New Life Foundation
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“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
“There is no real happiness for those on the wrong side. The greatest pleasure in life is the security of the true side. You can vainly try to win over the world or you can nicely be over the world. Your task is to change your operating center from strained imagination to relaxed reality.”
In a serene area with splendid mountain peaks visible in the distance, the New Life banquet in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, had a cool breeze wafting throughout the spacious hall where we enjoyed the meetings, entertainment and a lavish buffet. The clouds and wind and rain followed by sun, described in Karen W.’s “Little Pinewood Cabin” poem during the entertainment, became a reality on banquet day — to refresh and uplift us above our habitual selves.
Even the lost swallow who got temporarily trapped inside the hall was a reminder from the natural world surrounding us that we must avoid worldly traps and fly higher. At banquets, the struggles between the old negative nature and who we really are can become very apparent.
As Doug S. said in his talk, “Underneath your well-polished act, when you go to bed at night, you know it’s not working.” It was a reminder that we have to start with seeing what's wrong first. The banquet gives us our chance to honestly admit we're still suffering and out of touch with the true and permanent self. That well-polished act is no longer what we want to live from; we can choose something far better.
For the entire banquet weekend, DVD Vol. 6 “Solutions for Lasting Security” (also on Blu-Ray Vol. 3) was the basis for many meaningful talks. On Friday night Moe J. set forth a warning about “free fireworks” that leave us empty: “Sooner or later, you’ll have to pay for what you thought was free entertainment.” Moe emphasized the point that we’re looking one way, dazzled by the fireworks display, while our life energy is being stolen. He exclaimed, “Get tired of being duped!” by childish wishes. God is watching — are you going to do something different this time?” Paul W. also recounted how these classes and banquets are a necessary reminder of our higher purpose, “when you want something new more than what the old you wants.” Paul continued that we must turn our loyalty toward Truth which means detaching our allegiance to the past, to other people, to our own mechanical reactions, and so on.
Saturday’s talks highlighted the day’s abundant activities. Richard Wooldridge, New Life Director stated, "Security, happiness, doesn't exist in things of this world." He stressed that “unless we know and see Truth for ourselves, we don’t know anything at all.” A fundamental principle is that you must see through yourself. Examples given included how we set up agitation so we can believe we exist, trying to find security in repetition, and throwing up a psychological wall as a barrier to seeing evil. Richard explained you can go beyond the mistake-making machine and become new; “you can change.” Vernon Howard said to tell yourself, “I’m not satisfied with that answer and I’m not going to accept it. I refuse it.” Vernon’s DVD talks on solutions underscored that we must “endure uncertainty to find certainty.”
At Sunday’s talks Bill B. gave the exercise to “Let Truth trap you. Unconditional surrender. No conditions.” He suggested to no longer think of the self as a unified person but as a transitory state. Connected to that, Brad L. also reminded us that Vernon told us to read the “You Do Not Exist” talk (which is published in Your Power of Natural Knowing) every day for 30 days. This can change your understanding of everything!
Many profound truths like these were heard at this banquet. A familiar yet unique cycle occurs at these events, where people are different when they leave than when they arrived. Each banquet is new and unique and a higher energy is always felt by anyone open to the exceptional atmosphere.
After the talks on Saturday, a delicious barbeque meal with lots of accompaniments and desserts was served. We danced and laughed and enjoyed cheerful songs and funny, wholesome jokes. An old familiar song “Swinging on a Star” became new and alive and fun with special choreography. It’s not just the fabulous food and pleasant entertainment or valuable talks that made the event indescribable; it’s the taste of Truth that sets it apart from anything else you’ll ever experience. Something Else is present in the atmosphere.
The traditional trek up the "Happy Trail" to the pergola where Sunday morning’s class was held concluded the weekend experience with a 'higher world' touch. When students made comments at Sunday’s class, gratitude for banquets was one topic. Regina N. summed up: “It’s a miracle we’re here.” Bill noted that the old nature, the ungrateful ego, can walk in and “just expect the food to be here, to be entertained”, when in reality a great deal of work must to done in advance to prepare for the banquet. Then Sherry D. revealed how “I don’t know what a mess I really am until I come into this higher atmosphere.” Kyle R. talked about our expectations for life and banquets: “If things went your way you’d never learn anything. God is trying to show us another way.” Lorraine P. affirmed that she was very happy to be at the banquet with others who have a real interest in transforming their lives through these authentic spiritual principles.
It becomes evident, as Lynne W. related, that “there would be nothing real for me to do without dedicating myself to these teachings and without the classes.” Dave N. echoed this when he asked, “What else are you going to do with your life but this?” So are we going to be like the trapped bird, to only fly in endless, frantic circles or will we try God’s way instead of ours? Something far better awaits us. Altogether the weekend offered a vacation from ourselves, from our relentlessly noisy minds. And, because of the effort made, New Life was awakened within.
Students interested in the Higher Life gathered at New Life’s branch in Westminster in Southern California for a delightful May banquet. Just as spring is a time of refreshing renewal in nature, so too the banquet experience offered spiritual renewal and rejuvenation for all those who were there to reap its benefits. This higher source was present in all banquet activities, from the four classes held, to the great food served, and on to the fun and entertainment of the Saturday banquet day itself.
The powerful Wednesday evening class in Pasadena was led by New Life Director Richard Wooldridge. His talk centered around the fact that this is a negative world pretending to be positive. We were encouraged to take to heart the old adage “If it looks like a duck, if it talks like a duck and if it walks like a duck, then it must be a duck.” In other words, stop labeling human behavior in weak, compromising terms. Don’t be afraid to call a duck a duck! We can have the courage to be straightforward and honest about what we’re observing, both within and without. Richard said, “God doesn’t want you to be intimidated by anything. Don’t cave in to the pressures and negativities of this sick world or to your own resistances to Truth. It stops here and now with me! The Spirit of Truth will then live for you and feel for you.”
The following three classes held on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday mornings reflected an unmistakable enthusiasm for what we are learning at New Life. On Friday, some students even commented that the frankness and forthrightness of Wednesday’s class had provided them with new energy and determination to go against the demanding false nature.
Here’s a list of some of the more striking and compelling points made in these talks:
Light humor is frequently a part of New Life classes since it serves as a natural antidote to the heaviness of the artificial, gloomy self. On Saturday, for instance, Richard mentioned that he had had swordfish for dinner the night before and woke up in the middle of the night wanting to duel with someone. And Doug Stewart gave an amusing illustration of our runaway thoughts, likening them to a popcorn popper gone wild, with thought after thought cascading out beyond our control. Doug also told a story of a friend of his who once informed him that every morning when he left for work, he put a psychic shield up around his car to protect it from being in an accident. One day the friend had an accident in the car and Doug asked him what had happened to the shield. He said he hadn’t put it up that day! What a great example of what human beings will do to delude themselves into believing that imagination will provide protection.
After Saturday’s class, a homemade meal of delicious salads with beef and chicken tacos and lots of accompaniments was served, followed by some very entertaining acts put on by New Life students. They included melodic singing, graceful dancing by the Pretties, and some very funny jokes. And more lightness and good humor was present in the informal dancing than ever before. Truth is happy, vivacious and buoyant and so were we after partaking in the entire banquet experience.
We're escaping! We’re finding the way out and breaking free! The enormous amount of higher energy released at the New Life banquet in Strawberry, Arizona this March made us ecstatic about working to leave our old natures behind and "getting a little closer to God each day," as one speaker put it.
Those who are beginning to awaken sensed the power of what was happening. And undoubtedly, Richard's talk — the highlight of the banquet — shocked us awake enough to feel something else; that is, energy coming from a higher place than this world. "Dedicate your life to finding a soul," Richard Wooldridge said in his talk on Saturday. "A wrong part of you is leading you away from these classes," he noted. "None of us has any time to waste." He quoted Vernon’s talk [MP3 CD Vol. 18, Talk 8], “How can you ever think of missing a single class?” Richard reminded us we need help, but not to identify with being helpless. “The higher life exists only when you don't.”
In his talk, David H. also mentioned that we have to be concerned about gaining a soul. "Forget the past, live in the now. Get home before dark," he advised.
From Vernon Howard’s Treasury of Positive Answers, Chapter 8, speaker Dave N. quoted this question: "But why is it so hard to reach people with these ideas?" He continued, "Because anyone lacking cosmic knowledge doesn't know he lacks it. And only a severe crisis can force him to seek something higher." Dave used the illustration of a business owner who had forgotten to turn her “Closed” sign to “Open” to remind us to always be receptive to higher guidance.
Based on the same book Treasury of Positive Answers as well as Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge, more magnificent directions for finding the true and permanent self and for ending suffering were given by other speakers in the Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday classes. Then, when called upon to comment on their impressions of the banquet, many students accurately described it as follows:
Katherine P: "The talks were spectacular and you could feel in them a miracle."
Kyle R: “I got so much out of working in the kitchen. And I learned when things go wrong, you don't have to get negative.”
Lynne W., referring to the Pretties dance: “We had a great time dancing.”
Judith A., regarding the entertainment: “There was pleasant harmony in “Annie Laurie,” [a favorite old Scottish song]; and after the banquet I was bouncing off the walls from the special energy.”
Colleen, a new lady who made a super effort to come all the way from Florida for the banquet and joined us in the kitchen work: “I appreciate everyone being kind to me and I am happy to have been here to share it with you all.”
Jon J. drew attention to the connections between all the classes and talks and topics, “in every class all the time.” Bill B. added, Truth is “all one thing.”
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day a bit early included a traditional meal of corned beef, cabbage, and buttered parsley potatoes. When asked to comment on all the food that Judy P. and others spent hours planning and preparing, not a person said a word; only a loud round of applause erupted. Vernon, who was Irish and whose birthday was March 16th, set aside the March banquets to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. And of course, this is a tradition New Life continues to this day.
In the Sunday class a student stated, “The mind is not our friend," while Bill B. clarified by adding, "Mental people are under the control of dark forces." He suggested we need to ask ourselves, "Is it possible I’m self-deceived?”
So besides having an enjoyable time, hidden negative forces in us did come up to the light where they could begin to be dissolved. Fear, for example, or a mechanical resistance to someone with whom there was a personality conflict. This makes most people run away and never come back, because the dark forces within are terribly pained when being exposed. Our mind really is not our friend the way it presently operates, and it doesn't want us to see our actual condition. But when we understand, we see that this is the way out. We would never see this in ourselves out in the world without the truth teachings given by Vernon Howard. And if a teaching doesn't require us to see what's wrong first, it is not a true teaching; it is only lies and self-deception.
These banquets help us shake off the influence of this evil world. The Light is what changes us. That's what made this banquet so special and why we fell in love with what went on there. After arriving home someone said it all by starting an email this way: “Just got home from another “get-back-on-track” New Life banquet.”
“This is the best Christmas of my life,” declared Kyle R., as the New Life Christmas Banquet celebration came to a close.
"The food was not just good but incredible, and the classes were great,” was Moe J.’s analysis of the six-day Christmas festivities in Strawberry, Arizona. When leaving for her home in Utah, the face of Nancy S. glowed with fresh life, making no words necessary. Making unanimous the uplifting impressions, Katherine P. commented: “This Christmas Banquet was just the BEST.”
Leaving behind all the cares of this world, a core of students gathered at the New Life headquarters in Strawberry, Arizona, to enjoy the magic of this traditional Christmas event. There, a transformation of inner-life states began to occur. For as one partakes in the myriad activities quite unique to New Life Foundation, something above the mind begins to be felt. It is what those opening quotes above are all about. Surely, no other gift is as valuable as “cosmic energy coming through,” as one speaker put it.
With that empowering higher energy, we danced, we sang and we enjoyed doing the necessary tasks such as the cooking, prior to all dining together on nothing short of fabulous meals. Many declared the organic beef-barley soup on Christmas Eve to be the best soup they’d ever eaten anywhere. Wholesome acts and jokes and music for entertainment gave everyone a chance for special enjoyment as well as providing them with the experience of observing hidden anxiety consciously while participating.
All week profound talks were given by director Richard Wooldridge of Colorado, Bill Brown of Strawberry and Paul Wolfe of Southern California, as well as other men who regularly attend New Life classes. Talks were all based on the higher teachings of Christ as passed on by Vernon Howard, who also knew and lived what is real and lasting beyond this life.
As Vernon had emphasized, there is Something Else but we are asleep to it. Yet at the banquet, it was beginning to make itself known and to melt down the ice cube ego with its warmth. “We want a newness to our lives that nothing can take away,” was how Doug Stewart put it in his talk. "The intellect can only move back and forth, not up,” explained Richard. "Let Truth touch your heart so you're not pained by you anymore,” he continued.
In Bill’s talk, he reminded us of the preliminary steps to freedom. “Vernon told us things must get worse, worse, worse, 7 times he said worse; for to have my ego defeated is a good thing …. He told us we receive the pure truth here and then go home and when no one is looking secretly pour it down the drain. Only one small part of us is not hostile to truth.”
Paul emphasized we must look at things from a different, higher perspective, and can start life all over right now. As Moe said, “Truth is trying to push us into a corner, so we will eventually trust only God.”
There are greater and greater attacks along the path," declared Bill, reminding us that evil forces do not want to lose even one person. Richard encouraged us with this fact, “I am never left in a place where God cannot help me.” We were reminded that no one is condemned, yet we are still responsible to change. “I have to do the work for myself. No one can do it for me,” is how Richard put it. That and the ”internal upheavals” he mentioned are what are needed to wake us up and live beyond this life.
Doug said our classes and studies bring “a clarion call to a new life. With trial and plenty of error, exposing our false assumptions, we first learn what doesn’t work.” Like lost sheep that need a shepherd, we need this teaching built on solid cosmic principles; it is what is necessary for anyone who wants this New Life.
“I want to live,” declared Sally Forrest in a pre-class talk at the New Life’s September banquet in Strawberry, Arizona. Of course, she didn’t mean just the continuation of physical life, but the possibility of the spirit living forever. Sally has been at New Life Foundation since its inception in the 1970s and her remark was prompted after we had been talking about where she now lives in an assisted living facility, where she alone is a lively student of Truth.
For our spirit, the true self, to live forever, there must be a change from the mental level to the spiritual level. And that's what the entire five-day banquet event was all about. In his talk, Director Richard Wooldridge said, “There is something else that can lift us up. That’s why we come here.” And there indeed was a connection with Something Else, higher energy that lifted our spirits and made us want more. The energy generated at this fall gathering touched us throughout and afterwards. Tasks were quickly and efficiently done, bursts of lightning-like sparks carried us on in our activities cooking, singing, dancing, driving, talking, setting up tables and chairs, etc.
Beginning the Saturday talks, Richard asked us to discuss “What holds me back?” — which got students working to reveal what we struggle against. Dave Netherton read from Freedom from a Life of Hell that one definition of hell is a negative nature. Truth is “mercifully merciless” to help free us from our own false nature. To escape that artificial self, Dave gave the exercise when in bed at night to “not think about tomorrow.”
Richard’s talk emphasized the absolute necessity for us to stop being directed by our wrong thinking. He read (from Conquer Harmful Anger 100 Ways, #19), “Don’t think; just quietly observe.” While discussing human frailty he used the example of “the soap opera of New Life!” Vernon said (in Anger, #41), “You have no right to angry complaints…. You are exactly where you have chosen to be.” To change, Richard told us to put the false self at risk: “You are afraid to rock the boat.” So despite the protests of the old nature, the banquet helped us do just that.
Paul Wolfe, who directs the New Life branch in Southern California, asked us in his Sunday morning remarks, “Where do you live? Not Colorado, Arizona or California but internally?” He explained that “We’re capable of higher development but we have to let go of the lower first. The treasure is buried inside each and every one of us.” He reminded us that the reason we forget the Kingdom of Heaven is within is that the king of hell doesn’t want us to remember.
Explaining how mental people are, Brad Langenberg used the example of those who own horses and know everything about horses (like their food, medications, etc.) but can’t ride. He likened this to those who only talk about the Work and the teachings of Vernon Howard without applying the principles. Said a student, passing on the wisdom of Mr. Howard, “You know you can't change yourself. But you can use suffering to end suffering by seeing your actual inner condition. See how bad off you really are. Then you have a chance for God to change you.”
A refreshing rain had cooled the Arizona air just in time for beautiful weather on Saturday and Sunday. The banquet is arranged for us to work together in all kinds of activities, which helps to expose to the healing light those repressed negativities like irritation and anxiety that lurk hidden inside everyone. Exposing them to ourselves consciously changes our level of being.
The traditional Italian feast was tastier than ever, and was nearly all made from fresh organic ingredients, including a garden-fresh antipasto salad from a student’s garden. A new quartet with guitar (Craig, Brad, Lynne and Kyle) sang beautiful renditions of two western songs, including the lovely lullaby-like “Tumbling Tumbleweed.” To illustrate the well-known lesson “Necessity is the mother of invention,” Texas Judy dramatized the Aesop’s fable, “The Crow and the Pitcher. Among other acts, the Pretties entertained us with a lively polka that was lovelier than ever.
The Saturday night work party preparing the Fall/Winter 2017 New Life News for mailing was a lot of fun — right, Bill? (Bill Brown is in charge of that demanding project, getting thousands of newsletters ready to mail.) And the pizza wasn’t bad, either!
Comments about banquet extended from “Yum” to astonishment at how well organized the kitchen preparation was (by a lady new to the Strawberry banquet). Another said it is amazing how much work gets done in a short time here at New Life. Someone talked about how we come here not wanting to lie and try to fool each other, unlike out in the world.
For those who gathered there, the banquet was like taking a vacation from ourselves and the troubled world. The esoteric secret is always the same: the more we engage in all the activities and do even more than our minds say we can do, the more our higher nature is renewed. There really is a way to “live above this crazy world” forevermore by applying the cosmic laws we learn here. We can learn to let God, Truth live our lives for us. Richard concluded the day with the reminder that we “must get beyond the mind, get past our memories because Truth is not a memory.”
“Let a Higher Spirit Guide You” was the theme for New Life’s July banquet talks, based on the Vernon Howard MP3 CD of the same name. The ten talks on this MP3 CD contain some of the strongest and most inspiring messages Vernon set forth in his unforgettable stories. People traveled all the way to Colorado from various parts of the U.S., including California, Pennsylvania, Texas, North Carolina and South Dakota.
Friday talks — Beginning the weekend’s series of talks Friday evening, speakers emphasized the importance of awareness, self-responsibility and Do-It-Yourself initiative. Moe Janosec recalled in the talks “Inspiring Interviews with Vernon Howard” that we’re not victims of circumstances; we are the circumstances. “Real success is to not be a victim of one’s own negative emotions…. All evil people operate in the name of God,” quoted Moe, forcefully adding we should say, “I’m not going to lie to myself anymore!”
Saturday — “I’m going to shake you up!” New Life Director Richard Wooldridge began on Banquet Day, as he and several other speakers and students continually challenged our unseen egotism and false personality. A very helpful directive, especially applicable to the entire banquet experience, was to “try to get free of your reactions to people.” Richard said you’re hurting yourself constantly, as when feeding on negativity, feeling thwarted, wandering around asleep, etc. Then “if you hate yourself for your mistake, the dumb thing you did, you’ll do it again. So interrupt yourself and see the mistake consciously.” There can also be freedom from the belief in labels, from identifying the self as “I” or being a know-it-all. You can simply be “a point of awareness.”
From the “Library of Spiritual Truths” talks, Doug Stewart recalled to us the excellent classification of three kinds of human beings and states: workers, loafers and saboteurs. He described the Ship of Life which requires those who want to reach Truth to “throw out your life boats,” that is, wanting your own way instead of “coming out from among them,” out from among those who choose to remain loyal to this world.
A barbecue buffet meal and bountiful desserts followed the talks, with soft pretty music adding a harmonious background. During informal entertainment, we danced in a large circle to old fashioned music. A lighthearted and freer state gradually replaced the chains of resistance. Nearly everyone participated in the fun, animated “chicken dance” that helps to break down the fear of looking “foolish” in front of others.
Sunday — A saunter and scramble up the Happy Trail leads to the pergola where another inspirational class was held. The sound of the rippling stream, the Rito Blanco, only enriched the quiet setting. While we sat in the beautiful forest on the hillside, the birds and squirrels were boisterously rejoicing in life, and we too could feel the exuberance in hearing fresh truths anew. A bit of humor was added by a testy squirrel in a tree close by who became vocal when Moe gave an announcement. [It seems to be only when Moe speaks that the squirrel gets vocal!]
From the talk “The Secret Weapon that Guarantees Victory” Robin Kent reminded us of that unforgettable story about the family at the seashore who taught their children, as we must learn, that “the waves never lie”: what we put out we get back. Instead of asking “How long will this take?” we are urged to find out for ourselves that nothing is more fun than continually giving up our misery and refusing to suffer. Then by leaving a space, more energy and Life is given to us. As was related by several speakers, we must give something up to have something new.
Another speaker gave a good analogy of how driving on the wrong side of the road during road construction resembles society always telling us what’s right when you sense it’s wrong. Bill Brown set forth Vernon’s concise two-word commandment: Stop lying! Bill concluded that you have to get something that you can’t get from your mind. “Vernon said to write the following down: ‘To get these higher things, you have to obtain something you can’t give to yourself. You have to leave empty space.’ Truth will lift us up if we will give up lying about our actual inner state. Don’t tell God what to do. Be completely passive.”
Banquet comments and praises — “I know I’m going to a right place,” thought one student when he was in his car driving to Pagosa. Others described healthy, worthwhile results. “I actually had fun!” recollected Doug, “though I made a slew of mistakes and the perfectionist stuff went away.” Sherry Day reminded us it is the false self that is the pain. Jeff Fisher said a benefit of the banquet is that it shows you when seeing your mistakes how much work on yourself is needed.
Characterizing the atmosphere and the entertainment, Karen West told how great it feels to laugh. Bill’s humorous skit “Puns Intended” got the most laughter in the formal entertainment. Karen said, “I loved the song about Wild Montana Skies; it touched my heart.” Like the other old western songs, such as The Waltz of the Hills, it was rich with harmony and little life-lessons as well. We have wonderful singers at New Life that augment the fullness of our spiritual experience.
The banquet emphasized the help available at New Life Foundation, to understand the necessity of learning how to become aware. Awareness is very rare in this dark world, where everyone is asleep but believes he is awake. In conclusion, Richard sent us home with new strength, energy and resolve. He said we must learn to “Speak up! Go against yourself. There’s gotta be more enthusiasm in you!... Come back!”
At the Wednesday evening May 10 class in Pasadena CA, New Life’s May 2017 banquet was begun with a compelling, spirited talk by Director Richard Wooldridge. He said, “There’s a completely different kind of learning based on intuition, not interpretation.” The mind interprets what it sees and hears through its long years of training, through its bias, through its defensiveness and these interpretations block direct seeing and always get in the way of spiritual understanding. But genuine intuition based in essence is understanding itself. He continued, “Start to realize that our aim is to draw closer to the Higher Source no matter what must be given up, like our love of fighting and arguing.”
At the Friday evening class in Westminster, a powerful exercise was given which was used by many students over the banquet weekend. Vernon said that we must begin to challenge the dark states that take us over by saying to the state, “Can you help me?” If we’re honest, it’s crystal clear that no darkness in the form of any negative thought or emotion can ever truly make us feel better. Do this exercise persistently and it will clear your mind if only for a few seconds. The negativity will of course try to reassert itself but in the interim lies the freedom from all the mental noise!
In his Banquet Saturday talk, Richard said, “What we’re doing here is getting a soul. Truth is working on you whether you know it or not. It is healing you. Turn your life over to Truth because it knows what it’s doing. The work has already been done and we simply have to accept the invitation to join it.”
Everyone in the audience smiled with recognition when Richard also spoke of a pill that everyone takes called Blamitol. Taking Blamitol leads us to blame others for all of our woes and problems and to refuse to accept self-responsibility for our own lives. Remember Vernon said that the person who awakens is the one who refuses to blame anyone for anything.
Paul Wolfe, New Life’s Southern California Director, spoke from the Vernon Howard CD entitled The Freedom of Being Good. He pointed out that “we don’t want out badly enough because if we really wanted out, we’d actually be out!” We have to be receptive to what Truth is trying to tell us because “It’s what we don’t know that hurts us.”
After the class, a delicious taco salad and chef salad meal was served with all fresh fixings, including organic beef and shredded chicken, homemade salsa, guacamole and many other items. Delectable desserts like a beautiful 5-layer cake, pies, cookies and other sweet treats were available throughout the afternoon.
The outstanding formal entertainment by New Life students followed. Especially entertaining were the “Father William” skit featuring Doug Stewart as an old wise man, a rendition of the classic song “Red River Valley” by three New Life “cowboys” and an expressive reading of a pertinent Aesop's fable by Texas Judy. The Pretties dance, choreographed to an old favorite, the “Peanut Polka,” had the entire audience clapping along with the music and you could tell that dancers and audience members alike were thoroughly enjoying themselves. The festivities continued with lively informal dancing in which many of the participants released any self-consciousness and just had a great time.
The enthusiasm level was high when the class met for more talks and another meal on Sunday morning. Many students commented on how great the banquet was and how much was learned. “These classes are here for us. We’re here to get a life and a soul,” said David Hearst. “Develop an attitude of humility,” said Texas Judy. “Don’t take offense; it’s not about ‘you.’ Don’t fight. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to let go of the suffering?”
Every New Life banquet is different, unique and uplifting. “Come to class no matter what,” Richard told the group. “Years ago, I once went to class when I was very sick. I sat in back of the room. Vernon could see I was ill, yet he called me up to give me some practical information. I told him I was sick. He consciously said, ‘Get up here!’ Needless to say, I went up to his desk. If you can be in class, be here!”
“Keep Your Sunny Side UP, UP!” This old song that we danced to in the entertainment portion of the banquet could be both the theme for our March get-together and an exercise for the entire year, to see more while being cheery and refusing suffering.
Many new and old faces were seen gathering to celebrate both St. Patty’s Day and Vernon Howard's birthday in the splendid spring sunshine.
Richard opened his talk Saturday with this observation, “Before class, I was looking around the room at faces and realized that there was a definite difference between the faces of people who come to New Life classes regularly and those who haven't been here for some time.” The benefits of attending New Life classes on a regular basis shone in the faces of those excited to gain more insight, proof that even though Vernon Howard is no longer with us physically, these classes give us a lot more help than we realize. He later added, “Something in you likes coming here and being spoken to frankly.”
Richard continued, “You are responsible to wake up, to never be negative.” Explaining how to transform our nature, he said. “You haven't called the bluff on negativity yet. Negativity is not your natural state — not who you really are. You have the power to smash the darkness.”
Doug quoted from A Treasure of Trueness #1499, “Only a personal internal earthquake is going to wake you up.” He explained that this is why we must walk right through the flames of hell in order to have the arrogance of the false self burned away. Well, you may say, what kind of fun is that?! But separating from that person I think is “me” will provide tremendous relief. So we must come to class after class, banquet after banquet, to really experience and understand it all.
An incident occurred when a speaker dropped his microphone when standing up and was then excused by the following speaker. It was explained how we must never excuse ourselves or others but should always make it worse! [You can see why these teachings are so unacceptable to the world and the false nature!]
Since this was our St. Patrick’s Day banquet, Bill mentioned the concept of the trinity as taught by the shamrock and mentioned that Vernon gave us the three terms God, Truth, Reality to refer to the Higher Power. He also recalled the old adage to ask before you speak, “Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary?”
No better corned beef, cabbage and potatoes could be found anywhere than at the long, bountiful tables at the New Life Irish banquet. Formal entertainment included melodic Irish songs such as the lilting “My Wild Irish Rose,” and the well-known poem “The Road Not Taken.” Humorous skits brought laughter and the Pretties dance was a lively Irish jig.
But what was really important about the New Life banquet was the indescribable energy and increased understanding that we take home plus a desire to work harder on ourselves.
As Kyle pointed out in the comments before class on Sunday morning, we get energy from doing work for the Work. This was an observable fact and a magic secret. For example, two ladies worked in the kitchen somewhat late on Saturday night while making preparations for Sunday morning's appealing and colorful breakfast. Then they arose very early Sunday to finish the preparations. And instead of being tired as expected, they were filled with amazing energy not found out in the world.
Also observed throughout the week of preparation ahead of the actual event on Saturday was that a woman who worked non-stop almost every day and night prior to the banquet had the most life and brightness at its close. Richard, who was very sick much of the week, went against himself and let the strength of Truth pour through him in his talk on Saturday. We should never doubt the power of God to help us. And as Regina commented, we can do a lot more than we think we can. For it is not us but the Truth that works through us. But we must do the work in order to know and experience that.
Snow fell on Strawberry, Arizona Christmas eve and morning bringing bright sparkles and also clean-up work, a good metaphor for the banquet weekend itself. One student from California said how she loved to see the beauty of the snow, while another from Colorado had a different perspective and knew it meant both physical and inner work: plowing, shoveling and uncovering cars covered with ice, all the while watching any negative reactions that may have come up. The higher view is that we use both “positive” and “negative” ideas about events to rise above and learn.
The recently ended presidential election was another such event which could be used either to hide our heads in the sand or to be studied for the fascinating lessons it offered about human nature. Vernon Howard was quoted as saying we “were put here on earth at this particular time to see the changes,” and the election and its aftermath have certainly been eye-openers about all forms of evil.
We were so fortunate to have another opportunity to gather together to celebrate Christmas while receiving more sparkles from heaven in the talks based on Vernon Howard’s teachings. Since Christmas Day fell on Sunday this year, the banquet was preceded by three other inspirational classes held on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
One common theme appearing in many talks was that complaining and wishing to change another person cannot help me to change. Each individual must do the work and is responsible for his or her own reactions. Richard said, “When something doesn’t go my way, I must say NO to being negative!” Moe, using “Time to Go to Work” from A Treasury of Trueness, said, “Get tired of feeling bad. Realize there’s no way this wrongness inside can be part of me because it’s trying to kill me! It’s an outsider, an alien.”
Christmas Day’s class began when Richard asked students to speak on the topic: “What bothers me and its spiritual solution.” This immediately encouraged right initiative and self-responsibility to ponder and contribute.
Using The Power of Your Supermind, Doug talked about fate or what is also called “kismet” or “your lot in life,” and emphasized there is no necessity to settle for that limited way of thinking. We can say to the false self’s wrongness, “I don’t want to associate with you anymore”.
Richard talked about the Cosmic Viewpoint, an intuitive understanding beyond “head knowledge” that transforms everything we experience. To illustrate, he described how on a recent drive, a buck crashed down a slope and crossed the highway in front of his vehicle. “I don’t get mad at the buck,” he said, who was just following his migration route; “he didn’t build the highway, we did.” Coming awake at such moments saves our lives and reveals if we’re still complaining against life’s challenges or if we’re using them to change.
The formal entertainment, an enjoyable and relaxing learning experience, was rich with the beautiful harmonious music of the season like “Christmas in Killarney” and “Silent Night,” and jokes that all related to the winter holidays. The Christmas turkey dinner, though traditional, seemed full of fresh delights as we strived to put attention on the present moment and apply the exercise to be new each moment. Refusing to live in memories of yesterday or in worry or dreams of tomorrow makes everything new.
A light and lively spirit was present at New Life’s Thanksgiving Day banquet held at the New Life Plaza in Westminster in Southern California. The day’s class was opened by Richard Wooldridge who shared a marvelous quotation from a talk given by Vernon Howard. Vernon said, “Some of you people are afraid to smile. That smile was deep down inside of you all along. Use the physical to work on the inner to free yourself. This is very high.” Richard then added, “Be cheerful and try to be consciously pleasant. No excuses!”
In his opening remarks, Richard said to come to every class possible because “you don’t know how much help you’re actually getting when you come here.” He also urged students to familiarize themselves with the New Life website which contains a treasury of higher information and is updated all the time.
The class’s first speaker, Paul Wolfe, talked about having a moral obligation to live a free and happy life. “Real morality means you never hurt another human being.” Paul also said we must realize the fact that we’re separated from God and that the world is doing everything it can to keep us in our present position, in the thought trap. He gave a great example of how we’re protected if we will abandon the false nature and begin to obey heavenly instructions. “You can actually have a ‘force field’ around you when you go out into the world. That is what protects you and keeps negativity out.”
In his talk, Richard reminded the class of the famous Vernon Howard exercise “Bear the pain and pain the bear.” “We must call the bluff on pain instead of always wanting to run away and lose ourselves in distractions. For example, there are millions of things to do, millions of distractions in the Los Angeles area. Truth doesn’t say we can’t do those things but it does say they are not necessary.” He also relayed a story about deliberately going against the sour part of us that wants to be dull and insists on being in a gloomy state. In the Colorado classes, some students often ride to class with another student. This student, by his own admission, is a grump in the morning, but one recent Sunday morning he made a conscious effort to drop the grumpiness and be pleasant. The other students commented they were grateful for his effort because everyone was positively affected by his lighter mood. Richard said, “A lot of people will be grateful when you are no longer a grump!”
At one point during his talk, he had people trying to remember the names of the Seven Dwarfs, like Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful, Dopey, etc. During student comments, Richard asked one student which dwarf he was and the student said “All of them!” And Karen made a very funny comment when she said, “I don’t care anything about the Seven Dwarfs but I sure am identified with Sleeping Beauty.” The New Life atmosphere really does combine the authentic study of very serious subjects with a lot of fun and good cheer.
The delicious traditional Thanksgiving feast was followed by wholesome entertainment put on by the New Life students including pretty, melodic songs, dancing and funny jokes. One hilarious 5-second act portrayed Doug as a hospital patient with Lupe as his nurse. The laughter from the first punchline was so loud, no one heard the second part of the joke!
Following the end of the day’s festivities, everyone felt gratitude for what had been offered to them at New Life: the opportunity to transcend every problem and every fear and to live a free and peaceful inner life.
“I so appreciate your many hours of effort for the work. I love the website and updates. I contribute my great joy for this life and beyond to the Truth that Vernon so aptly put forth for us in his many delightful books and recordings. What would I do without them? Thank you for continuing to spread the word.”
— E-mail from lady
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