New Life Foundation
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“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
“I got more holes punched in my ego than a piece of Swiss cheese,” commented one student as he was saying goodbye to catch his plane back to L.A. That got a big laugh, for others knew he had taken some serious shocks to the false self rightly, as essence was getting a little freer of the old nature. As was said at the Friday night class, you’re not going to wake up being comfortable.
We could call banquets one of those “destroyers of illusions,” one of the sections that appears in 700 Inspiring Guides to a New Life, the Vernon Howard book used for the banquet talks. And for all that, the banquet was lighthearted as well as serious — the perfect balance which Vernon created to provide accelerated growth. Conditions at banquets are just right to study ourselves for maximum benefit, such as when we get tired near the end of the day.
The New Life banquet in Pagosa Springs was about growth — a weekend where students got together in rare circumstances amidst an abundance of wonderfully prepared foods, student provided entertainment and, best of all, three classes to further our understanding of the pure Truth.
Director Richard Wooldridge reminded us in his keynote speech on Saturday morning that Vernon gave us “the most marvelous message ever given to mankind” — for only the pure truth can transform our nature from a mechanically reacting machine to an awakened self. Moe Janosec explained too that the world has failed us and how, these days, it is rare to find even a speck of truth out there.
The theme for the whole weekend was “Cosmic Contentment and Happiness.” We were asked by Bill Brown, “Do you think with the mind you have right now you can be content and happy?” Richard reminded us that Vernon brilliantly revealed that all evil originates in the mind. “Thou shalt have no false gods [such as the mind] before me.” The higher way is to replace thought with awareness or seeing.
Exercises were given to implement these principles we study. One task mentioned [we have to do these assignments] is to make a spiritual connection with what we see out in the world, such as in nature. Richard told the story of the doe on the New Life property that had two fawns, one strong and spunky; the second one weak, who lagged behind and couldn’t keep up. It disappeared without a trace. What a powerful picture for motivating us to get serious and get going!
Another exercise assigned is to be aware and courteous enough to push the chair in when you stand up, a welcome reminder of all the practical, right instruction Vernon gave us to be good householders and to know what we’re doing at each moment.
A further aim, given by Moe Janosec in parting on Sunday, is to go against wrong timidity. Of course banquets are excellent places to work on that. Students making comments on Sunday about the benefits and fun of banquets said these occasions can bring up the internal shaking we don’t see every day. Since “only super effort counts,” this is a special place in a special time to exert ourselves. Many students made super efforts to get to Colorado and others made super efforts to do the work necessary to make the banquet and entertainment a success. Nearly everyone gave a talk behind the microphone, enjoyed the dancing and dared to be in an act in the formal entertainment segment. What fun to break out of our own stiffness and to go beyond the intellect! Our aims here are quite different than the world’s, and we’re “not part of the cookie-and-compliments crowd,” a reference to one speaker’s experience with the fakery of his neighbor.
Entertainment with a western theme was inspired by the spectacular scenery of southwestern Colorado, with lots of cowboy jokes and pretty western songs (such as the lively, lilting “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart”). An unforgettable highlight full of laughs was Bruce’s “Remember Song,” a spoof on forgetting things (when a girlfriend calls to his lost cordless telephone: “the voice sounds familiar and the name it rings a bell”). Bill commented enthusiastically it was “the greatest accumulation of New Life entertainment acts ever.”
Yes, you had to be there to experience something new in your being. Voluntarily participating in the power-packed weekend activities meant going against the lazy nature and working on ourselves and with others to see more. When we give up a bit of our will, our ego, and allow ourselves to be given physical tasks to do, follow instructions and take corrections — in spite of the protests of the touchy ego — something new can then begin to come into existence. And there you have a glimpse into a real and exceedingly rare esoteric school!
An overflow crowd in Pasadena, CA on Wednesday evening May 9th welcomed the strong higher truths given by Director of New Life Richard Wooldridge. He set the tone for the entire week’s studies and allowed Truth to work thru him. The message introducing the spring banquet was an exhortation for new growth, encouraging us to increase our spilling level (to take more without running away or blowing up). He said we must see instead of having a reaction, strive to go beyond the petty nonsense of personalities, names and egos and work very hard to understand that hostility toward Truth’s correction is hurting our chances for a new life.
A quote from A Treasury of Trueness #1398 gave a focus for our work: “Human interest in studying human evil produces the miracle of self-transformation.” Then we were given a special explanation of how there were only three awakened men in the last century teaching Truth to the few who sought it.* And only a few, even in our classes, recognized Vernon Howard for who he actually was. Of those three men, no one exceeded Vernon Howard’s level, teaching regular weekly classes for years and challenging us to “come out from among them.” Now we each still have that choice, to stay in the classes and continue to study wherever we are, or to run away from Truth.
A theme continued to develop over the weekend: “Learn to love correction.” Friday’s speakers also expanded and exemplified a topic from Cosmic Command #1225: “In human affairs, the remedies are the maladies.”
Saturday’s talks continued the study of human nature — what Dr. Terry Roche called the counterfeit nature - which being on the level of mechanical thinking is therefore defensive, destructive, deluded and always operating in darkness. Interspersed with light humor (“What denomination are you?” “Zero”), the strong talks by Richard and Terry represented the compassionate truth, both challenging the prickly ego (“Be on time; stop doing sloppy work”) and encouraging right effort (“Don’t you think God is capable of making your decisions for you? ”See DVD, Volume 24 on this: “Let Truth Make Your Decisions for You”). The instruction to submit to higher cosmic laws led to greater insights and helpful student comments after the break.
An underlying theme emerged again on Sunday of correction and how the mind thinks it already knows. As Tom Geiger said, this Work proves we don’t know (one reason some insincere students may run away fast). Dr. Bruce Tracy recalled the authentic spiritual principle, “submission is our mission,” and that only a true teaching challenges the ego (because our true self only grows at the expense of the ego, the false nature). Banquets are certainly a necessary part of this challenge. Waking up and finding Something Else is not about our I.Q. or about learning how to intimidate others. We are extremely fortunate to have a safe place to observe and study all that is happening in this world and in ourselves. Lynne Wooldridge reminded us that Vernon said, “Too many students expect to fail in their quest; we must pound mightily on the door.”
Our studies and festivities continued with the banquet dinner, wholesome entertainment and dancing. As Terry said, it can be “too much fun for some of you.” Having a good time means that we must give up the heavy artificial nature, which is stiff and rigid, in order to truly relax.
Augmenting that call to be natural were the pretty harmonious songs included in the entertainment, called old-fashioned because they are so ‘out-of-style’ in this chaotic, noisy world. For example, “Let the Rest of the World Go By” (sung by Lynne and Kyle) is a friendly invitation to come out from among them; “On the Sunny Side of the Street” exemplifies real cheerfulness rather than the fakery and bitterness of the world.
The humor portrayed in the 5-second acts and whimsical poems were especially good. Students have a chance to learn to not be themselves in the jokes, but to act out a funny or (dare we say it?) dense character. It is a chance to get outside of yourself, to challenge your own fear and tension.
Banquets present most every situation necessary to see ourselves and others when we really work to open up our eyes. If you truly wanted help to see more, you got it. Then the reward was new energy, insight and a renewed wish for more of the higher life. Students leaving Sunday’s class were already arranging their trip for the next banquet and saying “See you in Pagosa in July!”
(This was a unique class given for a special reason. We typically do not mention the names of other teachers or teachings in New Life classes because there are so many charlatans claiming to be awake, especially in this day and age, that a great deal of confusion results.
Even in the case of an authentic teacher, it is difficult for the human mind to mesh teachings because any awakened individual occupies a very special spiritual niche. Vernon Howard is a rare teacher for this place and time. The variety and practicality of what is taught here provides a breadth and depth of understanding that is simply not available elsewhere.)
To say that the New Life Christmas banquet was a success is an understatement. While all of the activities we’ve come to value were offered — talks, feasting, entertainment, dancing and more — the insights and energy generated were new and unique, occurring right there in the present moment.
An extra talk was added on Friday night so four marvelous classes in all were given through Sunday Christmas day. Wow, so much food for thought! For example, Bill Brown began Wednesday evening’s class with an account of what happened at his public school in Baltimore in the 1960’s. For many years, right principles and values were taught in his school as part of the learning experience, but because of societal pressures and changes, those values could no longer be taught. The mention of any higher power was forbidden. That change was just one of many that has set this society and this world on its ever more destructive course. Bill later gave us a very powerful quote from Vernon: “No excuses! Just admit you’re wrong — 24 hours a day, day after day, week after week, year after year – ‘I was wrong, I was wrong, I was wrong.’” What are we wrong about? For one thing, we turn to human beings for the answers when we should be turning to the Creator.
Now I ask you, where in the whole world can we go and be able to hear about what is wrong with us, hear the real answers to all problems and to talk with others about the pure truth? In order to bring about the banquet festivities, work is required for days and weeks ahead, and students who volunteer to join in helping have discovered a valuable secret. When done with a right and receptive spirit we can push the limits beyond what we think we can do while feeling the presence of pleasant energies coming in to help.
A letter received by New Life from a grateful student of these teachings was read at one of the classes. The letter read in part, “The books and tapes you sent me have been of tremendous value. After a long time of churchgoing and doing and living the way I thought was right, I found myself still searching for something. Vernon Howard’s teachings are that something!”
On Friday night, a powerful reminder was given when speaker Moe Janosec said, “Most people think they already know and so this teaching can’t help them.” He then echoed Vernon’s admonition that, “You must not become like them. If they’ve chosen to go over the cliff, they will think nothing of taking you with them.”
Isn’t it incredible that the real answers are known and that anyone can partake of this banquet of Truth in order to find real relief and to grow spiritually? This year seven new people from Arizona and Colorado attended their first class and banquet on Christmas Day to hear the wonderful messages. On Sunday, director Richard Wooldridge talked about using direct perception of truth beyond the mind. He told the great little story in 50 Ways to Get Help from God, #42 where the man says, “I’m waiting for instructions from headquarters.” For those willing to work, wait and listen instead of running off to find the latest teacher or group, all will be revealed. And as Dr. Terry Roche assured us, we can learn how to approach God directly.
After a full banquet, with superb turkey, tremendous entertainment, light and happy dancing, and lots of rewarding work, students departed beaming, buoyant and brimming with new energy lasting for days. How fortunate we are to be able to receive this beautiful message. And these are the very things that were taught by Christ some 2000 years ago, which made it a perfect way to celebrate his birthday.
A Taste of Another World
By Judith Anderson
Too bad the whole world wasn’t at our summer banquet weekend! They could have had a chance to awaken a bit to a higher-world atmosphere, as those attending did. And what an experience it was to be at this New Life banquet in Pagosa Springs, CO this July 2011. Yet the magic truly lies in one’s degree of receptivity to Truth, the topic with which Moe Janosec launched Friday night’s talks. With receptivity everyone had the opportunity to attain a bit of a different level of being and to gather personal evidence that higher possibilities exist for each of us. Our level of receptivity is always a matter of personal choice but for those who let the beauty of Truth’s message outweigh any negativity, the rewards were great.
All weekend talks were based on Vernon Howard’s The Answer, the letters in which Vernon wrote, “If you carelessly disregard (this message from Truth) you must pay the heavy penalty ….” We were assured we can know what Vernon knew. James Potts, visiting from England, and one who speaks from his heart, reminded us that this world is on the Titanic and we don’t want to go down with the ship.
On Saturday an exquisite breakfast of fresh fruits, quiches, sweet rolls, piping hot coffee and much, much more was provided by the New Life ladies, followed by a meeting which indeed nurtured our spirits. Speaker Doug Stewart, from the Southern California classes, shed light on how dark forces keep us in egotistical confusion so nothing higher can come in. Then New Life Director and compelling speaker, Richard Wooldridge, set a lofty yet relaxed atmosphere in the room. He described the egotistical and hostile mind as a prison, which we can get beyond so that no one can push our buttons, an essential task in our work. “We are here to learn to sit back, relax and let God take care of everything,” he said.
The serious work and talks were beautifully balanced with a barbeque banquet feast spread nearly the width of the hall, followed by delightful ‘homegrown’ entertainment and lively ‘follow-the-leader’ dancing for all. Western songs, dances and jokes augmented the Southwestern theme for the Colorado festivities. Lots of effort went into providing food for the weekend, arranging the book table, setting up and taking down equipment, and for the ‘clean-up party’ at the end of the day. This is an intended part of the banquet experience that provides the chance to work with others and typically provokes some of those negativities within that we hide from ourselves and that do so much damage. But instead of blaming the other person, we could expose and drop them. The more we participated in these activities, the more the outside world began to lose its grip on us and there was an awakening to the presence of something else. Our essence began to be felt.
And speaking of the enormity of physical work and planning in preparation for the banquet, one speaker emphasized the necessity of spiritual initiative. Bill Brown said, “You’ve got billiard-ball brains — unless the ball hits you, you don’t move!” All classes offer the opportunity for anyone to go against the fear, by getting up behind the microphone and giving the class something helpful, as well as telling a joke, being in a skit, singing a song or dancing in the entertainment segment.
Sunday morning, our new energy was still present at the New Life building in the country and up a winding path (the “happy trail”) to the pergola on a mountainside resplendent with tiny wild flowers and rollicking golden mantled squirrels. Another rewarding class was held there, with examples given of how the masses are propagandized and, like puppets, do what they’re told. The speakers left us with powerful messages from the letters in the answer like these: “The mind can ask questions but can’t answer them,” and “Time does not exist in Reality — you are living in a complete state of delusion,” as well as Vernon’s powerful analogy that we are trying to understand the Cosmos with our mind, which is equivalent to using a toy telescope. Although the masses don’t and will never want the Answer, anyone receptive to truth can have it — here at our classes and banquets at New Life Foundation.
By Judith Anderson
Warm and sunny days in Strawberry, Arizona invited us to relax and to absorb the higher atmosphere of the Irish banquet. At banquets we are — if willing — thrust like a rocket above our narrow personal views into the lofty way above this crazy world.
As was said Saturday in the powerful talks, God owns the universe. So even though Satan runs this planet, we can learn to recognize and then consciously ignore evil. The wonderful picture of St. Patrick chasing the snakes out of Ireland was a timely reminder to chase the darkness out of our lives too.
On Wednesday evening Vernon Howard’s powerful injunction to know from yourself was the battle cry offered for the weekend events. First we must question our sincerity, and then see our resistance to the jolts we must wake up — plentiful at these powerful banquets. Watching others and ourselves is great good fun; as one student noted, we don’t have to go to the movies or ever get bored when the observer is alert and watching.
We dined on the traditional Irish fare of especially good corned beef, cabbage (bubble and squeak) and all the trimmings; then listened to the lovely ole Irish and Scottish songs. At the book table were new specials, as well as the brilliantly colorful new Spring/Summer 2011 Newsletter, with tons of helpful lessons, quotes, articles and FAQ’s. It was prepared for mailing with prompt dispatch at the work parties, while we renewed old acquaintances and helped spread the word about a New Life.
Three brand new people heard talks and took part in the festivities, and made the freeing, refreshing plunge by participating in informal dancing and fun within the friendly, safe atmosphere. We left thankful and wanting to attend our next banquet, armed with more Light and knowledge of the inevitable counterattacks after strong classes and healthy banquets, which try to prevent our little flame from growing and glowing.
Christmas should be a time of both quiet reflection and great good cheer. These states and much more were present in abundance at the 2010 New Life Christmas Banquet in Strawberry, Arizona. During the Christmas holiday week, we were most fortunate to be able to attend four uplifting and powerful yet lighthearted classes based on the incomparable teachings of Vernon Howard.
The banquet was a grand opportunity to observe our mechanical, habit-laden nature and to challenge its hold over us. Beginning on Wednesday night we were urged to see more deeply — to constantly be an alert challenger — of what happens within and without. Some of the talk highlights included questioning society’s obsession with giving material gifts in a season that is really all about a spiritual celebration, the use of the metaphor of an electrical connection illustrating how to make cosmic connections and a reminder that you cannot will yourself to be conscious, you can only observe that you’re sound asleep. Our negative and wrong states were exposed for interfering and blocking this natural connection to something higher.
At Saturday’s talks Directors Richard Wooldridge and Dr. Terry Roche referred to Vernon Howard’s talk and transcript “Let’s Play Fair,” a strong indictment of the world’s propaganda that encourages ‘something for nothing’. On the contrary, everything in this life, including the transformation and elevation of the spirit, is individually earned. In ‘Let’s Play Fair’ an illustration from the movie ‘Nicholas and Alexandra’ is highlighted. When one of the Bolsheviks strikes the Czar, his servant protests, crying out ‘You have struck his Majesty!’ This powerful lesson demonstrates that even though rightness is viciously attacked by this world, the Truth is stronger than all of the hatred on earth. Richard further explained that evilers bent on distorting their history have maligned the last Czar and Czarina of Russia. The authentic way to counter this evil is explained by Vernon, who says to “stand up for the Majesty of Truth itself” as the loyal servant of Nicholas and Alexandria did.
From Wednesday thru Sunday numerous delicious meals and snacks were served by the ladies, including the particularly succulent turkey on banquet day, with an outstanding strawberry cheese cake pie and other desserts to top off the dinner. Entertainment on Saturday was characterized by youthful exuberance, especially in the dancing. Highlights included a light and graceful ballet by Kyle and Lynne. A group sang Christmas songs and old favorite holiday carols included “Winter Wonderland” (Strawberry Sisters and Dr. Bruce Tracy), as well as the community sing-along led by Bruce. Short jokes and humorous skits were well-done and ranged from the subjects of cold weather to computer terms to the perennial ‘chess nuts boasting in an open foyer,’ giving us all lots of chances for healthy chuckles.
There is no way to describe the energy and atmosphere present, you must experience it for yourself. Truth’s banquet is always spread if we will partake of it.
Refreshing! That’s what it was. Where else can you go to truly refresh the spirit and sense the presence of something higher penetrating one’s being while enjoying powerful spiritual talks, good food and fun entertainment?
We’re talking about the New Life July 2009 banquet weekend in beautiful Pagosa Springs, Colorado, where a group of us from all over the west gathered for our annual Colorado banquet. One newcomer hailed from the Pacific Northwest while another was originally from as far away as Iran.
On Friday night talks and snacks were provided at the Pagosa Lakes Clubhouse, where Moe Janosec began the class by noting that every banquet weekend is a celebration of Truth. He reminded us that God is trying to get through every second, but we of ourselves are blocking the healing message. Moe reminded us that New Life is “a safe place to reveal myself to myself.” He said, as Vernon before him, “Take the leap and God goes with you.” Dave Hearst mentioned that he had no idea what people were talking about when first coming to these classes, but with persistence, things gradually became clearer. This is the actual state of everyone when first meeting with truth teachings, so persistence is essential.
On Saturday, New Life director Richard Wooldridge asserted in his talk that our most important task in life is to wake up. There is another world above the level of thought, but we are asleep to it. You could have heard a pin drop when Richard forcefully told everyone to fight to wake up. Disturbing to our dream state? Of course, but absolutely necessary as an urgent reminder of our true purpose here on earth. He said to fight to drop thought and to just know where we are all day long. It is crucial that we fight to stay awake where God, Truth, Reality can reach us. Genuine contact with the higher cannot occur as long as we are immersed in the prison of our own mental movies and daydreams.
An enlightening Vernon Howard tidbit from Richard’s talk was made available at the book table on Sunday morning, which in part said: Question: What determines the intensity of my desire to get out? Answer: Your intensity of desire to get out is determined by how much you reject the false pleasure of pain.
The barbeque meal, the lighthearted dancing and the fun entertainment that followed the Saturday class fulfilled their purpose of helping us to defy any psychological heaviness and to fully enjoy the energized atmosphere.
Sunday greeted us as a beautiful and perfect morning, and after a welcome breakfast in the New Life house out in the country, old and young alike climbed up the Happy Trail to a brand new garden pergola, built by local New Life students, amid the blue spruce and fresh mountain air. Class was held in the pergola, an attractive wooden arbor with a roof of trellis work which filters the sun. The beauty of the setting in itself was worth the climb up there, but more importantly by this time in the weekend, everyone felt and sensed beyond a doubt that he/she was in a right place spiritually, far away from the clamor and demands of daily life. And the old mechanical self had been corralled to one degree or another, if only temporarily, making room for higher impressions, which with a welcoming spirit can truly begin to heal our souls. Even nature itself seemed attuned to the unique atmosphere as we were serenaded with a delightful chorus of birdsong all during Sunday’s talks.
Continuing to use the MP3 The Secret of Spiritual Awakening as a basis for talks, Bill Brown likened everyone to being a spiritual teenager, a rebel without a ‘pause’. He said that’s because our attitude (mostly unconscious) is this: “Don’t tell me anything. I already know everything.” One theme of the morning’s talks was that “God will take care of you. Why don’t you let him?”
Other weekend speakers also helped to motivate and inspire our aim to wake up. In his Saturday talk, Dr. Bruce Tracy mentioned he was a ‘recovering fundamentalist’; then in a more serious vein, Bruce too affirmed that God will live our lives for us if we will let him.
Altogether the weekend left us with the increased urge of wanting more of these healing vibrations and to reach a higher place within ourselves and within the universe. Vernon Howard set these banquet weekends up many years ago to help us to grow spiritually.
Powerful Techniques for Self-Rescue was the unifying theme of this July weekend celebration of truth in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The energized atmosphere of the banquet again provided an undeniable sensing of the presence of Something Else, with a glimpse of a higher world that becomes stronger and more uplifting with each get-together.
As is the normal high standard at New Life banquets, the food was delectable and abundant all weekend long, “the best in the Four Corners,” according to the much-traveled Moe Janosec. Delightful wholesome entertainment also provided much good humor.
Friday night Bruce Tracy guided the class speakers in a discussion of the first talk on MP3 (#82) entitled How to Escape Your Noisy Mind. Simple, clear instructions were given to watch our thoughts and to remain unconnected to them. Then Bruce asked us to simply and quietly notice how often all of those crazy thoughts just ‘happen’ to be about one person in particular. Instead of living from that mad mind, he pointed out, we can experience “the Kingdom of Heaven located in the space between two thoughts.”
New Life Director Richard Wooldridge led the class on Saturday with an examination of the topic How To Be Happy with Yourself. He referred to us being attacked by marauding thoughts like the tiny “No-see-um” bugs that deliver an annoying bite. In his talk Moe Janosec also likened human beings to the lost and wandering ant who crawled around the banquet floor without direction, unaware of being in danger underfoot. Moe added, “It’s going to take more conscious effort if we’re ever going to wake up. Just now we’re fakers. We’re all pretending.” Yet another such comparison was made Sunday by “Tall David,” who likened the lives of lost human beings to the disoriented bees now in the news. Talks provided many clues on how to solve our problems, which are caused by an inflated but imaginary ego, though we’re hoaxed into believing the cause is outer rather than inner.
Some very meaningful and rightly emotional statements came from Richard on male-female relationships. He emphasized to “just be a nice man.” About marriage, he said, “You’re looking for something or someone to complete yourself. Instead, look inside. The answer lies within. I didn’t say you shouldn’t get married. But do the right thing. Be a good man, be a good woman.” Bruce also echoed something from one of Vernon’s talks that “when my heart is right, my mind and body will follow.”
Sunday’s moderator Bill Brown opened with the reminder that we were in a sacred place. Now traditionally held outdoors above the New Life Foundation property, Sunday’s class found us reviewing our weekend lessons. A comment was made that a tremendous amount of effort was put forth to carry out this incredible celebration. Originally designed by Vernon Howard to provide us with opportunities to go beyond ourselves, banquets give us a choice between going higher at the expense of the old nature, or of holding on to the ego self and perhaps even leaving, never knowing what one could have had. Sally Forrest mentioned that we are able to do a lot more than our minds tells us we can do.
How to Own Your Own Life, instead of being buffeted this way and that by dark moods and negativities was Sunday morning’s subject. Bill discussed the science fiction movies whose aliens come down, take over the planet, and create illusions which convince the humans that they are real. (Lynne later recalled that in these movies, many of the humans stupidly believe in the good intentions of the aliens to their own destruction). Bill asked us to right now face a painful past memory, allow its full intensity to wash over us and then be astounded by what the dark forces have been doing with our lives. He also quoted Vernon’s injunction that you must go straight through hell to get to heaven, by staying with the pain in order to be free of it.
As we laughed and learned, one of the speakers acknowledged, “The Truth is here. It’s in these classes. It’s such a special thing to see and feel and we’re very grateful for it.” As Vernon once said, “Gratitude towards Truth can take you all the way out.”
During Sunday’s class, we were visited by a doe lightly moving behind the speakers, and all the while the soft background music of birds singing seemed to call that a higher world is waiting if we will only listen. At New Life, we’re going higher. Want to come? Let these teachings show you how. Join Truth.
Howard Hall was filled with green this March weekend for New Life’s St. Patty’s Day celebration. Seekers of Truth came from coast to coast to celebrate the New Life banquet together, including a couple from Vermont. He had heard Vernon Howard speak many years ago in Boulder City, while visiting Las Vegas, NV, evidence of the lasting impression Mr. Howard made on the thousands who heard him.
Saturday and Sunday each began with a welcome breakfast featuring favorite oven-baked cheese omelets with Hatch green chilies, and a variety of fruits, thanks especially to the efforts of Katherine. We owe a special thanks to the ladies who worked so hard to provide not only the breakfasts but also the banquet meal. The traditional St. Patrick’s menu consisted of corned beef and cabbage, Irish potatoes, a special chicken dish, green salad, and an abundant display of desserts, as well as an extra lunch following the Sunday talks. This preparation provides ladies with a built-in opportunity to apply the principles taught in these classes.
Bill Brown’s talk on Wednesday evening exposed evil in the world, which is plunging more rapidly downhill; that was counterbalanced by our determination throughout the banquet to instead “go higher.” On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, the talks were presented by other longtime Vernon Howard students. The talks were all inspiring and provided guiding-lights for deeper understanding.
Highlights from the talks included Saturday’s keynote speaker, director Richard Wooldridge, who cautioned, “We vibrate to the world’s bad news. We don’t have to go into fear over it but just see it as a fact …. We set limitations on ourselves but if we put Truth first, everything in our lives is taken care of.” He added that we are rewarded through being aware of our actions. “You have to exhaust yourself in many ways (make super-efforts), then something outside this world can come to you — then God can help you.”
Sunday’s keynote speaker Dr. Bruce Tracy repeated the necessity and benefits of effort: “We can do far more than we are doing. Tremendous effort is required. You’re not getting worse since you started working on yourself; it’s just that you’ve just become more aware of what’s going on inside.” Bruce encouraged us that we were “not put here to be at the mercy of this world.” Self-responsibility requires that we “go into immediate action. Who is responsible for the chaos in your life? Never spare yourself.” In a mini-talk Lynne Wooldridge echoed this arousal to action: “We show our gratitude for these teachings by actually changing our nature.”
David Netherton reminded the class of Vernon’s instruction to get outside of our comfort zone. He told a great story about an invitation that he received to a professional basketball game on the weekend of the banquet. He chose to attend the banquet weekend rather than the game, understanding that the game might provide temporary excitement but that attendance at the banquet could provide an impetus for uplifting and permanent life-change. He explained that we should try to do things we don’t want to do, like talking to someone we don’t usually talk with. Then it is necessary to turn your attention back on yourself in order to see your reactions.
Banquets really do offer many opportunities for getting out of one’s comfort-zone in order to grow. The more we understand this, the more we see the beauty of participating in all the activities provided there, even those which make us uncomfortable. Those who do this are rewarded with a new kind of energy.
The banquet took on a festive tone as participants, adorned with Irish green top hats and green or orange accessories, sang Irish songs during the formal entertainment, while the “Pretties” danced to a lively Irish tune. Other acts included an act by Roy and Katherine based on a skit written years ago by Vernon Howard. Judith delighted us with a rendition of an old Irish poem which ended: “… May you be half an hour in heaven a’ fore the devil knows you’re dead.”
Kyle perhaps best summed it all up when she said, “Coming to a banquet is like when your car battery runs down and has to be recharged; while attending the banquet your own batteries get recharged and renewed.”
The 2007 New Life Thanksgiving Banquet, held in Westminster, California, was yet another celebration of our good fortune in having found the teachings of Truth so generously given to us by Vernon Howard.
Lest we forget our gratitude and go back to a comfortable sleep, the festivities began with rousing talks on Wednesday evening. Introducing the uncompromising topic “Spirituality is All or Nothing,” Bill Brown began with the rhetorical question “Why are you here?” which stimulated self-investigation and student comments. Bruce Tracy cautioned that every day of our lives the intensity of our choice is being measured, which calls for a mental resolve to come back to ourselves 24 hours a day. Yet as a speaker reminded us, “You’re not stuck. You don’t have to be like you are!” While something inside us lies and says don’t give up your old life, Bill assured us that we’re trying to make someone real that is not real — “me.” We heard again Vernon Howard’s words of supreme inspiration, “If you still try to take care of yourself, then God can’t do it!”
On Thursday morning speakers explored how to “Live Your Own Free Life.” Dr. Terry Roche said quite simply to let God make your decisions. Paul Wolfe echoed the biblical injunction that if you put Truth and God first, no matter what the “negative” occurrences, you’ll come out right.
New Life director Richard Wooldridge emphasized too that we must place rightness above all else. Then we can learn to ignore the wrongness of others and walk away. Richard filled our spirits with right courage when saying that we have the whole universe on our side, admonishing “NO, you are NOT helpless!” Speakers sent us home with renewed determination to deeply investigate our inner lives and to listen to Truth when it speaks to us.
A bountiful, delicious dinner with turkey and trimmings was served by the ladies, amplified by the table of limitless desserts. After cooking, carving and consuming our free range birds, we laughed our cares away at the jokes and songs of entertainment. Our hearts sang too, hearing the sweet harmony of our old favorites, such as Bruce and Lynne’s “Let the Rest of the World Go By” and “Till We Meet Again.” The New Life Pretties swelled our hearts anew with their lively dance to the “Orange Blossom Special” (appropriately performed in Orange County). As usual, nutty puns were sprinkled throughout, such as “I’ll take the lesser of two easels.” (You had to be there….)
And as we made efforts to ignore the old self’s fears and walk away from our resistance to dancing or social congeniality, we sensed the inner liberation of “freedom from me.” What a blessing we were given.
“My Primary Care physician asked me who my favorite author is. I told her Vernon Howard, so I’m going to introduce her to him with my favorites. Thanks for all you are and all you do – it is MUCH appreciated!.”
— E-mail from man
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