by Vernon Howard
Here are some true definitions of spiritual words and phrases. In the past, most words in the English language were used for practical purposes or to direct human beings toward the higher world and to make our experience go more smoothly on our life journey. Their meanings were meant to help guide us so we would not get lost or misinterpret life’s lessons. In today’s dictionaries some of the original meanings can still be found but many definitions have been twisted or distorted or redefined to suit popular trends of the time period in which we are living. And in some cases, newer definitions are meant to deliberately mislead human beings. Read the definitions below and work hard to see where these beautiful guides will take you if you will allow it. They will definitely point you in the right direction and help you to find your way out.
You love rightly when you love rightness. It is no more complicated than that. A father who truly loves his son will say to him, “Intelligently and efficiently earn your own living as best you can and have no concern whether society judges you a success or a failure. I don’t care two cents whether or not you are a financial success — I just want you to be a decent human being.”
Happiness is never found in the opposite of a present state. The shy person assumes that happiness exists in bold action, the city man thinks it can be found in the country. No matter how often a man wins an opposite state he never sees the sameness of his inner nature. Happiness resides in the mind which does not divide life into opposites of any kind, including today and tomorrow, security and insecurity. Give this idea special consideration.
Self-awakening is the one great task of every man and woman on earth. To be self-awake is to be free of unconscious self-sleep. The first step toward self-awakening is to detect one’s actual state of psychic sleep, which is characterized by secret suffering, fear, anguish and similar negative states.
The reason why you should be confident can be summarized in five facts: 1. An entirely new world exists. 2. Sincere men and women throughout the ages have entered it. 3. You can also enter it. 4. The answer to all problems lies within ourselves. 5. Consciousness is the only influence which is right and beneficial for us.
Reality is like a very generous employer, but one who pays your wages at irregular and unexpected times. If we have done our work as best we can, we need have no concern over time and nature of payment. It may be an intensified feeling that we are on the right track at last, or it may be a fresh delight in being both your own teacher and student. Dwight R. testified, “While working at my office one morning I suddenly realized that I need not torment myself with my own anger.”
Sometimes a seeker is discouraged by a fact which should rightly encourage him, as with Jeffrey G. Worried over his possible insincerity, Jeffrey was cheered by hearing, “It is pure imagination that anyone starts on the path with one hundred percent sincerity, or even fifty or ten percent. One percent is all a man possesses at the start, and even this wavers at first. But one percent is tremendous, for like a magnet, it attracts more sincerity.”
Your first responsibility in life is to live a life of truth. Do that and you will never have any of the false responsibilities which burden and confuse most people. You are never required to shoulder the responsibility of those who refuse to take responsibility for themselves. If you are presently weighted by doing what you do not want to do, there is good news for you. By making the truth your first responsibility, you will see the last of needless responsibility.
People are always eager to know whether there is a new way to change their lives. Of course there is, but it must be new, not merely different. We don’t find the new way by accepting a different doctrine or teacher, for that only changes the exterior scenery. We find the new way by getting so tired of the old way that we are willing to give it up. With that, newness begins.
The truth is warm, kindly, healthy. It is something you feel independent of friends and environment; you know it all by yourself. The truth inspires because it connects what is real in you with what is real in the universe. The truth is all you really need because it includes everything you really need, which you can know by experience. The truth inspires because it is the truth.
A man who is good does not go around contriving to do good. His own goodness does good, wherever he goes, though few realize it. Being one with goodness, he has no separate self-image of being a good man who can help the bad to be good. He leaves such imaginary and ego-centered goodness to the self-deceived. The bad man thinks about goodness with personal gain in mind, while the truly good man impersonally expresses goodness. Because a rose is a rose, it never needs to think of itself as one.
An esoteric school is not a place; it is an alert mind. You can be profitably enrolled in school day and night, wherever you go. You are in school when you notice a slight change in the face of an apparently cheerful friend, which reveals his deep depression. Your schooling is proceeding nicely when you suddenly realize that the person who clings to a false idea is the same person who is punished by it. Unfortunately, this kind of school is not glamorous enough for many people. They want impressive teachers in saffron robes and incense filled chapels.
ACCEPTANCE BY OTHERS
The man who needs to be accepted by others still lives under several wrong impressions. He still thinks there is value in self-pleasing human associations and in reassuring words which come from people who appear self-assured. He still thinks he can escape the agony of his own emptiness by filling it with the neurotic noise of society. The awakened man has no attachment to the opposite terms of “acceptance” and
“rejection.” Living above mere words, he comes and goes among people in a quiet contentment which is unknown by those who still seek acceptance.
Hold every thought and action up to the light of the question. ‘Does this increase my agitation or does it suspend my agitation?’ After doing this you can make a great decision in your favor. You can decide to no longer enjoy agitation. Yes, the enjoyment of agitation and sensation is the nervous life of most people. Whoever screams back when screamed at enjoys his screaming. Agitation is false life, so you will decide in favor of true life by no longer paying the dreadful price of agitation.
NO NEED TO WIN
No one can win over the man who has no need to win over anyone. And there is no need to win over anyone. To not win is to win. Try it. After enduring and ignoring the complaint of the old nature which frantically insists it must win, you will win. This is a new kind of victory, in which you do not win over people and events, but in which you win over the false belief that you must win. That is complete victory.
Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from. We cannot walk away from anything we falsely value, including exciting but pointless involvements. Non-attachment is the secret, and the non-attachment is a product of valuing true life above all else. What a difference it would make if human beings loved their own lives, but instead they love their unconscious illusions, like children who hide forbidden and dangerous toys in the cellar. The spiritual adult knows how to walk casually away from all that is not worth his attention.
ALL THAT IS GREAT
Study this regularly:
The great beginning: A wish for freedom.
The great virtue: Self-honesty.
Great encouragement: Actual self-transformation.
Great barrier: Refusal to listen.
Great technique: Self-awareness.
Great support: The truth itself.
Great error: Self-centeredness.
Great inspiration: Sensing rightness.
Great aim: Self-knowledge.
Great despair: Feeling separated.
Great healing: Of painful illusion.
Great aid: Patient investigation.
Great correction: Self-correction.
Great result: Self-liberty.
A persistent discontent with ourselves as we are is the first call to the other way of life. When feeling this discontent sharply, we can then make one of the great decisions of our life. It is the decision to change ourselves, instead of trying to change the exterior world, which changes nothing. It is challenging work at times, but is also a lot of fun. Above all, it is really the only sensible task we have here on earth.
Self-observation is a classical technique which leads to self-liberty. You should observe your thoughts and words and acts impartially, reacting with neither praise nor condemnation to whatever is observed. You must not identify with anything, that is you must not think that your thoughts and acts represent your true self. Self- observation enables you to separate yourself from mechanical thoughts to become more conscious and happy.
MAN HAS EVERYTHING BACKWARDS
The trouble is, many people take the healing truth as a personal insult. A sufferer comes for help and is told, ‘Your self-centeredness must be abolished.’ He never returns. Man has everything exactly backward. He takes rejection of the true as the way to avoid self-destruction, and takes acceptance of falsehood as the way to live. With the courage to reject falsehood, even in small ways at first, we catch a glimpse of our life-damaging error. From that point on we begin to truly save ourselves.
SOCIETY’S SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS
When society does not know what to do about a problem, it invents theories to make it appear that it does know what to do. The appointed crime committee concludes that crime is caused by poverty or drugs or broken homes, which is like saying that illness is caused by sickness. Social problems are caused by human ignorance of spiritual truths, but since few can face this fact in themselves, the problems continue.
TO DO SOMETHING JUST START
The way to do something is simply to start doing it. You don’t need details about how to do it; just start. The way to think for yourself is to start thinking for yourself. The way to get rid of worry is to start understanding the false power of worry. The way to learn from unexpected events is to start listening to the valuable lesson they are trying to teach.
Many people are puzzled when told they must become conscious and aware human beings. What does it mean to be conscious? Nothing mysterious. It means to see things as they really are, and not according to personal preference, imagination or borrowed ideas. Man’s chief barrier to consciousness is his delusion that he is already conscious. The crumbling of this delusion is the first task of whoever wants out of the trap.
What do the great teachers mean by saying man is asleep? It is very simple. To be asleep means to suffer, to be burdened by hidden fears and conflicts, to not live from one’s own pure nature, but to slavishly imitate foolish public customs. To be awake means to have a free and spontaneous spirit, to be one with universal laws and therefore opposed by nothing, to see life as it truly is, and to know that all is well.
Many people feel they lack intelligence to find the higher way, but this is merely a misunderstanding. Intelligence has nothing to do with college degrees or public fame or even the reading of many books. Authentic intelligence is the willingness to exchange fancy for fact, to exchange imaginary self-pictures for healthy self-insight. Think of true intelligence as being an individual wish for rightness, after which you need never give it another thought.
Self-observation is a classical technique which leads to self-liberty. You should observe your thoughts and words and acts impartially, reacting with neither praise nor condemnation to whatever is observed. You must not identify with anything, that is you must not think that your thoughts and acts represent your true self. Self-observation enables you to separate yourself from mechanical thoughts to become more conscious and happy.
In order to see what must be seen, we must slow down. Rushing through life is like being in such a hurry to finish reading a book that we skip every other sentence. Neither a book nor life can be understood like this. We must not merely be aware of each successive moment, but must be in each moment, which makes life make sense.
You are free when you have the power to hurt another without getting hurt in return and you do not hurt them.
We must see how we unknowingly give other people power over us. If we resent another person’s behavior toward us, we carelessly give him power to make us negative. If we react with gloom to a neighbor’s gloomy remark, we permit him to tell us how to feel. Nothing prevents us from having total self-command, and nothing prevents us from having it right now.
You can keep pressure out. Suppose someone is actually putting pressure on you. To whom does the pressure belong originally? To him, not you. Let it remain his pressure; do not unconsciously take it as your own. It does not become yours unless you permit it. If someone sets an unwanted sandwich on the table, you need not pick it up. This is an astonishing experience. The other man’s pressure finds no one who wants it.
A problem is solved by seeing that there is no problem outside of yourself. Investigate that idea.
“I would like to be a self-aware woman,” said Anita H., “but I cannot understand what I must do. Is it really that mysterious?” Reply: “It is not mysterious at all. When the waiter sets your dinner before you, do not lose yourself to its pleasant sight; instead, be aware of your reactions to its arrival. Others at the table will not do this, but you can do it. You will feel something different. This awareness is the very same awareness which makes you a problem-free woman.”
There is no virtue in suffering. In itself, suffering has no value and no reward. This is contrary to what confused people like to believe, for suffering fills a place inside them which would feel empty if it were not agitated by pain. Suffering is caused by self-contradiction and there is no virtue in contradiction; there is only a need for correction. The only wise course to take with suffering is to use it to end it.
When meeting a difficulty of any kind you must ask yourself, “Am I going to fight this difficulty or am I going to rise above it?” If you decide to fight you will have to fight endlessly and wearily, for it is the very battling with a problem which keeps it going. But if you decide to transcend it through insight, the problem disappears forever. It vanishes because you now see there was no individual and his problem, there was only an individual who was his problem. Rise above yourself.
Man lives in dozens of imaginary self-pictures which he wrongly takes as his actual identity. But because a man never observes himself to see that it is so, he never believes anyone who tells him about it. I would like to end this paragraph with a single thought for your reflection: If you are not the person you think you are, you do not have the problems you think you have.
We should be encouraged, not discouraged, by seeing how much work we have to do on ourselves. It means we are awakening to our actual condition, we are seeing our self-defeating attitudes. People who live in self-images of being positive and wise and pleasant see no need whatever to work on themselves, so they remain in the suffering caused by living in dreamland. The worse we see ourselves to be, the more encouraged we should be, for if you know all about darkness, you also know about dawn.
I will show you how to become a unique human being. When people around you scream for what they want, don’t join their screaming. If someone of the opposite sex offers to reduce your loneliness in exchange for what he or she wants from you, refuse the offer. While others praise self-reliance, you practice it. If a friend urges you to join him in aggression toward what he calls a common enemy, walk away. When authorities claim they can give you the answers to life, find your own answers by independent search.
SELF-PRAISE & SELF-CONDEMNATION
By abolishing both self-praise and self-condemnation, and thus thinking from a higher level, we are never falsely fascinated by others, and therefore never hurt by them.
What kind of man possesses possibilities for self-awakening? He is the man who feels, even dimly, that he is living under some sort of a gigantic hoax. He has observed the senselessness of his life, he has noticed how people are really quite ruthless beneath their masks of decency. This is a crisis for the man, for now he must decide whether to start thinking for himself or to dazedly endure the horrible hoax. It is a crisis, but also a fresh chance. What man who feels himself caught in a hoax wants to remain in it?