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“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
A light and lively spirit was present at New Life’s Thanksgiving Day banquet held at the New Life Plaza in Westminster in Southern California. The day’s class was opened by Richard Wooldridge who shared a marvelous quotation from a talk given by Vernon Howard. Vernon said, “Some of you people are afraid to smile. That smile was deep down inside of you all along. Use the physical to work on the inner to free yourself. This is very high.” Richard then added, “Be cheerful and try to be consciously pleasant. No excuses!”
In his opening remarks, Richard said to come to every class possible because “you don’t know how much help you’re actually getting when you come here.” He also urged students to familiarize themselves with the New Life website which contains a treasury of higher information and is updated all the time.
The class’s first speaker, Paul Wolfe, talked about having a moral obligation to live a free and happy life. “Real morality means you never hurt another human being.” Paul also said we must realize the fact that we’re separated from God and that the world is doing everything it can to keep us in our present position, in the thought trap. He gave a great example of how we’re protected if we will abandon the false nature and begin to obey heavenly instructions. “You can actually have a ‘force field’ around you when you go out into the world. That is what protects you and keeps negativity out.”
In his talk, Richard reminded the class of the famous Vernon Howard exercise “Bear the pain and pain the bear.” “We must call the bluff on pain instead of always wanting to run away and lose ourselves in distractions. For example, there are millions of things to do, millions of distractions in the Los Angeles area. Truth doesn’t say we can’t do those things but it does say they are not necessary.” He also relayed a story about deliberately going against the sour part of us that wants to be dull and insists on being in a gloomy state. In the Colorado classes, some students often ride to class with another student. This student, by his own admission, is a grump in the morning, but one recent Sunday morning he made a conscious effort to drop the grumpiness and be pleasant. The other students commented they were grateful for his effort because everyone was positively affected by his lighter mood. Richard said, “A lot of people will be grateful when you are no longer a grump!”
At one point during his talk, he had people trying to remember the names of the Seven Dwarfs, like Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful, Dopey, etc. During student comments, Richard asked one student which dwarf he was and the student said “All of them!” And Karen made a very funny comment when she said, “I don’t care anything about the Seven Dwarfs but I sure am identified with Sleeping Beauty.” The New Life atmosphere really does combine the authentic study of very serious subjects with a lot of fun and good cheer.
The delicious traditional Thanksgiving feast was followed by wholesome entertainment put on by the New Life students including pretty, melodic songs, dancing and funny jokes. One hilarious 5-second act portrayed Doug as a hospital patient with Lupe as his nurse. The laughter from the first punchline was so loud, no one heard the second part of the joke!
Following the end of the day’s festivities, everyone felt gratitude for what had been offered to them at New Life: the opportunity to transcend every problem and every fear and to live a free and peaceful inner life.
Banquets! An ideal place to work and grow! Said Vernon Howard in a talk, “There’s no such thing as idle time for you — you should always be working.” So though we have lots of fun and food, banquets are not a vacation where you go to be served, but a place to become different and, as Vernon said, to take a vacation from yourself. We show how grateful we are to New Life and Vernon, not by endless talking, but by doing the Work, both inner and outer.
Benefits of Banquets
Comments which emerged, especially on Sunday as activities were drawing to a close, provided glimpses of the insights and changes that occurred. Regina Netherton said, “When we come we're all mental, but by the last dance we're mostly out of the mental; it’s gone.”
Banquets are far more than just words, as someone said. Bill Brown mentioned you “can't get this with the intellect.” Speakers provided vital spiritual information to ponder and learn from: we then sought to act on the principles and examples. Judy Parsons mentioned, “Everyone here is a teacher for me.”
During food preparation early Friday morning, lots of women worked cheerfully and efficiently getting the Italian feast ready for Saturday. Meanwhile men were learning new lessons helping to clean up the New Life property. At work parties, lightness and fun prevailed, as well as relaxing work and great pizza. Bill provided lots of humor with his jokes about our unconscious mistakes while working on the newsletter mailing, such as classifying them as “class A or B felonies.” The lightheartedness helped us to not defend the mistakes but to learn from them.
In formal entertainment you never know when you'll encounter emcee Doug Stewart with Italian accent, in a funny hat and bright-colored, striped jacket to introduce witty and talented entertainers right out of the audience. They delighted and amused us by portraying various characters in humorous jokes or sang beautiful songs of old like “My Wonderful One.”
After Nancy Shade, former opera star, led a sing-along with Doug and Lynne of “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” director Richard Wooldridge later commented what a treat it is to hear Nancy sing, and that she said she had never used a microphone in any of her stage performances. He added the lesson that the art of speaking clearly and projecting the voice, as Nancy does, and which was once practiced in large amphitheaters in Greek and Roman times, has been lost. This is evidenced at banquets and in talks when students will sometimes mumble weakly, even when using a mic! Vernon himself encouraged us to “speak up” when giving a talk or performing in an act.
Awareness of Negativity
We must go farther than we want to go, a speaker pointed out. So we are pushed and encouraged and inspired to see what we haven't seen before and to do and be something new and different. One speaker gave an example of how “you think you’re aware when you're really asleep,” as when misplacing keys and getting locked out. As the talks continued over three days, a theme emerged that “only awareness of negativity” can move us to change. 1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle was quoted, #779: “Remember that the sighting of a new weakness must precede the acquisition of a new strength.” It does no good, as Doug said, to be “a fox-hole Christian who turns to God only when afraid or in a pickle.” It's a full-time job and we can “practice all day long dropping negativity.”
Banquet Saturday’s talks emphasized dropping dependency on others and doing independent self-work. Like the “puzzled porcupines” in Secrets for Higher Success, we can’t cling together in shared misery. [Vernon once said, “Shared experiences are very low.”] Richard told us how we give other people power to upset and intimidate us: “Don't be bluffed. Let them be mad if they want. Let the other driver be an idiot — it has nothing to do with you…. You think your own depression is real. So you excuse yourself and others with ‘it’s only human.’ Stop it! Get rid of these stupid liberal ideas you have about helping others. No! Help yourself! Let Truth handle it for you and tell you what to do — with ‘a new power of consciousness.’”
When we make a stand for God and Truth by coming to banquets we are often attacked by our own mind. “Darkness is aware of what’s happening here,” a speaker said and Richard reminded us, “There are evil forces at work that are trying to destroy you. You’re going to have to call the bluff on the darkness. Satan knows where each one of us is the weakest. Truth can free you if you will let it.” We can become smarter than the darkness!
A letter was read on Sunday by Judy Poston from a student who has visited New Life on several occasions. She said, “Going to banquets has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life…. And I would really like to thank you and New Life for making Vernon's materials available and accessible. His material has certainly changed my life and the way I view myself and the world around me; I don't know what I would do had I not come across his publications years ago….”
Exploration for the three-day weekend of the 2016 July banquet was based on a chapter in Vernon Howard's book The Power of Your Supermind entitled “The Cosmic Wonders Within Yourself,” a tremendous topic for inner study. By plunging into the work and the activities at the banquet, students again felt the awakening of cosmic energies.
“Do you just want to star in your own zombie movie?” inquired speaker Moe Janosec, to jolt us into awareness Friday evening at the opening of the New Life banquet. He explained how we’ve been lied to about everything and must become aware of what is really happening. Everything in the world is calculated to stop us from finding Higher Truth.
The metaphor from The Power of Your Supermind [as well as in The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power] about people riding in a train up the spiritual mountain was introduced by Jack Carter. He warned us not to get off the train and settle down to the lower life.
“Feel your feet on the floor, the seat you are sitting in. Keep your mind where your body is. Start life all over,” directed speaker Paul Wolfe in his talk on Saturday. That little interruption in the mechanical flow of life made room for an increase in consciousness, in something new in the atmosphere. Paul explained how even if another person is negative or screams at you, you can calmly leave it with them and “let it drop to the floor without touching it.”
Director Richard Wooldridge gave us some very practical yet spiritual advice about communicating with each other. When we are 100% responsible for giving others clear directions, there is no confusion and everyone benefits. He implored us to understand that these teachings must be incorporated into our entire life. We need to begin to view our spiritual efforts as One thing instead of placing life into separate compartments like health, finances, recreation and higher study.
Richard told us to just see what is there, without interpreting. “With silent receptivity, all things are possible.... The only way is for you to go silent.... It is very valuable to just sit there and do nothing.”
During the banquet, meals, beverages, desserts or snacks were always available. Banquet dinner offered choices of BBQ beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken and delectable smoked turkey breast, accompanied by a savory cranberry-habanero sauce. A tempting and tasty array of salads, fruits, and desserts completed the menus.
The Saturday afternoon entertainment with a western theme was a lively mix of dance, song, and comedy, all entertainment provided by New Life students. A sample of the entertainment was “Blue Montana Skies,” a song beautifully harmonized by four singers. It included words most fitting to the theme of the banquet: “Free as the eagle flies in blue Montana skies, with him my spirit soars and will be free.” Duets by Lynne and Kyle included two more light, amusing western tunes with challenging yet well executed yodeling.
After Saturday's banquet, which included a taste of something else the heart yearns for, another class followed on Sunday morning. We found ourselves in the New Life Pergola, an open mountainside structure situated where nature abounds. There everyone gathered for a final class to expand our understanding and continue our growth. Bill Brown opened that talk by stating, "My topic is LOVE." [Everyone laughed.] He then explained, "There is no love in you if you are not presently residing in the Kingdom of Heaven.” And he added, "Your traitor mind does not care for you.... Our natural state is to live in natural love, not in frantic seeking…. You’re trying to have a life outside of cosmic law. It doesn’t exist — nothing is separate from it.”
David Netherton spoke on the section of the Supermind chapter about shocks. He said shocks crack our habitual ways. Quoting Supermind, he said, “But consciousness, awareness is always something new. It is never the mechanical parroting of memorized information.” Lynne Wooldridge talked about our “spilling level” and read some notes from Vernon about how it is necessary to be shocked and insulted in order to grow. Bill said you’ve got a chip on your shoulder a mile wide. Coming to banquets is the perfect opportunity to have that knocked off!
Other speakers throughout the weekend made comments about how banquets are incredibly beneficial and can show us what is hidden inside. We volunteer to be pushed by self-work to go beyond our usual limits of mind and body. Sherry Day commented that she now loves the banquet dancing, though she used to fear and run away from it. Jeff Fisher added, "You don’t get the full effect of classes and the teachings unless you come to banquets." During informal dancing a spontaneous and hilarious drama occurred in which two fishermen, Jeff and Doug, struggled over an imaginary fishing line, followed by a frantic chase as the fish, Kyle, got away!
Perhaps Doug expressed best what the banquet was all about with the statement, "There has to be something more to life than getting the things I want and when I get them, they don't make me happy." He later added, "Every time I come to a banquet, it's like a gigantic leap upward." Judy Parsons said, You don’t have to know what you’re doing, just follow instructions.”
The intensity of the presence of Truth increased as the weekend progressed and everyone left to go back to the noisy world with the resolve to work harder on themselves. But not before another magical meal was enjoyed on tables near a sparkling stream and under massively tall spruce and pine trees. Oh yes, and who can forget the natural delight of feeding little Chipper, the golden-mantled ground squirrel who loves to take an almond from the hand!
Would you like to truly change your life? All of the information and energy necessary for that change was present at New Life’s March 2016 Irish banquet. The fun and particularly congenial atmosphere at this banquet provided a unique opportunity to work on ourselves right then and there.
With an impetus to steer our attention away from its wasted wanderings and toward higher development, Wednesday night’s class speakers talked about a “Power that Sets You Free.” The deeply insightful story was recalled about people in a small town who returned from the big city depressed. One man who investigated discovered that negative voices were being piped into the hotel rooms and were whispering evil messages to them at night while asleep.
Bill Brown also told us of a Vernon Howard talk [Secret Energy for Inner Change, DVD # 22, talk 3 and Blu-ray # 8, talk 2] that describes how, if we give up our negative use of energy and relax from ourselves, the energy will actually be reversed and can then be used as a powerful tool for higher perception and understanding.
Powerful talks on Saturday gave further practical advice on insights for change. New Life Director Richard Wooldridge used a personal example to illustrate reversing energy for inner change. Misplacing a case for his glasses, he described how the mind misfires in all directions, such as getting irritated or wanting to blame someone else. So he got practical like a spiritual detective and tracked it back to the source. To solve problems, we must “remove me from the equation; get myself out of the way…. Let Truth show me what to do!”
Doug Stewart also talked about the study of suffering [see chapter 7 of The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power] and the value of a crisis: “Advancement to higher understanding is always preceded by a crisis.” For example, we can study mental pain by observing phony behavior and the wish for approval from others. David Hearst mentioned that we can’t get in touch with Truth using the lower mind. The spirit must become active and the mental apparatus passive, for as Richard said, “the intellect cannot function from spiritual logic.”
During the banquet activities, such as preparing and serving the delicious Irish dinner and during rehearsals and cleaning, a cooperative spirit prevailed. Lots of work was accomplished in a short time, while flowing smoothly without chaos. The “easy flow” talked about in Sunday’s class [see Pathways to Perfect Living, chapter 9] actually prevailed in most situations. Of course we could observe where the lower nature likes to get offended if its plan doesn’t win out when lots of other egos are present. But that is the “value of a crisis” which is so powerful at banquets. As was mentioned Sunday by Bill, a big part of us does not want to wake up, so the crises are necessary to shock us awake and to end our self-deception. The banquet atmosphere was light and safe for learning serious life lessons and a genuine effort was made to let Truth, not the false old mechanical nature, be in charge.
The entertainment portion of the banquet continued our chance for growth and learning, not to mention the enjoyment of some good old-fashioned fun. Formal entertainment opened with a big welcome from an Irish Doug Stewart and the lively and unforgettable tune of “MacNamara’s Band.” Katherine read a humorous parody very expressively about boy and girl potato sweethearts. Ireland is home to the County of Limerick and limerick also means a short rhyming poem, so we heard some lighthearted limericks, as well as many other funny jokes.
One high point of the entertainment was two beautiful songs about the Emerald Isle sung by Kyle and Lynne in their exquisite blend of pure harmony. Further work in the evening wrapped up the mailing of the new Spring/Summer 2016 Newsletter which will reach many students who want to know more about how to have a “New Life.”
We were reminded that the New Life website www.anewlife.org has a new feature beginning this month on the What’s New page. Called Truth Principles at Work, this new section of articles will be written by a different New Life student each month, describing valuable lessons they have learned from the Work.
It is difficult to express what is received at a banquet but one student summed it up this way: “I’m feeling that all unanswered questions about life are offered here if only I will have an authentic affection for what I’m hearing!”
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.
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!
I love receiving the newsletter twice a year and wouldn’t want to miss it. I reread them over and over.
Also I want to let you know that I love the website. I visit it almost every day. It is so helpful because of the excellent design and information. Also the daily e-mail reinforce the message and give me something nice to look forward to every single day.
I have been studying Vernon Howard for about 13 years and he has helped to completely change my life. From a whining, self-pitying person to someone who is beginning to take responsibility for my own actions and know that there is indeed a way out!
I am planning to attend the class in Pagosa Springs, Colorado next year and maybe one in Strawberry too. I can’t wait to meet like-minded people and enjoy the wholesome atmosphere.
God Bless you all for carrying on Vernon Howard’s work!
— S. C., Delray Beach, Florida