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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.”
Vernon Howard’s Higher World — MP3 CDs
By Doug Stewart
In that wonderful old Warner Bros. classic film, “The Treasure of Sierra Madre”, Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt and Walter Huston play prospectors who climb the rugged mountains of Mexico looking for gold. Bogart and Holt know nothing about prospecting but grizzled old Huston does. In a famous scene, Bogart and Holt argue about what gold looks like. Huston bursts out laughing and dances a jig. He tells his partners they’re so dumb they can’t see the riches they’re standing on.
Only a trained eye could see that what looked like dry and worthless soil was really unrefined gold. Huston explains that to get to the real source of wealth, they’re going to have to climb up the mountain. The same story might apply to the new series of “Dated Talks” released by New Life in the MP3 CD format. They’re called “Vernon Howard’s Higher World.”
Here is an opportunity to own all of the talks Vernon Howard gave from 1986 through 1992. Nothing new about that, you might say, because those talks have been available on audiocassettes for years. This new series in the MP3 format, however, provides students with all 638 listening hours of genuine spiritual gold, but now in a manageable and more convenient form. There are prayers, higher instructions, spiritual laws and a treasure trove of tough truths all given by Vernon for your lasting benefit. He explains how Truth solves all of the difficulties you may have with business, male-female relations, money, family and more. You’ll also come across all of the priceless stories told by Vernon as only he could. Here, indeed, are the authentic answers to life, showing you what real gold is so that you can drop the useless, false gold you’ve been carrying around all your life.
New Life Director Richard Wooldridge spent months converting old analog tapes to digital files. “It was important,” he said, “to move these wonderful recordings to a more lasting format because cassettes and cassette tape players are being phased out in the technological world. The MP3 CD format makes them much more accessible for people to use today.” This collection is the equivalent of 437 previously issued audio cassettes plus a special bonus talk, The Writer’s Class. This lecture hasn’t been available since Vernon Howard’s passing in 1992.
New Life has heard from many people who are grateful for all of the hours of instruction now available in this convenient and up-to-date format. A lot of students listen to this new series of MP3 CDs in their cars, enjoying the ease of having about 25 or more talks on each disk in their player. This is a big change from having numerous audiocassettes tumbling around in your vehicle, getting lost or damaged. One student who recently traveled by car from California to the New Life Colorado banquet said that it was a most pleasant and relaxing trip because of being able to listen to these marvelous talks nonstop. The new MP3 CDs are economical too, with an average cost per talk of $1 instead of $4 as was the case in the cassette versions. There are even greater savings if you purchase the entire collection of all 35 disks. Check with the bookstore at any class for more details. MP3s also load easily on to your personal digital device giving you even more of an opportunity to take Vernon Howard wherever you go. Get one or more of these new MP3 CDs and start digging for your spiritual gold today!
Doug Stewart has been attending New Life classes in Southern California for the past nine years. He has been in the entertainment industry for over 35 years. He has worked as a producer, director and editor and has had a long affiliation with television shows like the Oscars, the Emmys and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. “As glamorous and exciting as having a career in show business appears to be,” he says, “I was still confused about life and was not very happy. I started searching for the reasons why and found that nobody had any answers that made sense. One day I picked up a Vernon Howard book and later started going to the classes. I had found the answer to all of my questions! Now my life is so much more rewarding because of the authentic truths Vernon Howard reveals.”
Technical data on MP3 Compact Discs:
863 talks — 21.35 GB — 638 listening hours; mp3 Pro® (FhG) (*.mp3); 80 kbps, 44100 Hz, Stereo (17:6:1), CBR (Constant Bitrate)
We gathered to celebrate the birth of a new life this Christmas in Strawberry, AZ. It was yet another chance to expand our awareness and knowledge of truth, to stretch our muscles shoveling snow, dancing and lifting stuffed turkeys, and to be infused with delicious physical and spiritual food.
“Let nothing stop you!” This was the strongest message of the talks emphasized by New Life Director Richard Wooldridge during the many classes. For those who could have attended but didn’t, he advised to become aware that “Satan will use every device to trick you so you won’t come to a banquet or to classes. I’m not going to let anything stop me. Let nothing stop you.”
Moe Janosec also touched on how students limit their own growth when he fiercely admonished us: “Stop limiting yourself! Stop dragging around like a dog with its tail between its legs. Stand up. Take right initiative, right responsibility for your inner life.”
On Christmas Eve, speakers often referred to the New Testament gospels, to The Higher Teachings of Christ talk and to the section in Treasury of Trueness by Vernon Howard entitled “Christ.” Paul Wolfe emphasized the “words in red” spoken by Christ, identical to Vernon Howard’s message, including many passages which he noted are usually ignored by Christians (such as “I come not to bring peace but a sword … A man’s enemies are those of his own household” from Matthew 10).
On Christmas Day Bill Brown also referred to the section in Treasury of Trueness about the difference between religion and spirituality. He explained that one popular misconception of deluded religionists is the concept of “instant salvation.” We actually must “endure unto the end; you have to keep going way beyond anything your mind can comprehend. The persistence of evil is beyond belief.” He added, “We must bear uncertainty until we are exhausted and give up,” as he illustrated by the couple in the movie The African Queen.
Bill also talked about new technology where humans and machines are being put together. With a picture showing a computer chip inside a human hand, he said, “It’s like the ‘mark of the beast.’ You’re not protected from this by just knowing how to quote from the Book of Revelations. In fact, if all I have are mental ideas, I’m not protected at all.” As Vernon said in The Higher Teachings of Christ talk, “Thought doesn’t want spirit.”
Richard illustrated how we must make spiritual connections with everything that happens (to use everything). He detailed the excellent opportunity for this on the drive from Colorado to Strawberry when several red and orange warning lights went on in the car.
When stopping at a gas station with the hood popped up and looking at the engine, he said that a man came up. He had grease all over his jacket and looked scruffy, but was polite and turned out to be a diesel mechanic. He had just what was necessary to fix everything with the push of a button — a code reader that reset the sensors and solved the problem. Richard said, “What are the odds of that happening? It wasn’t an accident we ran into that man and that he helped us. God will prove Himself to you if you will just let Him.” The spiritual connection is this: “Truth is the code reader which can erase all your problems.” Whenever you’re faced with what seems to be an overwhelming challenge, remember: “Don’t you think God can handle this?!”
Light-Hearted Entertainment and Superlative Turkey
A light moment of laughter occurred in one talk with Doug Stewart’s recollection of the French cliché cherchez la femme, “look for the woman.” Laughter and lightness continued to pervade the afternoon’s delicious turkey dinner and entertainment.
The opening songs of the formal entertainment were truly the highlight: the beautifully sung and uplifting “Joy to the World” and “Christmas in Killarney” encouraged us to move lightly with a spring in our steps in our many “jigs and reels” all afternoon and into the energetic days to follow.
Hilarious jokes and skits followed, as in the “wisdom of the aged” from the ladies at the beauty parlor. Coming to every class and banquet aids the development of a natural, relaxed, clean sense of humor. As Bill quipped the day after banquet, “As a result of being typecast as a cop in the jokes, I developed an uncontrollable urge to finish off all the doughnuts.”
Talented songsters brought us much festive music of the season, and the Christmas carols sing-along allowed all of us to join in on old favorites, like “Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
Do More Work
We were reminded it should be Christmas every day, all the time. Richard said, “God wants to give you the whole universe, but evil is trying to distract us from our mission. The whole world is busy trying to keep you at its level.… Say ‘I have to do more work.’ You want somebody else to do it for you, when in reality you have to do the work yourself.” We left for home with our work cut out for us yet filled with the much higher energy to do it.
How to gain Higher Energy and how to end the hoax of pain were but two of the encouraging topics discussed by Vernon Howard students at New Life Foundation’s 2013 Thanksgiving banquet.
Truth students from across the southwestern U.S. gathered at the group’s New Life Plaza location in Westminster, California Nov. 27-30 for four days of strong classes, lively entertainment and delicious homemade food. “We can learn so much from being together,” said longtime student Judith Anderson.
Sunshine greeted our Thanksgiving celebration of Truth. Blooming red and white roses at the Westminster building welcomed fellow traveling students from Colorado snow and ski country, as well as from Arizona and California.
Wednesday night’s speakers began the official holiday (after food preparation and rehearsals) with a story from The Power of Esoterics, entitled “The Prosperous Farmer” [p. 167]. Vernon says to tell yourself, “There is always one little thing I can do, so I will do that.” As speaker Paul Wolfe said, “If you do something right, you’re asking for more light.”
With Thursday’s talks based on The Answer, New Life Director Richard Wooldridge and Dr. Terry Roche both elucidated the hoax of pain and suffering. Terry said, “Reality is painless; but we’re told it should be painful.”
Richard exemplified this by explaining how this Work becomes fun as we grow. After making a right aim to refuse to be negative when tired, he experienced first-hand an enjoyable 14-hour all-day drive and then going into LA’s rush hour traffic! So can we all relax, refuse negativity, and experience higher energy, just as much as we are receptive and willing to give up our old selves.
He added, “But human beings are addicted to pain … so our higher energy gets stolen.” For example, Richard told us we students “can get contrary — willful, defiant, mulish, pig-headed.” “You have to start working together … stop fighting.” An exercise was given to refuse negative impressions, to use throughout the day and weeks. “Darkness does not want you to escape. It wants to destroy you.” Vernon Howard said to rightly fight for yourself: “Don’t you dare give up!”
In a new, transcribed tidbit now available at the Booktable, entitled “Being Alone,” Vernon calls us “clingers.” Richard said to “stop clinging to people … Dare to do this work alone … Let go of everything and everyone.” He also encouraged us by saying: “You can grow every day, no matter what your age ... This work will give you a sharp mind, even when you’re old. You can be infused with energy despite your physical age,” a fact that was definitely in evidence throughout the banquet week.
A really delicious Thanksgiving feast was spread on the banquet tables, always homemade by the New Life chefettes, full of traditional favorites — excellent turkey, real mashed potatoes and gravy, wheat-berry dressing, cranberry conserve, and more. Desserts — attractively displayed and available all day — included double-layer coconut cake, organic apple pie, and moist brownies.
During the “Philosophical Follies,” emcee Paul Wolfe explained, “One purpose [of the formal entertainment] is for students to observe their inner reactions before, during and after they perform in front of others.” Students enacted some especially funny jokes, portraying jolly or goofy characters. The elevator joke and the School Daze skit were particularly hilarious and well performed. Karen, who played a genie, left us wishing for more. The pretty music and harmonizing singers were outstanding, especially the beautiful old favorite “Indiana” and the modern western song ”Three on the Trail.” And “Glad to be Back Home Again” was a great reminder, as Vernon said, that we can get back home, as we wave “Bye, Bye Blackbird.”
Lots of festively dressed Pretties danced a perky polka to conclude the formal entertainment, which motivated us to get up and join them in the informal dancing. And this provided many chances to remember the exercise assigned by speakers to know we rose from or sat down in our chairs.
“This Work is about energy,” Richard told the class. “Energy comes to you, but it doesn't belong to you, and it doesn't belong to me. It comes to us, we receive it, and we have to give that energy back. We're here to give it away. It’s your duty to raise the level higher and give it back.”
Work harder! That was the exhortation and invitation given by director Richard Wooldridge at our September banquet in Strawberry, AZ. In a telephone conversation with long-time New Life student Dr. Bruce Tracy just before he died, Bruce told Richard he thought he had more time, and implored us to work harder and to not be fooled into thinking we have plenty of time to wake up. Richard said no stress or strain is necessary. Just watch what goes on in your mind, observe and do nothing else. He added, “Christ said, ‘what I have done you can do also.’”
Wednesday night’s class launched our esoteric studies when we began preparing the new Fall/Winter newsletter for mailing at the work party. Bill Brown then introduced the powerful section from Cosmic Command, “Do Not Be Gullible.” Vernon Howard said gullibility comes disguised as loyalty, love and faith. Doug Stewart characterized his own life as “Gullible’s Travels.” Bill emphasized how the elementary, simple, basic instructions we are given at New Life are huge; for example he recalled the earlier directive in July to “Speak Up.” Observation of this simple instruction throughout the banquet activities indicated clearly a direct connection between people’s speech and their awareness or sleep.
The necessity for awareness in everything was repeated on Saturday when Richard referred to hiking and enjoying the mountains: “You cannot enjoy nature unless you’re conscious.” And as always he encouraged us to move away from what we know mentally to reach an intuitive spiritual understanding, to “taste truth for yourself.” One principle later quoted on Sunday from Cosmic Command is that the world does not have to be held together by frantic thought and that the antidote to our incessant mental movement is quietude.
Speaker Dave Netherton emphasized the benefits to our growth and learning when we participate fully in all of our life as well as in New Life and banquet activities. So while engaged in listening to the speakers, partaking in the wonderful array of Italian cuisine, enjoying and participating in the formal and informal entertainment and interacting with other students, we were also working on ourselves by watching what was going on inside and seeing more clearly into deeper levels of ourselves. For it is the light of consciousness that stirs things up inside but also destroys what has been hurting us.
Sunday’s spokesmen clarified that with a quote from Vernon Howard, “We’re doing just fine when we see with increased clarity just what a great problem we are to ourselves.” Gary Blatchford added, “It’s that something different from this world you feel at banquets that helps us see with increased clarity.”
Comments on Sunday included the often-repeated feeling that banquets bring to us “such a different day than when out in the world.” Yet also it was said, “No two banquets are the same; it’s wonderful that it’s new and unpredictable.” David Hurst reiterated “New Life has saved my life … It’s easy to see out in the world what’s wrong with other people. Here the Work is seeing our own wrongness.”
The formal entertainment brought added lightness and fun, such as Lynne and Kyle’s delightful and charming song, “Be my Little Baby Bumble Bee,” and Katherine and Karen’s humorous dialogue on chocolate. Laughter and seriousness were again well balanced, and the cleanup and relaxing, pleasant work party were the perfect conclusions to a full day.
After the last dance of the entertainment a spontaneous and continuous applause arose, an expression of our enjoyment and appreciation for the special day. The banquets were laid out by consciousness, through Vernon Howard, for our personal learning and growth. “When two or more are gathered in my name, I/Truth will be there.” God and higher cosmic energy was there. And those who joined with it were tremendously uplifted.
A group of truth seekers including travelers from both coasts met in Pagosa Springs, Colorado July 12−14 for another New Life Foundation banquet and for a truly good time in an unmistakably higher atmosphere.
Classes reflecting the teachings of Vernon Howard and esoteric Christianity were spread over the three-day weekend, ending Sunday morning on a Rocky Mountain hillside far above our daily cares and routines.
When you enter a New Life banquet you are leaving the world to “come out from among them,” for banquets offer experiences quite unlike anything else in the world. Our activities — events originally planned by Vernon Howard — provide ideal circumstances to practice true principles. As student David Hearst said, “The point is not to think a truth but to live it.”
Here’s how the July banquet in Pagosa was different from the world: Talks were very high and practical. The men were in charge and the ladies wore flowers and dresses. Dancing was wholesome and pretty; the songs were old fashioned and harmonious; jokes were clean, fun and not vicious or sarcastic. Set-up and cleanup was well organized, orderly and corrective, anticipating sleeping human beings and the unexpected (like the temporary loss of electricity).
Arriving before class on Friday evening, students greeted other students from different parts of the country. Speakers based their talks on a Vernon Howard talk entitled “The Original World” from one of the five transcriptions available in the newly printed publication Powerful Guides for Spiritual Freedom, about how distorted our money system and values have become. The basic message was “the only thing you have to do is make it back home to the Father’s house.” The moderator for Friday evening’s class Moe Janosec told us we must “go against our lethargy” and “be active toward Truth.” We must welcome it into our lives because everyone lives from either the higher force or the lower force and “cannot serve two masters.”
On Saturday after breakfast (almost a banquet in itself with its array of quiches, coffee cakes, fruits and hot drinks), director Richard Wooldridge exhorted us to speak up louder and to not mumble when behind the microphone and when talking to others. This forces us to be more aware and prevents the forces of unconscious timidity from being in charge. Based on the talk transcription “Let’s Play Fair”, he illustrated with his experience of being called for jury selection and using that to work hard to stay awake for two days. “You must be learning from every experience and to be given more insight, you must want to understand the actual state of human nature.” Like the baby birds flapping their wings and leaving the nest, we also have to learn to fly all by ourselves; it’s individual work.
The banquet table was a bountiful display of BBQ beef, chicken, sausage and baby back ribs, homemade potato salad and cole slaw, fresh green salad and much more, together with a favorite feature — the dessert table — mostly prepared by the New Life ladies. Student-provided entertainment followed. The southwestern theme of the entertainment brought to life beautiful old and new Western songs like “Cattle Call” and the joyful and exuberant “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” One outstanding act was the harmonizing by Lynne and Kyle on “Wild Montana Skies.” Jokes and skits took us from the beauty parlor to the golf course, and the Pretties’ dance was the best and liveliest ever. The man in charge of the clubhouse building where the banquet was held was quite impressed by our efficiency and the thorough cleanup. Perhaps best of all, a transformation of one’s state was a definite result. Participants found that they were able to do much more than they ever thought possible. And this was perhaps the most positive and cheerful group of students ever to assemble at a New Life banquet. During the weekend, it was observed, people became more alive, more bright and cheery.
Sunday’s class was held on the New Life property mountainside pergola, where deer sometimes grazed and an occasional golden-mantled squirrel could be seen scampering about. Speaker Dave Netherton called our attention to being aware of all of the physical senses and to the setting in the forest where gentle breezes wafted and sunlight danced through the trees. He said you have to work to climb up the “happy trail” but the result is an unmistakable feeling of elevation.
Bill Brown retold the story of the Veteran and Apprentice angels who came to earth looking for just one person who wouldn’t sell his soul for earthly riches, then asked us the deeply profound question from the story: “Do you qualify?” The stories about “Vet and App” and the Angelic Weekly reminded us to be aware when we think we’re sincere and know it all; then the Veteran angel must tell App, “You’re still fooled by people — that’s why you’ve been an apprentice so long.”
Comments after the break about the banquet experience included one from a new student from the East Coast who said she felt like a beginner and was reminded that Vernon said “God loves a beginner”. And the new people all jumped in to participate fully with a right spirit. Long-time student Regina Netherton spoke of what she learned: “It is almost unfathomable to realize the immense amount of work that was put into bringing about the banquet. So why do students work so hard at it? Because the invisible rewards of sensing a new existence and beginning to live above the crazy mind and this crazy world provide more than enough reward.” There is nothing more exciting than truly embracing this work.
A main object of the Vernon Howard teachings is to see ourselves as we actually are. This is hard on the vanity and why Truth classes will never appeal to the masses. As Moe said, “Most people won’t even get close to seeing their negative states unless they’re pushed to do so.” A banquet provides the atmosphere to see our “spilling level” [see The Power of Esoterics, p. 113], which we must determine to raise higher every day and at each banquet. As Bill said, we must allow ourselves to be uncomfortable and stop lying; only then will we receive help in spite of ourselves. This is why New Life is such a contrast to the world — which wants to be falsely comforted and flattered. We use the activities to see more deeply into human nature, welcome healing correction and rise above our fears and delusions, all the while being given new flexibility and natural spontaneity.
Enthusiasm — “being inspired or possessed by God.” A speaker traced the Greek origination of this word, and it perfectly describes the higher energies present at this May banquet in Westminster, California. Students from across the southwestern U.S. gathered May 8 thru 12 for four days of strong classes, robust entertainment, and delicious homemade food.
A forceful talk by Director of New Life Richard Wooldridge on Wednesday night in Pasadena began by raising the level of the bar which continued throughout the entire weekend. The atmosphere fairly sizzled with energy, providing the opportunity to get outside oneself and stop being “a pusillanimous putz”! Look these words up in the dictionary and you’ll find that they perfectly describe the nature of the false nature. “Vernon Howard told us, “all evil originates in the mind.” Richard characterized us as thinking machines, trying to process everything with the intellect. But “when the spirit guides the mind, there is heaven on earth.”
“Vernon Howard established these special weekends to teach us unique spiritual lessons,” Richard reminded the class. “We are here for Something Else besides what this world has to offer.” You could observe that during the entire event, students’ natures actually changed.
At Friday night’s class Tom Geiger gave a personal illustration — his son’s preparations for college — as a worldly situation for using the principles of truth for guidance, which come to us precisely when we need them if we’re receptive. Using the example of moving out old furniture to make room for the new, Paul Wolfe explained that our inner space must be emptied of “I already know” before we have room for anything else.
On Banquet day, Dr. Terry Roach, New Life’s Southern California director, reminded the class, “The enemy is within …. See the pain is inside of me. It exists nowhere else …. Ask yourself, ‘If I’m so smart, how come I’m in pain?’” Terry, a longtime podiatrist, said that our psychological pain can often affect the health of the body and that from personal experience he has observed that the amount of neurotic and psychosomatic illness in this world is legion.
Next, Richard told the group: “Last night outside the hotel, I looked up at the sky. With all the city lights and smog, I counted about eight stars. In Pagosa Springs, CO, I can see two galaxies.” This exemplified the limitations of the mind, and how we can always see more. He added that despite your physical age, you can be infused with energy. “Your job is to always be enthused …. There is no circumstance in which you should feel bad — ever.” He emphasized self-examination: “You have to start turning it around. When you react to someone, ask, ‘What is it in that other person that makes me react like this?’”
During the banquet weekend’s final class on Sunday, speakers discussed the perils of using bad language. Paul Wolfe said, “Profanity determines your level.” On the use of curse words, Doug Stewart shared his observations from his career in television: “I’ve learned TV is all about pushing the envelope [of crudity and vulgarity]. Producers and programmers are always asking, ‘How far can we go?’ Also, nothing on TV is spontaneous. Everything is scripted well in advance, believe me.”
Paul also astutely observed that “The world has ‘improved’ itself to the point that it has become almost unbearable.” He also cautioned, “I am personally responsible for the level of this class. You are personally responsible for the level of this class. I’ve got to knock it off; you’ve got to knock it off.”
During the banquet day feast, students dined on crisp tostada bowls piled high with grilled chicken, spicy ground beef and refried beans, topped with fresh salsa and guacamole made from local avocado trees. After helping with food prep, David Hearst told the class, “I learned something new at this banquet — how to shred chicken!” He and many others have learned the benefit to their spiritual growth of pitching in to help in lots of activities at these events.
After Saturday’s meal came the “Philosophical Follies”: entertainment skits, emceed by Paul, including lively comedy acts and beautiful, harmonious songs (such as “Lonely Yukon Stars” and “Long, Long Trail a’Winding”). One purpose of the acts is for students to observe their inner reactions before, during, and after the performance. “You never know what’s going to happen, or what’s going to get a laugh,” Paul chuckled. Some of funniest moments were the ‘flubs,’ people forgetting their lines or their props. We’re learning to laugh at ourselves without blame, seeing how unaware we are and understanding that we can change that.
One skit described as “perhaps the funniest act ever in Westminster” was the hilarious enactment of the old WWI song “I Don’t Want to Get Well” (with the obvious esoteric connection). Doug sang in the uniform of the wounded soldier boy while California Judy, as the nurse, took his rising pulse and fed him with a spoon.
Lynne Wooldridge explained the state she experiences while dancing with the colorfully dressed “Parisian Pretties” troupe: “When we’re dancing, the world in those moments just does not exist.” The last dance for everyone was even more crowded than the first dance, with Richard reviving the old Scottish jig learned in Boulder City, NV, and Dr. Terry joining in leading the rousing finalé.
Comments on Sunday described the banquet as “the best ever” and “they just keep getting better and better.” Something spontaneous, light and profound occurs at banquets, with a continual effort to keep the teachings of Truth and the Work pure.
Our traditional March banquet celebrating St. Patrick’s Day once again was held at New Life Foundation in Strawberry, Arizona with events from Wednesday night’s class thru Sunday’s class and another delicious meal before students headed home to California, Colorado and Arizona.
During this time we were challenged by director Richard Wooldridge to go against ourselves and to do more work than we thought we could, participating in as many activities as possible. As one speaker said, “This is the first time you’ve ever been at this 2013 Irish banquet – it is NEW.”
A snowstorm provided the very situation necessary to go against ourselves, proving again God gives us just what we need. The appearance of the cold, wet snow, while challenging the negativities in us while shoveling or driving or walking, made us see more, adding a wonderful, unexpected dimension. One speaker said the covering of pure white snow reminded him of the biblical phrase “being washed as white as snow.” Another said the sunlight on the snow makes the light even more powerful. Snow also added to the fun and laughter, with some students spontaneously erupting into a snowball fight, boys-against-girls with no losers. “Lots of laughter” was one way a student characterized the whole weekend. Nature provided the backdrop and truth turned an “inconvenience” into a special opportunity to learn.
On banquet Saturday morning to a sea of green attire and a bit of orange, director Richard Wooldridge explained that “stupid human solutions always make everything worse. There’s only a cosmic solution.” He reminded us of that crystal clear truth from Vernon that “this earth belongs to Satan,” and also that “we have to see that Satan is a bluff.” Richard was inspired to give us this special, exciting explanation: “Surface personalities can never get along, but transformed we can…. By getting rid of ourselves we will have a unique cosmic personality, or cosmic essence.”
So, although being at banquets always makes our old nature uncomfortable, students went against themselves, participating in many activities in spite of the inner voices screaming not to do so. Sunday morning’s moderator, and long-time student Bill Brown explained that people say, “I don’t want my life to be upset by Truth.” Bill quoted Vernon saying you must make the sufferer [false self] scream – until you see there’s no one there who “can’t take it anymore.” And to our amazement, again what we found is that we experienced something NEW and nice.
Therefore, banquet activities are the perfect opportunity provided by Truth itself, originally through Vernon Howard, to do things our body, mind and inner voices warn us not to do. For example, many made extra effort to get to the banquet from far away, or to gave a little talk about the principles they had learned, or to dance or tell a joke in entertainment or enjoy the evening work parties where we helped to get out the new Spring/Summer 2013 newsletter, which now goes to thousands of people.
Despite mud and snow, the banquet format unfolded uninterrupted and went beyond the expected. A scrumptious traditional Irish corned beef and cabbage dinner was cooked and served by ladies with the aid of a couple of gentlemen and a talented baker. Included were outstanding breads like homemade Irish soda bread, as well as sticky buns, cinnamon rolls and breakfast quiches.
As snow fell outside, the formal entertainment opened with emcee Doug Stewart entering in an Irish green top-hat and singing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…,” setting an atmosphere of laughter and lightness. Poems were interspersed with jokes; several beautiful Irish songs were sung in harmony by Doug, Lynne and Kyle, enhanced by the guitar and mandolin. A lively Pretties dance completed the formal entertainment.
On Sunday comments were invited about the banquet experience. We recalled that so many essential and uplifting points were made by the speakers. ….. One California student liked that our gathering does not emphasize or enhance our self-esteem as the world tries to do. Another attendee commented on the natural and unpretentious atmosphere.
A final reminder by Lynne summarized our aim: “Let’s not forget what we learned, and continue to go beyond ourselves.”
The Christmas banquet in Strawberry AZ began with juniper logs crackling to warm up Howard Hall, hot coffee, homemade scones and sausage to enhance conviviality and of course plenty of nuts roasting by the open fires. Speakers then commenced “hurling insults” at the lazy lower nature to warm our welcome hearts with strong, truthful principles.
The extended holiday classes and week-long celebration (Wednesday thru Wednesday) were more filled than our delicious turkey with plenty of work and food for higher thought. The fortunate people who arrived ready to work got plenty of chances to see thru their egos. The ego squirms and says to us, “Not me, I’m not like society,” as Moe Janosec pointed out when the men spoke on “The Truth about Society” (see chapter 5 in A Treasury of Trueness.) But seeing that society operates in our internal system is essential to the task of leaving the old nature behind to embrace the new. Activities before, during and after the banquet are designed for awakening, to make conscious to us inner blockages that we must go thru in order to find the way out. By participating, we see more to become freer.
THE WORLD “Everybody is in a morass of pain and they don’t know how to get out,” said speaker Dr. Terry Roche, leader of the California branch. The world was described by one speaker Doug Stewart as a quicksand trap that overwhelms us before we’re aware of it. Other speakers discussed how the world convinces us to feel bad by thinking we’re “missing out.” After the break, one lady described her realization that she was reliving past unhappy experiences in “ex-husband-land,” which gave everyone a good laugh.
THOUGHT One of our biggest problems is that we allow ourselves to be hounded by thoughts. As director of New Life, Richard Wooldridge explained, when we’re a prisoner of our thoughts, we’re being tormented, even by such physical reactions as migraine headaches, which Vernon explained are caused by wrong thinking. Richard continued: “You were meant to live from the Spirit, not from the mind …. See, you’re over-thinking it. Why don’t you let go and let Truth take care of you?”
THE WAY OUT Through all of the classes, activities and talks came the assurance that the genuine solution does exist. As Vernon Howard said, “Do you think God put you here in this world without a way out?” The New Life banquets go a long way in helping us to find the way out. On Christmas Eve we heard again that “this world is not our world,” that our true nature does not belong here.
On Christmas Day we were asked by Richard to ponder two ideas, how to not be taken over by the world and what Christmas is really all about. He said, “Our gift is being able to meet here to exchange higher principles.”
In addition to our traditional Christmas feast, we were served breakfast each morning and a Christmas Eve supper prior to class. Students put an immense amount of time and effort in preparing food and in helping set up and clean up the hall. And the way to receive more was by participating.
Entertainment sparkled with Christmas carol favorites and excellent singers, such as the harmonizing of the sweet and pure voices of Lynne and Kyle in “O Holy Night” and “Sleigh Ride.” In a poem Bill was a naughty boy who started thinking of others “Jest ‘Fore Christmas.” Moe as Emcee reported the airlines are hanging mistletoe above the luggage counters, “so you can just kiss your luggage goodbye.” More jokes followed, often with a holiday theme. The rousing Christmas carols sing-along and the exuberant Pretties dance concluded the formal entertainment. The overflowing of fresh energy continued to the end of the day and we left with lighter hearts and a renewed sense of purpose.
Thanksgiving Banquet activities in Westminster, CA provided tremendous opportunities for observation, learning and enjoyment on our spiritual journey. An especially large class on Wednesday night launched the events with talks on our lower and Higher natures, centered around a talk given by Vernon Howard which is available on MP3 CD Volume 8, Track 6. Speakers emphasized we cannot develop, improve or prettify the lower nature and we cannot create the new nature. As moderator Doug Stewart said, it’s not within the power of the old nature to be a “better person.” So we must be willing to let go of it completely, as Paul Wolfe said, “without reservations,” so it can be replaced by the Higher.
Expanding our understanding in powerful talks on Thanksgiving morning, New Life director Richard Wooldridge explained that we are born undeveloped and are here to evolve. Right excitement and inquiry was conveyed in his questions: “Why don’t you want to know more? Why aren’t you excited about this adventure?” As Vernon often told us, “You were put here on earth at this particular time to see the changes,” to observe what’s going on, to see more and to not go down with the ship.
Vernon was fierce and uncompromising in his talks and we must develop that same right forcefulness. Someone had sent Richard an e-mail showing a series of photographs of a real Mama Bear in Russia fiercely chastising her cub after he had misbehaved. The very next photo was of the baby bear being hugged by Mama to show that the lesson had been learned and that all was well. In the same way, Truth fiercely corrects the wayward student but when the correction is over, the next moment is brand new. Richard quoted an inspiring Q & A section on pages 240 - 241 of chapter 15 of The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power explaining how parents can teach their children basic spiritual principles by both word and example like showing them there is nothing to fear and that they need not be defeated by anyone or anything.
A spirit of cooperation characterized the preparation and serving of the traditional Thanksgiving meal. All of the food was delicious and heartily enjoyed by the participants. Offerings included organic roasted turkey, creamy potatoes, stuffings, vegetables, salad and pecan and pumpkins pies (among many other desserts). Opening our formal banquet entertainment were two especially pretty old songs sung by Doug and Lynne, “After the Ball” and “Sweet Genevieve.” These were followed by light poems and many goofy jokes in humorous situations, such as the puzzled son (Asa) who has several girl friends and is contemplating marriage, the husband (Doug) whose wife barks at him and a dog who brings the slippers, and two gum-chewing women (Katherine and Judith) exchanging gossip at the beauty parlor.
Six new students, from San Diego to North Dakota, enjoyed the entire day of congenial activities, dancing, dining and sociability in the healthy atmosphere. Richard ended his talk with the excellent exercise for the day (from 700 Inspiring Guides to a New Life): “Weariness provides opportunity. Alertness seizes opportunity.” He then instructed us not to run away when tiredness tries to take over and this instruction was followed and actualized when almost no one left before the end of the day-long event and cleanup. When experiencing this unique atmosphere with a genuine wish to learn, the level of understanding is always raised and the spirit is always uplifted.
“Everything at banquets is planned to nurture the True Self,” a speaker reminded us. The autumn Italian banquet in Arizona was a place we could readily “be diligent in learning our psychic lessons” [from the Esoteric Encyclopedia of Eternal Knowledge, “Intelligent Voyaging”]. Preparing and participating in the full spectrum of activities provided the means to learn.
Inner life studies officially began with talks Wednesday night, when Bill Brown introduced the powerful Vernon Howard quotation about “unearned benefits” which destroy the receiver and the society that gives them [see A Treasury of Trueness, #887]. Said Vernon, “It is an absolute spiritual law that every benefit in life must be individually earned.” Bill related this both to current events and our own false nature, which makes excuses and “wants to coast and be served.”
A sharp contrast to demanding unearned benefits or taking the fast, easiest way was given in a beautiful example on Saturday. Director of New Life Richard Wooldridge described people in the Bavarian Alps making natural, delicious cheeses and walking their cows up and down the mountains each day. They loved their work and it reflected the right feeling you get when doing something well rather than doing it carelessly or sloppily. We were told to relax and know you are here …. You don’t have to think all the time. Put your spiritual health first; “seek ye first the kingdom …and all else will be added unto you.” Those who have actually tried this know it’s true.
Connected to that, Dr. Bruce Tracy on Sunday challenged us to “Be grateful you flopped in life…. Be grateful for your conflicts, disappointments and shocks,” for that is what it takes to learn … and know the world has nothing of real or lasting value to give you. A repeated theme in the talks was Vernon’s directive to “Ask Heaven not what to DO but what to BE.”
An authentic traditional Italian meal, outstanding in flavor and variety, was prepared with care in the beautiful Howard Hall kitchen by the students. The banquet table overflowed with luscious ingredients including pastas and organic meats, herbs and spices, and fresh garden veggies, topped off as always with lengthy tables of enjoyable deserts.
Entertainment began with a tribute to a more sweetly expressed in harmony by Bruce and the Strawberry Sisters, Lynne and Judy; songs were augmented later with Doug’s pleasing baritone accompanied by Michele on the piano. Balancing our more serious studies with plenty of lightness and laughter, the jokes, poems and skits allowed us to laugh at the insane nonsense of the world. Professor Tracy’s list of student errors on tests was full of laughs, such as the definition, “the epistles were the wives of the apostles.” We now also have a comedy team, Dufus and Ditzy, Paul and Katherine, who are particularly willing in jokes to ”risk looking stupid” [as one speaker said] as a means for shedding egotism.
Several simple but often forgotten exercises were given to help us remember ourselves during the banquet: to know you’re walking thru the door, to know you’re walking across the floor, to know you’re talking. And in order to go against laziness, park far away in a parking lot and walk farther. Refuse to take the easy way!
Banquets invite us to make extra effort. Our days and nights were filled with opportunities for pleasant and vigorous work, inner and outer, like preparing the fall newsletter for mailing. As one student commented, “I thought the banquet was really great this time. I felt more cordiality ….” A certain special camaraderie of spirit develops when we are gathered for a higher purpose than mere sociality or for physical needs and appearances. The atmosphere is so unique that some people from the world can’t take it; yet two new young men fully participated in and enjoyed the events. As one student commented about Vernon Howard’s work, “It’s a lot more than human comfort at the end of the day.”
If you are that one in a million who is deeply stirred by the teachings of Vernon Howard and want to learn more in a wholesome atmosphere of right ideas and activities, consider making plans to join us for the upcoming banquets at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. Nourishing the spirit at New Life leads to rejuvenation by Truth and New Life is given to us for our effort.
“Thank you so much for your instructions on how to get Vernon Howard’s eBooks and eBooklets. It is as if I am dreaming; today I bought Psycho-Pictography, The Power of Your Supermind, Cosmic Command and six of the wonderful booklets. I thank God for this esoteric knowledge. No other information could give me this kind of insight so I can know how to think, feel and react in a different way.”
— E-mail from man
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