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“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
In 1989 a man from England felt a need for something more in his life, so truth led him to Vernon Howard. Knowing no one, he booked his first trip over to Nevada and stayed for a full 6 months. He then went back to England for a short period of time and came back for another 6 months! Right away he felt a strong connection with what he was hearing. His name is James Potts and he subsequently made many journeys to New Life classes from England. He has also thrown himself into the work, helping out whenever and wherever he can, thus increasing his opportunity to learn more and to benefit from a right attitude toward truth.
It has been 5 years since his last visit to New Life and he was thrilled to have the opportunity to come again and to participate in all of the activities going on in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Speaking in his broad Lancashire accent, James said about the trip, “It’s like coming back home. We should never take New Life and these classes for granted. We are only here temporarily.” He timed his visit so he would be able to attend the 3-day banquet festivities recently held there. He was a star in one of the best acts ever given at a banquet. It is the theme song of most human beings on this planet, the song “Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me” from the old HeeHaw TV show. The students who participated dressed the part perfectly and sang the song with great gusto. All of the singers as well as those in the audience loved it.
James was rejuvenated by being around like-minded people, those seeking something higher than what the world has to offer or what they can do for themselves. It was very interesting because a number of students at the banquet who had never met him before felt drawn to James right away. Even though they didn’t know him personally they had something in common with him. A receptive spirit and a genuine love of truth can take you a long way in this work.
James is very unpretentious and leads a simple life. He rents a small flat in England and spends a lot of his time listening to and reading Vernon Howard and applying what he hears to his own life. We could all learn something from him.
Upon returning to England he let us know he had received tremendous energy from the experience and was very grateful for everything.
Breaking News! — James is a perfect example that you don’t have to be an aggressive ‘striver’ to get along or to really make it in this world. One of Vernon Howard’s favorite words, which he used quite frequently, is the word ‘pleasant.’ It’s all right to just be a pleasant man or woman. He is a great contrast to some spiritual students who are full of themselves and full of unconscious hostility and unseen egotism. Real humility is a very attractive quality to find in a seeker and it is much more rare than would normally be supposed. As James himself said in one of his talks, “We can stop trying to be important.” Here’s another helpful quote on this subject from 1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle, “When spiritual facts are not accompanied by the erasing of egotism, we fall into imaginary spirituality.”
Let’s all refuse to live in imagination and embrace the life lessons of simplicity, unpretentiousness and thankfulness toward the power that has given us the chance to ‘live above this crazy world.’
“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 moderator Doug Stewart 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.”
Hosting the Friday evening class, Doug Stewart drove home a point in his 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, Doug, 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 Doug, Lynne and Kyle singing two old favorites celebrating spring, “Apple Blossom Time” and “Let me Call You Sweetheart.” The entertainment was a lot of fun. Jokes, a poem, an Aesop’s fable and skits followed. Skits were all funny and nearly everyone made a conscious effort to speak up and get into character. Terry’s soliloquy included this complaint: “My wife used to play the guitar. Now she just picks on me!” David H. and Karen were also really funny in their restaurant waiter joke. More songs by a trio with guitar were very harmonious and pretty, described as “glorious” by one student who is in the entertainment business. The finalé, the Pretties dance, was lively and graceful.
Everyone was energized on Sunday. There is a lot more that goes on at banquet than there appears to be on the surface. Richard strongly urged people to not hide out but to fully participate in the whole experience.
Doug Stewart told us, “If you are confused and mystified by life, you’ve come to the right place.” Comments on the banquet included Lynne’s encouragement; “We can get in touch with our essence at the banquets.” Other student comments included Wilma Smith’s example of learning to say ‘No’ to the world. She recounted an invitation to a fancy restaurant: “At first I thought, ‘Why not? It’s an invitation; I should go. Then I thought, ‘I don’t want to waste all that money on something like that. Why would I do that?’ So I responded saying, ‘No. I will not be there.’”
David Hearst said with feeling, “This world is completely crazy…. This is where I want to be. I don’t want to be anywhere else today.” He specifically offered us an invitation to go higher: “If you want to travel to sanity, there are three exits on that highway: Pine, Arizona; Pagosa Springs, Colorado; and Westminster, California.”
So our next destination is clear. Turn off at Colorado! Come to Pagosa Springs for the July banquet!
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.”
Doug Stewart quoted, “Seek revelation not comfort.” He said if you don’t first clearly see the darkness, you will never experience the dawn. Doug reminded us 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.
When attending a New Life class or banquet, students are invited to leave the cares, trials and burdens of their everyday lives outside the door. The extent to which we succeed at this is correlated directly to the amount of higher help we’ll receive in the special atmosphere that is present at this very rare school for higher understanding.
Students eager to learn more about the genuine spiritual life gathered at the Westminster, CA building on Wednesday evening to hear talks on the topic of thankfulness. Moderator Doug Stewart encouraged the class by saying that we can choose to have an attitude of gratitude because in these classes we are being given the real answers to life. We can say “Thank God for the existence of God and mean it!”
Other Wednesday evening speakers also made valuable connections and gave insightful comments on why they are grateful to the Truth itself. Paul Wolfe described a recent observation he made while standing in the supermarket checkout line. “Right there on the cover of a tabloid magazine, I saw a celebrity who has everything the world has to offer. In reality, this person has nothing. Give up what you insist you need to have and you'll have everything. I’m grateful because Truth has shown me I don't have to live the life I think I have to live.” €ť And David Hearst pointed out with right emotion that no one wants to be responsible for anything anymore but that all their nonsense has nothing to do with an earnest personal desire to wake up.
The Thanksgiving Day class was launched by a powerful talk given by New Life Director Richard Wooldridge. He boomed that this Work is not an intellectual endeavor and the conditioned mind can never find the higher kingdom. The biggest misconception that limits self-growth is that we mistake intellectual knowledge of these principles for spiritual essence. “This is all about how you can be your own best friend. You get energy when you don't get negative about something. You can remain calm and say NO to negativity. Stop taking things so personally. Vow ot never take anything personally again!” €ť Richard read a list of negative states that all students could relate to. The list included pride, vanity, bitterness, resentment, anxiousness, boredom, confusion, impatience, arrogance and many others. He made the point that all negative emotions are completely useless and the faster we catch on to how they’re ruining our enjoyment of life the better.
In his helpful talk, New Life’s Southern California Director Dr. Terry Roche focused on the story of Don Quixote referenced by Vernon Howard in “How You Can Expel Emotional Troubles Quickyl” €ť (the title of Chapter 9 in the book Psycho-Pictography). He said, “Don Quixote had read too many stories about dashing knights in suits of shining armor. He imagined himself to be a dashing knight too but he wasn’t — far from it. His armor was rusty and his horse was creaky and old. Aren't we the same way? Aren't we living a dream just like Don Quixote?”€ť This is the human condition. People live from every kind of negativity under the sun while calling themselves pleasant, good and happy. To deeply see the hoax is to be free of it.
The Thanksgiving Day activities provided everyone with great opportunities to observe their inner reactions and to benefit from the energy present when sincere students of these teachings come together to discover more about living an authentically happy life. One interesting lesson always present at banquets is that the serious and the light are both part of this Work. That is why we can learn to spontaneously alternate between very deep and serious subject matter and humorous and light moments just as Vernon Howard did.
As always, the traditional turkey dinner made by the New Life ladies was delicious and so were the plentiful desserts. The lighthearted entertainment that followed the meal included harmonious singing, wholesome, funny humor and skits and graceful dancing. And after the formal entertainment, informal dancing was enjoyed by all.
Vernon Howard once said that no matter how much gratitude you have for this class, it is not enough. At the end of the day, students felt the truth of this statement and were grateful to have put themselves in the right place to receive Truth’s beautiful message.
“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!” “Though I may think I’m a bona fide, certified, qualified spiritual student,” said speaker Doug Stewart, I must pre-qualify for this marathon race, as Vernon Howard explained on MP3 CD Vol. 19 in Talk 9. 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 emcee Doug in a loud, stripped 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. Singing culminated with Doug’s riotous impersonation of Elvis Presley in his blue-swede shoes and turned-up collar in a unique rendition of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” accompanied by the pretty voices of Kyle and Lynne Wooldridge.
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 moderator Doug Stewart invited students 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. Doug made this point: “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, joined by Doug, 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.
Doug said, “I was corrected this weekend. I would not have experienced or gained from the correction if I hadn’t come to banquet.” 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 by Doug Stewart as he was taking a moment to check his e-mail one afternoon prior to the banquet. Doug could not pass up this photo op. The golden-mantle squirrel is 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,” as Doug Stewart put it, the Wednesday night class in Pasadena 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]. Doug Stewart connected this to the old Dragnet radio show: “All we want are the facts, ma’am.” A cosmic fact “has no opposition, while belief is always opposed by another belief.”
The New Life banquet in March celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day is a favorite time for donning green (or orange) attire and hearing again the beautiful old Irish songs. But unique experiences always occur since Truth is ever fresh with uplifting new energy.
Students arrived from several states early in the week in order to help with the many preparations and to attend Wednesday night’s class. Moderator Bill Brown launched the banquet talks with an investigation of why we don’t do what we’re capable of doing and what we’re instructed to do by Vernon Howard. “Why,” he asked, “is there a wish but no ignition, no lift-off?” All of the strong and encouraging banquet talks showed us how to make the teachings a reality in our lives, to “Do it and get it done!”
Our group work in the time leading up to the banquet included much practical activity preparing food, cleaning the buildings and sprucing up the outside as well as helping with the latest 2014 newsletter mailing. The inner work is of course to observe ourselves and others, and to go against the usual sleep state by making efforts to come awake and to be in the present moment so that higher energy can reach us. This is an energy that is rarely felt in today’s world of sleeping humanity. Extending throughout the Saturday banquet and on into Sunday, endless opportunities for esoteric work were presented, which New Life students are so fortunate to have available.
Saturday was an all-day celebration with a bountiful breakfast served by New Life ladies and followed by a 9 am class comprised of three speakers who covered a variety of inner-life subjects based on the teachings of Vernon Howard. Leaving us with a strong message, director of New Life Richard Wooldridge set the stage for shocking us awake and filling the atmosphere with even higher energy, ending the talks in a booming voice: “Get fierce and go against the wrongness inside. Say NO!”
The book table where all of Vernon Howard’s books, talks, DVD’s and more were assembled was super busy and some new items were available (also now for sale on the New Life website). These were USB-flash drives with Vernon Howard talks. One tiny USB-flash drive contains all the available classroom lectures given over many years (minus the talks on DVD). Imagine the power in that! Vernon himself said this teaching was only taught verbally four or five times in all of history, so the Truth which can save us has perhaps never been so widely available on earth before for the relatively few who want it. Yet as Vernon Howard said, “The Kingdom of Heaven has existed for trillions and trillions of light years.”
The talks were followed by pretty old-fashioned music and an opportunity to enjoy the traditional “dancing in a big circle.” Scrumptious corned beef, potatoes and cabbage plus much more was served in keeping with an Irish theme. Introducing the formal entertainment were two old favorite Irish songs, “The Rose of Tralee” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” Humorous 5-second jokes and skits were interwoven with songs and a Pretties dance. A highlight was the unusually beautiful Welsh lullaby, “All Through the Night” about a guardian angel, sung by Lynne Wooldridge and Kyle Rickert with accompaniment by a guitar.
In the evening we gathered to finish the Newsletter mailing and have pizza in a relaxed and congenial social setting, followed on Sunday morning by a warm welcoming fire and another great breakfast. After a unique period of silence before class started, moderator Doug Stewart introduced the talk topic ‘Methods for Beneficial Action’ from Esoteric Mind Power. Speaker Paul Wolfe said that while the world tells us, “Don’t just sit there; do something,” we can turn that around and say, “Don’t do something; just sit there” in order to watch the mind and to embrace the quiet.
Like a refreshing vacation from the old nature which is suspended temporarily, some faces began to glow with new life as higher energy penetrated. As one grateful student put it, this has been the only spiritual discipline she’s found “that is stronger than my mind.” So yet another banquet experience sent us home excited to – in Vernon’s own words– “Vow to go all the way to eternity in spite of everything.”
“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.”
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