Q: As the author of self-help books, with 7 million readers, you must enjoy riding the high wave of success.
A: Success in terms of inner-development is measured by whether people change the way they think, and therefore the way they live. I would consider it a success if one reader in a hundred took the first step toward a higher level of being.
Q: Vernon, what is this thing all about that you teach?
A: You might say the basic principle is to become the commander of our own lives, each individual to be in charge of himself, instead of being dictated to and tyrannized by exterior events, including people and circumstances. In other words, to be able to meet all of life — every minute — from yourself, from your true nature (True Self, if you want to use that phrase), so that there is no contradiction and no battle and no disappointment, no hurt when “who you are” meets the exterior event. And that, of course, is a long story in itself, but that’s the basic idea.
Q: How does one attain this higher state?
A: Begin with self-honesty. Face your life as it actually is. See yourself as you really are. Without ruthless self-honesty, nothing can be done. With it, everything is possible.
Q: What do you mean by a higher level of being?
A: To understand the higher, you must first understand the lower. You must see that life as you presently live it is a thinly disguised chamber of horrors. Anger, envy, loneliness, fear, guilt and the other demons that inhabit our minds must be exposed for what they really are — phony phantoms! Having emptied ourselves of wrong ideas about ourselves, there is room for Something Higher to enter.
Q: Isn’t this ruthless self-honesty a harsh remedy for a person who is suffering?
A: Not if it is used impersonally. We must study ourselves as a scientist studies a problem, objectively. Honest self-inquiry should not include self-blame or any kind of self-reference. This is what is known as non-identification. We are on the way to solving our problems when we learn to see them without calling them “I”.
Q: How about such commonplace human problems as anxiety, addiction to drugs, sex, marital strife, depression or loneliness?
A: If we are the victims of bad experience, bad habits or bad treatment by others, it is not because something is wrong out there, but because something is out of order within us. I’m not condemning anyone. I am stating a fact. You can change jobs, or change mates, or change locations. But nothing will change, really, until you change yourself. I am talking about changing your actual nature. You can, through correct inner work, rise above all such problems, and they will trouble you no more. I promise you that.
Q: Can anyone learn to do this?
A: Each of us has the capacity to gain this new Understanding. But most of us are too comfortable in our suffering. We don’t know anything else. Even when someone tells us we can rise above our problems, we don’t believe it. Nevertheless, there is a way out, and anyone who honestly wants to can find it.