Vernon Howard: The practical mystic

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This is my second attempt at a review of Vernon Howard. I read his Mystic Path to Cosmic Power (despite the comic book-like title) several times over vernon howardthe past few years. I found it inspiring, but lacking in practical advice. His New Life Foundation recommended I read Solved — The Mystery of Life and listen to the Field of Diamonds lecture. Once again, although at times inspiring, he left me wondering what to do to realize the Truth he made so obviously desirable. I wondered if there was a secret teaching not explained in the books and tapes, but a helpful fellow at the Foundation said there was no hidden teaching.

Closer examination of the New Life website, however, revealed a series of monthly lessons. Reminiscent of Gurdjieff/Ouspensky self-observation techniques, they are worth a look. For example, one exercise has you watch how you are influenced by facial expressions. Another exercise says:

You can begin to catch your false behavior by asking the question “Who said that?” and you will catch false personality being pleasant, sarcastic, and so on. As often as you can, you will interrupt yourself and say “Who said that?” and if it is negative in any way at all, that is the invented self speaking in your name.

Vernon Howard said that, “The knowledge of human behavior will lead you to God,” and I suspect this summarizes his teaching as well as anything. My path began with the study of behavior and ways of separating the false behavior in me from the true. I think this an excellent beginning for a spiritual path, but do not know if it will lead one all the way.

Here are a few quotes to give you some of the flavor of his writings:

Truth is exceedingly close, comforting and strong. Now isn’t that a delightful thought to think about. Since Truth is close and strong, why are you weak? See Truth says something to you. It says, “I want you to know that when you tremble, I don’t tremble.” If you were to bring yourself back to where you should be internally, you would be right with Truth. It would be your comfort. You need nothing else on earth.
To change what you get you must change who you are.
Fear is caused by our insistent clinging to the false self. As we become conscious of this, our fears fade fast.
The two shallow substitutes which people unconsciously take as happiness are activity and acquisition.
One of our greatest enemies is secret resentment. Freedom begins as we become conscious of it.
There is no adventure in life as great and as wonderful as discovering the New Life.

Vernon Howard died in 1992. Like P.D. Ouspensky, he is a good beginning on the spiritual path. His teaching is more fiery than that of Ouspensky and easier to read. The New Life Foundation, based in Arizona, continues his work. I recommend investigating their well-done website — complete with audio clips.

Here’s some video of classic Vernon Howard:

If you like Vernon Howard, then take a look at Guy Finley’s site. Finley studied with Vernon Howard and looks to be carrying on a similar teaching but is not connected with the New Life Foundation.

10 thoughts on “Vernon Howard: The practical mystic”

  1. Why can’t I find any detailed biography of Vernon? Is it a big secret? All the websites show the same 2 paragraphs about his history but I’d like to read much more about his personal history.

    1. Vernon never considered his personal history to be all that important; in fact he discouraged questions about it on the grounds that they were a distraction from what he was trying to teach.

      His actual words were; “Your past is nothing. Your present wish for health (or help; it’s hard to make it out from the *tape) is everything.”

      Nevertheless there are snippets about it that can be gleaned from his books. He served in the army in the Pacific during World War II and settled in the Los Angeles area when he returned from there, where he began teaching. I believe he worked as a scriptwriter for television for a while.

      In his later years he lived very modestly; he drove a Volkswagen Beetle, wore clothes that came from the garage sale (or looked as though they did) and never wore a watch.

      * Vernon Howard Answers Hundreds of Questions.

  2. Vernon Howard’s Protege “Guy Finley” to me is the most prolific and deepest spiritual teacher alive today.
    Very clean. I have visited his foundation in Merlin, Oregon over a time span of nearly 20 years and found him to walk his talk.

    He puts out at least 4 hours of new video teachings a week on his website and it is always new and fresh and blows me away.

    I would like to hear you interview him Shawn.

  3. Dear Shawn,
    I’m happy you got some exposure to Vernon Howard. He is truly unique as a spiritual teacher. I feel that I must say you have probably missed the essence of his teaching. You direct people to him as a good “beginner” teacher like some one else. I just wonder how you feel you have the stripes to classify him as a certain level teacher? Can you try to refrain from value judgements and labels? If you can then you may be able to start as a very very very beginner on a spiritual path that’s is nudged along by good old Vernon. Thank you for acknowledging him as I had not heard of him until very recently and find I need his tough love approach. That’s it mj

    1. Hi MJ. You found Vernon of value, and I found him of less value. Do either of us need “stripes” for that to happen, or to express our thoughts? No.

      1. Vernon would not have replied to MJ. He also wouldn’t have felt it necessary to criticize Shawn. So that’s at least more advanced than either one of you and as advanced as any other “spiritual teacher”

        He didn’t care what anyone thought about him for sure so why should we either. A review of his work is pointless, his teachings stand on their own. I won’t be back here personally. Too searchy and egoish for me personally. Best of Luck.

        1. I’d love to know what Vernon would say about the feeling of “too searchy.” He didn’t strike me as a “there’s nothing to do” kind of person.

          1. Luckily you can know exactly what he would say since he addresses in his books and recordings over and over how searching for answers from the world and mental plane is an exercise in futility. Searching is not work or “doing”. He definitely promoted working on oneself but not the kind that caused more self inflicted suffering. He was definitely a “there’s less to do than you think” and also a “there’s more to stop doing” kind of teacher.

  4. I found the same as you said. There was lots of talk about your sad life now. And lots of talk about the lofty life that he spoke of. But I could never find anything to join the dots. It was 26 years before I found the door that I was looking for. And that was the start of the work that continues to this day.
    I think modern-day mystics are more direct, maybe because as a race we have evolved to be able to hear the message in a more direct way? But for those looking to circumvent that 25 year period I was talking about, look instead for Eckhart Tolle or Rupert Spira.

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