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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.”
“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 the moderator 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.”
The point was driven home in the speakers 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, 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 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.
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.”
Another speaker quoted, “Seek revelation not comfort.” He said if you don’t first clearly see the darkness, you will never experience the dawn. We were also reminded 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.
“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!” 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 the emcee in a loud voice, striped 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.
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.
Beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado was the setting for the three-day annual New Life July banquet. Those who have benefited from the higher teachings of Vernon Howard and want to know more came for the powerful classes on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday mornings.
July 11: Arrivals on Friday evening found an irresistible array of appetizers and fruits awaiting them. Even more captivating was the colorful display at the book table which highlighted all of Vernon Howard’s books, booklets, CDs, MP3CDs, flash drives and more.
Friday night students were invited to think about and comment on “Why you came to banquet.” Speakers used the MP3CD The Key to Spiritual Life-Healing as the basis for their talks. The point was made: “The tragic mistake is, we always turn to ourselves for the answer. Truth is the healing medicine that just about everybody doesn’t want to take.” Dave Netherton reminded us to “Ask Heaven what to be, not what to do” and emphasized that obstacles exist only in the mind.
July 12: Saturday’s all-day activities were launched with a bountiful breakfast buffet provided by the New Life ladies that included trays of summer melons and a variety of mouthwatering quiches, omelets and sweet rolls.
New Life Director Richard Wooldridge led the Saturday morning meeting and opened his talk with this light-hearted but serious comment, “Dave, please close the doors. We’re going to wake the dead. Satan does not want you to be here but this is the most important thing you’ll ever do in your life.”
Richard said, “Vernon Howard used to ask when arising, ‘What else can I learn about myself today?’ Very few people like him have ever walked this planet. Vernon asked us, ‘Please work together. Please get along.’ See, right now, you are contrary. You’re unable to submit to discipline. We must stop being contrarians.” Richard also called us “thinkaholics” — always in thought. “Realize that thought cannot change you!”
Speaker Bill Brown emphasized the need to recognize we are stabbed by pain and we easily forget that Truth wants to come to us. He cited the vital Vernon quote, “Human interest in studying human evil produces the miracle of self-transformation.” Bill said, “We’re all sentimental idiots! … Anyone who doesn’t want Truth is your enemy and an enemy of God…. Only Truth can combine the Blunt and the Beautiful.”
Dr. Terry Roche of Southern California, who made a tremendous effort to attend the banquet, provided this insight: “Our false self is evil to the core. That is the greatest secret of this class, that evil exists. My real nature has no pain. Start watching the false nature. Find out what’s running your life — it is not you.”
Richard reassured us that “there is a healing atmosphere here that’s going to help you.” And as the day progressed, the atmosphere became more electrified with higher energy, which is mysterious but real and can be felt at all New Life banquets.
The activities surrounding the classes are all situations perfectly constructed years ago by Vernon in order for us to apply and practice the ideas presented in the talks. The healthy work required for the event illustrates what Vernon and both Richard and Lynne often emphasize, that you must exhaust yourself in order to go beyond your limits.
The huge western banquet table was spread with endless choices of BBQ beef, pulled pork, moist delicious smoked turkey, chicken and sausages, together with potato salad, cole slaw, and baked beans — just for starters. A separate dessert table held fruit pies, brownies, cheesecake, key lime pie, berry and pineapple fruit salad, ice cream and more.
With emphasis on the Western theme, students then provided songs, skits and humor in the formal entertainment. The singers were particularly outstanding this banquet, presenting both old standards (“I Want to be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart”) and new favorites. A group of ladies, Kyle, Lynne and Vanessa beautifully harmonized on the lively and playful “If I Had a Wagon.” The peak of country singing (if not of harmony!) had to be the “Woe is Me” HeeHaw songs, “Where O Where are You Tonight?” and “Gloom, Despair and Agony,” which made fun of our love of suffering and misery (Woe!).
Many jokes and skits were exceptionally funny and well done. Regina surpassed herself in roles as shopper, grandmother and an 80-year-old marrying for the fourth time. A high spot was when Pagosa Dave offered to donate his “grandmother” to the man collecting for the old people’s home. In another well-acted joke, the be-wigged Karen impersonated the proverbial beautiful but dumb blonde on an airline flight. One student added that Dave did “a remarkable job memorizing ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’” in honor of July 4.
To conclude the formal entertainment, the Pretties’ dance was extraordinarily vivacious and bouncy. Informal dancing followed, while the last dance of the day was once again a highly rewarding experience.
July 13: After a generous breakfast buffet on Sunday morning everyone scampered (and some struggled) up the Happy Trail to the open-air Pergola where a final class took place. The walk was humorously described by someone this way: “It makes you happy when you finally reach the top.” Dr. Terry was rejuvenated and left Sunday’s class in the Pergola hopping down the Happy Trail.
Sunday’s moderator Moe Janosec set the stage with a light and jovial air. He quipped, “Paul and I just made a truce of sorts. I agreed he was slightly better looking than me, and he agreed I was vastly more intelligent than he is.” This brought a big laugh. “See? We can have a good time with this.” Moe began by stressing that we have to remember what we’re here to do. “We always forget spiritual facts. It’s up to me to remember the facts and apply them. You don’t need a priest or any other authority; no higher ‘intermeddling’ is needed. All organized religions will lead you further away from God.” Moe offered these encouraging comments: “It is possible to become a different kind of human being. We’re here to lose that evil false nature that’s trying to ruin our lives.”
The extra effort required for banquets was clarified in Paul Wolfe’s talk as well: “In order to be transformed, great heat and great pressure are required, like turning coal into diamonds.” Paul referred to Vernon Howard’s talk entitled “The Field of Diamonds,” available along with four other talks on the MP3 CD The Key to Spiritual Life-Healing. This talk concludes with the fact that you absolutely cannot lie about your nature. Paul added, “Your job is to see your actual condition. Something higher is just waiting for you to not do anything else about your problem.” Speaker Tom Geiger from California also stressed we cannot keep on living a life of pretense.
Following the talks, comments about the banquet and its benefits were made by participants. Richard addressed the issue that there is something sinister which does not want even one person to escape. He noted, “Many people faced difficulties and obstacles getting here and some who had planned to attend didn’t. Be very watchful for the attack that comes when you’re about to do something right.” He said you shouldn’t miss classes. “Only a true class will ruffle your feathers, for it challenges and ‘offends’ your false self.”
Sherry Day was one of many who overcame difficulties to be at the banquet and sensed that by calling the bluff on these barriers, she went beyond them. She said with emotion: “Darkness does not want me here. I have to say, No! You’re not keeping me from the banquet because I want to know the Truth.”
Jeff from Arizona, who attended a banquet for the first time, was more than a little excited to have finally found other people with whom he could share these truths.
Dave of Pagosa encouraged us: “Never lose your enthusiasm for the Truth. Don’t take these classes for granted.”
Before leaving for home, everyone enjoyed one last buffet meal set out on the deck at the New Life property and found a place to eat at picnic tables in the scenic surroundings of giant spruce trees and the rippling Rito Blanco stream on a pleasant summer day. (By the way, Vernon Howard once mentioned in a 1986 talk that “New Life may have a branch by a stream someday.”) A little begging golden-mantled squirrel delighted all, and quickly trained visitors how to feed him from their hands.
The highlight of this special weekend was an awakening life force felt within, but which cannot be described with words. It is what true teachings are referring to when told we are asleep but with work can awaken.
(*The above picture was taken at the Pagosa Springs banquet. The golden-mantle squirrel was affectionately known as Chipper.)
A festive, cheerful and highly energetic five days were spent in Southern California for the May 2014 “Americana” Banquet. Setting the whole tone for the entire weekend was the Wednesday night class in Pasadena which was given by New Life Director Richard Wooldridge.
Richard related an experience while driving from Colorado to New Life in Southern California. A fire on an under construction overpass over the I-15 caused a detour, which all sources consulted said would cause a 4-hour delay driving into the LA area. Finding a way on a map around it that was shorter and through a lush green and beautiful forest drive instead, Richard and his passengers were given a natural gift and some completely unexpected lessons. Richard said, “I thought, now here’s my chance to work. The world says there’s no way around your difficulties. But God wants you to succeed. Truth can handle it for you. See how it is you who is blocking the Truth. You say, ‘See how he insulted me. The world is against me.’ Say NO! to this nonsense and mean it!”
On Friday night, after ladies had prepared the upcoming meals for the banquet, three men presented talks based on Vernon Howard’s book Inspire Yourself. A speaker emphasized it is good to see the bad, “because if you don’t see there’s an inner battle going on, it’s gone underground and you don’t know it.”
Banquet day Saturday was filled with all sorts of activities which could be used for spiritual work. Talks by Richard and California New Life director Dr. Terry Roche were based on the incredible booklet, Powerful Guides for Spiritual Freedom. Terry talked about our insane love for pain, and gave examples of anxiety driving on the freeway, of the woman on TV crying for the camera, and of memorials like pet cemeteries. He added, “Beauty is the greatest tyranny there is. You reflect that you were once beautiful though perhaps a bit stupid. Now you’re stuck with just being stupid!”
Richard, using the powerful “The Sheep and the Wolves” transcription from a Vernon Howard talk, cautioned how oblivious people are to the dangers in society. He emphasized how practical this work is, connecting it to awareness. “Little things lead to big things. Learn to handle little things properly, and you’ll learn to handle the big things. If you can’t handle the little things, forget it.” He quoted the MP3 CD talk 11:16, in which Vernon calls us “frustrated, panic-stricken neurotics — and those are your good points!” He mentioned efficiency in driving, walking, grocery shopping, and in being on time. “There’s nothing to worry about, ever. Just stick close to this Work. That’s all you have to do. Evil has already lost. If you want out, you can get out, and any mistakes you make are as nothing. Truth is ready to handle anything at all.” One exercise given: “For the rest of the day, don’t be negative. Let’s get to work.”
The day continued with our bountiful dinner of delicious Mexican tacos and salads and a generous dessert table with cakes and pies available all day. Formal and informal entertainment followed. Highlights were the beautiful harmony of Colorado singers Lynne Wooldridge and Kyle Rickert with their duet of old fashioned songs, and the concluding energetic Pretties dance to “The Orange Blossom Special.” Kyle later said, “A special moment occurred when Lynne and I came out to sing during the entertainment. We started to sing at too low a pitch. But instead of getting nervous about it, we just stopped, started again, and the song went off beautifully. It was so pleasant to not be so wrapped up in the results.” Added CA student Ken Inouye, “The informal dancing was great. It’s so much fun; it’s for our enjoyment. I don’t have to care if others approve of me.”
Humorous skits and jokes added to the healthy laughter. As Paul Wolfe mentioned in his talk, ”We really are meant to have a good time with this. The whole point is to see what’s wrong with you and be able to laugh about it, not be morose and angry all the time.” This is a vital part of banquet rewards. As Vernon said in a recent Secrets of Life quote on the New Life website, "A sense of humor indicates at least a small degree of separation from the falsely serious thought-self.”
Sunday’s speakers talked about the difference between beliefs and facts. [See “The Two Gates” in The Power of Esoterics].
We gathered to celebrate the birth of a new life this Christmas in Strawberry, AZ. It was yet another chance to expand our awareness and knowledge of truth, to stretch our muscles shoveling snow, dancing and lifting stuffed turkeys, and to be infused with delicious physical and spiritual food.
“Let nothing stop you!” This was the strongest message of the talks emphasized by New Life Director Richard Wooldridge during the many classes. For those who could have attended but didn’t, he advised to become aware that “Satan will use every device to trick you so you won’t come to a banquet or to classes. I’m not going to let anything stop me. Let nothing stop you.”
Moe Janosec also touched on how students limit their own growth when he fiercely admonished us: “Stop limiting yourself! Stop dragging around like a dog with its tail between its legs. Stand up. Take right initiative, right responsibility for your inner life.”
On Christmas Eve, speakers often referred to the New Testament gospels, to The Higher Teachings of Christ talk and to the section in Treasury of Trueness by Vernon Howard entitled “Christ.” Paul Wolfe emphasized the “words in red” spoken by Christ, identical to Vernon Howard’s message, including many passages which he noted are usually ignored by Christians (such as “I come not to bring peace but a sword … A man’s enemies are those of his own household” from Matthew 10).
On Christmas Day Bill Brown also referred to the section in Treasury of Trueness about the difference between religion and spirituality. He explained that one popular misconception of deluded religionists is the concept of “instant salvation.” We actually must “endure unto the end; you have to keep going way beyond anything your mind can comprehend. The persistence of evil is beyond belief.” He added, “We must bear uncertainty until we are exhausted and give up,” as he illustrated by the couple in the movie The African Queen.
Bill also talked about new technology where humans and machines are being put together. With a picture showing a computer chip inside a human hand, he said, “It’s like the ‘mark of the beast.’ You’re not protected from this by just knowing how to quote from the Book of Revelations. In fact, if all I have are mental ideas, I’m not protected at all.” As Vernon said in The Higher Teachings of Christ talk, “Thought doesn’t want spirit.”
Richard illustrated how we must make spiritual connections with everything that happens (to use everything). He detailed the excellent opportunity for this on the drive from Colorado to Strawberry when several red and orange warning lights went on in the car.
When stopping at a gas station with the hood popped up and looking at the engine, he said that a man came up. He had grease all over his jacket and looked scruffy, but was polite and turned out to be a diesel mechanic. He had just what was necessary to fix everything with the push of a button — a code reader that reset the sensors and solved the problem. Richard said, “What are the odds of that happening? It wasn’t an accident we ran into that man and that he helped us. God will prove Himself to you if you will just let Him.” The spiritual connection is this: “Truth is the code reader which can erase all your problems.” Whenever you’re faced with what seems to be an overwhelming challenge, remember: “Don’t you think God can handle this?!”
Light-Hearted Entertainment and Superlative Turkey
The opening songs of the formal entertainment were truly the highlight: the beautifully sung and uplifting “Joy to the World” and “Christmas in Killarney” encouraged us to move lightly with a spring in our steps in our many “jigs and reels” all afternoon and into the energetic days to follow.
Hilarious jokes and skits followed, as in the “wisdom of the aged” from the ladies at the beauty parlor. Coming to every class and banquet aids the development of a natural, relaxed, clean sense of humor. As Bill quipped the day after banquet, “As a result of being typecast as a cop in the jokes, I developed an uncontrollable urge to finish off all the doughnuts.”
Talented songsters brought us much festive music of the season, and the Christmas carols sing-along allowed all of us to join in on old favorites, like “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
Do More Work
We were reminded it should be Christmas every day, all the time. Richard said, “God wants to give you the whole universe, but evil is trying to distract us from our mission. The whole world is busy trying to keep you at its level.… Say ‘I have to do more work.’ You want somebody else to do it for you, when in reality you have to do the work yourself.” We left for home with our work cut out for us yet filled with the much higher energy to do it.
How to gain Higher Energy and how to end the hoax of pain were but two of the encouraging topics discussed by Vernon Howard students at New Life Foundation’s 2013 Thanksgiving banquet.
Truth students from across the southwestern U.S. gathered at the group’s New Life Plaza location in Westminster, California Nov. 27-30 for four days of strong classes, lively entertainment and delicious homemade food. “We can learn so much from being together,” said longtime student Judith Anderson.
Sunshine greeted our Thanksgiving celebration of Truth. Blooming red and white roses at the Westminster building welcomed fellow traveling students from Colorado snow and ski country, as well as from Arizona and California.
Wednesday night’s speakers began the official holiday (after food preparation and rehearsals) with a story from The Power of Esoterics, entitled “The Prosperous Farmer” [p. 167]. Vernon says to tell yourself, “There is always one little thing I can do, so I will do that.” As speaker Paul Wolfe said, “If you do something right, you’re asking for more light.”
With Thursday’s talks based on The Answer, New Life Director Richard Wooldridge and Dr. Terry Roche both elucidated the hoax of pain and suffering. Terry said, “Reality is painless; but we’re told it should be painful.”
Richard exemplified this by explaining how this Work becomes fun as we grow. After making a right aim to refuse to be negative when tired, he experienced first-hand an enjoyable 14-hour all-day drive and then going into LA’s rush hour traffic! So can we all relax, refuse negativity, and experience higher energy, just as much as we are receptive and willing to give up our old selves.
He added, “But human beings are addicted to pain … so our higher energy gets stolen.” For example, Richard told us we students “can get contrary — willful, defiant, mulish, pig-headed.” “You have to start working together … stop fighting.” An exercise was given to refuse negative impressions, to use throughout the day and weeks. “Darkness does not want you to escape. It wants to destroy you.” Vernon Howard said to rightly fight for yourself: “Don’t you dare give up!”
In a new, transcribed tidbit now available at the Booktable, entitled “Being Alone,” Vernon calls us “clingers.” Richard said to “stop clinging to people … Dare to do this work alone … Let go of everything and everyone.” He also encouraged us by saying: “You can grow every day, no matter what your age ... This work will give you a sharp mind, even when you’re old. You can be infused with energy despite your physical age,” a fact that was definitely in evidence throughout the banquet week.
A really delicious Thanksgiving feast was spread on the banquet tables, always homemade by the New Life chefettes, full of traditional favorites — excellent turkey, real mashed potatoes and gravy, wheat-berry dressing, cranberry conserve, and more. Desserts — attractively displayed and available all day — included double-layer coconut cake, organic apple pie, and moist brownies.
During the “Philosophical Follies,” emcee Paul Wolfe explained, “One purpose [of the formal entertainment] is for students to observe their inner reactions before, during and after they perform in front of others.” Students enacted some especially funny jokes, portraying jolly or goofy characters. The elevator joke and the School Daze skit were particularly hilarious and well performed. Karen, who played a genie, left us wishing for more. The pretty music and harmonizing singers were outstanding, especially the beautiful old favorite “Indiana” and the modern western song ”Three on the Trail.” And “Glad to be Back Home Again” was a great reminder, as Vernon said, that we can get back home, as we wave “Bye, Bye Blackbird.”
Lots of festively dressed Pretties danced a perky polka to conclude the formal entertainment, which motivated us to get up and join them in the informal dancing. And this provided many chances to remember the exercise assigned by speakers to know we rose from or sat down in our chairs.
“This Work is about energy,” Richard told the class. “Energy comes to you, but it doesn't belong to you, and it doesn't belong to me. It comes to us, we receive it, and we have to give that energy back. We're here to give it away. It’s your duty to raise the level higher and give it back.”
Work harder! That was the exhortation and invitation given by director Richard Wooldridge at our September banquet in Strawberry, AZ. In a telephone conversation with long-time New Life student Dr. Bruce Tracy just before he died, Bruce told Richard he thought he had more time, and implored us to work harder and to not be fooled into thinking we have plenty of time to wake up. Richard said no stress or strain is necessary. Just watch what goes on in your mind, observe and do nothing else. He added, “Christ said, ‘what I have done you can do also.’”
Wednesday night’s class launched our esoteric studies when we began preparing the new Fall/Winter newsletter for mailing at the work party. Bill Brown then introduced the powerful section from Cosmic Command, “Do Not Be Gullible.” Vernon Howard said gullibility comes disguised as loyalty, love and faith. Bill emphasized how the elementary, simple, basic instructions we are given at New Life are huge; for example he recalled the earlier directive in July to “Speak Up.” Observation of this simple instruction throughout the banquet activities indicated clearly a direct connection between people’s speech and their awareness or sleep.
The necessity for awareness in everything was repeated on Saturday when Richard referred to hiking and enjoying the mountains: “You cannot enjoy nature unless you’re conscious.” And as always he encouraged us to move away from what we know mentally to reach an intuitive spiritual understanding, to “taste truth for yourself.” One principle later quoted on Sunday from Cosmic Command is that the world does not have to be held together by frantic thought and that the antidote to our incessant mental movement is quietude.
Speaker Dave Netherton emphasized the benefits to our growth and learning when we participate fully in all of our life as well as in New Life and banquet activities. So while engaged in listening to the speakers, partaking in the wonderful array of Italian cuisine, enjoying and participating in the formal and informal entertainment and interacting with other students, we were also working on ourselves by watching what was going on inside and seeing more clearly into deeper levels of ourselves. For it is the light of consciousness that stirs things up inside but also destroys what has been hurting us.
Sunday’s spokesmen clarified that with a quote from Vernon Howard, “We’re doing just fine when we see with increased clarity just what a great problem we are to ourselves.” Gary Blatchford added, “It’s that something different from this world you feel at banquets that helps us see with increased clarity.”
Comments on Sunday included the often-repeated feeling that banquets bring to us “such a different day than when out in the world.” Yet also it was said, “No two banquets are the same; it’s wonderful that it’s new and unpredictable.” David Hurst reiterated “New Life has saved my life … It’s easy to see out in the world what’s wrong with other people. Here the Work is seeing our own wrongness.”
The formal entertainment brought added lightness and fun, such as Lynne and Kyle’s delightful and charming song, “Be my Little Baby Bumble Bee,” and Katherine and Karen’s humorous dialogue on chocolate. Laughter and seriousness were again well balanced, and the cleanup and relaxing, pleasant work party were the perfect conclusions to a full day.
After the last dance of the entertainment a spontaneous and continuous applause arose, an expression of our enjoyment and appreciation for the special day. The banquets were laid out by consciousness, through Vernon Howard, for our personal learning and growth. “When two or more are gathered in my name, I/Truth will be there.” God and higher cosmic energy was there. And those who joined with it were tremendously uplifted.
A group of truth seekers including travelers from both coasts met in Pagosa Springs, Colorado July 12−14 for another New Life Foundation banquet and for a truly good time in an unmistakably higher atmosphere.
Classes reflecting the teachings of Vernon Howard and esoteric Christianity were spread over the three-day weekend, ending Sunday morning on a Rocky Mountain hillside far above our daily cares and routines.
When you enter a New Life banquet you are leaving the world to “come out from among them,” for banquets offer experiences quite unlike anything else in the world. Our activities — events originally planned by Vernon Howard — provide ideal circumstances to practice true principles. As student David Hearst said, “The point is not to think a truth but to live it.”
Here’s how the July banquet in Pagosa was different from the world: Talks were very high and practical. The men were in charge and the ladies wore flowers and dresses. Dancing was wholesome and pretty; the songs were old fashioned and harmonious; jokes were clean, fun and not vicious or sarcastic. Set-up and cleanup was well organized, orderly and corrective, anticipating sleeping human beings and the unexpected (like the temporary loss of electricity).
Arriving before class on Friday evening, students greeted other students from different parts of the country. Speakers based their talks on a Vernon Howard talk entitled “The Original World” from one of the five transcriptions available in the newly printed publication Powerful Guides for Spiritual Freedom, about how distorted our money system and values have become. The basic message was “the only thing you have to do is make it back home to the Father’s house.” The moderator for Friday evening’s class Moe Janosec told us we must “go against our lethargy” and “be active toward Truth.” We must welcome it into our lives because everyone lives from either the higher force or the lower force and “cannot serve two masters.”
On Saturday after breakfast (almost a banquet in itself with its array of quiches, coffee cakes, fruits and hot drinks), director Richard Wooldridge exhorted us to speak up louder and to not mumble when behind the microphone and when talking to others. This forces us to be more aware and prevents the forces of unconscious timidity from being in charge. Based on the talk transcription “Let’s Play Fair”, he illustrated with his experience of being called for jury selection and using that to work hard to stay awake for two days. “You must be learning from every experience and to be given more insight, you must want to understand the actual state of human nature.” Like the baby birds flapping their wings and leaving the nest, we also have to learn to fly all by ourselves; it’s individual work.
The banquet table was a bountiful display of BBQ beef, chicken, sausage and baby back ribs, homemade potato salad and cole slaw, fresh green salad and much more, together with a favorite feature — the dessert table — mostly prepared by the New Life ladies. Student-provided entertainment followed. The southwestern theme of the entertainment brought to life beautiful old and new Western songs like “Cattle Call” and the joyful and exuberant “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” One outstanding act was the harmonizing by Lynne and Kyle on “Wild Montana Skies.” Jokes and skits took us from the beauty parlor to the golf course, and the Pretties’ dance was the best and liveliest ever. The man in charge of the clubhouse building where the banquet was held was quite impressed by our efficiency and the thorough cleanup. Perhaps best of all, a transformation of one’s state was a definite result. Participants found that they were able to do much more than they ever thought possible. And this was perhaps the most positive and cheerful group of students ever to assemble at a New Life banquet. During the weekend, it was observed, people became more alive, more bright and cheery.
Sunday’s class was held on the New Life property mountainside pergola, where deer sometimes grazed and an occasional golden-mantled squirrel could be seen scampering about. Speaker Dave Netherton called our attention to being aware of all of the physical senses and to the setting in the forest where gentle breezes wafted and sunlight danced through the trees. He said you have to work to climb up the “happy trail” but the result is an unmistakable feeling of elevation.
Bill Brown retold the story of the Veteran and Apprentice angels who came to earth looking for just one person who wouldn’t sell his soul for earthly riches, then asked us the deeply profound question from the story: “Do you qualify?” The stories about “Vet and App” and the Angelic Weekly reminded us to be aware when we think we’re sincere and know it all; then the Veteran angel must tell App, “You’re still fooled by people — that’s why you’ve been an apprentice so long.”
Comments after the break about the banquet experience included one from a new student from the East Coast who said she felt like a beginner and was reminded that Vernon said “God loves a beginner”. And the new people all jumped in to participate fully with a right spirit. Long-time student Regina Netherton spoke of what she learned: “It is almost unfathomable to realize the immense amount of work that was put into bringing about the banquet. So why do students work so hard at it? Because the invisible rewards of sensing a new existence and beginning to live above the crazy mind and this crazy world provide more than enough reward.” There is nothing more exciting than truly embracing this work.
A main object of the Vernon Howard teachings is to see ourselves as we actually are. This is hard on the vanity and why Truth classes will never appeal to the masses. As Moe said, “Most people won’t even get close to seeing their negative states unless they’re pushed to do so.” A banquet provides the atmosphere to see our “spilling level” [see The Power of Esoterics, p. 113], which we must determine to raise higher every day and at each banquet. As Bill said, we must allow ourselves to be uncomfortable and stop lying; only then will we receive help in spite of ourselves. This is why New Life is such a contrast to the world — which wants to be falsely comforted and flattered. We use the activities to see more deeply into human nature, welcome healing correction and rise above our fears and delusions, all the while being given new flexibility and natural spontaneity.
Enthusiasm — “being inspired or possessed by God.” A speaker traced the Greek origination of this word, and it perfectly describes the higher energies present at this May banquet in Westminster, California. Students from across the southwestern U.S. gathered May 8 thru 12 for four days of strong classes, robust entertainment, and delicious homemade food.
A forceful talk by Director of New Life Richard Wooldridge on Wednesday night in Pasadena began by raising the level of the bar which continued throughout the entire weekend. The atmosphere fairly sizzled with energy, providing the opportunity to get outside oneself and stop being “a pusillanimous putz”! Look these words up in the dictionary and you’ll find that they perfectly describe the nature of the false nature. “Vernon Howard told us, “all evil originates in the mind.” Richard characterized us as thinking machines, trying to process everything with the intellect. But “when the spirit guides the mind, there is heaven on earth.”
“Vernon Howard established these special weekends to teach us unique spiritual lessons,” Richard reminded the class. “We are here for Something Else besides what this world has to offer.” You could observe that during the entire event, students’ natures actually changed.
At Friday night’s class Tom Geiger gave a personal illustration — his son’s preparations for college — as a worldly situation for using the principles of truth for guidance, which come to us precisely when we need them if we’re receptive. Using the example of moving out old furniture to make room for the new, Paul Wolfe explained that our inner space must be emptied of “I already know” before we have room for anything else.
On Banquet day, Dr. Terry Roach, New Life’s Southern California director, reminded the class, “The enemy is within …. See the pain is inside of me. It exists nowhere else …. Ask yourself, ‘If I’m so smart, how come I’m in pain?’” Terry, a longtime podiatrist, said that our psychological pain can often affect the health of the body and that from personal experience he has observed that the amount of neurotic and psychosomatic illness in this world is legion.
Next, Richard told the group: “Last night outside the hotel, I looked up at the sky. With all the city lights and smog, I counted about eight stars. In Pagosa Springs, CO, I can see two galaxies.” This exemplified the limitations of the mind, and how we can always see more. He added that despite your physical age, you can be infused with energy. “Your job is to always be enthused …. There is no circumstance in which you should feel bad — ever.” He emphasized self-examination: “You have to start turning it around. When you react to someone, ask, ‘What is it in that other person that makes me react like this?’”
During the banquet weekend’s final class on Sunday, speakers discussed the perils of using bad language. Paul Wolfe said, “Profanity determines your level.” Paul also astutely observed that “The world has ‘improved’ itself to the point that it has become almost unbearable.” He also cautioned, “I am personally responsible for the level of this class. You are personally responsible for the level of this class. I’ve got to knock it off; you’ve got to knock it off.”
During the banquet day feast, students dined on crisp tostada bowls piled high with grilled chicken, spicy ground beef and refried beans, topped with fresh salsa and guacamole made from local avocado trees. After helping with food prep, David Hearst told the class, “I learned something new at this banquet — how to shred chicken!” He and many others have learned the benefit to their spiritual growth of pitching in to help in lots of activities at these events.
After Saturday’s meal came the “Philosophical Follies”: entertainment skits, emceed by Paul, including lively comedy acts and beautiful, harmonious songs (such as “Lonely Yukon Stars” and “Long, Long Trail a’Winding”). One purpose of the acts is for students to observe their inner reactions before, during, and after the performance. “You never know what’s going to happen, or what’s going to get a laugh,” Paul chuckled. Some of funniest moments were the ‘flubs,’ people forgetting their lines or their props. We’re learning to laugh at ourselves without blame, seeing how unaware we are and understanding that we can change that.
One skit described as “perhaps the funniest act ever in Westminster” was the hilarious enactment of the old WWI song “I Don’t Want to Get Well” (with the obvious esoteric connection).
Lynne Wooldridge explained the state she experiences while dancing with the colorfully dressed “Parisian Pretties” troupe: “When we’re dancing, the world in those moments just does not exist.” The last dance for everyone was even more crowded than the first dance, with Richard reviving the old Scottish jig learned in Boulder City, NV, and Dr. Terry joining in leading the rousing finalé.
Comments on Sunday described the banquet as “the best ever” and “they just keep getting better and better.” Something spontaneous, light and profound occurs at banquets, with a continual effort to keep the teachings of Truth and the Work pure.
“Thank you so much for your instructions on how to get Vernon Howard’s eBooks and eBooklets. It is as if I am dreaming; today I bought Psycho-Pictography, The Power of Your Supermind, Cosmic Command and six of the wonderful booklets. I thank God for this esoteric knowledge. No other information could give me this kind of insight so I can know how to think, feel and react in a different way.”
— E-mail from man
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