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.
When I looked up the dictionary definition of gullibility online, I was in for somewhat of a surprise. On two of the most popular dictionary sites, synonyms like credulousness, susceptibility and ignorance were listed, but so were the words virtue, freshness and purity. The word gullibility derives from “gull”, defined in Middle English as a person who is easily deceived, tricked or cheated, a person who is a dupe, one who will swallow anything. What a good example of how words are currently losing their traditional meanings and their bluntness to make them less descriptive of reality and therefore less “offensive”.
On the face of it, gullibility may seem like a less destructive state than fury or hatred or hostility or bitterness, but it is not so. We shouldn’t fall for anything that tries to impart some element of virtue or purity to the state of being gullible. Vernon Howard told us that, as spiritual students, we are to use the strongest words possible to describe human characteristics. This practice will help with understanding that to be willingly duped and therefore, spiritually careless, is very dangerous. So, as Vernon directed us, don’t label someone as “mildly irritated” when he or she is “in a rage” and don’t call a gullible person just a naïve or unsophisticated victim. The closer we get to a description of the real state, the better off we are.
Harsh and unpleasant consequences can result from gullibility, like being cheated and conned out of money in a business deal, blindly believing that someone has your best interests at heart when they don’t, getting badly hurt and betrayed in a relationship, being completely befuddled by and afraid of what is going on in this world, falling for the same lies over and over again and so on.
When someone is easily deceived, it brings an abundance of problems and grief so why would anyone voluntarily fall into its trap? In the section entitled ‘Vanity and Conceit’ in Cosmic Command (#744), Vernon clearly explains, “Vanity is a prominent feature in gullibility.” Wow, if I’m serious about ridding myself of this negativity, it will obviously require the acceptance of some hard facts about myself. Believing I already know what is best and the certainty that my judgment of people and situations is infallible are unconsciously operating inside, but so are laziness, lack of self-responsibility, dependent thinking and the tendency to take everything at face value. To escape the trap, there must be a willingness to yield to Truth which urges us to always go beyond the surface and to not be afraid to look deeper.
In the introduction of Expose Human Sharks 100 Ways, Vernon says to forget about surface appearance and to put aside your own wants and desires toward that other person. See him or her as they actually are, not as you want or hope them to be. Is he nervous? Is she nastily critical? Does he show a lot of anger? Does she blab endlessly? This practice will allow your own insight to tell you whether you want to make contact or walk away.
Many years ago, before I found these teachings, I had a lot of questions and was looking for something that would explain why life unfolds the way it does. My so-called best friend at the time actively discouraged me from looking for anything higher. But I didn’t fall for it. I knew I didn’t have the answers and I also knew that no one else I knew had them. What I did have was a strong sensing that genuine life answers and higher explanations did exist. I just had to come into contact with them, which I did when I was introduced to these teachings.
Vernon says we have undeveloped abilities. One of the most valuable qualities spiritual students can develop is the capacity to discern the life level of anyone they meet. This will take work because we’re so used to living in imaginary fantasies of our own virtues and those we’ve projected on to others. Real courage consists of breaking thru the brick wall of the resistance to reality, because when we’re being guided by what is real, we won’t be hurt again. Raising our own life level also allows the realization to dawn that everyone faces similar difficulties and challenges in this life, but it’s how they are handled that makes all the difference. Will they be used to increase discontent and suffering or to transcend everything that now bothers us, which can be done?
This ability to sense what’s underneath the surface also extends to the shocking nature of this “sleeping, thief-in-the-night world.” We can lose trust in this world’s assertions and empty promises without feeling bitter, critical or hateful toward it. What can take the place of these raw and disturbing reactions is calm understanding, which provides perfect protection from all deception and trickery. These relieving insights come with an aim and a willingness to look deeper in order to see more. When we’ve clearly seen what is wrong, what is right will then reveal itself to us.
A few days ago, I headed off to keep an appointment to get my hair cut. Because after all, even though no one I know would exactly consider me to be a style icon, I do prefer to be somewhat well-coiffed. So, as I started off, I looked at the clock in my car and the thought came to me that I was probably running a bit late. After wasting no time at all in the first part of my journey, I checked the clock again and realized that I would have no trouble arriving on time. In fact, I would even be a few minutes early.
The interesting thing about all this was noticing that something in me wanted to continue hurrying after realizing I had plenty of time to get to my appointment. It was very insistent. And that simply made no sense at all! I then made a conscious effort to relax, to be more aware of my driving, and to say “NO!” to this state that had taken me over on the first part of the drive.
We’ve all heard the expression “Haste makes waste.” It often does just that. The definition of “haste” includes the phrases: “out of breath from haste”, “rash or headlong action”, “undue eagerness”, “mad rush” and so on. These do not sound like good or helpful states and they are not.
Exercise 11 in the Practical Exercises for Inner Harmony booklet tells us, “Slow down. Relax. Dare to deliberately disobey those inner screams that demand you rush nervously around.” In that same exercise it also says, “Remember, life is not a race for you to win; it is a school for your Higher Education.” So, do I want to live a relaxed, rightly carefree life or don’t I?
Now the thought may arise, surely there are more serious shortcomings I could work to abolish? At first glance this may appear to be true, but there is a very odd, pervasive state that tries to take over human beings and ruin their day - a very mechanical flow of which mindless hurrying is often a part - and it does no one any good at all. Slowing down, not just physically but also mentally, will make us much more aware of this. We may be shocked at just what an insidious hold this mechanical flow has on us.
We all likely know of someone, perhaps the person in our mirror, who has injured themselves physically when they’ve been in a mad rush. When an error occurs that is visible physically, there is first an error psychologically, behind the scenes, that led to the outward, physical error. And a prime culprit is often impulsive haste.
The point is for me to see clearly as an individual how unnecessary and destructive this state is. And to then set about energetically eradicating it from my life. Vernon Howard told us that don’t you know, you’re supposed to be enjoying your life? Haste is the thief of a rightly casual and cheerful life, and if left unchecked it can literally ruin our day and worse. But it can be gotten rid of, which is great news!
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.
I have been having many reactions to events in this year of 2020 when the COVID-19 virus began affecting nearly every aspect of the lives of all people in this country and beyond.
Where I work, most of the employees were panicky, spouting off predictions of terrible and fatal outcomes. People were afraid of: catching the disease, the closing of their businesses, running out of paper goods and living in isolation, to name just a few. Even then, I suspected the appearance of this virus could be used to frighten people, to make them feel lost and helpless and to make them extremely hostile, since fear and hostility always go hand in hand. I connected the situation with something Vernon Howard often mentions in his talks: how evil can easily manipulate us when we are scared and afraid, when we are “crazy with fear,” as he puts it.
The people around me were getting more and more nervous and worried every day, which made them very touchy. Amongst my coworkers, I felt like I was the only one who thought we were all overreacting, and because of this, I began to keep my views and my observations to myself. I also saw a lot negative reactions coming up inside of me, though on a certain level I knew these unsettling feelings were not going to help me to handle a difficult situation with real maturity.
I watched all the mayors and governors grow in power. It was, “Do as I say, or else!” Watching human nature in its grand performance shows the low level part of human beings in action! What is now happening out in the world is a spiritual attack against human beings. But mainly what I became aware of was that I was trying to fight the situation in a wrong way, primarily with the ‘weapon’ of hostility.
One event that happened early on really bothered me. At the gym where I work, a lady patron insisted that all of our employees wear masks, though at the time public mask wearing was not mandatory in our town. I told her it was fine for her to wear a mask, but that we took everyone’s temperature before entering, cleaned the equipment often during the day, and limited the number of people in each room per social distancing guidelines.
This woman wrote to our bosses demanding that we change our policy. It did not work, but her actions really antagonized me. It was becoming obvious that while a lot of people were miserable wearing masks, others actually liked it. Many took it as an opportunity to tell others what to do, but some people were glad that they could hide their true feelings behind a face covering. The circumstances reminded me of the time during World War II where it was encouraged to tell on your neighbors. When not living from Truth principles, human beings like to bring other people down.
Also, watching the news and seeing innocent people being hurt bothered me a lot. I had an image of myself going out there to protect those who were being injured and I wanted to get back at the people who were hurting them. Everything that was going on had me steaming inside.
But then I began watching myself in earnest and became more deeply aware that the hostility in me was weakness, and that it was destroying me. Vernon said, “Hostility is a harmful substitute for perception” (Cosmic Command #1280). I had been taken over by wrong thoughts, feeling out of control and wanting to lash out, while at the same time getting a phony thrill and an identity from being an imaginary so-called hero. Wrongness was in charge, not rightness. Trying to stop this onslaught with my own willpower was impossible. To get genuine help, I needed to admit that giving in to the hostility was the real cause of my suffering. Honestly observing these biting thoughts and feelings made me realize how wrong they were for me. Vernon Howard often points out that wrong reactions to negative events are very destructive and damaging to us.
There is so much to see. For example, observing the lies that people know what to do with themselves in the midst of a crisis. Everyone we meet is presenting us with a made-up image —“I am Successful, I am a Knower, I am Scared, Angry,” and so on. What is needed is to see and therefore understand everything from a completely different viewpoint, without hostility, without wanting to retaliate, without the false “me telling me” what to do. What is needed is a complete separation from what I see, with no compulsion to be involved in any of it.
We have it within our power to break the chain of negative thought. Just cut off that painful, hostile thought and take a moment to be aware of where you are. Just stop for a moment and notice things around you. This exercise has been of tremendous help in bringing my own awareness into the present moment. If I break thought, and do this often enough each day, it will break the spell of the hostile me trying to handle what I cannot handle.
Asking for higher help all the time is also essential. Truth has guaranteed that with faithful application of these principles, we will one day see everything clearly and will not be affected by the cruel world we live in, either inside or outside of us.
Vernon Howard told us we are all frightened and stressed out, even if we’re not conscious of it or willing to admit it. Well, just watch the news. What’s your reaction? Are you distressed? Anxious? Overwhelmed at times? Isn’t everyone scared of what is happening in this world and worried about what the future holds and what will become of them? One of the reasons we aren’t acutely aware of our state is that we suppress it, push it down below the level of consciousness. We do that by constantly distracting ourselves and by always pointing the finger of blame outward.
But with dedicated self-observation, we become conscious that there is stress there. We see that we’re not in charge of ourselves and though we would like to be at ease, we’re blocked. We can learn to be in command of ourselves — we can get our lives back! What we need though is more receptivity and understanding to make it possible for an inner transformation to occur where we know that all is well forever.
Vernon encouraged us with the following statement, “The world is enough to drive you crazy, but you don’t have to go.” But he went on to say that if you’re not making it spiritually, it’s because instead of studying stress (or any other negative state) out of existence, you would rather suffer from it.
What attracted me to New Life was the fact that I knew there was something wrong but didn’t know what it was or what to do about it. Something was causing stress, pain, fear and no one had the answers, the real answers. Not until I found these teachings and New Life classes did I experience an astonishing new feeling that prompted something else, something new to awaken inside. Vernon knew the answers and gave them freely to us so we could have what he had.
I began to understand that I am the only problem I have. You are the only problem you have. Higher forces are prevented from reaching us because we are so in love with strong emotions, forceful vibrations and jarring thoughts. We are asleep to the harmful voices that are constantly taking over mind and spirit.
There is strain and pressure there because we are being operated upon by forces alien to the true nature. It is the purpose of these forces to make us as bothered, uneasy and as overwhelmed as possible. But we can absolutely refuse to bow to these harmful influences. Vernon said something like “we’re kings and queens who have been abducted” and our purpose is to recover our rightful place on the throne, to live from the true nature.
First, I must admit that the way my mind presently operates causes me to suffer. Except for practical uses, my present thought life does nothing but create problems and the slightest suggestion that another way exists sets it off because it insists on worshipping itself! When there is stress, fear or any other negative state, the artificial self is consenting to it. If I am sick and tired enough of feeling at the mercy of life, I can make the choice for truth, which can defeat falsehood anytime, anyplace.
So, study, study, study yourself. Honestly describe your inner condition and aim to interrupt thought all day long. Cosmic forces are trying to reach us all the time, but we have a wall up preventing communication. Invite Truth to come through the wall and it will do so. You will be amazed to see the stress dissolve right in front of your spiritual eyes and will begin to sense for the first time what authentic contentment and peace of mind really are.
While living through the past year and a half, more than likely you’ve experienced a feeling of helplessness many times. Confusion, desperation, anger, frustration and anxiety have been right there as well, counterparts to this state of helplessness. It has seemed that many negative issues were magnified in a huge way, both personally and on a world-wide scale.
Not that the feeling of helplessness is a new phenomenon to any of us, but in the past for me it would come and go depending on the circumstances and current situation. But this felt different. Everyone seemed to be experiencing high levels of apprehension and foreboding that just didn’t let up. A tidal wave of fear swept over the world on a scale that I have not experienced in my lifetime. However, some of us are lucky enough to be studying these teachings and that is what has made the difference for me personally. A feeling of right dissatisfaction with giving in to the onslaught of helplessness and fear has been inspired by regularly going to classes and making a consistent effort to read and listen to Vernon’s talks. After all, the ultimate purpose of all true spiritual studies is to teach us how to allow a higher power to command our thoughts and feelings so thoroughly that we are able to handle anything that happens to us and that means anything.
The more you study any of these negative states such as helplessness, the more you start to see that they fluidly interchange. A “small concern” when left to run amuck in your mind can quickly turn from worry, to panic, anger, sadness; it really can come on like a flood when emotions take over instead of practical thought. When your intention is not set on being conscious and an effort is not being made to come out of a negative state, the thoughts turn into an out-of-control train. I’ve always really liked the mental image of a runaway train, because at first glance it’s just a speeding whir of cars, bound together by the track. But if you study a train long enough, eventually you will start to see the space between the cars and that is the key to this work. You must relax and slow the train of thoughts enough so that you can see one at a time and begin to release yourself from the hypnotic state induced by the unbroken procession of uncontrolled thoughts and feelings. That pursuit and the right sensing that there is something infinitely higher that can guide your life will release the negative feeling of being helplessly out of control.
Vernon’s teachings are fundamentally based on the principle of self-responsibility and all negativities and issues lead back to the concept that if you’re unhappy and discontent in life, it is your duty to make a change. You are not required to surrender to feelings of helplessness and despair when society presents its next set of bad news. Worrying and being consumed with anxiety not only lessen personal energy but attracts more negativity into a person’s life. I have seen this in my own life many times and I know that the only answer is to relax and to allow something higher to guide you. You don’t have to “believe” that this is possible, but you can go out and prove it for yourself. And you will then know, with unmistakable certainty, that a higher power is always available to show you the way.
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.
Being touchy and easily offended is an uncomfortable way to go thru life. Vernon called these wrong emotions our PDFs: precious darling feelings.
Picture a fencer who strikes an aggressive pose with a sword and says “En guarde!” (Interesting that the spelling of touchy is close to touché.) Now think of people’s reaction when they are accused: instant self-protection. Touchy is defined as our readiness to take offense at the slightest provocation. Even a slight innocuous remark can trigger it: “Are you going _____ (shopping, watching a game...)?” “Why? Don’t you think I should?” And touchiness includes or leads to the more lethal emotions of hidden hostility, secret resentment, grudges, hatred.
Different types of people take on different negative characteristics, like the shrinking violet or the bull in the china shop. We expect others to tiptoe around us when we are sullen or rageful. Maybe we wear a “Don’t tread on me” sign to keep people away, hiding our fear of criticism or intrusion. Continual self-protection is painfully exhausting!
Now look at the world’s false solutions: pound a pillow; clutch a teddy bear in a “safe space” in college; demand that someone else take care of us. These so-called answers have replaced what used to be called growing up. Coddling and cultivating PDFs leads to families and a nation full of crybabies, screaming to have their way if anyone should dare disagree with their opinions. No reasoning, no higher values, just raw, unrestrained emotions. Just look at the news and watch the coverage of the latest group/ crowd/mob in action. Can there be any doubt that people are madly in love with their negative emotions?
Vernon gave a great explanation of how the mind works wrongly to cause explosions, on DVD 17:3: "The human mind thinks that the way it presently thinks is the only way possible for it to think…. Being a false assumption, when something comes along that is different from these series of thoughts, of ideas, set of beliefs, the human mind gets disturbed, it gets defensive…. And I just described to you in a few words the cause of all human hostility.”
The source of touchiness is the ego, the false personality which fears to be hurt or criticized. In The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power (chapter 6), we’re told: “You may get an immediate sensation of pleasure by snapping back at an unkind person, but, if you do, you have lost a great opportunity for advancing your inner self. Instead, discover why you needed to snap back. You will discover your action sprang from the touchy ego-self. That very observation in itself weakens the ego.”
While recently talking about cooking with some people, I commented that a lady friend was really a good cook. Someone else replied, “Well, my wife is really a good cook, too,” as if I had insulted them by omission. The error was in comparison and identification. We are defensive because we are identified with a self-picture, a certain image that we think has been slighted. And because it is false, a nature which is only imaginary, we try to protect it from the lie that it’s real. We’ve been lied to all our lives about who we really are.
My dental hygienist recently asked me if I had relatives coming to visit me this summer. Instantly on guard, the mind thought, “Why doesn’t she mind her own business?” As always, the mind is the problem, with wrong thought causing the difficulty. When we see that people are only idly curious, trying to appear nice and act interested, we can turn our attention to why we had that reaction. All desire to change others must go; change yourself. I can make my responses conscious instead of mechanical.
If people truly do trespass on our privacy, we can draw a clear line to indicate, without hostility, that they must not cross over. But that’s not an excuse to be rude and offensive. Our own tension will show us when we over-react and become a porcupine.
In a recent class it was said we must TOUGHEN UP! Get over yourself. Vernon was deliberately tough on our PDFs to show how our wrong belief in ourselves hurts us, and that there’s another way to live, free of always being on guard.
Truth explains what we are really like. I won’t be so reluctant to let go of my self-defense when I actually see I’m protecting an illusion. The prickly porcupine can be seen thru and given up.
Do I want to be free of me or not? In The Power of Esoterics, Vernon shows how we can be free of our PDFs: “We must realize how we fail to live from our true nature, how we live from an acquired identity, from a false sense of self. See this, drop artificial personality, and fear of criticism vanishes forever.”
One of the greatest thieves of energy and happiness is self-pity. In fact, in Chapter 6 of A Treasury of Trueness (#1224 in the new edition), Vernon says, “The most sickening self-feeling of all is the self-feeling of self-sympathy.” That truth certainly conveys the indulgent and self-destructive nature of self-pity.
The feeling of self-pity comes from the false part of us, the part that wallows in what it calls its misfortunes. It seems to say that life has treated “me” unfairly. The more we give in to self-pity, the stronger and more controlling it becomes. What it is really doing is keeping us trapped in the belief that somehow my pain is special and that I exist as a separate entity apart from Truth, God, Reality.
In a talk by Vernon Howard, he said that a sigh really indicates self-pity and that has stayed with me. When I hear someone sigh, myself included, it brings me back to myself and if it’s me who’s doing the sighing, I try to track it back to what it is I’m sighing over. If I can see that clearly, it has less power to torment me again and that is always worth the effort.
Somewhere along the line in working with these principles, a kind of motto came to me, “You get what you get: what can you learn from it?” This saying fits this work perfectly. All situations, whether related to age, health, finance, or relationships have a valuable lesson to teach us. For example, if I have a problem in a relationship, am I willing to admit that maybe my own negativity contributed to the discord between me and that other person? If I’m willing to let the lesson clarify and illuminate rather than frustrate, life gets better. The willingness to look deeper can lead to some stunning insights that can move us to a higher level of life understanding. If we learn the lesson, we will not have to repeat it. If we refuse to learn the lesson, it will repeat itself and if we continue to refuse, self-pity will be the inevitable result.
One of the pitfalls on the path is the propensity of the mind to look at others and see their faults, their self-pity. Yes, we must observe the behavior of others, but not without seeing ourselves more clearly. Doing the work consists of seeing something in another and asking, “Where do I do that?” If we’re diligent in applying these truths, we become a freer man or woman and we suffer less and less. The work, self-study — the study of the inner workings of our own being — will always lead to genuine independence and to being free of the nonsense of ourselves and the world.
We’re meant to rely on only one thing, God! God is always with us, trying to guide us to allow Him to take care of everything and if we yield to the Higher Power, self-pity will have no place to exist within us.
We as spiritual students need a bridge to cross over from an existence captured by negativity to one of a complete and full understanding of life. This bridge won’t be built without consistent self-study, and voluntarily putting our attention and focus on just one harmful human trait operating inside of us can be an integral part of building a section of the bridge. What is required is a receptivity and willingness to hear the true facts about the false nature and a desire to go beyond that nature.
This article is about resentment, its many causes, and the forms it takes. This is one state that truly does spread out to all areas of life. Here’s a partial list of the mental and emotional causes of resentment: feeling put upon, thinking our self-importance has been challenged, following instructions (even useful ones), feeling unappreciated, believing we should have what another person has, having to take care of “mundane” tasks and many more.
One interesting thing about resentment is that a lot of it is secret, isn’t it? It hides out and thrives under the surface of outer appearances and then the pressure is finally released in the form of a sour state or nasty demeanor. Following the trail of how it operates to put us in a self-enclosed box can be very enlightening and helpful in our efforts to break out.
We recently held New Life’s summer banquet and I noticed there was resentment inside about everything that had to be remembered and taken care of. Vernon said, “Realization is a dynamic force for self-transformation” and becoming aware of the painful state I was in led to taking challenges as they came and genuinely enjoying the entire experience. Without the drag of resentment, I could appreciate the opportunity I’d been given to go beyond myself to learn something new. And this effort made one thing perfectly clear. Feeling inspired is much more pleasant than feeling resentful!
We’ve likely all experienced the resentment of having to do some piece of work we don’t want to do. We put it off, push it back into the corner of the mind but in the end, it must be done. We can either perform the task with dread or with practical understanding. Vernon urged us to not put things off. He instructed, “Get it done! Do it now! Bang! Bang! Bang!” And if done consciously, there are no painful thoughts or feelings connected with having to take care of it at all.
Another cause of resentment mentioned in Chapter 2 of The Power of Your Supermind (page 31) is “thinking that someone or something is chaining you down, restricting your opportunities for advancement or enjoyment. Such faulty thinking is always accompanied by painful resentment toward those felt to be responsible for the chains. And that leads to useless rebellion, much like smashing a violin because our playing of it produces disharmony.”
This attitude creates a big roadblock in the psychology of many people. Always looking around for someone to blame, trying to get back at a person who we believe is “holding us down”, etc., leads nowhere. God did not put us in a helpless position, dependent on the whims and manipulations of others. We must become sick and tired of being tyrannized by the bully inside, the thing that’s always agitating and eagerly straining to experience more and more negative vibrations. We were not created to be imprisoned by the faulty operation of the mind and to realize this fully brings authentic freedom and contentment.
It’s one thing to follow practical instructions from the boss at work, but on an entirely different level, we must learn to recognize and follow spiritual instructions. Vernon once told his longtime secretary to convey a message to another woman who attended New Life classes. Believing the instruction came from the one who had delivered the message, the student came out into the hallway and angrily muttered, “I’m not doing what she says.” There was no discernment there whatever that the source of the direction didn’t come from a human mind but from something much higher. Being able to recognize a higher instruction when we’re given one is an ability we can learn to develop. One of the most encouraging principles in this Work is the assurance that pure essence resides inside and can be brought to light more and more as we let go of the familiar but phony. Although not fully understood or accepted now, it’s impossible for Truth to tell us to do anything that would harm us.
So, Truth urges us to create a separation between the negative state and the false “I” by studying what living in the dark does to us. Basically, living in the dark creates bad thoughts and bad feelings on every level of life. Start to view all types of resentment as “useless rebellions” and rebel consciously and with awareness against the combative force that doesn’t want us to make the “Great Escape.”
There is a certain troubling trait in human beings which is quite detrimental to their well-being. This peculiarity exists as a clandestine troublemaker in a person’s life. Whenever it is present, it always causes heartache and pain. This trait is called self-deception.
A dictionary definition of self-deception is the action or practice of allowing oneself to believe that a false or unvalidated feeling, idea, or situation is true. Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone and then realized halfway through that your position was wrong, but you stubbornly continued the debate just to prove you were right? This happens all the time. Is it foolish and harmful? Of course it is. During that argument we obstinately assume we’re fighting for our very lives. This is a deeply ingrained and entrenched belief. We have a self-picture of always being right, even when we’re clearly wrong. This is self-deception.
It is only when we cease thinking that we know what life is all about that something else can come to us. This something can be referred to as the Supermind. “The Supermind is free of all negative conditioning. It has no fear, no painful cravings, no doubts. It knows everything needed to be known for a successful life and it is happy.” (The Power of Your Supermind, Chapter 1, page 3). We don’t have to endlessly chase around for what others tell us will make us happy; we can live in a state of true happiness when living from the Supermind.
I have an acquaintance who has been envied by others for his ‘Life of Riley’ lifestyle. On the worldly level he seems to have everything. He travels to and lives in exotic global locations, owns the finest in homes and automobiles, is ‘happily married’ to the woman of his dreams, and has abundant free time to go where he wants and do as he pleases. Yet through careful observation I have seen him in a completely different light. I’ve observed a restlessness in him that drives him to constantly be on the go, having an ‘exciting’ time with friends while on another vacation, making another shrewd investment, or going on another adventure. He adamantly insists that this projection of having it all together is making him happy. Yet the charade could be easily seen through, as his wife, family and friends could detect if they had a sincere desire to do so. Anyone not living from his or her true nature will always be restless and dissatisfied, always desperately looking for the next bit of stimulation, which is fleeting and only provides a temporary distraction from the inner emptiness. Truth tells us not to be afraid to become aware of this inner emptiness because that’s the only way we’ll want to stop feeding it and start living from something real.
Vernon reveals the situation perfectly when he says, “Man suffers from a split self. He seeks security in people and possessions, at the same time sensing their emptiness. He has an urge to find himself but is afraid of what self-examination will reveal. The more changes he makes the more he remains the same.... He tries to lose his anxiety in distracting activities and fears the silence when they end. No matter what he does it is always the wrong thing.” (The Power of Your Supermind, Chapter 1, page 9)
A fundamental law of life says that to find enlightenment we must first see ourselves as we actually are. Yet we refuse to stop kidding ourselves and take a deep look inside because we’re terrified of becoming fully aware of all the inner negativity we live from. And since the inner world determines our outer world, this dark pessimism will manifest itself throughout our lives unless we follow Truth’s own urging to uncover the self-deception.
These teachings tell us that it is an earnest, persistent examination of these possessive, detrimental states over time that eventually dissolves them. And then we can be free! It’s like releasing a heavy load of bricks you’ve been carrying on your back for miles and miles. What a relief! Never again must you be a slave to the negativity of living a lie. What a different way to live. As Vernon so rightly put it, “It's a long, long, dreadful journey into self-deception, but the person who can take it will make it.' (The Esoteric Path to a New Life – MP3 CD, track 4)
Lying is an interesting topic and critical to understand. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as:
— a false statement or piece of information deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
— anything meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.
Reading and listening to Vernon Howard over the years, I’ve realized that lying is pervasive amongst human beings and that most of the time, people are unaware of it and asleep to it.
But let's break lying down to help make it easier to understand in human psychology. Whether extreme or simple … the basis of lying is often fear of non- acceptance as we are. It usually involves shame, guilt, self-concern and many other negative states and emotions as well.
Sometimes lying is so blatant that it seems inescapable. As an example, there was a man who was in a foxhole in World War I. In the dark of night his mates ran out, under fire, to save another officer. This man cringed in the foxhole, but it was assumed he'd been with them and he was awarded a medal of honor. The lie about what really happened that he held inside led to destructive behavior that eventually caused his death. Fear and shame had kept that falsehood deep within, but it had profoundly affected the rest of his life.
From this extreme we can go to lies so simple and habitual that we don’t even notice them in our daily lives. They can be broadly characterized as either exaggeration or minimization. Both of these types of distortions can be used to make the false self look better, either in our own eyes or in the eyes of someone else.
Exaggeration: Sometimes it feels necessary, as with a boss or authority, to make ourselves appear more capable and confident than we actually are. How easy it is to slip into padding how much work we've accomplished or how tired we are as a result of putting forth so much effort.
Minimization: When we clearly feel inadequate, minimization often comes in the form of excuses to try to cover up self-doubt and to avoid self-responsibility.
These two types of lying, exaggeration and minimization, cover LOTS of territory. Often income is exaggerated and debt minimized. However, some years back, I caught myself minimizing my income, fearful that if it looked like I had sufficient funds, I would not be given financial gifts by particular family members.
In one talk Vernon stated, “You have to get the liar out of you.” He doesn't always use the word lying, though the intent is obvious. He often talks about the unwillingness or the inability to recognize our own ego faults such as vanity, self-righteousness, greed, anger, etc. Whatever the false self habitually thinks about or feels is often based on a lying state. For example: “I’m a good person” (except when I behave badly); “I’m not vain” (except when I compare myself to you); “I’m not self-righteous” (except when I’m right and you’re wrong). This separation between illusion and reality is an entrenched habit that creates persistent psychological strain.
And here is the biggest lie. The “I” we believe is us … is a lie! The “i” that we think from, feel from and live from is the fictitious, deceitful nature, the runaway ego, that we identify with. We must stop believing that projecting an image outward acts as a positive self-affirmation. The self that we so fiercely protect has an almost paralzying fear of being nothing. But it’s actually within the “nothingness” that our happiness lies. We must tell the truth to ourselves about our actual inner condition and therefore one essential antidote to the whole problem resides in the practice of absolute Self-honesty, one of the Four Golden Keys to finding true life that Vernon discusses in Chapter 1 of his book Psycho-Pictography.
Once I was wondering how many times I would need to recognize and acknowledge such harmful things in myself in order to be free of them. When I heard Vernon say 5,000 times on one talk, I was shocked. Then gradually I heard 10,000, then 100,000 times stated by him and I felt strangely comforted. I began to understand that though the journey is lifelong, I am not alone. God goes with any student who sincerely and persistently will hear what his or her heart says is true even when it hurts. Vernon told us to “never quit.” To be free, I must constantly be vigilant and aware when I react with lies and falsehoods, 5,000 times for a starter! And to do that, I need to stop ‘doing’ and to simply watch, listen and observe.
I am so excited to find the teachings of Vernon Howard. They make more sense than anything I’ve ever encountered and are what I’ve been waiting to find for a very long time.”
— E-mail from lady in Florida