New Life Foundation
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“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
“There is no real happiness for those on the wrong side. The greatest pleasure in life is the security of the true side. You can vainly try to win over the world or you can nicely be over the world. Your task is to change your operating center from strained imagination to relaxed reality.”
In 1989 a man from England felt a need for something more in his life, so truth led him to Vernon Howard. Knowing no one, he booked his first trip over to Nevada and stayed for a full 6 months. He then went back to England for a short period of time and came back for another 6 months! Right away he felt a strong connection with what he was hearing. His name is James Potts and he subsequently made many journeys to New Life classes from England. He has also thrown himself into the work, helping out whenever and wherever he can, thus increasing his opportunity to learn more and to benefit from a right attitude toward truth.
It has been 5 years since his last visit to New Life and he was thrilled to have the opportunity to come again and to participate in all of the activities going on in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Speaking in his broad Lancashire accent, James said about the trip, “It’s like coming back home. We should never take New Life and these classes for granted. We are only here temporarily.” He timed his visit so he would be able to attend the 3-day banquet festivities recently held there. He was a star in one of the best acts ever given at a banquet. It is the theme song of most human beings on this planet, the song “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me” from the old HeeHaw TV show. The students who participated dressed the part perfectly and sang the song with great gusto. All of the singers as well as those in the audience loved it.
James was rejuvenated by being around like-minded people, those seeking something higher than what the world has to offer or what they can do for themselves. It was very interesting because a number of students at the banquet who had never met him before felt drawn to James right away. Even though they didn’t know him personally they had something in common with him. A receptive spirit and a genuine love of truth can take you a long way in this work.
James is very unpretentious and leads a simple life. He rents a small flat in England and spends a lot of his time listening to and reading Vernon Howard and applying what he hears to his own life. We could all learn something from him.
Upon returning to England he let us know he had received tremendous energy from the experience and was very grateful for everything.
Breaking News! — James is a perfect example that you don’t have to be an aggressive ‘striver’ to get along or to really make it in this world. One of Vernon Howard’s favorite words, which he used quite frequently, is the word ‘pleasant.’ It’s all right to just be a pleasant man or woman. He is a great contrast to some spiritual students who are full of themselves and full of unconscious hostility and unseen egotism. Real humility is a very attractive quality to find in a seeker and it is much more rare than would normally be supposed. As James himself said in one of his talks, “We can stop trying to be important.” Here’s another helpful quote on this subject from 1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle, “When spiritual facts are not accompanied by the erasing of egotism, we fall into imaginary spirituality.”
Let’s all refuse to live in imagination and embrace the life lessons of simplicity, unpretentiousness and thankfulness toward the power that has given us the chance to ‘live above this crazy world.’
On Christmas Day 2015, while juniper logs crackled in the fireplaces at Howard Hall, outside a soft snowfall replaced days of rainy weather. There, folks from Colorado to California gathered to enjoy a splendid all-day banquet together with many entertaining and rewarding events.
A class, based on the wisdom of Vernon Howard, followed a tasty early morning breakfast. "How to Put the Universe on Your Side" was New Life Director Richard Wooldridge's subject. His talk, based on a chapter in Pathways to Perfect Living, provided new insights for experiencing this life for oneself. Richard encouraged everyone to push themselves to do more than they want to do by participating in all of the activities. These are actual directions from Vernon for how to break out of one’s self, including getting free of fear, Richard explained.
Speaker Paul Wolfe then gave some guidelines for “how to live a supremely happy life.” Paul is now the Director of New Life’s Southern California branch. A few of his comments included, “Let your false self dissolve. Let something higher come in and take over your life.... Something in us has to die in order to reach a higher level of understanding and to be given a New Life." And lastly, Paul said, "We're not who we think we are."
Connected with Paul saying "We're not who we think we are," pre-class talks included a reminder by Karen West that this world is not our home. "We are visitors to this world," she said. Lynne Wooldridge advised (from her own experience) that “God rewards you for making super-efforts" ... as in doing more than you thought you could at this banquet.
Vernon Howard taught that everyone is spiritually sound asleep but that it is possible to wake up by obeying spiritual instructions and by putting in long hard work on yourself. And as speaker Moe Janosec put it, "Vernon came to this evil, sick planet to wake people up," which is also the deeper meaning of Christmas.
In his talk, quoting a passage from Pathways to Perfect Living, Eric Pendleton stated, "Proceed while not knowing. Proceed while being afraid. Something will come in to help you because you can't help yourself."
As students made efforts to be awake and aware of themselves while working together, a different atmosphere was felt, because messages from a different and higher level were able to reach them.
There were many ways for attendees to make super-efforts as Richard had encouraged. For example, in the preparation of a Christmas Eve meal consisting of homemade chili and chicken tortilla soup, together with freshly baked cornbread and more. On Christmas morning Katherine Pascal did a lovely job of providing a bright early morning breakfast of quiches and everything one could want to enhance it. Judy Poston and helpers were busy from very early morning, too, creating the perfect turkey dinner with the best ever cranberry sauce. A macaroni and 8-cheese casserole — a special creation of Chef Eric’s — was served in addition to the traditional turkey dinner, so good it was still the topic of conversations a week later.
Before Christmas day began, the floors in Howard Hall had been scrubbed and polished, parking lots and pathways had been dragged, and firewood was brought in to keep fires brightly burning. At a banquet, much work always goes on behind the scenes because as Vernon taught, truth lies in making the banquets and all New Life activities as efficient and as well-organized as possible. Other classes were held on Wednesday night, and Saturday and Sunday mornings. In Bill Brown's talk, he said that we want to work out our own salvation instead of letting it come to us. Richard worked long and tirelessly in order to have the new and beautiful brochures ready and printed, which he brought with him from Colorado.
Christmas afternoon all gathered to enjoy the entertainment. Among the acts and skits, Kyle and Lynne sang the beautiful "Oh Holy Night" followed by "All Through the Night," then danced a beautiful "Christmas Ballet." Judith Anderson recited a most appropriate poem, "Winter Chill," at about the time snow started falling again.
All the efforts made did receive a special reward best described by David Hearst in his closing talk with this statement. "I feel the presence of God here." The next banquet, also in Strawberry, Arizona, will be held on March 12. If you too, want something different than anything this world has to offer, something REAL, keep studying the truth as Vernon Howard gave the world and join us then.
“Cease to be a problem to yourself, and you’ll cease to be a problem to other people,” said New Life Director Richard Wooldridge, in his talk which launched the 2015 Thanksgiving Day banquet at New Life’s Westminster CA branch.
Remarking on how some students had driven a long way to attend the banquet, he said, “A great place to work on yourself is on the freeway. Vernon Howard guaranteed that with a right aim, we can be 100-percent alert and aware when driving. When that person cuts you off, watch the irritation jump up and try to take over. Don’t be carried away by the negativity but just stand aside and watch it try to take over your emotions, your internal and external talking and even your physical body.”
Richard pointed out that when a request is made of you to do a job at New Life, “watch to see if any resistance comes up and just do what you’re asked to do in good cheer.” With this relaxed attitude, you’ll begin to understand that what is asked of you is for your own benefit.
Richard continued, “Vernon always had my best interests at heart but I didn’t always fully appreciate that. In fact, I was an idiot about Truth but eventually Truth won. What’s that song? I fought the law of cosmic Truth, and the Truth won! So, catch yourself in complaint and just drop it. Do you know that gratitude can take you all the way out?”
Paul Wolfe, also speaking on Thanksgiving Day, based his remarks on the Vernon Howard booklet, “Freedom from a Life of Hell.” “This is a life of hell,” Paul said. “We’re not meant to live this way. He declared that “Hell is being conflicted inside. Hell is division but Heaven has no opposite. Truth would say that if you want to be a genuine human being, you must get rid of all your negativity. For true happiness, life doesn’t need to conform to your demands.”
Paul also reminded us of an incident related in the New Testament in which Christ healed a crazed man with an impure spirit. When Christ asked the man “Who are you?” the man replied “I am Legion, for we are many.” We have a number of selves inside of us and the purpose of life here on earth is to become a whole and integrated man or woman. “There’s more wrong with us than we think there is. But it’s not beyond repair. We can get out.”
Students’ comments started off by David Hearst telling the class, “Today is the one day when turkeys get to eat turkey!”
Tom Geiger brought up a freeing principle if we’ll take it to heart. “Don’t be psychologically connected or identified with anybody. That includes family members, friends. Something different will happen in your relationships and you’ll suffer a lot less if you do this.”
After the break Richard commented, “Be aware of everything. Be aware that impatience is hell, irritation is hell. Fear, being afraid, is hell. Truth will come in when there’s less of you. The less there is of you, the more excited you’ll get about this.”
He also reminded the group: “If you make a mistake, you can start life all over again. For the rest of today, here are two exercises: Don’t defend yourself, and know you’re sitting in your chair.”
Students chimed in to wrap up class. “The purpose of this class is to grow in ways you can never imagine,” said Doug Stewart.
The talks reminded Lynne Wooldridge of a story Vernon once told in which he said, “The New Life train will never be stopped.” She continued the theme by remarking that “The train has endured saboteurs for a long time but has kept Vernon Howard’s pure message of Truth going out to humanity. The Spirit of Truth can never be blocked or stopped.”
Talks were followed by a delicious turkey dinner with all the fixin’s. Then the day’s entertainment began with rousing versions of “Home on the Range” and “Red River Valley,” sung by a talented trio. The skits and jokes were funnier than ever and emcee Doug Stewart did a masterful job of creating a light and fun atmosphere in which everyone could relax and enjoy themselves. In the grand finale, the New Life Parisian Pretties performed an especially excellent and graceful dance.
One student mentioned that he regularly reads the books and listens to the talks but that the banquet experience adds an extra dimension which he feels is invaluable for growth. So join us for more enlightenment and lighthearted fun at New Life’s Christmas Banquet in Strawberry, Arizona.
Basic and vital principles of truth emerged in the powerful talks at the New Life Banquet in Strawberry, Arizona this September week, as well as numerous opportunities to practice using them by receptive students.
Truth Principles in Talks
Victory over Harmful Forces, a series of talks given by Vernon Howard, provided a guiding light for Wednesday night’s talks. Bill Brown introduced the concept of time in contrast to the principle Now is new: “The Devil’s pitchfork is in time. He can’t get into now.” To break the spell of what wants to possess and destroy us, Dave Netherton brought us into the present moment to listen to the loud chorus of chirping crickets outside.
Saturday Doug Stewart began his talk with the fable of the princess and the pea, which was discovered under many mattresses. The analogy represents our deeper and deeper search for and awareness of negative emotions, which are disturbing our sleep and preventing awakening. He said, “Isn’t it nice to step out of the furnace of life and come to a cooling place where Truth can heal us?”
New Life Director Richard Wooldridge emphasized in his talk how we must go beyond the mind to the heart or essence. Our mind and the self can’t provide the answer; we must turn to God. Why would we believe that our minds, which drive us crazy with wild, negative thoughts, have the ability to lead us to spiritual sanity? We must also slow down the mind in order to glimpse what has been running our lives so frantically.
More truth principles were given on Sunday when the section called “Heavenly Bread” from The Power of Esoterics was used by speakers. The baker or truth tells us exactly how to make bread but we don’t follow the recipe, or the instructions of truth. Instead we put in our own ingredients, like wrong thinking, because we think we know better than God. Moderator Paul Wolfe pointed out several “recipes for a happy life” from different Vernon Howard books, for instance the “four golden keys” in The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power (see Chapter 8).
Dining, Dancing and Entertainment
This banquet’s dinner tables held outstanding Italian dishes of spaghetti and sauces, lasagna, beautiful green salad and bright deep red, garden fresh tomatoes. Dining was accompanied by soft, light music. Abundant and delicious pies, puddings and cakes filled the dessert table all day. Charming waltzes, lively polkas and funny songs imparted an easy-going background for informal dancing. That dancing is a good example of the chance to go against the harmful voice which screams “I can’t do that” — and you say “No!” to it and it turns out you can do it and even enjoy it.
The formal entertainment accentuated harmonious and old-fashioned songs, like “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree,” “Red Red Robin” and “Country Roads,” and was concluded by an excellent, graceful dance by the New Life Parisian Pretties. We were fortunate to have piano accompaniment for our sing-along of “Brighten the Corner Where you Are.” And it was most instructive in the skits and jokes that the person who got the most laughs never said a word but had a bucket over his head.
Comments of Gratitude
At breakfast Sunday a student said, “I wish banquets were longer. There is so much to see and learn.” Another commented that when you put 30 or 40 people in a room talking and working together, there will be much that’s new to encounter and stir us up. “It’s a chance for us to grow up and be adults,” David Hearst said.
And a chance to give up our personal life in order to find new life. Or as Richard put it, “Be willing to see thru your pretensions that you have a practical purpose in life, in order to find your real purpose.” The highly energetic atmosphere of the banquet coming down from heaven increased our opportunity to do just that.
“Inspiring Guides to a New Life” was the theme, based on a book by Vernon Howard, for the New Life banquet held in Pagosa Springs, Colorado over the weekend of July 10th, 11th and 12th.
The weekend combined powerful talks, fabulous food and fun-filled entertainment, all presented by students learning how to work together in a harmonious spirit for the purpose of gaining more understanding about themselves and their life’s purpose here on earth. And to learn how to escape “the land of darkness and unhappiness of the world we live in,” as moderator Doug Stewart put it.
“Worldly treasures leave you empty,” David Netherton said in the opening talk Friday evening, after which he quoted Vernon Howard who pointed out that what is here at New Life is “the greatest treasure of all time.” Tom Geiger followed up on that idea, saying, “We’re learning here that there’s nothing out there that can satisfy you or bring you peace…. Unless we do this work, we’ll never catch what’s going on in our minds and we’ll just be a zombie like everyone else.” He quoted Vernon, who wrote, “Take the truly brave trip and travel through yourself.”
Hosting the Friday evening class, Doug Stewart drove home a point in his talk by using an actual walnut in its shell to relate a story told about an earnest seeker who found a bit of truth about the size of a walnut. He went on to explain that we are foreigners in this land, trying to find our way back home. “The guide is here. The guide is Truth and it will show you the way out.” He said, “Truth and egotism don’t mix; the recognition of egotism within is the path to freedom.”
As is customary, people came early for the Friday evening class in order to enjoy a surprisingly delightful selection of snacks, which included a platter of rolled ham, turkey, and cheeses, angel eggs, a cheese ball, bean dip, various tortilla chips, plus bowls of fresh cherries and grapes. Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings included a variety of quiches, chili rellenos and sweet rolls with a festive assortment of fresh melons, pineapple and blueberries. There was undeniably something to please everyone’s taste. And Sunday morning found the men oohing and aahing over a huge cast iron skillet of freshly made steak and eggs with potatoes — whenever they had time to eat between all the preparations for class up at the pergola.
On banquet Saturday, New Life director Richard Wooldridge talked about how practical truth is. He explained that “the point of this class is to do whatever is necessary to help us wake up. Everything is said and done in order for us to see we’re asleep. We don’t have a clue as to what this class is all about.” He continued, “There’s a higher world for you.” Later on he reminded the class that Vernon didn’t tolerate any of our nonsense and that “you don’t even know that’s good for you.” Yes, correction was a vital part of the weekend experience, which the false self does not like. But at the same time everyone experienced relief, to one degree or another, from his or her usual painful self and relentless, compulsive thoughts. In its place was a hint of something else, a higher or true self emerging.
“We’re here to find a different life,” Bill Brown told us. Classes included bits of humor interwoven with serious lessons. One such example was when Bill mentioned that what we’re learning about here is not in time or thought; it’s in awareness. He explained that “You should use time to bake a cake but if you use time with you, you’re going to come away half-baked.”
Saturday banquet dinner followed class with a 24-foot table filled with various BBQ meats, potato salad, cole slaw, scrumptious baked beans, specialty breads and tossed salad. The separate dessert table featured a tempting bowl of fresh fruit, irresistible chocolate cake, fresh fruit pies, cheesecake, key lime pie and lemon squares, to name a few.
The afternoon’s southwestern-themed entertainment opened with a pretty song, “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” by our own talented singers, Doug, Lynne Wooldridge, Kyle Rickert, Kyle’s mom Vanessa, and Judy Poston. Barbara Alpher joined them for a second song also befitting the western setting, the humorous and rambunctious “I’m an Old Cowhand.” Other acts included more songs, some especially humorous jokes and funny skits, including the “Farmers and a City Slicker,” starring Bill Brown as the city visitor, with assorted country folk, Doug dressed in overalls, cowboy Gary Blatchford, and Moe Janosec, who was also the emcee.
‘California’ Judy entertained by skillfully reciting an Aesop’s fable about a cunning fox caught in his own lies. The finalé was a lively dance by “the Pretties,” who traditionally appear in three-tiered rainbow-colored skirts and gracefully designed blouses.
Sunday morning’s class was held on a scenic mountainside in the New Life pergola, where it is necessary to climb up a pretty path, “the Happy Trail,” to reach it. This is symbolic of the effort required to reach higher levels within. “To do that, to wake up,” Richard explained, “we need every ounce of energy we can muster.”
Surrounded by lavender asters, scarlet gilia and bright yellow columbine, we heard playful squirrels and a catbird cry that added to the atmosphere of the lovely forest. The banquets provide true relief from an otherwise pervasive world, for its influences are left outside the door and beyond the forest. As Moe said, echoing Vernon, “Where are your problems now?” Moe asked us to question, “What is real?” He reminded us, “God loves an audacious human being. One who will do something beyond his petty little life. Anything you get must be earned. If I do the work I get the reward.” He talked about how we want a safety net, but that Truth does not compromise; it is not gray but either black or white. Moe quoted A Treasury of Trueness, “Thought does not enter heaven. Where does that leave you?”
Comments on the banquet experience included gratitude for the opportunity to learn from travel delays, unexpected events, corrections and other challenges. Doug, who arrived a week early, emphasized the large amount of work done at New Life preparing for the upcoming banquet. Then he connected that to its benefits to inner work and growth. He said, “I trimmed the bushes and I got my ego trimmed. And when I cleaned up the cuttings, I was clearing out inner negativities. When you sweep out the garage or other seemingly insignificant tasks, doing it can help you to wake up. Some people may not like this kind of work but we learn by doing what we don’t want to do. And the negative attitude can be swept out as well.”
Richard concluded with the exhortation, with agreement from students, that the banquet experience is “an absolute necessity; there’s no substitute.”
New Life Foundation’s Westminster, California branch was the location for a week of powerful talks, delicious homemade meals and lively entertainment. Gathering from across the West and Midwest — from Arizona, California, Colorado, Wisconsin and Washington state — students met for the spring “Americana” banquet celebration.
Wednesday evening at the group’s Pasadena location, New Life Director Richard Wooldridge opened the class with a very powerful message: “Grow up! Fight for yourself!” He said, “The purpose of this world and all it does is to destroy you. This class is all about undoing what has been done to you.” Pointing to his head he said, “You’re at the mercy of this…. Thinking is non-life.” During the talk there was a period of relaxed silence, which underscored Richard’s point that silence is where salvation lies. “The world hates silence. I have to see where I can’t stand it either.” Richard cautioned that we will never change until we put these teachings first: “You might notice someone dabbling in this but only when you throw yourself into this work will you get back 100 times more than you put into it.”
Dave Netherton led the Friday-night talks, based on Vernon Howard’s book The Power of Esoterics. Jack Carter said, “An actor once told an interviewer how he learned to swim: ‘My dad led me down a path to a watering hole, and he threw me in the deep end.’ That’s like this work. You don’t dabble around the edges. You just jump in and you learn how to swim.”
On banquet Saturday Richard opened the class, telling the group, “We have a lot of energy, but we are always wasting it. There are cosmic, higher laws that govern you whether you know it or not. This means you should want to stop doing things that are holding you back. If you don’t, you will get hurt…. It’s important to see you are breaking cosmic law. Your face and eyes tell everything…. Do all you can to see the resistance that’s there.” “The quality of our energy is everything,” commented Lynne Wooldridge and if speakers combine enthusiasm for the work with the willingness to be blunt about our actual state, the atmosphere in the class is charged with a special energy.
In his talk on banquet day, Dr. Terry Roche emphasized that everybody is filled with psychic pain. “The pain is inside me; I must study it to be free of it…. Everything that’s wrong with the world is inside us. The violence of the world is the violence inside.”
After the uplifting talks, students danced to lively, wholesome music, then dined on a sumptuous Southwestern-flavored meal of juicy shredded organic chicken, spicy beef, greens, fresh pico de gallo salsas, and assorted tostada shells and tortillas.
Formal entertainment began with Doug, Lynne and Kyle singing two old favorites celebrating spring, “Apple Blossom Time” and “Let me Call You Sweetheart.” The entertainment was a lot of fun. Jokes, a poem, an Aesop’s fable and skits followed. Skits were all funny and nearly everyone made a conscious effort to speak up and get into character. Terry’s soliloquy included this complaint: “My wife used to play the guitar. Now she just picks on me!” David H. and Karen were also really funny in their restaurant waiter joke. More songs by a trio with guitar were very harmonious and pretty, described as “glorious” by one student who is in the entertainment business. The finalé, the Pretties dance, was lively and graceful.
Everyone was energized on Sunday. There is a lot more that goes on at banquet than there appears to be on the surface. Richard strongly urged people to not hide out but to fully participate in the whole experience.
Doug Stewart told us, “If you are confused and mystified by life, you’ve come to the right place.” Comments on the banquet included Lynne’s encouragement; “We can get in touch with our essence at the banquets.” Other student comments included Wilma Smith’s example of learning to say ‘No’ to the world. She recounted an invitation to a fancy restaurant: “At first I thought, ‘Why not? It’s an invitation; I should go. Then I thought, ‘I don’t want to waste all that money on something like that. Why would I do that?’ So I responded saying, ‘No. I will not be there.’”
David Hearst said with feeling, “This world is completely crazy…. This is where I want to be. I don’t want to be anywhere else today.” He specifically offered us an invitation to go higher: “If you want to travel to sanity, there are three exits on that highway: Pine, Arizona; Pagosa Springs, Colorado; and Westminster, California.”
So our next destination is clear. Turn off at Colorado! Come to Pagosa Springs for the July banquet!
At the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at New Life Foundation in Strawberry, Arizona this March, everything needed to get out and rise above any problem was given. “Answers are presented here at banquets if you want them,” Kyle Rickert said. In classes Wednesday thru Sunday explanations moved from revelations of our actual condition thru the steps needed to change and become new.
Since our actual state must first be seen, plenty of opportunities arose at this banquet to provide needed insights. Described by Vernon Howard as hardened rocks that need to be broken down, as in geological transformation [see in Power of Esoterics, Chapter 6, p. 101], our resistance to change is enormous.
So the banquet gave us another perfect chance to follow Vernon Howard’s instructions to go against ourselves and do what we don’t want to do. Preparations for the wonderful early morning breakfasts, the desserts and endless snacks, and most of all, the delectable smorgasbord of corned beef and cabbage together with all its accompaniments that the ladies provided were examples of this. In fact, the more uncomfortable the situation, the more reward we get if we work. The friction of rising early, doing voluntary work to make the banquet a success and participating with others in the dancing and entertainment while attempting to be aware of ourselves did indeed create higher energies.
New Life Director Richard Wooldridge illustrated our resistance as an “interference” blocking Truth from getting thru [see 700 Inspiring Guides to a New Life, p. 120], which we must identify. Robin Kent mentioned one example: “I had plans” before finding New Life, and he learned he had to change those to receive more truth.
Or we get offended, Richard mentioned, and take it personally when someone tells us to do something in a different way than we’re accustomed to. An opportunity occurred when Richard suggested to a Southern California student that she not use her laptop to take notes in class (as that might interfere with her understanding or be a blockage to hide behind). She later commented the banquet allowed her “to experience a new reality by being accommodating to others and not demand my own way.” Great personal effort and willingness is required, Paul Wolfe cautioned, to give up my life for God’s life.
All talks were based on higher truths, which originally came down thru Vernon Howard from the level of the stars. Richard encouraged the audience with these words: “Be of good cheer, you are made to conquer …. You must go beyond intellectualism to cosmic awareness.” He said that it doesn’t matter what you do for a living as long as it’s honest — your focus must always be on the higher. Near the end of the banquet, Richard forcefully told the men to speak up louder and to vigorously express their enthusiasm for the truth we’ve found.
At banquets we are not only given the opportunity to invite truth to elevate our spiritual state, we also get chances to change our physical and emotional states as well. When a student makes the effort to perform consciously during the formal entertainment, both the performer and the audience have a much more enjoyable experience. An example was when California Judy perfectly expressed the gestures and emotions of the little Milkmaid in Aesop’s Fables. Another highlight was the joke in which David Hearst played a waiter trying to serve soup to a snooty society woman played by Karen West.
The singing of two lovely old Irish songs in harmony began the formal entertainment. Then we were able to feel a right pleasurable emotion when a trio sang the Irish tune “These are My Mountains,” which was special for its purity of sound and a spiritual message about going home. The entertainment provided chances to break out of our usual states and postures, to be different by playing a role in a joke or skit or to relax and smile when performing a dance with the Pretties, all while working to be more conscious. The informal dancing too breaks down our rock-like resistance to relaxation and fun; we were able to polka, waltz or chicken-dance to our hearts’ content.
Comments following the banquet as the weekend was winding down included Roy Pascal’s exclamation: “This was the best banquet yet!” That got a big laugh because he has been saying that about banquets for many years. It is a testimony that Something Else exists and gets stronger as we continue to attend New Life banquets and participate wholeheartedly in the events. Robin pointed out that by working on ourselves at banquets it is we who get the benefits.
A new student from Idaho said, “I don’t know why I’m here but know I’m supposed to be here.” He was so moved by the atmosphere and the talks that he bought the entire Vernon Howard library. A few rare people are overjoyed to find what they have been looking for all their lives here at New Life!
Truth seekers from across the western U.S. met at New Life Foundation’s Arizona headquarters for a Christmas of powerful talks, delicious homemade meals and lively entertainment with lots of light humor and an unexpected surprise. The best “gift” received was a clean, refreshing Higher atmosphere in which to work, learn, and enjoy. We were gradually infused with new strength and enthusiasm for Truth, while hearing it, talking about it, pondering, sensing, and feeling its unique energy.
Appropriately the first class focused on revelation and how to discover more. Colorado student Moe Janosec led the Christmas Eve discussion of “Bright Revelations,” based on a section of the sparkling collection of Vernon Howard’s quotations, A Treasury of Trueness. Beginning the class in Howard Hall, Moe said, “Anyone who truly wants the Higher can have it right now.”
Doug Stewart quoted, “Seek revelation not comfort.” He said if you don’t first clearly see the darkness, you will never experience the dawn. Doug reminded us to use the prayer, “Please God, make it worse.” If you do “God will never abandon you once He has taken you to a dark place inside yourself…. He will stay there with you until the darkness turns to Light.”
Continuing this theme, Moe related the study of Truth with his younger days hunting deer with his father: “We’d get into position hours before sunrise. I’d be sitting out there in the freezing cold thinking, ‘I wish the sun would come up.’ Truth says the same: When you’re in a cold, dark valley, go through it so you can get past it. Dark revelations lead to bright revelations ... but the dark revelations must come first.”
Bill Brown provided humor, quoting a movie dialogue that reveals the nutty ideas people have about “love.” The man tells his girlfriend, “I’ve never been so miserable in my life as I have since I met you.” After she agrees, he adds, “I wouldn’t give up a minute of it.”
Early Christmas Day, Howard Hall was filled with the fresh smell of rich hot coffee, warm pastries, quiches and sausage. Students gathered around the upright piano, practicing their Christmas carols for later entertainment.
During a pre-class announcement New Life director Richard Wooldridge discussed the new Blue Ray discs with the enhanced Vernon Howard talks, and he connected those to our own renewal: “If you’ve been working on yourself since Vernon’s death, you’ll hear even more this time around.”
He went on to make two points: “First, people have problems with people because their personalities conflict. People butt heads. They can’t get along with each other. Vernon always saw our childish personalities; he said a stick of dynamite meets a bubbling volcano, and they both go off …. It’s for me to see that if someone can set me off, I’m not working on myself enough.”
Richard reminded us that Truth and the Bible warn us there will be tens of thousands of phony teachers. For example, “there’s no such thing as instant salvation. Salvation comes only thru long, hard work ... Don’t be so easily fooled.”
Then he invited Lynne Wooldridge to speak on the deeper insights and little known facts in what Christ taught. She had recently listened to the incredibly moving talks entitled “The Higher Teachings of Christ,” available on the MP3CD Heavenly Help Awaits You. She summarized three points made: One, Christ decided to use His physical body to teach a spiritual lesson ... He allowed himself to be crucified and after three days He arose .... Two, the disciples were little children. “You don’t know how hard it is to talk to little children,” Vernon said. Three, death (of the false nature) must always precede life.
New Life’s California director Terry Roach discussed “The Miracle of Silence” when quiet can occur, as when we sit and watch our mind. “Human nature is the way it is because it’s a false nature…. The next time you get insulted and that pain comes up, that’s your false nature coming up .... But the Spirit of Truth can come into us and live our lives for us.”
The audience enjoyed a laugh when Bill said the pinnacle of his life was Christmas Day when he was 6 years old: “I got everything I wanted .... It never got that good again.” Then Bill shocked our egos with that memorable Vernon Howard quote, “Someday you’ll be sorry for everyone who ever met you” [See Vol. 11: 25, 5-31-87].
Bill told us to “See how you want to live completely in the mind.” He said words are a major way we get attacked, calling them “wolf-words.” We are like the fairy tale in which the “Big, Bad Wolf” attacks the three little pigs, and we are the little pigs. “In relation to evil we are totally stupid. Your mind is no match for it.” As pointed out by Vernon in the HTC talks, thought is the enemy of Spirit, of God, of Christ.
Richard emphasized we are always “thinking, thinking, thinking.” By knowing that “all evil originates in the mind,” we can work on the solution. Richard then began to explain the way out: “We can always be in awareness.” Citing our unawareness and a sign of the times, he said the most popular TV show is now The Walking Dead. “It’s about zombies. Kyle said there was a parade in Durango about it, people dressed up and imitating zombies. Who in their right mind would want to imitate a zombie? We can’t be a part of this madness: Stay out of the fray of the insane society of this world. Watch it, study it, observe it.” Referring to recent headlines in the news, he got very rightly strong: “Anyone who lacks plain and simple good manners in public is an animal .... You must see your own bad behavior too.” Richard concluded that God can do everything for us to help us if we are willing.
The traditional turkey dinner followed the inspiring talks, with the most succulent turkey ever and the entire meal delicious.
Besides being fun and enjoyable, the entertainment is valuable to our inner development, helping us to see and destroy our unconscious fears and anxieties. Negative inner voices make excuses to keep us from even coming to a banquet because the ego, which causes all our pain, is exposed here. It is an individual experience. Vernon designed the banquets to concentrate and increase the light so negativities are revealed and can then be ended – a direct connection with “if you don’t see the darkness first, you will never see the dawn.”
One outstanding short joke included a stock boy in a grocery store. A Southern California student acted out his part to make his character come alive, leaving no confusion about the role he was performing. Then he spoke his few lines into the microphone loud and clear, focusing on the person he was talking to. A simple example of alertness and right effort.
Banquets especially provide unplanned occasions for insight and awakening. As Katherine Pascal observed, “We have so many chances to change.” One little miracle came down while a quartet was singing the Christmas song “White Christmas.” Magically it began to snow, as the singers looked upward watching the snow as they sang. The Light from heaven came to us that day.
When attending a New Life class or banquet, students are invited to leave the cares, trials and burdens of their everyday lives outside the door. The extent to which we succeed at this is correlated directly to the amount of higher help we’ll receive in the special atmosphere that is present at this very rare school for higher understanding.
Students eager to learn more about the genuine spiritual life gathered at the Westminster, CA building on Wednesday evening to hear talks on the topic of thankfulness. Moderator Doug Stewart encouraged the class by saying that we can choose to have an attitude of gratitude because in these classes we are being given the real answers to life. We can say “Thank God for the existence of God and mean it!”
Other Wednesday evening speakers also made valuable connections and gave insightful comments on why they are grateful to the Truth itself. Paul Wolfe described a recent observation he made while standing in the supermarket checkout line. “Right there on the cover of a tabloid magazine, I saw a celebrity who has everything the world has to offer. In reality, this person has nothing. Give up what you insist you need to have and you'll have everything. I’m grateful because Truth has shown me I don't have to live the life I think I have to live.” €ť And David Hearst pointed out with right emotion that no one wants to be responsible for anything anymore but that all their nonsense has nothing to do with an earnest personal desire to wake up.
The Thanksgiving Day class was launched by a powerful talk given by New Life Director Richard Wooldridge. He boomed that this Work is not an intellectual endeavor and the conditioned mind can never find the higher kingdom. The biggest misconception that limits self-growth is that we mistake intellectual knowledge of these principles for spiritual essence. “This is all about how you can be your own best friend. You get energy when you don't get negative about something. You can remain calm and say NO to negativity. Stop taking things so personally. Vow ot never take anything personally again!” €ť Richard read a list of negative states that all students could relate to. The list included pride, vanity, bitterness, resentment, anxiousness, boredom, confusion, impatience, arrogance and many others. He made the point that all negative emotions are completely useless and the faster we catch on to how they’re ruining our enjoyment of life the better.
In his helpful talk, New Life’s Southern California Director Dr. Terry Roche focused on the story of Don Quixote referenced by Vernon Howard in “How You Can Expel Emotional Troubles Quickyl” €ť (the title of Chapter 9 in the book Psycho-Pictography). He said, “Don Quixote had read too many stories about dashing knights in suits of shining armor. He imagined himself to be a dashing knight too but he wasn’t — far from it. His armor was rusty and his horse was creaky and old. Aren't we the same way? Aren't we living a dream just like Don Quixote?”€ť This is the human condition. People live from every kind of negativity under the sun while calling themselves pleasant, good and happy. To deeply see the hoax is to be free of it.
The Thanksgiving Day activities provided everyone with great opportunities to observe their inner reactions and to benefit from the energy present when sincere students of these teachings come together to discover more about living an authentically happy life. One interesting lesson always present at banquets is that the serious and the light are both part of this Work. That is why we can learn to spontaneously alternate between very deep and serious subject matter and humorous and light moments just as Vernon Howard did.
As always, the traditional turkey dinner made by the New Life ladies was delicious and so were the plentiful desserts. The lighthearted entertainment that followed the meal included harmonious singing, wholesome, funny humor and skits and graceful dancing. And after the formal entertainment, informal dancing was enjoyed by all.
Vernon Howard once said that no matter how much gratitude you have for this class, it is not enough. At the end of the day, students felt the truth of this statement and were grateful to have put themselves in the right place to receive Truth’s beautiful message.
“Truth is always trying to shake us awake out of a deep sleep. It is always trying to get through to us but we have to take the ‘me’ out of the equation so something a million miles above the earth can help us.” Those were the opening remarks from New Life director, Richard Wooldridge, at the September fall banquet.
Classes began on Wednesday evening when many people from out of state had already arrived. Bill Brown urged us to “Start all over!” “Though I may think I’m a bona fide, certified, qualified spiritual student,” said speaker Doug Stewart, I must pre-qualify for this marathon race, as Vernon Howard explained on MP3 CD Vol. 19 in Talk 9. Speakers said that to do this we must see deeply below the level of our present awareness to know what we are now which was exemplified by a huge stone 500 miles beneath the surface of the earth.
Exploring “actual knowledge into human nature” continued in Saturday’s talks, using as a starting point 700 Inspiring Guides to a New Life. Richard said the world calls bad actions and events good, like worry over our physical health. The false concern which we label as good negatively affects and actually hurts our health and well-being.
Since the whole banquet experience is for acquiring a higher force and more understanding to work on ourselves and to increase the candlelight, everyone put forth considerable effort to make it a success and to learn more. Many ladies helped with food preparation in the fully-equipped New Life kitchen. Lasagna and spaghetti sauces were created and in the early morning hours on Saturday and Sunday, a few ladies prepared quiches and put out fruits and breads for breakfast. Indeed the banquet was spread — both physically and spiritually — at this New Life event.
Parallel with the unfolding of the banquet preparations and enactment, the final steps to get the new Fall/Winter newsletter ready for mailing (which reaches thousands) also took place. Guided by Bill at work parties held in the evenings, we applied tabs and address labels while enjoying social contact with other New Lifers along with breaks for pizza and snacks.
The formal entertainment Saturday continued the Italian theme, with emcee Doug in a loud, stripped jacket and big mustache welcoming us in Italian. The old favorite “That’s Amore” was introduced with lively strumming by Kyle Rickert on her mandolin, and sung by a foursome of enthusiastic performers. Singing culminated with Doug’s riotous impersonation of Elvis Presley in his blue-swede shoes and turned-up collar in a unique rendition of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” accompanied by the pretty voices of Kyle and Lynne Wooldridge.
A variety of skits and short jokes and a Pretties dance completed the entertainment. Subjects for jokes ranged from senior moments thru pitfalls of marriage, smart phones and beautiful but dumb blondes. Paul Wolfe brought us some light whimsy on “horse sense,” while Colorado Dave exposed some laws about nature not taught in physics. These segments performed by the students aid in getting free of fear so more light can reach us. A relatively new student later remarked about how nice it was to enjoy fun but clean entertainment, so rare in this world today. Banquet comments on Sunday emphasized the light-hearted atmosphere. The experience seeks to reach centers beyond the mind, since as Richard clarified in a quote from The Answer, “Earthly minds have no ability to understand celestial truths.”
All the entertainment, the superb spaghetti dinner and rounds of breakfasts, snacks and desserts were balanced with necessary tough truth talks you will never hear anywhere else. On Sunday the speakers added more to our knowledge. One speaker likened it to making a cake: we must put the ingredients or principles of Truth into action. Another outlined the three steps of self-transformation from chapter 7 in Pathways to Perfect Living. He said to let the knowledge we were getting jolt us: “It’s the willingness to see ourselves as we actually are.” We were also reminded that evil runs this world and that’s why it is necessary to understand evil.
As Vernon Howard put it, “Once you get a taste of Truth nothing can stop you from wanting more.” The banquet experience increased that ‘taste for Truth’ and brightened our candlelight a bit.
“Thank you so much for the newsletter. Each one is a delightful treat to receive in the mail and is a sheer little treasure of fresh inspiration and relevant comments from Mr. Howard. I have made a vigorous determination to devote myself to my freedom and wholeness. This determination and continuous study of Vernon Howard’s writings yielded life saving results nothing short of miraculous.
Anyone who really wants an ‘authentic’ life filled to overflowing with the good Life, can’t afford to ignore Vernon’s writings and powerful insights into the human condition. His writings answer a life-time of real and imagined concerns that have mystified the most learned minds.”
Marie N., Palm Springs, CA
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