtfulness which does not include negativity…. To think seriously-lightly means to meet everything with a new mind, a mind without hardened judgments formed by past experiences. Experiment with this. Today, take everything seriously-lightly.”
What keeps our suffering in place, whether from jealousy, anger, fear, depression, or any other negative state? We can approach this question seriously-lightly, which will help us to take on the DENIAL DEMON. This malicious force takes people over and makes them deny that they suffer or that they’re jealous or that they have any responsibility for unconsciously inviting heartache — and this force will attack anyone pointing this out. Have you not seen this in other people or in yourself?
The DENIAL DEMON says to anyone who tells me the truth about myself — regardless of their motive — “Who are you to tell me that?” The DENIAL DEMON will go all out to try and negate any truth said about me, for instance: “She said I was petty, but she is disorganized, therefore her criticism can be ignored.”
If I try to conquer the DENIAL DEMON by thinking about what to do, I will fail. The seriously-lightly conquest begins when I simply become deeply thoughtful, relaxed and alert in the presence of any negativity or defensiveness.
Vernon Howard told us that we need all the help we can get and that when you are dealing with human nature it is always worse than you think. When it comes to jealousy there is a motion picture that dramatically captures this and is worthy of study. Leave Her to Heaven was one the biggest films of the 1940s. Visually, it is a bright, sun-lit movie done in Technicolor. But it enters deep into the darkness of someone possessed by possessiveness, dominated by suspicion, whose jealousy knows no limits. This may seem too extreme and remote from us, but then I remember my jealousy at five years old produced suppressed violence.
You will neither forget the ending of this movie nor will you dismiss it, especially with the guidance we get from Vernon that says when you understand human nature, you are never surprised by anything it does.
Leave her to heaven was an instruction taken from Shakespeare’s Hamlet on how to deal with a specific person’s evil. Evil is separation from God. Suffering is separation from God. Almost everything in us and out in the world relentlessly conspire to keep us separated from the permanent source of power. We are learning from these teachings that in order to end this separation, we must leave everything to Heaven.
One of the directions we’re given in New Life classes is to leave people alone. Although this would seem to be a simple, commonsense rule and most people would claim that they follow it, human nature is actually quite intrusive. The dictionary definitions of the word intrusiveness include aggressiveness as evidenced by interfering in the affairs of others, advancing yourself or your ideas without invitation, being pushy, meddlesome, overbearing or bothersome.
What does it really mean to leave people alone? A few of the more obvious characteristics would be to refrain from unnecessary blabbing, to not force yourself or your company onto other people, to not ask wrongly inquisitive or prying questions and to respect others’ personal space.
But leaving people alone covers a lot more than the obvious. There are also more subtle, cunning forms of intrusiveness that may not even be noticed as intrusions. Some that I have observed personally have a lot to do with attention-getting, like when someone walking into a room makes a big commotion or a person slams a door or abruptly drops their keys on a surface, thereby making a sharp, loud noise that disturbs the atmosphere in the room. These acts could indicate carelessness, but they could just as easily be deliberate attempts to broadcast anger or displeasure or to create a sense of power or dominance. We also use our facial expressions, gestures and body language to negatively intrude into the minds and emotions of other people.
All forms of intrusiveness are attempts to elevate the false nature and to bolster the imaginary self-images we presently live by and protect. That is why this work is all about going against the false self. Knowing that others have intruded on you and that you have intruded on others, sometimes in subtle but devious ways, can clearly be seen and understood but the seeing and understanding require consistent self-noticing on our part. Everything always comes back to self-observation. Awareness is the key so that we neither fall into mechanical intrusiveness nor do we weakly allow the obnoxious behavior of others to invade our psychic space. Awareness of how these offensive acts hurt everyone involved can be of great help in learning to drop them.
In A Treasury of Trueness in the section entitled ‘Blabbermouthery,’ Vernon gave an exercise in going against the tendency to always “put our two cents” into the conversation. He said, “Deliberately rob yourself of the pleasure of making that remark.” Stop listening to the noisy mind that insists we are required to “contribute” to the discussion. There is no genuine need to habitually and forcefully impose our ideas, thoughts, moods and feelings on others.
We must work with these principles to begin to feel how valuable they are. Vernon says to not believe anything anyone tells you, but to find out for yourself if what you are hearing is true. We’ll find authentic relief in leaving other people alone and in making the spiritual aim to elevate, rather than to disturb, every place we walk into.
At this moment one of two things is happening: you are moving upwards spiritually, or you are moving downwards spiritually. Vernon Howard said an individual’s state of higher understanding is never static; it is either growing or diminishing. However, there seems to be another position in which a student convinces himself that he has reached a “comfortable” level of understanding and can now relax the intensity of effort and just coast along. But this is stagnation, this is suffering. You have, as Vernon said, “settled” for yourself as you are.
This seeming third position is an illusion, a trick of the mind and will have you slipping downhill quickly if you fall for it. The mind could insist that you have done enough work, that you can rest now. Or it might say that you can work tomorrow but not today, not in this present moment. Or, it could even have you believe that you’ve reached such an advanced state of self-development that you know it all. Vernon Howard himself said that he never claimed to be on the mountain top. If he said that he would be cutting himself off from reaching new heights on the spiritual mountain. He was going to keep climbing and gaining new insights and inspirations every day.
Here are some ways to counter stagnation:
Read a passage from a Vernon Howard book or booklet every day. It’s good to do this at the same time each day, for example, early in the morning before work and/or in the evening before you go to sleep.
Listen to a Vernon Howard talk on CD or MP3 CD or watch a video on a DVD or Blu-ray on a daily basis.
Put a small message on a post-it note and place it on the fridge or a mirror which will serve as a reminder of your spiritual aim for the day. One example would be: My aim is to wake up. Another would be to remember that worry is darkness masquerading as light.
Shake your head to snap the spell of hypnosis. We tend to be hypnotized by the world and sudden awareness breaks that hypnosis.
Look up. The looking up reminds you that there is something higher that is trying to help you.
Relax. Stagnation involves tension. Relax the shoulders and the rest of the body. Also practice letting go of thought and relaxing the mind which always wants to be tense.
Watch your emotional states. As you watch sadness or depression these states will begin to fade and fall away. The energy that was being wrongly used in negativity will then be freed and can now be used properly to aid your upward journey.
Pick a spiritual exercise to work with for an entire week. A helpful exercise we were given in a recent class was to not mechanically follow the moods of other people. This is one way to take your own life back from societal influences.
There are many more ways to go against falling into a state of stagnation and the tendency to “rest” at your present level. Come up with your own and never forget that in order to transcend the false nature and to wake up, consistent superefforts must be made.
I’m amazed at how often I find myself rushing. This behavior is so mechanical, so unconscious; it just happens. And I’m so used to it, it has become commonplace and habitual and even seems natural to me. Even as I’m writing this article about how rushing hurts me, I’m rushing, for rushing has no consciousness. It hurts everyone around it. No wonder I need the Truth.
I could move quickly and efficiently and never rush but my thought-self loves the franticness of it. How else am I going to be able to do everything that needs to be done? Just beware if anyone dare interrupt me! I can angrily tell them they are stopping me from reaching my goal.
When I talk too fast, people are confused. When I walk too quickly, I can’t see that chair in front of me. When I hastily dress, I’m not aware of putting on one green sock and one blue sock which of course don’t match! Rushing makes no sense at all. Slowing down my race through life makes me self-aware and corrects every problem caused by all the mindless rushing and hurrying. Step by step, I can become more and more cognizant and watchful of my own behavior. I can watch what I’m doing and look where I’m going. I can slow down my speech and make sense. I can see that chair and not trip over it when I walk through the room. I can always wear the same color socks. I can know I’m eating and so on and so on.
I must never say: “Oh no, there I go again rushing. Will it never end?” No. I must catch myself rushing and STOP. Why am I in such a hurry? There is no plausible answer to that question! I can just STOP and SLOW down. My job is to see the pain in unconscious rushing and to allow Something Else to stop it. It doesn’t matter how many times I fail; each attempt is a prayer to God to help me. The whole point is to allow God into my life to slow me down, to heal me, to drive me sane, to end my suffering.
Life is met with the wrong attitude. In Pathways to Perfect Living, we’re told, “Strain exists in the gap between what we insist we need and what we actually receive” (p. 147). Life presents itself and we either complain, object, fight and suffer, or meet it with a completely new viewpoint.
To illustrate what this new attitude would be like, there is a question asked in The Power of Your Supermind about the problem of insomnia. Vernon answers, “Stop fighting sleeplessness…. If your mind and body do not want to sleep, why should you object? Give up caring whether you sleep or not” (p. 150).
Relinquishing the illusion of control is a monumental lesson. It relates to the esoteric principle of non-action. We must give up so-called self-protection to be cared for by Truth. As Vernon once said in a talk (3-23-84), “If you still take care of yourself, then God can't do it!"
Vernon once told a story of a young peach tree, which provided nourishing peaches. In the natural course of life, it grew old, died and fell to the ground. But when our body undergoes physical changes through normal growth and aging, we fearfully protest and complain, “I should remain beautiful and young forever.” So people go on diets and exercise regimens, count calories, run marathons and oppose the inevitable changes.
When you’re young, you think you’ll always be quick and you’ll never be sick. Then things start to change and surprise! You have to slow down and can no longer be as active and spry as you once were.
With aging and poorer health, more than just physical discomfort usually occurs; if allowed, psychological suffering from negative emotions arises. It is easy to go wrong if these changes are faced mechanically and unconsciously, which results in a lot of complaint and sourness. Unfortunately, negativity toward health matters is often encouraged by so-called friends, relatives and allies. Listen to older people talk. Fear is present, accompanied by feelings of helplessness and a wish for sympathy, a desire to control the body, with an increase in prescription drugs, in doctor and hospital visits, insurance and financial worries.
Remember, the world does not want us to wake up. It wants to be able to manipulate sheep who are asleep. It wants to snuff out the light we’ve found here and keep us entangled in more and more distractions that can cause distress and anxiety, which can easily consume us as we age. When someone complained to Vernon that he had had many bad breaks in life, Vernon said “to change your thinking.” The negativity is not in the event, it is in you!
Besides complaint, another way to describe the cause of psychological suffering as we age is that we are strong objectors to what is happening to us. The mind grumbles, “These changes should not be occurring in my life. What can I do to stop them?” The true answer is that we are setting ourselves up in opposition to the natural process of how life unfolds on this earth. We demand certain requirements in life which cannot be met. So the mistake and cause of suffering is our own misunderstanding, which is that I can and must control what happens to me. This is impossible.
This situation is a whole new adventure of discovery if you’re a truth student, a chance to learn something new. Am I going to go along with what the world says I must feel or will I allow the changes to occur without objection and quietly watch?
Human beings are unique in that they have a chance to rise above being earthbound; this life is an opportunity to rise to a higher world while still living in a physical body. New Life students can use everything to wake up and to “come out from among them,” so this presents a wonderful opportunity to rise higher spiritually.
With a sense of curiosity, we can observe: “Well, look at that. I’m going to watch and see what happens. Yes, it’s new, oddly unexpected. I don’t have to like or dislike it. I only have to watch without calling it mine, my body, my eyes, my weight. Yes, it’s where I live now, in a temporary vehicle on this planet. But it’s not me, my essence. So what comes and goes is not mine.” There can be no suffering if I refuse to identify with any painful thoughts or ragged, desperate emotions. Vernon says in “End of Frustration,” in his book Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge, “With the vanishing of the illusion of self, there is no one to oppose what happens.”
It comes back to the question, will I trust Truth or am I an atheist who battles with life? Do I fight the God who made me or will I learn from Reality as it comes? Vernon said, “Let it all unfold.”
“The spirit is 10,000 times more important than the body.” We can separate simple and practical health information from the obsession to control what happens to the body. And Vernon assured us that the spiritual has complete dominance over everything, including the physical.
All these negative conditions and states can be consciously watched, then left behind and ignored. We do not have to be drawn in and engaged by them. We don’t have to go there! See this refusal as a powerful preventative remedy to end suffering. Your force and energy will increase as you focus on true healing and inner health.
Carelessness is a negative state that can result in both physical and psychological damage. A dictionary definition of carelessness is as follows: Failure to give sufficient attention to avoiding harm or errors; negligence. Being careless can also indicate a shortsighted indifference to the consequences of our actions.
I recently got stuck in a snowbank while driving my truck after making a hasty decision to go where I shouldn’t have gone. This landed me in quite a pickle, which ended up costing me time and money (a tow truck bill). It is said that most automobile accidents are caused by carelessness on the part of motorists.
Of course, careless and reckless drivers pay a price when ticketed by police officers. And so do those of us who fail to fully investigate our inward lives.
Even though the consequences of carelessness on a physical level are bad enough, it is still worse when you consider an individual’s internal carelessness. A man is careless toward himself when he fails to try to understand his own nature, what his life is all about and why things happen as they do.
There is a reason why people’s lives unfold as they do. Higher cosmic law applies here. The mental and spiritual level of a person is the determining factor in what happens to him or her outwardly. A student in class recently told the story of how a co-worker/friend’s family of seven constantly experiences drama and adversity. They have continual social and financial woes, and in addition, are forever experiencing hardships such as accidents and weekly trips to the emergency room for family members. And of course, they must tell others all about their problems.
Have you ever noticed that people who are magnets for trouble are often bewildered as to why bad things happen to them? If only he or she would do a little self-exploration and ask: “Could there be something so careless in me that it is actually encouraging all these difficulties to appear in my life? I wonder what it is. Maybe I should start exploring the way my mind and emotions operate.”
If the inner state could be seen impartially and with self-honesty, many bewilderments and perplexities would be dissolved. For example, maybe there’s a secret thrill in being the center of attention and always having something to complain about. It’s also quite convenient to habitually point the finger of blame “out there” for any pain or trouble we may be experiencing.
Vernon put it this way: “Can you imagine how any human being could neglect self-investigation? Is it not incredible that anyone would sail thoughtlessly into a stormy sea?” (from Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge — Quest for Smooth Seas). Yes, it is incredible, since the cure exists and is available to anyone who wants it.
Indeed, Vernon wrote that “Carelessness is a Curse” in Chapter 11 of his book Your Power of Natural Knowing. He explains that people are careless with their lives when they allow self-damaging negativities such as anger, anxiety, and fear as well as many others to unnecessarily take them over. We are careless when we lash out at the world, when we allow angry or fearful emotions to drain energy that could be used for waking up, when we submit to mental laziness, when we surrender to inner torment, when we make that inconsiderate remark and so on.
And yet, there is good news. There is a solution. Of course there is; God wouldn’t bring us into this world without supplying a way out. The spirit of Truth working through higher facts, truths and right principles will show us how to live properly and with great care in the true sense of that word. It will supply the energy to infuse knowledge with essence.
We can start today to drop our carelessness and go to work like we never have before. What more noble and rewarding endeavor could we ask for?
Vernon Howard has said that a student must first be a good householder prior to starting the spiritual climb. Being a good householder is an important first step. It means to be self-responsible on the level of everyday living and to be able to deal with ordinary efficiency in daily affairs. Without doing this, a person will not be able to take responsibility in his or her spiritual life.
A genuine spiritual life is one in which a person begins to develop gratitude for the opportunity they’ve been given in this physical existence, the opportunity to transcend this insane world and to live in harmony with cosmic laws. It’s one in which someone can begin to see that they did not create their own body, their own life and that there is a Creator who has and who continues to take care of every living thing on this earth. They can start to sense that God, Truth, Reality has all of the True Power. On the Southern California New Life class kitchen wall, a Vernon Howard tidbit states: “THERE IS NO POWER IN THIS WORLD WHATSOEVER.”
Vernon Howard often reminds us to “come home to yourself” and see what is really going on. This instruction is given to encourage us to be consciously aware of where we are in a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sense. To recognize where the body is, what thoughts are going through the mind and what emotions are going through us too. If we observe negativity, suffering, complaining, which we will, we’re being irresponsible by ignoring higher instructions because there is nothing stopping us from dropping the negative thought or emotion the minute it comes up. By doing this more and more, it helps us to put God first. We may even arrogantly “think” we have acted “responsibly on a worldly level, but by being spiritually asleep, we haven’t taken responsibility for following heavenly instructions so that we can experience what Truth wants to give us. But even in this state, God, Truth and Reality does not judge or condemn — it only patiently waits for us to see our error.
The further up the spiritual mountain we go, the more we sense the immense value of waking up and the more deeply we understand how stupidly and carelessly we’ve misused all of the God-given energy available to us. With enough self-work, it is possible to see through the lie that we must suffer in this life and to realize that all psychological pain resides in the lower world. What is unnecessary just doesn’t serve real life and prevents us from living from the True Self, which has no problems, no suffering.
If we do this self-awareness exercise faithfully, Vernon tells us that darkness will no longer have the same hold on us because it knows we are onto its tricks. It is a process wherein more light is revealed as we show Truth we are sincere. The more we’re willing to no longer be fooled and to see the lower/false/dark world for what it really is, the freer and less burdened we’ll be. We’ll also know what Christ meant when he said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” We’ll be “in this world, but not of it.”
We can begin to know from ourselves what it means to live from conscious awareness, above this crazy world, to be guided by the True Self, the Kingdom of Heaven within — no longer being irresponsible toward life’s higher purpose, which is to reach our spiritual home before dark.
In 1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle #1044 Vernon Howard says, “We cease to stray from truth when finally realizing that truth is our very own and very wealthy original nature.”
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