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.”
A perfect setting in Strawberry, Arizona, of fall colors with sunshine, natural breezes moving through the trees, and some light rains to cool the pine forests ushered in New Life’s September banquet. It infused us with renewed energy and enthusiasm for observing and uncovering new truths. Banquets provide a chance and a challenge to go deeper into studying who we are not and who we can be. Being up close and personal with many other students can show us much more about ourselves, exposing falseness we hadn’t yet seen and inspiring a change of nature.
Class Wednesday night centered around Talk 4 from DVD 3, about how we can “Start Life All Over.” Bill Brown described Vernon Howard’s forceful admonition to “throw back those covers, get out of that bed,” to shock the lazy self awake. One speaker illustrated our situation: he said to imagine an enemy 1. who is invisible, 2. who can put thoughts in your mind and 3. who makes you think they are your own thoughts. That describes perfectly what we’re up against. But we are also constantly reminded not to be intimidated by our wrong thoughts and that it is possible to rise above them.
“How to Live Serenely in a Violent World” was the fascinating chapter from Pathways to Perfect Living explored at the Saturday banquet morning class. New Life director Richard Wooldridge began with that firm, uncompromising fact from Vernon that “there is only a spiritual solution,” not one for finances and another for relationships or careers, etc. Both Richard and Vernon commanded, “Stop wasting your money,” which is both a practical and a spiritual instruction. Richard went on, “Your level got you into that situation.” When we see ourselves repeating our destructive behavior, we must say firmly, “This has to stop!” As Vernon often says, “Awareness of your badness is good.”
On Sunday, the metaphor of water representing Truth from DVD 31, Talk 1 was used to explain that, just as water carved the Grand Canyon, authentic truth can also wear down our stubborn rock-hard heads. Like water which drips and slowly dissolves rock, coming to every class and loving what we’re hearing is able to do what we cannot do to change our hardened natures. Vernon said you cannot expect to come to one class and hear just one thing and be magically changed. You have to go out, experience mistakes (which he eloquently enumerates) and then “Come on back! Come on back every time…no matter what happens to you!” Richard reminded us that we are never condemned, but must see and understand, then make the necessary corrections.
Reference was also made to an old favorite talk, “Conquer Stress While Sleeping,” which appears on the MP3 CD Powerful Techniques for Self-Rescue, currently on sale on the New Life website and in our latest newsletter. This talk is about how we go out each morning with a basket full of preferences and “our preference meets the fact.” So we flounder and can’t sleep at night. The first talk explains a nighttime exercise, and is also full of humor (about a man who goes to his club but fails to be awarded the Chief Racoon of the Year award. “Pity his poor wife when he gets home.”)
Entertainment followed the talks, with much good humor in skits and jokes, a poem and limericks, songs and dancing. A delicious Italian menu was served of homemade lasagna, spaghetti and rich sauces and more, followed by outstanding desserts. We were also greeted each morning before classes with hot coffee, quiches, fruits and more.
Comments from students on Sunday were offered before parting:
“This was a five-star banquet, with no 6-stars.”
We were “free from ourselves for a while,” and with that empty space were “able to learn something new.”
“The pleasant cooperation” enabled us to work together efficiently. “The work at New Life is well-organized and practical.” One person said the atmosphere provided “a calming energy,” not at all chaotic or frantic like that imposed upon us by the world.
“The final Sing-along in the entertainment of ‘Brighten the Corner Where you Are’ was the most enthusiastic of any banquet ever.”
So “come on back” home and plan to attend classes or one of our upcoming banquet get-togethers. You will receive something higher that cannot be expressed in words, but will be felt by the heart.
When you come to a New Life banquet, your old nature will be challenged and get stirred up. Here’s one example: “You’re not born with a soul,” remarked New Life Director Richard Wooldridge in his opening talk at the July banquet in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. “But you have the possibility of getting one,” he continued, passing on the cosmic principles highlighted in Vernon Howard’s teachings.
Vernon Howard designed banquets and presented these exceptional facts for the few who want to awaken. “The false self is hiding out inside and doesn’t want to be exposed,” said Richard. But at banquets it is uncovered and brought to the light, which begins to dissolve it. Before the weekend was over, there was the unmistakable experience of Something Else beginning to awaken in those present. The energy in that is what we have longed for our whole lives.
Talks for the weekend were based on Chapter 2 in A Treasury of Trueness about “How to be Truly Happy.” This is a book packed with some of Vernon Howard’s most powerful tidbits, unforgettable for their strong appeal to the higher emotional center. This banquet spoke to everyone about every inner issue and so provided answers to any and all difficulties.
We were given the project for all of banquet day to slow down and do everything consciously. A most helpful exercise was also assigned to be applied throughout the weekend activities: “Instead of going frantic, go conscious” — particularly useful in a week packed with lots of events and lots of work to do.
Friday night’s class asked students to describe their journey getting to the banquet (they came to Colorado from Arizona, California, Utah, New Mexico and North Carolina) and the obstacles they encountered. A common theme was “I was the biggest obstacle to my getting here,” though worldly events can and often do make it difficult to get where the pure Truth is taught.
Early on we were cautioned by speaker Moe Janosec not to rely on the mental: “Chuck the checklist” containing life plans and false obligations.
He encouraged us to use a right NO! toward inner and outer negativities: “Don’t be a wimp. Let your NO be forceful.”
On banquet day Richard got down to basics:
1. “Don’t tolerate negativity. Under no circumstances is it OK to be nervous and to worry.” 2. “You can’t get this by thinking about it.” 3. “The damage can be undone.” He emphasized that “It’s not our job to straighten out the world, it’s our job to straighten out ourselves.”
Paul Wolfe, Southern California Director, explained that these classes “are about making contact with a higher self. If you want to go to a higher place, you have to leave the lower.” And he repeated those five, simple, unforgettable words of Vernon: “Happiness is better than misery.”
Speaker Jeff Fisher mentioned that there is something in all of us that knows when it hears the truth. If your mind complains that you’re not getting this, he quoted, “When you really want to hear something outside of yourself, you will.” It always comes back to our own personal responsibility for going through the obstacles and increasing our receptivity.
The banquet in Pagosa Springs offers a Barbeque buffet with plentiful food and fresh, new surprises at the dessert table. Entertainment provided healthy laughter, clean jokes and skits, unusually pretty, harmonious songs and a lively polka by the Pretties dancers. Plus joining in the fun, ‘follow-the-leader’ dancing offers a challenge to the vanity and an opportunity to experience freedom of movement and spirit.
This awakening is what the heart, the developing spirit wants, though the terrible false self resists it and wants to stay asleep.
A pleasant surprise awaited us on Sunday morning where, after a breakfast of fruit, quiches, coffee and more, the final class of the banquet weekend was held in the outdoor pergola on the New Life property. Fresh mountain breezes, numerous bird calls, a stream cheerfully rippling below all helped to relax the mind and calm the spirit.
Bill Brown, New Life Arizona Director, opened his talk by quoting, “Seek insight, not happiness.” His review of inspiring comments from the weekend were timely and practical reminders of our work.
Bill pointed out that Vernon’s book title There is a Way Out reveals what a part of us knows, that we are actually IN a prison (though we can also “be in the world but not of it”). He told of an old movie called “The Dirty Dozen” that was popular because its cast were men who had committed serious crimes but had the possibility of redemption. We must rebel against our wrongness, he said, or else we get to a place where we settle down and “are willing to tolerate what evil is doing to us.”
Speaker David Netherton mentioned that Truth was present in the peaceful setting and it lit up something in every person there who had the willingness to receive it. He reiterated the principle that our thought patterns create our biggest obstacles. As Vernon said, “You’re using the mind to correct the mind, and it can never be done.”
Robin Kent recalled Vernon’s story of the outlaw who finally admitted to the Cosmic Sheriff, “Yes, I’m tired of running. There has to be something else.” After his willing admission came his pardon. Robin gave us Vernon’s assurance, “Don’t be afraid of what is going to happen to you as a result of these studies because it can only be good.”
During Sunday’s class students were asked for comments about the banquet and related these fresh discoveries:
… “You get real freedom at banquets.”
… About coming to banquet: “I had to give up part of ME to come.”
… About cleanup: “I can mop at sea level (California), but not at 7000 feet!”
… A couple of students described how, if you continue to work even when tired, if you make the effort to go against yourself and challenge the thoughts and keep moving forward, you receive bursts of energy from something higher. This always happens, especially for those who stay until the end of the festivities.
Nothing is more meaningful and sobering than reclaiming our spiritual birthright, but Vernon Howard also understood the need for social fun and entertainment in the midst of the serious work we must do on ourselves. That’s why he deliberately set up New Life banquets in a way which would bring together, in one place and at one time, all the elements needed for our spiritual growth.
Though a variety of life topics are covered at every meeting, class talks usually focus on one or two main themes. The Wednesday night class on May 8 was conducted by New Life’s Director Richard Wooldridge. He stressed that our ties to this world create tremendous obstacles and distract us from our higher aims. That afternoon, he had been listening to a powerful Vernon Howard talk (MP3 CD Vol. 27, Talk 1) and working on his own talk when all of a sudden, a cacophony of noise disturbed the atmosphere. Workers around the hotel where he was staying began using a wood chipper and trash trucks came into the area to empty the hotel’s large trash bins. He refused to let all the noise carry his attention away, making the point that we must voluntarily let go of all the world’s demands and clamor and focus our attention on what will save us. He went on to connect this voluntary letting go with having a receptivity and humility toward Truth. “Just know that with more submission to truthful principles, the more you will get! God wants you to be strong, not with egotism, but with inner strength.” He also gave an exercise for the entire banquet weekend which resonated with many students: “Don’t let an hour go by during your day without remembering something higher.”
The Friday evening, Saturday morning and Sunday morning classes also centered around themes meant to free us from the tyranny of the false nature. In his talk, New Life’s Southern California Director, Paul Wolfe, made the comment that the way society operates, “the deck is stacked against you, but the deck has no power!” What a relief to know that there is ‘Something Else’ that can rescue any sincere student from life’s battleground. Another speaker made an interesting observation about present-day music. Though music can provide emotional inspiration, a recent study found that today’s popular music is much more negative than in past decades. It is filled with more angst and animosity, sadness, disgust and much less joy. When listening to this music, the emotional responses generated are more waves of anger and enmity, depression and despair. And that’s why the music you’ll hear at a New Life banquet is light, lively, fun, and sometimes inspirational, the opposite of what’s being offered out there these days.
In his talk, Brad Langenberg provided an excellent example of the right yearning for this ‘Something Else’ in a story he told. Where he is presently working, there is a large hill, a place that rises above the rest of the landscape. The spiritual connection is that human beings have something within them that is drawn to points far above flat ground, places that afford a more expansive and extensive view. The urge is in us to understand the lower, but we must be receptive to the necessity of moving up the mountain to be given the bigger picture.
There is invaluable information provided at banquets and here are some other great points made by speakers and students alike:
The Saturday class was followed by a wonderful meal offering a variety of fresh salads, delicious homemade macaroni and cheese and abundant desserts. Everyone was then treated to entertainment put on by New Life students including melodic songs, dancing and funny jokes. During one 5-second act, a student forgot his punchline and his reaction was even funnier than the joke!
On Sunday, following the end of the classes and banquet festivities, everyone felt grateful for what had been offered to them. Remembering the themes of dropping the resistance to what can save us and of not letting an hour go by without trying to reach the higher, students were inspired to work with and to value these teachings even more.
“The one reason you’re here on this earth is to wake up,” said the Director of New Life Richard Wooldridge, “not to make money or be a star or a counselor for others on how to live their lives.”
The banquets always inspire us to refocus on the essential, and not waste our lives on distractions and obsessions that take us away from our true purpose. We realize how we’ve gone astray with our worries and worldly concerns and learn to correct our course.
Vernon Howard’s words in A Treasury of Trueness, Chapter 3, and on an MP3 CD talk were used to supplement the powerful principles, stories and metaphors employed by speakers to explain problems and solutions, lower and higher choices. Richard discussed the “slavery of approval” and quoted that we must “stop caring what other people think of us. Only care what God thinks of you.” He added that "Truth is trying to shake us out of our sleep and give us something. Everything on this earth is designed to take something away from you.”
On Sunday, using the talk on Volume 22, Talk 4 from the Vernon Howard’s Higher World MP3 CD series, speakers discussed the critical topic of making decisions. Jeff F. described how sitting and facing the inner self “makes you feel like you’re dying,” for the false self is being seen through. “Thoughts tell you to go do something to make yourself more comfortable,” which is why we mustn’t listen to our self-talk. Gary B. quoted that “any attempt to make yourself feel good will fail.... To trust God you must have no confidence in yourself anymore.”
Comments about the banquet included students revealing how they became aware of pretense in themselves, and saw the wish to interrupt other people who were talking but stayed out of it [“SOOIB = stay out of it, birdbrain”]. One person said, “The banquet actually lifted me to another level. My body, my mind, my spirit felt light, safe, like all was well. Everything that happened gave a feeling of confidence that I was in the right place, and it brought encouragement to work harder than ever on leaving the past behind.”
It was also exposed by another student how darkness will always lie to try to keep us away from coming to the powerful banquet events. We must always be vigilant for that attack, be alert and firmly say, NO, you’re not fooling me this time!
We dined on the traditional St. Patrick’s Day feast of corned beef and cabbage and so much more. Everyone agreed that the corned beef was unrivaled in flavor.
In the formal entertainment, the emcee Dave N., an Irish lad himself, was decked out with a tall, bright green top hat with four-leaf clovers (hardly elf-like) to introduce the acts. Ireland was celebrated in many favorite songs, dances and a poem. To begin the entertainment, Lynne sang one of the most beautiful renditions ever of “Danny Boy” (one of Vernon’s favorites). When Lynne and AZ Judy performed a simple, graceful dance and also sang “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover” it was a great example of how “only super-effort counts.” A sing-along of “Galway Bay” was led by Lynne and Judy, accompanied on the Howard Hall piano by Regina. A special highlight of the acts was to hear Bill B. remind us of many humorous quips that Vernon sprinkled throughout his talks with his heart-warming comedy. For example, he said, “My girlfriend looked good ‘til I found out she haunted houses for a living.” We laughed and danced and had plenty of energy left over to complete getting thousands of copies of the new Spring/Summer Newsletter ready for mailing at the final, relaxing work party on Saturday evening.
It was mentioned that one of Vernon's final messages was "all is well." Doug said, "If we stay with the light of Truth, all will be well." That is what our heart wants above all else, and not what this awful, empty world has to offer. The intense higher energy we receive at banquets, found nowhere else, is proof we are on the right path at last.
If you love the wisdom of Vernon Howard, join us at a banquet soon. Everyone is welcome at our banquets held in various locations throughout the year.
“Right now everything is perfect,” Bill Brown quoted Vernon Howard in his opening remarks at the New Life Christmas Day class in Strawberry, Arizona. As astonishing as that may sound, he went on to say that “nature is designed so that everything must evolve.” Bill was clarifying what these higher teachings of Christ, as given by Vernon Howard, are all about. At New Life Foundation we are offered the truth necessary to develop, so that our lower nature can be transformed into a higher self. That means we are not yet complete the way we are.
Director of New Life Richard Wooldridge mentioned that people are asleep to higher messages coming down from heaven but that “the great ruler of the universe never gives up on us.” “God wants to use us as vessels for Truth” and we must yield and allow this to happen.
On the morning of Christmas Eve day, Paul Wolfe as moderator asked students to speak about what they’re grateful for today. He illuminated the meaning of Vernon’s paradoxical statement to “Be of good cheer. Behind those dark clouds are more dark clouds.” We must go through the dark to reach the light and we cannot skip steps. Moe Janosec gave a range of examples of how self-awareness should come before self- gratification, like insisting that a mail order arrive quickly or giving in to the temptation to make that sarcastic remark. Both Richard and Moe emphasized the weight, the heaviness and the limitation of thought. We must refuse to be burdened by ourselves, by others, or by our habit of causing trouble for other people. Richard said we are burdening ourselves with stupid ideas; that we should not think but must welcome insight.
In Sunday's class during Christmas week, Richard endeavored to help people see the mistake they are making by putting moneymaking ahead of Truth. He stressed that the following attitude is very deep-seated in us: “First, I will make a lot of money and then I will have time to pursue Truth.” No! This is the wrong order. While we do have to make a living, he strongly reiterated that we must “Put Truth above everything.” He encouraged us to trust Truth, Reality, to take care of us and to not waste our lives producing an ever- expanding bank account. He added a simple, yet powerful fact, “You can change your mind.”
Talks by speakers on Christmas Day were based on Vernon Howard’s talk “Let the Bus Take you Home” [available on DVD Vol. 26:1 or Blu-Ray 9:5]. It contains the year-long exercise we’ll use for 2019: “Stop loving complaint!” Complaints, as the talk says, are an enormously popular activity amongst humans, but are very unpopular to study. We were told to stop pretending everything is all right. To stay on the bus in part means you do not let anyone or anything take you away from this teaching and from higher Truth. “Stay on the divine bus and don’t get off, being distracted by this world.”
Bill’s example of a lesson in complaint was the woman who wrote New Life to reproach us for the tiny font size of the Secrets of Life quotes. As it turns out, you see what your own computer system generates in the emails, illustrating the principle that you see what you are.
We celebrated five days of the Christmas season with talks and fabulous meals every day, along with many kinds of activities where we could work with others in the work. By doing work, inner and outer, we gather more understanding about ourselves and we uncover our faults, including fear, that stand in the way of our spiritual development. And as always, we had fun entertainment performed and enjoyed by the students on Christmas afternoon. Our punster Bill got the biggest laugh with his clear, well-executed joke about bumper stickers: “Ban pre-shredded cheese. Make American grate again!”
Along with pretty Christmas music, the traditional dancing and entertainment, this was indeed a sane and beneficial way to spend Christmas. Besides the healthy, clean atmosphere, the work parties also provided great fun and pleasant relaxation, much of it working with Vernon’s wonderful books in preparation for the year-end inventory. Our work combines with pleasure when we use it for inner growth and gratitude.
And the best Christmas present of all was that we were waking up to higher energy and finer vibrations, coming down from somewhere higher in the universe. “Where two or three or more are gathered in my name, there am I among you.”
We learned from these classes and talks that there can be no real or lasting happiness as long as we are separated from God. We must honestly admit we're lost and stop acting as if we already know how to get home. When we persist, more insight comes. Echoing Vernon, Paul reminded us that “God is on the side of every sincere effort that you make toward Him.”
A very special spirit of goodwill permeated New Life’s September banquet celebration. The atmosphere on Saturday was one of exceptional light-hearted fun and pleasant cooperation.
Following a delicious breakfast, speakers examined essential topics, truthful ideas to put into action. Director of New Life Richard Wooldridge first read from a 1978 list of profound quotes by Vernon Howard, and students discussed a few, such as “We hunger most for what we need the least.” He then expanded on the section from A Treasury of Trueness about “Conscience and Compassion,” which reveals the world’s ideas of the bad pretending to be good. Richard asked us, “Why do you cling to and keep going back to thoughts of negative experiences you’ve had with someone? Choose for real, not pretend, to not be bothered by these. And don’t express your negativity.” Distractions were discussed and Richard implored us to give up the petty things we’re occupied with. “The sports tavern is no different from the restaurant’s geriatric crowd…. Don’t throw your energy away to drainers and darkness.”
“The Slavery of Approval” in A Treasury of Trueness was the topic explored by Dave N. He gave examples such as the “mind-set” coaches who tell people they need feedback from others, when in reality we should get rid of that dependence utterly. The young in particular are addicted to collecting more “friends” on Facebook and need social media to cement their false identities. Richard commented that when you seek approval you’ll get rejection, the law of opposites in action.
The rest of the weekend’s activities — food preparation, dining, entertainment, and the work party preparing the new Fall/Winter newsletter for mailing, etc. — provided excellent opportunities for inner and outer work with these spiritual ideas for our higher understanding.
The Italian food was extraordinary, simple fare prepared with care and pleasure (for instance, the garlic bread, the pièce de résistance; oops, but that’s French, isn’t it?). Delicious peaches were “imported” from Colorado, and rich ripe tomatoes and crisp cucumbers from a Pine student’s garden enriched the meals.
Entertainment increased the jolly mood, with really funny jokes and pretty songs. Students went the extra mile to speak loud and clear and to act out their characters, such as the Jabberwocky monster, the tater-people and Dr. Bill with his stethoscope. Light-hearted songs introduced the formal entertainment and the Pretties’ light-footed dance concluded it, inviting us to join in the informal dancing all afternoon.
Sunday’s speakers employed another outstanding Vernon Howard book, Your Power of Natural Knowing, for mining the gold in esoteric ideas. Initially students were asked by the moderator to reply to a question: “Is there a higher power to help me?” Then referring to our useless involvements in distractions, Bill B. revealed how part of you knows you don’t really want to do them. He quoted Vernon (in chapter 13) that we can never change our behavior unless we’re exposed as stupid: “there is no self-change from the lower nature to a higher nature without you going through one personal embarrassment after another.” And as Vernon said, other people will help you with this! We really do have it all backwards, don’t we? Bill reminded us that you must BEAR THE PAIN until you see the pain is NOT YOU. Connected to that, Jeff F. reminded us we’re deluded when we think our problems are real.
Comments from students on the banquet experience exhibited the increasing sense of thankfulness and the benefits of making the effort to come to the banquets. Dave N. said, “An innate part of us keeps us coming back.” And a large part also resists. Kyle R., when referring to Vernon’s instruction to “Do it now, get it done, bang, bang bang,” talked about how instead she thinks, “Do it now, get it done, rush, rush, rush. But if you slow down, you get it done just as fast.”
Thank God we can still actually come to a place where the pure truth is taught and valued, and can experience the feeling of actually changing and rising above the old self. When we’re not so self-absorbed, we can put ourselves in another’s place and actually wish each other well. The exceptional atmosphere encouraged us to get outside of ourselves, as Richard said, “For real, not just pretend.”
In a serene area with splendid mountain peaks visible in the distance, the New Life banquet in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, had a cool breeze wafting throughout the spacious hall where we enjoyed the meetings, entertainment and a lavish buffet. The clouds and wind and rain followed by sun, described in Karen W.’s “Little Pinewood Cabin” poem during the entertainment, became a reality on banquet day — to refresh and uplift us above our habitual selves.
Even the lost swallow who got temporarily trapped inside the hall was a reminder from the natural world surrounding us that we must avoid worldly traps and fly higher. At banquets, the struggles between the old negative nature and who we really are can become very apparent.
For the entire banquet weekend, DVD Vol. 6 “Solutions for Lasting Security” (also on Blu-Ray Vol. 3) was the basis for many meaningful talks. On Friday night Moe J. set forth a warning about “free fireworks” that leave us empty: “Sooner or later, you’ll have to pay for what you thought was free entertainment.” Moe emphasized the point that we’re looking one way, dazzled by the fireworks display, while our life energy is being stolen. He exclaimed, “Get tired of being duped!” by childish wishes. God is watching — are you going to do something different this time?” Paul W. also recounted how these classes and banquets are a necessary reminder of our higher purpose, “when you want something new more than what the old you wants.” Paul continued that we must turn our loyalty toward Truth which means detaching our allegiance to the past, to other people, to our own mechanical reactions, and so on.
Saturday’s talks highlighted the day’s abundant activities. Richard Wooldridge, New Life Director stated, "Security, happiness, doesn't exist in things of this world." He stressed that “unless we know and see Truth for ourselves, we don’t know anything at all.” A fundamental principle is that you must see through yourself. Examples given included how we set up agitation so we can believe we exist, trying to find security in repetition, and throwing up a psychological wall as a barrier to seeing evil. Richard explained you can go beyond the mistake-making machine and become new; “you can change.” Vernon Howard said to tell yourself, “I’m not satisfied with that answer and I’m not going to accept it. I refuse it.” Vernon’s DVD talks on solutions underscored that we must “endure uncertainty to find certainty.”
At Sunday’s talks Bill B. gave the exercise to “Let Truth trap you. Unconditional surrender. No conditions.” He suggested to no longer think of the self as a unified person but as a transitory state. Connected to that, Brad L. also reminded us that Vernon told us to read the “You Do Not Exist” talk (which is published in Your Power of Natural Knowing) every day for 30 days. This can change your understanding of everything!
Many profound truths like these were heard at this banquet. A familiar yet unique cycle occurs at these events, where people are different when they leave than when they arrived. Each banquet is new and unique and a higher energy is always felt by anyone open to the exceptional atmosphere.
After the talks on Saturday, a delicious barbeque meal with lots of accompaniments and desserts was served. We danced and laughed and enjoyed cheerful songs and funny, wholesome jokes. An old familiar song “Swinging on a Star” became new and alive and fun with special choreography. It’s not just the fabulous food and pleasant entertainment or valuable talks that made the event indescribable; it’s the taste of Truth that sets it apart from anything else you’ll ever experience. Something Else is present in the atmosphere.
The traditional trek up the "Happy Trail" to the pergola where Sunday morning’s class was held concluded the weekend experience with a 'higher world' touch. When students made comments at Sunday’s class, gratitude for banquets was one topic. Regina N. summed up: “It’s a miracle we’re here.” Bill noted that the old nature, the ungrateful ego, can walk in and “just expect the food to be here, to be entertained”, when in reality a great deal of work must to done in advance to prepare for the banquet. Then Sherry D. revealed how “I don’t know what a mess I really am until I come into this higher atmosphere.” Kyle R. talked about our expectations for life and banquets: “If things went your way you’d never learn anything. God is trying to show us another way.” Lorraine P. affirmed that she was very happy to be at the banquet with others who have a real interest in transforming their lives through these authentic spiritual principles.
It becomes evident, as Lynne W. related, that “there would be nothing real for me to do without dedicating myself to these teachings and without the classes.” Dave N. echoed this when he asked, “What else are you going to do with your life but this?” So are we going to be like the trapped bird, to only fly in endless, frantic circles or will we try God’s way instead of ours? Something far better awaits us. Altogether the weekend offered a vacation from ourselves, from our relentlessly noisy minds. And, because of the effort made, New Life was awakened within.
Students interested in the Higher Life gathered at New Life’s branch in Westminster in Southern California for a delightful May banquet. Just as spring is a time of refreshing renewal in nature, so too the banquet experience offered spiritual renewal and rejuvenation for all those who were there to reap its benefits. This higher source was present in all banquet activities, from the four classes held, to the great food served, and on to the fun and entertainment of the Saturday banquet day itself.
The powerful Wednesday evening class in Pasadena was led by New Life Director Richard Wooldridge. His talk centered around the fact that this is a negative world pretending to be positive. We were encouraged to take to heart the old adage “If it looks like a duck, if it talks like a duck and if it walks like a duck, then it must be a duck.” In other words, stop labeling human behavior in weak, compromising terms. Don’t be afraid to call a duck a duck! We can have the courage to be straightforward and honest about what we’re observing, both within and without. Richard said, “God doesn’t want you to be intimidated by anything. Don’t cave in to the pressures and negativities of this sick world or to your own resistances to Truth. It stops here and now with me! The Spirit of Truth will then live for you and feel for you.”
The following three classes held on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday mornings reflected an unmistakable enthusiasm for what we are learning at New Life. On Friday, some students even commented that the frankness and forthrightness of Wednesday’s class had provided them with new energy and determination to go against the demanding false nature.
Here’s a list of some of the more striking and compelling points made in these talks:
Light humor is frequently a part of New Life classes since it serves as a natural antidote to the heaviness of the artificial, gloomy self. On Saturday, for instance, Richard mentioned that he had had swordfish for dinner the night before and woke up in the middle of the night wanting to duel with someone.
After Saturday’s class, a homemade meal of delicious salads with beef and chicken tacos and lots of accompaniments was served, followed by some very entertaining acts put on by New Life students. They included melodic singing, graceful dancing by the Pretties, and some very funny jokes. And more lightness and good humor was present in the informal dancing than ever before. Truth is happy, vivacious and buoyant and so were we after partaking in the entire banquet experience.
We're escaping! We’re finding the way out and breaking free! The enormous amount of higher energy released at the New Life banquet in Strawberry, Arizona this March made us ecstatic about working to leave our old natures behind and "getting a little closer to God each day," as one speaker put it.
Those who are beginning to awaken sensed the power of what was happening. And undoubtedly, Richard's talk — the highlight of the banquet — shocked us awake enough to feel something else; that is, energy coming from a higher place than this world. "Dedicate your life to finding a soul," Richard Wooldridge said in his talk on Saturday. "A wrong part of you is leading you away from these classes," he noted. "None of us has any time to waste." He quoted Vernon’s talk [MP3 CD Vol. 18, Talk 8], “How can you ever think of missing a single class?” Richard reminded us we need help, but not to identify with being helpless. “The higher life exists only when you don't.”
In his talk, David H. also mentioned that we have to be concerned about gaining a soul. "Forget the past, live in the now. Get home before dark," he advised.
From Vernon Howard’s Treasury of Positive Answers, Chapter 8, speaker Dave N. quoted this question: "But why is it so hard to reach people with these ideas?" He continued, "Because anyone lacking cosmic knowledge doesn't know he lacks it. And only a severe crisis can force him to seek something higher." Dave used the illustration of a business owner who had forgotten to turn her “Closed” sign to “Open” to remind us to always be receptive to higher guidance.
Based on the same book Treasury of Positive Answers as well as Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge, more magnificent directions for finding the true and permanent self and for ending suffering were given by other speakers in the Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday classes. Then, when called upon to comment on their impressions of the banquet, many students accurately described it as follows:
Katherine P: "The talks were spectacular and you could feel in them a miracle."
Kyle R: “I got so much out of working in the kitchen. And I learned when things go wrong, you don't have to get negative.”
Lynne W., referring to the Pretties dance: “We had a great time dancing.”
Judith A., regarding the entertainment: “There was pleasant harmony in “Annie Laurie,” [a favorite old Scottish song]; and after the banquet I was bouncing off the walls from the special energy.”
Colleen, a new lady who made a super effort to come all the way from Florida for the banquet and joined us in the kitchen work: “I appreciate everyone being kind to me and I am happy to have been here to share it with you all.”
Jon J. drew attention to the connections between all the classes and talks and topics, “in every class all the time.” Bill B. added, Truth is “all one thing.”
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day a bit early included a traditional meal of corned beef, cabbage, and buttered parsley potatoes. When asked to comment on all the food that Judy P. and others spent hours planning and preparing, not a person said a word; only a loud round of applause erupted. Vernon, who was Irish and whose birthday was March 16th, set aside the March banquets to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. And of course, this is a tradition New Life continues to this day.
In the Sunday class a student stated, “The mind is not our friend," while Bill B. clarified by adding, "Mental people are under the control of dark forces." He suggested we need to ask ourselves, "Is it possible I’m self-deceived?”
So besides having an enjoyable time, hidden negative forces in us did come up to the light where they could begin to be dissolved. Fear, for example, or a mechanical resistance to someone with whom there was a personality conflict. This makes most people run away and never come back, because the dark forces within are terribly pained when being exposed. Our mind really is not our friend the way it presently operates, and it doesn't want us to see our actual condition. But when we understand, we see that this is the way out. We would never see this in ourselves out in the world without the truth teachings given by Vernon Howard. And if a teaching doesn't require us to see what's wrong first, it is not a true teaching; it is only lies and self-deception.
These banquets help us shake off the influence of this evil world. The Light is what changes us. That's what made this banquet so special and why we fell in love with what went on there. After arriving home someone said it all by starting an email this way: “Just got home from another “get-back-on-track” New Life banquet.”
“This is the best Christmas of my life,” declared Kyle R., as the New Life Christmas Banquet celebration came to a close.
"The food was not just good but incredible, and the classes were great,” was Moe J.’s analysis of the six-day Christmas festivities in Strawberry, Arizona. When leaving for her home in Utah, the face of Nancy S. glowed with fresh life, making no words necessary. Making unanimous the uplifting impressions, Katherine P. commented: “This Christmas Banquet was just the BEST.”
Leaving behind all the cares of this world, a core of students gathered at the New Life headquarters in Strawberry, Arizona, to enjoy the magic of this traditional Christmas event. There, a transformation of inner-life states began to occur. For as one partakes in the myriad activities quite unique to New Life Foundation, something above the mind begins to be felt. It is what those opening quotes above are all about. Surely, no other gift is as valuable as “cosmic energy coming through,” as one speaker put it.
With that empowering higher energy, we danced, we sang and we enjoyed doing the necessary tasks such as the cooking, prior to all dining together on nothing short of fabulous meals. Many declared the organic beef-barley soup on Christmas Eve to be the best soup they’d ever eaten anywhere. Wholesome acts and jokes and music for entertainment gave everyone a chance for special enjoyment as well as providing them with the experience of observing hidden anxiety consciously while participating.
All week profound talks were given by director Richard Wooldridge of Colorado, Bill Brown of Strawberry and Paul Wolfe of Southern California, as well as other men who regularly attend New Life classes. Talks were all based on the higher teachings of Christ as passed on by Vernon Howard, who also knew and lived what is real and lasting beyond this life.
As Vernon had emphasized, there is Something Else but we are asleep to it. Yet at the banquet, it was beginning to make itself known and to melt down the ice cube ego with its warmth. “We want a newness to our lives that nothing can take away,” was how Doug Stewart put it in his talk. "The intellect can only move back and forth, not up,” explained Richard. "Let Truth touch your heart so you're not pained by you anymore,” he continued.
In Bill’s talk, he reminded us of the preliminary steps to freedom. “Vernon told us things must get worse, worse, worse, 7 times he said worse; for to have my ego defeated is a good thing …. He told us we receive the pure truth here and then go home and when no one is looking secretly pour it down the drain. Only one small part of us is not hostile to truth.”
Paul emphasized we must look at things from a different, higher perspective, and can start life all over right now. As Moe said, “Truth is trying to push us into a corner, so we will eventually trust only God.”
There are greater and greater attacks along the path," declared Bill, reminding us that evil forces do not want to lose even one person. Richard encouraged us with this fact, “I am never left in a place where God cannot help me.” We were reminded that no one is condemned, yet we are still responsible to change. “I have to do the work for myself. No one can do it for me,” is how Richard put it. That and the ”internal upheavals” he mentioned are what are needed to wake us up and live beyond this life.
“I want to live,” declared Sally Forrest in a pre-class talk at the New Life’s September banquet in Strawberry, Arizona. Of course, she didn’t mean just the continuation of physical life, but the possibility of the spirit living forever. Sally has been at New Life Foundation since its inception in the 1970s and her remark was prompted after we had been talking about where she now lives in an assisted living facility, where she alone is a lively student of Truth.
For our spirit, the true self, to live forever, there must be a change from the mental level to the spiritual level. And that's what the entire five-day banquet event was all about. In his talk, Director Richard Wooldridge said, “There is something else that can lift us up. That’s why we come here.” And there indeed was a connection with Something Else, higher energy that lifted our spirits and made us want more. The energy generated at this fall gathering touched us throughout and afterwards. Tasks were quickly and efficiently done, bursts of lightning-like sparks carried us on in our activities cooking, singing, dancing, driving, talking, setting up tables and chairs, etc.
Beginning the Saturday talks, Richard asked us to discuss “What holds me back?” — which got students working to reveal what we struggle against. Dave Netherton read from Freedom from a Life of Hell that one definition of hell is a negative nature. Truth is “mercifully merciless” to help free us from our own false nature. To escape that artificial self, Dave gave the exercise when in bed at night to “not think about tomorrow.”
Richard’s talk emphasized the absolute necessity for us to stop being directed by our wrong thinking. He read (from Conquer Harmful Anger 100 Ways, #19), “Don’t think; just quietly observe.” While discussing human frailty he used the example of “the soap opera of New Life!” Vernon said (in Anger, #41), “You have no right to angry complaints…. You are exactly where you have chosen to be.” To change, Richard told us to put the false self at risk: “You are afraid to rock the boat.” So despite the protests of the old nature, the banquet helped us do just that.
Paul Wolfe, who directs the New Life branch in Southern California, asked us in his Sunday morning remarks, “Where do you live? Not Colorado, Arizona or California but internally?” He explained that “We’re capable of higher development but we have to let go of the lower first. The treasure is buried inside each and every one of us.” He reminded us that the reason we forget the Kingdom of Heaven is within is that the king of hell doesn’t want us to remember.
Explaining how mental people are, Brad Langenberg used the example of those who own horses and know everything about horses (like their food, medications, etc.) but can’t ride. He likened this to those who only talk about the Work and the teachings of Vernon Howard without applying the principles. Said a student, passing on the wisdom of Mr. Howard, “You know you can't change yourself. But you can use suffering to end suffering by seeing your actual inner condition. See how bad off you really are. Then you have a chance for God to change you.”
A refreshing rain had cooled the Arizona air just in time for beautiful weather on Saturday and Sunday. The banquet is arranged for us to work together in all kinds of activities, which helps to expose to the healing light those repressed negativities like irritation and anxiety that lurk hidden inside everyone. Exposing them to ourselves consciously changes our level of being.
The traditional Italian feast was tastier than ever, and was nearly all made from fresh organic ingredients, including a garden-fresh antipasto salad from a student’s garden. A new quartet with guitar (Craig, Brad, Lynne and Kyle) sang beautiful renditions of two western songs, including the lovely lullaby-like “Tumbling Tumbleweed.” To illustrate the well-known lesson “Necessity is the mother of invention,” Texas Judy dramatized the Aesop’s fable, “The Crow and the Pitcher. Among other acts, the Pretties entertained us with a lively polka that was lovelier than ever.
The Saturday night work party preparing the Fall/Winter 2017 New Life News for mailing was a lot of fun — right, Bill? (Bill Brown is in charge of that demanding project, getting thousands of newsletters ready to mail.) And the pizza wasn’t bad, either!
Comments about banquet extended from “Yum” to astonishment at how well organized the kitchen preparation was (by a lady new to the Strawberry banquet). Another said it is amazing how much work gets done in a short time here at New Life. Someone talked about how we come here not wanting to lie and try to fool each other, unlike out in the world.
For those who gathered there, the banquet was like taking a vacation from ourselves and the troubled world. The esoteric secret is always the same: the more we engage in all the activities and do even more than our minds say we can do, the more our higher nature is renewed. There really is a way to “live above this crazy world” forevermore by applying the cosmic laws we learn here. We can learn to let God, Truth live our lives for us. Richard concluded the day with the reminder that we “must get beyond the mind, get past our memories because Truth is not a memory.”
“Let a Higher Spirit Guide You” was the theme for New Life’s July banquet talks, based on the Vernon Howard MP3 CD of the same name. The ten talks on this MP3 CD contain some of the strongest and most inspiring messages Vernon set forth in his unforgettable stories. People traveled all the way to Colorado from various parts of the U.S., including California, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and South Dakota.
Friday talks — Beginning the weekend’s series of talks Friday evening, speakers emphasized the importance of awareness, self-responsibility and Do-It-Yourself initiative. Moe Janosec recalled in the talks “Inspiring Interviews with Vernon Howard” that we’re not victims of circumstances; we are the circumstances. “Real success is to not be a victim of one’s own negative emotions…. All evil people operate in the name of God,” quoted Moe, forcefully adding we should say, “I’m not going to lie to myself anymore!”
Saturday — “I’m going to shake you up!” New Life Director Richard Wooldridge began on Banquet Day, as he and several other speakers and students continually challenged our unseen egotism and false personality. A very helpful directive, especially applicable to the entire banquet experience, was to “try to get free of your reactions to people.” Richard said you’re hurting yourself constantly, as when feeding on negativity, feeling thwarted, wandering around asleep, etc. Then “if you hate yourself for your mistake, the dumb thing you did, you’ll do it again. So interrupt yourself and see the mistake consciously.” There can also be freedom from the belief in labels, from identifying the self as “I” or being a know-it-all. You can simply be “a point of awareness.”
From the “Library of Spiritual Truths” talks, the next speaker recalled to us the excellent classification of three kinds of human beings and states: workers, loafers and saboteurs. He described the Ship of Life which requires those who want to reach Truth to “throw out your life boats,” that is, wanting your own way instead of “coming out from among them,” out from among those who choose to remain loyal to this world.
A barbecue buffet meal and bountiful desserts followed the talks, with soft pretty music adding a harmonious background. During informal entertainment, we danced in a large circle to old fashioned music. A lighthearted and freer state gradually replaced the chains of resistance. Nearly everyone participated in the fun, animated “chicken dance” that helps to break down the fear of looking “foolish” in front of others.
Sunday — A saunter and scramble up the Happy Trail leads to the pergola where another inspirational class was held. The sound of the rippling stream, the Rito Blanco, only enriched the quiet setting. While we sat in the beautiful forest on the hillside, the birds and squirrels were boisterously rejoicing in life, and we too could feel the exuberance in hearing fresh truths anew. A bit of humor was added by a testy squirrel in a tree close by who became vocal when Moe gave an announcement. [It seems to be only when Moe speaks that the squirrel gets vocal!]
From the talk “The Secret Weapon that Guarantees Victory” Robin Kent reminded us of that unforgettable story about the family at the seashore who taught their children, as we must learn, that “the waves never lie”: what we put out we get back. Instead of asking “How long will this take?” we are urged to find out for ourselves that nothing is more fun than continually giving up our misery and refusing to suffer. Then by leaving a space, more energy and Life is given to us. As was related by several speakers, we must give something up to have something new.
Another speaker gave a good analogy of how driving on the wrong side of the road during road construction resembles society always telling us what’s right when you sense it’s wrong. Bill Brown set forth Vernon’s concise two-word commandment: Stop lying! Bill concluded that you have to get something that you can’t get from your mind. “Vernon said to write the following down: ‘To get these higher things, you have to obtain something you can’t give to yourself. You have to leave empty space.’ Truth will lift us up if we will give up lying about our actual inner state. Don’t tell God what to do. Be completely passive.”
Banquet comments and praises — “I know I’m going to a right place,” thought one student when he was in his car driving to Pagosa. Others described healthy, worthwhile results. “I actually had fun!” recollected Doug, “though I made a slew of mistakes and the perfectionist stuff went away.” Jeff Fisher said a benefit of the banquet is that it shows you when seeing your mistakes how much work on yourself is needed.
Characterizing the atmosphere and the entertainment, Bill’s humorous skit “Puns Intended” got the most laughter in the formal entertainment. Karen said, “I loved the song about Wild Montana Skies; it touched my heart.” Like the other old western songs, such as The Waltz of the Hills, it was rich with harmony and little life-lessons as well. We have wonderful singers at New Life that augment the fullness of our spiritual experience.
The banquet emphasized the help available at New Life Foundation, to understand the necessity of learning how to become aware. Awareness is very rare in this dark world, where everyone is asleep but believes he is awake. In conclusion, Richard sent us home with new strength, energy and resolve. He said we must learn to “Speak up! Go against yourself. There’s gotta be more enthusiasm in you!... Come back!”
“I so appreciate your many hours of effort for the work. I love the website and updates. I contribute my great joy for this life and beyond to the Truth that Vernon so aptly put forth for us in his many delightful books and recordings. What would I do without them? Thank you for continuing to spread the word.”
— E-mail from lady
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