Vernon Howard on Life and Death
"The Secret Of All Life" by Vernon Howard
An excerpt from a talk by Vernon Howard given on 01-02-80, Side 1 at 2 minutes.
Question: A couple of weeks ago you made the comment that we were never born - the physical body was born. Could you go into that a little further?
Vernon: All right, tell me who you are. Tell me who you are. Where are you going to get your information from? Only one source - memorized experiences, right? How are you going to tell me who you are unless you tell me you were born in Connecticut, therefore you are an American. You were born of wealthy parents, therefore you've got a lot of money. You were born female. You were born with a liking for music because your whole family was musical. You are not telling me who you are at all. You are telling me what you remember about yourself.
In order to see that you were never born, you have to go way on back - not necessarily in detail - but you have to go way on back and see, "I am a lover of music." Now that identity had its birth only in thought, on the level of thought. Even the fact that you are female or male goes into thought based on your physical self - whichever one you were born as. So your memory self is male, female, American or whatever.
This is not being born - this is acquiring descriptions. And the more, what you call "happy" they are, or the more "miserable" they are, either way - the more fixed will be your so-called "birth". Now if you believe in that, if you believe that you are the person who was born and grew up loving music and being American, if you believe you are that, you are going to be terrified of death. Because you know that at death you are not male, you are not female, right? After you are dead what are you? You can't call yourself male or female. After you are gone are you still a lover of music? Huh? After you're gone are you still an American? So you insist - the history books might say you are but that's nonsense - you insist that these acquired descriptions are your birth and the kind of birth that continues to grow all the time, doesn't it? - because you are adding facts about yourself.
If you see this, cut it out entirely because the mind stops re-identifying yourself as being born and growing up as an American, as a female, as a music lover. If you see that only wrong thought created that birth, then you withdraw the idea - which is purely an idea - that you were born at all. When you withdraw all ideas that you were born at all, now tell me who you are. You can't do it, and I'll ask you another question. Hang on to your hats. If you were never born - which you were not - how can that which was never born ever die? See? Now do you know why you are afraid of death? I don't see any nods or shakes. I see some dull gazes.
If something was not born in the first place, how can it die? I know this is beyond you. I know how your plodding little minds are taking this - you don't grasp it at all because you are fighting for your pseudo-survival right now, aren't you? If you want to get over the fear of death there is just one way, one way only to do it, which is to see that you were never born. That which was never born can never die.
That which was born must always die because the thought "I was born" must perish because thoughts are perishable, and when the physical body goes, which you identified with - "I'm American. I'm male" - whatever, when that dies then you say, "I'm going to die." Nothing dies but an illusion at that time, the illusion that you ever lived in the first place.
Here is the secret of all life - to see while you are still alive in the physical body that you were never born. See that and see whether everything else in your life changes - it will. Way down deep inside of people's hearts is a dreadful fear of coming to an end of themselves, of coming to an end of their lives. I don't care what age you are, we are very conscious of death, of physical death. Physical death is one thing, but you identify with the body and identify with all these experiences that you have and you say, "When physical death comes I'll cease to exist, won't I?" Ah, go way on back and try to find out where you made the mistake, which is to say, "I was born and I developed as this or that."
The phrase "this or that" is quite valuable in summarizing, in reducing words. Do you understand what I'm talking about? "This or that" means the opposites. You are not an American. You are not German. You are nothing at all - you are not this or that. And if you are not this or that, then the opposites have been transcended, and where's the fear of not being an American or a German after death?
Very few things are as difficult to explain as what I've just tried to explain to you, because your thought - self-protective thought - that always says, "Of course I was born - I've got a birth certificate, and the whole business." All of thought is resisting with all its power everything I told you, because you are afraid to let go of the illusion that you now have, that you are this or that you are that. Rise above the mind which operates in this and in that and you will see that indeed you were never born. That is what is called living in Eternity right now.