I had a tough teacher, Vernon Howard. His only purpose was to pull the rug out from under people. He would scream, pound the table, say insulting things. People not ready for him would get up and walk out. I never wanted to walk out. I wanted to run and hide. Back at the motel, I would cry and feel every ounce of myself to be inadequate and under fire. This is what it takes for some of us.
I was obsessed with him. I spent years attached to a Sony Walkman (yeah) listening to his talks while making notes. I had boxes of his cassette tapes and I was tough to be around. Because, of course, I tried to straighten everyone else out first. That is what happens.
He has been dead for many years and I have yet to find a more effective teacher. He was destined to show up and show me up. That was his job. And so often I get fed up with the neoadvaita types that say, “I had an experience of oneness.” Bah, humbug. It takes far more than saying you are something before you are actually it.
My writing does not always sound threatening but I carry his energy, his unfailing eye for the false. I wouldn’t lie to you. I am not a teacher; I am a student. The words I write are not coming from me per se. And they are not the gospel truth either. Beware of anyone who preaches that they know.
Knowing must be left by the wayside. You can’t trust anyone’s knowing. Being is the only game in town. And Vernon Howard knew what it took to get you there. He blew our covers, demolished our facades and left us to figure out what came next. There is no “next.” Only now disguised as next. And so it goes. Totally beyond our control. Ultimately he was teaching us to wait.
Waiting is the last step on the path back home. You can’t take this step yourself. You must be carried. You must abandon every shred of belief in yourself. And that is a tall order and takes a tough teacher.
I sit with his teachings on a daily basis. Not on purpose. They are coursing through my blood stream, warning me that there is nothing I can do to save myself. There is no one there to save. And he said it years before anyone online said it. So I am a slow learner. That doesn’t matter. As he said, “If you heart is right, you will have all the chances you need.” And so it goes, forever and ever, amen.