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.”
“This Work has to be the most important thing in your life.” This fact was emphatically stated by Richard Wooldridge, New Life director, and also emphasized by Lynne Wooldridge and many others at the banquet. It was underscored that we mustn’t be either lulled to sleep by the world or frightened by society’s insanity. The only solution which can rescue us from the world’s madness and from our own minds are these powerful principles and frequent, robust classes.
Many strong lessons and methods were given; talks were loaded with helpful instructions as well as encouragement for our spirits. Saturday’s class on banquet day reiterated that we must go against ourselves and against all attempts to drag us down to the very low level of this world. Richard gave a good direction to use for the weekend while working together: “Allow Truth to unveil me for the phony I am…,” then not believe in the false nature. As Vernon told us, people are “ruled by unconscious attitudes,” and a prevalent one that is frequently exhibited right now is false sympathy, which Richard said we must see as phony. And “you can’t go around hating people either…. Try to bear being healed.” An essential exercise was given to see a fear-thought when it comes up and to immediately drop it.
Bill Brown mentioned making a “cheerful effort” to get out, while at the same time we must “make it worse, worse, worse…7 times worse,” as Vernon said. In A Treasury of Trueness, #1505, Vernon says, “Make everything, every day as hard as possible on yourself.” Now where else are you going to get such direct truths to work with?! These forceful principles often illustrate that we must do the exact opposite of what everyone and everything out there tells us to do.
Another really useful guideline from Secrets for Higher Success was read from the section The Outcasts Who Came Back: “The most profitable time to apply these principles is when you feel it is the most hopeless or difficult to do so. Nothing scatters darkness so quickly as sudden surprise by light.”
Much practical information about the turbulent state of affairs in the world right now emerged over the weekend. It was emphasized how people allow themselves to be vulnerable to manufactured fears designed to drive everyone even more insane. As Vernon said in a 1985 talk, “When people are afraid, they’re easy to manipulate.” Talks 20 and 22 from Vernon Howard’s Higher World MP3 CD – Volume 10 were featured and read from when the book table specials for the weekend were announced. In these talks he makes it clear that “The aim of society is to drive you crazy, because then it can control you…. The aim of society is to cram everything down your throat.” And the higher meaning of “social distancing” was revealed years ago on that same disc when he said, “Get two people together and they argue…. STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE!” This will help you spiritually and also improve your immune system! As did the unusually high energy generated at the banquet. Fear depletes, Truth heals.
As always, our task is to look within ourselves, at our own mental and emotional reactions. Doug Stewart asked, “What’s the point in getting what I want if it doesn’t make us happy?” Yet we continually jump on the “hope roller-coaster” thinking that the next thing will lead to a better life. He said, as suggested in The Power of Your Supermind, Chapter 4 in the section Solving the Mystery of Suffering, to take a situation and study it: “Rebel against your own anguish within… not against the seeming causes, such as other people.” Say firmly, “This is the end. NO MORE.”
Bill said, “Your house is on fire… and you think you’re going to somehow fit this [teaching] into your already existing life.” He referred to the new Spring/Summer New Life Newsletter that quotes: “There is heaven on earth when the spirit guides the mind.”
The traditional Irish banquet dinner of tender corned beef, cabbage and mashed potatoes with all the fixins’ was the best ever. How does it keep getting better?! The informal dancing of polkas, waltzes and other light, harmonious music was also very enjoyable. Formal entertainment included many beautiful Irish songs to uplift our hearts, such as “Loch Lomond” and “The Rose of Tralee.” In the jokes and skits, Bill reminded us of some funny Burma Shave signs; Karen had a humorous list of “What I Want in a Man” as a woman changes with age; Judith read a description of the new season called “Hours of Spring,” and Doug added some new jokes to the perennial humor about forgetting things in a poem called “My Rememberer is Broke.” The funniest joke was about Democrats and Republicans, but you definitely had to be there for that one.
As Vernon continually reminded us in talk after talk, keep coming back to every class and banquet. Thank Heaven our studies here are out of this world and can provide us with unfailing comfort and protection in an increasingly wobbly and crazy world.
“The singing was the best ever,” commented someone after the 2019 banquet in Strawberry, Arizona. This Christmas banquet was unique for its grand abundance of song — Christmas carols bursting with joy and good cheer.
New Lifers had the opportunity to attend four classes in five days, which greatly increased the power of the truth to change us while working together to apply the higher principles being taught. Strawberry is a little town about 90 miles northeast of Phoenix, where a fresh snowfall made it an ideal white Christmas, adding to the atmosphere of the five-day event.
Like the strength of Truth and Vernon Howard, our true natures were heartened and strengthened by high spirits in the talks that were given. Vernon Howard’s “vocally vociferous” voice was echoed, especially in strong talks by director Richard Wooldridge and Moe Janosec.
Richard recalled to us Vernon saying, “This message is the greatest gift ever given to mankind.” In no way did anyone there miss a tree surrounded by earthly gifts at this special celebration of the higher teachings of Christ. In fact, we were reminded that “happiness is the absence of me” — meaning the absence of all of my past memories, both what I call painful and what I label as thrilling.
In the talks the day before Christmas, Moe was on fire with strong truths, explaining how “our suffering comes from defending the false self.” He quoted Vernon, who said that “I can chase out demons. Why don’t you?” To accomplish this, as Bill Brown mentioned, we must first strive to know that we’re presently wrong but can invite real rightness into our lives. And as another speaker expressed with right emotion, “We are loaded with hostility, but must understand that ‘my badness is not me.’”
In the classes, students passed on lessons given through Vernon Howard books and talks, all available at the New Life book table and website at www.anewlife.org. All the materials are designed to transcend the mental level and reach a higher world that exists right now.
Former opera singer Nancy Shade dramatized her rendition of “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” so well we could almost smell the comforting aroma of roasting nuts. She then contributed piano accompaniment and a strong, encouraging voice for all other songs and singers. Her powerful mezzo-soprano provided depth and volume, to enhance the other singers’ confidence and projection. Among others, we heard “Joy to the World” and “All Through the Night,” and joined in singing the frolicsome “Sleigh Ride.”
Everyone working on themselves took part in the entertainment in a variety of ways, in humorous short jokes, skits, songs and light poetry. The buoyant finish to the formal entertainment was a dance by the perky Parisienne Pretties.
The New Life banquet atmosphere provided the perfect “Santa’s workshop” for working to expose and give up the false personality in exchange for a completely new nature. This can happen when allowing banquet activities and circumstances to provide a place for the higher spirit to guide us.
Students worked hard to make the holiday gathering a huge success, but the secret lies in the reward of the higher energies received both while at the banquet and after returning home. (For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among you. Matthew 18:20.)
Richard left us with this precept: “I have to relax and let myself go so something else can come in.” Then he gave us this work project for the year 2020: Be consciously pleasant.
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 by Doug Stewart 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 moderator Doug Stewart 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. Doug Stewart 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.”
Doug S. explained the process if you want to receive divine intelligence: “Don’t pray for God to give you a Mercedes Benz or get a bumper sticker which says, ‘I’m an enlightened honor student in the New Life spiritual school.’ You must see yourself as you are and allow God to show you what you’re doing wrong. That makes you want to get rid of that self.”
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, Doug and 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 Doug, 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 moderator Doug S. 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.
Doug’s talk emphasized the futility of a life that’s going nowhere real, of being a phony. “You are fake news!” such as when you “dress for success.” Realizing and admitting we don’t know is essential: “When you really know you don’t know, all will be taken care of.”
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.”
“Thank you so much for the newsletter. Each one is a delightful treat to receive in the mail and is a sheer little treasure of fresh inspiration and relevant comments from Mr. Howard. I have made a vigorous determination to devote myself to my freedom and wholeness. This determination and continuous study of Vernon Howard’s writings yielded life saving results nothing short of miraculous.
Anyone who really wants an ‘authentic’ life filled to overflowing with the good Life can’t afford to ignore Vernon’s writings and powerful insights into the human condition. His writings answer a life-time of real and imagined concerns that have mystified the most learned minds.”
Marie N., Palm Springs, CA