New Life Foundation
About New Life, About Vernon, Lessons, New Life News, FAQs & More
“There is nothing in the whole universe that represents a threat to who you really are.”
“There is no real happiness for those on the wrong side. The greatest pleasure in life is the security of the true side. You can vainly try to win over the world or you can nicely be over the world. Your task is to change your operating center from strained imagination to relaxed reality.”
In 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.’
A light and lively spirit was present at New Life’s Thanksgiving Day banquet held at the New Life Plaza in Westminster in Southern California. The day’s class was opened by Richard Wooldridge who shared a marvelous quotation from a talk given by Vernon Howard. Vernon said, “Some of you people are afraid to smile. That smile was deep down inside of you all along. Use the physical to work on the inner to free yourself. This is very high.” Richard then added, “Be cheerful and try to be consciously pleasant. No excuses!”
In his opening remarks, Richard said to come to every class possible because “you don’t know how much help you’re actually getting when you come here.” He also urged students to familiarize themselves with the New Life website which contains a treasury of higher information and is updated all the time.
The class’s first speaker, Paul Wolfe, talked about having a moral obligation to live a free and happy life. “Real morality means you never hurt another human being.” Paul also said we must realize the fact that we’re separated from God and that the world is doing everything it can to keep us in our present position, in the thought trap. He gave a great example of how we’re protected if we will abandon the false nature and begin to obey heavenly instructions. “You can actually have a ‘force field’ around you when you go out into the world. That is what protects you and keeps negativity out.”
In his talk, Richard reminded the class of the famous Vernon Howard exercise “Bear the pain and pain the bear.” “We must call the bluff on pain instead of always wanting to run away and lose ourselves in distractions. For example, there are millions of things to do, millions of distractions in the Los Angeles area. Truth doesn’t say we can’t do those things but it does say they are not necessary.” He also relayed a story about deliberately going against the sour part of us that wants to be dull and insists on being in a gloomy state. In the Colorado classes, some students often ride to class with another student. This student, by his own admission, is a grump in the morning, but one recent Sunday morning he made a conscious effort to drop the grumpiness and be pleasant. The other students commented they were grateful for his effort because everyone was positively affected by his lighter mood. Richard said, “A lot of people will be grateful when you are no longer a grump!”
At one point during his talk, he had people trying to remember the names of the Seven Dwarfs, like Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful, Dopey, etc. During student comments, Richard asked one student which dwarf he was and the student said “All of them!” And Karen made a very funny comment when she said, “I don’t care anything about the Seven Dwarfs but I sure am identified with Sleeping Beauty.” The New Life atmosphere really does combine the authentic study of very serious subjects with a lot of fun and good cheer.
The delicious traditional Thanksgiving feast was followed by wholesome entertainment put on by the New Life students including pretty, melodic songs, dancing and funny jokes. One hilarious 5-second act portrayed Doug as a hospital patient with Lupe as his nurse. The laughter from the first punchline was so loud, no one heard the second part of the joke!
Following the end of the day’s festivities, everyone felt gratitude for what had been offered to them at New Life: the opportunity to transcend every problem and every fear and to live a free and peaceful inner life.
Banquets! An ideal place to work and grow! Said Vernon Howard in a talk, “There’s no such thing as idle time for you — you should always be working.” So though we have lots of fun and food, banquets are not a vacation where you go to be served, but a place to become different and, as Vernon said, to take a vacation from yourself. We show how grateful we are to New Life and Vernon, not by endless talking, but by doing the Work, both inner and outer.
Benefits of Banquets
Comments which emerged, especially on Sunday as activities were drawing to a close, provided glimpses of the insights and changes that occurred. Regina Netherton said, “When we come we're all mental, but by the last dance we're mostly out of the mental; it’s gone.”
Banquets are far more than just words, as someone said. Bill Brown mentioned you “can't get this with the intellect.” Speakers provided vital spiritual information to ponder and learn from: we then sought to act on the principles and examples. Judy Parsons mentioned, “Everyone here is a teacher for me.”
During food preparation early Friday morning, lots of women worked cheerfully and efficiently getting the Italian feast ready for Saturday. Meanwhile men were learning new lessons helping to clean up the New Life property. At work parties, lightness and fun prevailed, as well as relaxing work and great pizza. Bill provided lots of humor with his jokes about our unconscious mistakes while working on the newsletter mailing, such as classifying them as “class A or B felonies.” The lightheartedness helped us to not defend the mistakes but to learn from them.
In formal entertainment you never know when you'll encounter emcee Doug Stewart with Italian accent, in a funny hat and bright-colored, striped jacket to introduce witty and talented entertainers right out of the audience. They delighted and amused us by portraying various characters in humorous jokes or sang beautiful songs of old like “My Wonderful One.”
After Nancy Shade, former opera star, led a sing-along with Doug and Lynne of “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” director Richard Wooldridge later commented what a treat it is to hear Nancy sing, and that she said she had never used a microphone in any of her stage performances. He added the lesson that the art of speaking clearly and projecting the voice, as Nancy does, and which was once practiced in large amphitheaters in Greek and Roman times, has been lost. This is evidenced at banquets and in talks when students will sometimes mumble weakly, even when using a mic! Vernon himself encouraged us to “speak up” when giving a talk or performing in an act.
Awareness of Negativity
We must go farther than we want to go, a speaker pointed out. So we are pushed and encouraged and inspired to see what we haven't seen before and to do and be something new and different. One speaker gave an example of how “you think you’re aware when you're really asleep,” as when misplacing keys and getting locked out. As the talks continued over three days, a theme emerged that “only awareness of negativity” can move us to change. 1500 Ways to Escape the Human Jungle was quoted, #779: “Remember that the sighting of a new weakness must precede the acquisition of a new strength.” It does no good, as Doug said, to be “a fox-hole Christian who turns to God only when afraid or in a pickle.” It's a full-time job and we can “practice all day long dropping negativity.”
Banquet Saturday’s talks emphasized dropping dependency on others and doing independent self-work. Like the “puzzled porcupines” in Secrets for Higher Success, we can’t cling together in shared misery. [Vernon once said, “Shared experiences are very low.”] Richard told us how we give other people power to upset and intimidate us: “Don't be bluffed. Let them be mad if they want. Let the other driver be an idiot — it has nothing to do with you…. You think your own depression is real. So you excuse yourself and others with ‘it’s only human.’ Stop it! Get rid of these stupid liberal ideas you have about helping others. No! Help yourself! Let Truth handle it for you and tell you what to do — with ‘a new power of consciousness.’”
When we make a stand for God and Truth by coming to banquets we are often attacked by our own mind. “Darkness is aware of what’s happening here,” a speaker said and Richard reminded us, “There are evil forces at work that are trying to destroy you. You’re going to have to call the bluff on the darkness. Satan knows where each one of us is the weakest. Truth can free you if you will let it.” We can become smarter than the darkness!
A letter was read on Sunday by Judy Poston from a student who has visited New Life on several occasions. She said, “Going to banquets has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life…. And I would really like to thank you and New Life for making Vernon's materials available and accessible. His material has certainly changed my life and the way I view myself and the world around me; I don't know what I would do had I not come across his publications years ago….”
Exploration for the three-day weekend of the 2016 July banquet was based on a chapter in Vernon Howard's book The Power of Your Supermind entitled “The Cosmic Wonders Within Yourself,” a tremendous topic for inner study. By plunging into the work and the activities at the banquet, students again felt the awakening of cosmic energies.
“Do you just want to star in your own zombie movie?” inquired speaker Moe Janosec, to jolt us into awareness Friday evening at the opening of the New Life banquet. He explained how we’ve been lied to about everything and must become aware of what is really happening. Everything in the world is calculated to stop us from finding Higher Truth.
The metaphor from The Power of Your Supermind [as well as in The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power] about people riding in a train up the spiritual mountain was introduced by Jack Carter. He warned us not to get off the train and settle down to the lower life.
“Feel your feet on the floor, the seat you are sitting in. Keep your mind where your body is. Start life all over,” directed speaker Paul Wolfe in his talk on Saturday. That little interruption in the mechanical flow of life made room for an increase in consciousness, in something new in the atmosphere. Paul explained how even if another person is negative or screams at you, you can calmly leave it with them and “let it drop to the floor without touching it.”
Director Richard Wooldridge gave us some very practical yet spiritual advice about communicating with each other. When we are 100% responsible for giving others clear directions, there is no confusion and everyone benefits. He implored us to understand that these teachings must be incorporated into our entire life. We need to begin to view our spiritual efforts as One thing instead of placing life into separate compartments like health, finances, recreation and higher study.
Richard told us to just see what is there, without interpreting. “With silent receptivity, all things are possible.... The only way is for you to go silent.... It is very valuable to just sit there and do nothing.”
During the banquet, meals, beverages, desserts or snacks were always available. Banquet dinner offered choices of BBQ beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken and delectable smoked turkey breast, accompanied by a savory cranberry-habanero sauce. A tempting and tasty array of salads, fruits, and desserts completed the menus.
The Saturday afternoon entertainment with a western theme was a lively mix of dance, song, and comedy, all entertainment provided by New Life students. A sample of the entertainment was “Blue Montana Skies,” a song beautifully harmonized by four singers. It included words most fitting to the theme of the banquet: “Free as the eagle flies in blue Montana skies, with him my spirit soars and will be free.” Duets by Lynne and Kyle included two more light, amusing western tunes with challenging yet well executed yodeling.
After Saturday's banquet, which included a taste of something else the heart yearns for, another class followed on Sunday morning. We found ourselves in the New Life Pergola, an open mountainside structure situated where nature abounds. There everyone gathered for a final class to expand our understanding and continue our growth. Bill Brown opened that talk by stating, "My topic is LOVE." [Everyone laughed.] He then explained, "There is no love in you if you are not presently residing in the Kingdom of Heaven.” And he added, "Your traitor mind does not care for you.... Our natural state is to live in natural love, not in frantic seeking…. You’re trying to have a life outside of cosmic law. It doesn’t exist — nothing is separate from it.”
David Netherton spoke on the section of the Supermind chapter about shocks. He said shocks crack our habitual ways. Quoting Supermind, he said, “But consciousness, awareness is always something new. It is never the mechanical parroting of memorized information.” Lynne Wooldridge talked about our “spilling level” and read some notes from Vernon about how it is necessary to be shocked and insulted in order to grow. Bill said you’ve got a chip on your shoulder a mile wide. Coming to banquets is the perfect opportunity to have that knocked off!
Other speakers throughout the weekend made comments about how banquets are incredibly beneficial and can show us what is hidden inside. We volunteer to be pushed by self-work to go beyond our usual limits of mind and body. Sherry Day commented that she now loves the banquet dancing, though she used to fear and run away from it. Jeff Fisher added, "You don’t get the full effect of classes and the teachings unless you come to banquets." During informal dancing a spontaneous and hilarious drama occurred in which two fishermen, Jeff and Doug, struggled over an imaginary fishing line, followed by a frantic chase as the fish, Kyle, got away!
Perhaps Doug expressed best what the banquet was all about with the statement, "There has to be something more to life than getting the things I want and when I get them, they don't make me happy." He later added, "Every time I come to a banquet, it's like a gigantic leap upward." Judy Parsons said, You don’t have to know what you’re doing, just follow instructions.”
The intensity of the presence of Truth increased as the weekend progressed and everyone left to go back to the noisy world with the resolve to work harder on themselves. But not before another magical meal was enjoyed on tables near a sparkling stream and under massively tall spruce and pine trees. Oh yes, and who can forget the natural delight of feeding little Chipper, the golden-mantled ground squirrel who loves to take an almond from the hand!
New Life’s May 2016 banquet started Wednesday evening May 11th with a rousing, inspirational talk by its director Richard Wooldridge, at the group’s meeting location in Pasadena, California. The talk was entitled How to Go from the Mechanical to the Higher.
“You don’t see how addicted to pain you are,” he told students in the room. “You’re using pain to make you feel alive, and it doesn’t. Pain makes you feel dead.”
“As shocking as it sounds, the purpose of this world is to try to wreck a human being’s chance to find true and lasting happiness. And because we’re always looking for ways to distract ourselves, we’re helping the world to destroy us. It is our mission not to let this society and this world’s craziness overwhelm us. Everything in this world is trying to ‘dull’ us, to turn us into mechanical beings and to block us out of the spiritual world.”
Richard recounted a few minutes he spent before class in a garden area near the meeting room. He said he was going over his notes for the talk, and all of a sudden he simply slowed down and began to relax. A little bird was chirping nearby. Close by a man was talking to his daughter. In the distance a soccer game was being played. The point is we’re supposed to slow down and be a receiver.
Truth wants to help us, to elevate us, so we’re not so completely burdened down with distractions. Our insistence that we have obligations toward everyone and everything takes us away from our true life’s purpose, for as Vernon says on page 125 of Secrets for Higher Success, “The truly spiritual life does not include obligations.” When we’re free of false obligations, we are also free of the feeling that we’re owed something from other people, from this world.
Richard said, “The only person who can help you is you. The only person who can wake you up is you…. When you put Truth first, last, and always, amazing things are going to happen in your life. It trumps all worldly involvements! Understand these great truths. Go over and over the ideas until you sense their hidden depths.”
All students were encouraged to write a 300 to 500-word article on Truth Principles at Work, for the www.anewlife.org website’s What’s New page, detailing how Truth and these classes have helped them. “Vernon Howard encouraged us to write,” Richard added. “Write your article, and help put the word out. You can describe how your pain was so bad that something led you here; how you sensed there was something wrong with yourself and the world.”
On Banquet Saturday, Paul Wolfe, director of New Life’s Southern California classes said, “The Work is about seeing through yourself. If you choose to see just the bad in others, that makes you arrogant. It’s you that you have to see through; it’s me that I have to see through.”
In his talk, Paul discussed “The Intelligent Seed,” from chapter 4 of Vernon Howard’s book Secrets for Higher Success. There is a special kind of seed that has cosmic intelligence. It doesn’t put down roots until it reaches friendly and healthy soil. Likewise, we can develop more receptivity to Truth by becoming a cosmic farmer. And where we live rightly, there is no concern as to whether that rightness is attractive or acceptable to others. We can sense that the problem is within, but can go beyond that to sense that the solution is also within.
Beginning his talk Richard said, “This Work is fantastic. God exists. Something higher exists. We should be thrilled about being here in this room, to be given another opportunity to learn how to make contact.”
He touched on the fact that we have a lot of wrong ideas about what is valuable in life with the reminder that welcoming the tough stuff is the key to getting out. On MP3 CD Vol. 2, Talk 5, Vernon says, “Are you telling me that you are so retarded in your life that you take this social life, this business life, this family life, this sports life, this religious life — you’re taking that as what you want, and what’s valuable for you? How can you be so dense as to take the earth as the Kingdom of Heaven? How can you be that dense?” But we must also never forget that as long as awareness is there, you are in the presence of Truth. Truth is always trying to come down into the mind and spirit to help us but in order for this to happen we must get out of our own way and go beyond the touchy little self. Someone in class mentioned they used to smoke – Vernon said the reason you smoke is because you’re nervous. Another habit – the habit of thinking – is unfortunately all we presently rely on.
Saturday’s banquet continued with excellent food, dancing and entertainment. Doug Stewart’s hilarious imitation of Elvis’s “Love Me Tender” brought down the house and Nancy Shade’s rendition of the old favorite “Let the Rest of the World Go By” with its special higher meaning was delivered with perfect pitch and feeling. Dancing all afternoon was enjoyed by all who stayed the course and didn’t hide out from that unique learning experience. Especially having fun was Ken Inouye, who commented, “During dancing, I’m always looking to see how well my legs will hold out!”
A cooperative spirit prevailed at the banquet. Any initial tension at the beginning melted away as people relaxed and worked together for a higher purpose.
On Sunday, May 15, Dr. Terry Roach and other speakers discussed How to Truly Live as You Like. Terry said, “Perfectionism means you’re never good enough,” he said. “I used to work on cars and was compelled to polish a car part till it was perfect. People can’t enjoy just playing sports – they have to be perfect at it. We’re all on the great search for happiness, looking in all the wrong places and leaving no stone unturned. We think we need friends, we need accolades, we need other people to tell us we’re great.”
“The mind is like a salty pond,” added Doug Stewart. “And I keep going to it and drinking from it. I think I can find happiness from this mind, and it’s not going to happen. There is such a thing as refreshing pure water, but it comes from a different place. When I get into trouble of any kind, I can always say, ‘I am stronger than that.’”
Doug described an incident in which he showed a film he produced to his family. When his sister tried to play it on Apple TV, it wasn’t working, and Doug suggested (perhaps pushing his sister’s buttons a bit) that maybe she didn’t know what she was doing. Her reply — “Just because it doesn’t work doesn’t mean I don’t know what I’m doing!” — brought down the house again. It’s so great to be able to see and laugh at our human foibles!
Comments about class included heartfelt expressions of gratitude for the teachings. “This class is real,” said Connie Vesely. “You have to take what you hear here and apply it to your life. I’m learning to question everything.”
“This is the most direct method toward Truth,” said Asa Guillermo. “Everything else out there is watered-down.”
Would you like to truly change your life? All of the information and energy necessary for that change was present at New Life’s March 2016 Irish banquet. The fun and particularly congenial atmosphere at this banquet provided a unique opportunity to work on ourselves right then and there.
With an impetus to steer our attention away from its wasted wanderings and toward higher development, Wednesday night’s class speakers talked about a “Power that Sets You Free.” The deeply insightful story was recalled about people in a small town who returned from the big city depressed. One man who investigated discovered that negative voices were being piped into the hotel rooms and were whispering evil messages to them at night while asleep.
Bill Brown also told us of a Vernon Howard talk [Secret Energy for Inner Change, DVD # 22, talk 3 and Blu-ray # 8, talk 2] that describes how, if we give up our negative use of energy and relax from ourselves, the energy will actually be reversed and can then be used as a powerful tool for higher perception and understanding.
Powerful talks on Saturday gave further practical advice on insights for change. New Life Director Richard Wooldridge used a personal example to illustrate reversing energy for inner change. Misplacing a case for his glasses, he described how the mind misfires in all directions, such as getting irritated or wanting to blame someone else. So he got practical like a spiritual detective and tracked it back to the source. To solve problems, we must “remove me from the equation; get myself out of the way…. Let Truth show me what to do!”
Doug Stewart also talked about the study of suffering [see chapter 7 of The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power] and the value of a crisis: “Advancement to higher understanding is always preceded by a crisis.” For example, we can study mental pain by observing phony behavior and the wish for approval from others. David Hearst mentioned that we can’t get in touch with Truth using the lower mind. The spirit must become active and the mental apparatus passive, for as Richard said, “the intellect cannot function from spiritual logic.”
During the banquet activities, such as preparing and serving the delicious Irish dinner and during rehearsals and cleaning, a cooperative spirit prevailed. Lots of work was accomplished in a short time, while flowing smoothly without chaos. The “easy flow” talked about in Sunday’s class [see Pathways to Perfect Living, chapter 9] actually prevailed in most situations. Of course we could observe where the lower nature likes to get offended if its plan doesn’t win out when lots of other egos are present. But that is the “value of a crisis” which is so powerful at banquets. As was mentioned Sunday by Bill, a big part of us does not want to wake up, so the crises are necessary to shock us awake and to end our self-deception. The banquet atmosphere was light and safe for learning serious life lessons and a genuine effort was made to let Truth, not the false old mechanical nature, be in charge.
The entertainment portion of the banquet continued our chance for growth and learning, not to mention the enjoyment of some good old-fashioned fun. Formal entertainment opened with a big welcome from an Irish Doug Stewart and the lively and unforgettable tune of “MacNamara’s Band.” Katherine read a humorous parody very expressively about boy and girl potato sweethearts. Ireland is home to the County of Limerick and limerick also means a short rhyming poem, so we heard some lighthearted limericks, as well as many other funny jokes.
One high point of the entertainment was two beautiful songs about the Emerald Isle sung by Kyle and Lynne in their exquisite blend of pure harmony. Further work in the evening wrapped up the mailing of the new Spring/Summer 2016 Newsletter which will reach many students who want to know more about how to have a “New Life.”
We were reminded that the New Life website www.anewlife.org has a new feature beginning this month on the What’s New page. Called Truth Principles at Work, this new section of articles will be written by a different New Life student each month, describing valuable lessons they have learned from the Work.
It is difficult to express what is received at a banquet but one student summed it up this way: “I’m feeling that all unanswered questions about life are offered here if only I will have an authentic affection for what I’m hearing!”
On Christmas Day 2015, while juniper logs crackled in the fireplaces at Howard Hall, outside a soft snowfall replaced days of rainy weather. There, folks from Colorado to California gathered to enjoy a splendid all-day banquet together with many entertaining and rewarding events.
A class, based on the wisdom of Vernon Howard, followed a tasty early morning breakfast. "How to Put the Universe on Your Side" was New Life Director Richard Wooldridge's subject. His talk, based on a chapter in Pathways to Perfect Living, provided new insights for experiencing this life for oneself. Richard encouraged everyone to push themselves to do more than they want to do by participating in all of the activities. These are actual directions from Vernon for how to break out of one’s self, including getting free of fear, Richard explained.
Speaker Paul Wolfe then gave some guidelines for “how to live a supremely happy life.” Paul is now the Director of New Life’s Southern California branch. A few of his comments included, “Let your false self dissolve. Let something higher come in and take over your life.... Something in us has to die in order to reach a higher level of understanding and to be given a New Life." And lastly, Paul said, "We're not who we think we are."
Connected with Paul saying "We're not who we think we are," pre-class talks included a reminder by Karen West that this world is not our home. "We are visitors to this world," she said. Lynne Wooldridge advised (from her own experience) that “God rewards you for making super-efforts" ... as in doing more than you thought you could at this banquet.
Vernon Howard taught that everyone is spiritually sound asleep but that it is possible to wake up by obeying spiritual instructions and by putting in long hard work on yourself. And as speaker Moe Janosec put it, "Vernon came to this evil, sick planet to wake people up," which is also the deeper meaning of Christmas.
In his talk, quoting a passage from Pathways to Perfect Living, Eric Pendleton stated, "Proceed while not knowing. Proceed while being afraid. Something will come in to help you because you can't help yourself."
As students made efforts to be awake and aware of themselves while working together, a different atmosphere was felt, because messages from a different and higher level were able to reach them.
There were many ways for attendees to make super-efforts as Richard had encouraged. For example, in the preparation of a Christmas Eve meal consisting of homemade chili and chicken tortilla soup, together with freshly baked cornbread and more. On Christmas morning Katherine Pascal did a lovely job of providing a bright early morning breakfast of quiches and everything one could want to enhance it. Judy Poston and helpers were busy from very early morning, too, creating the perfect turkey dinner with the best ever cranberry sauce. A macaroni and 8-cheese casserole — a special creation of Chef Eric’s — was served in addition to the traditional turkey dinner, so good it was still the topic of conversations a week later.
Before Christmas day began, the floors in Howard Hall had been scrubbed and polished, parking lots and pathways had been dragged, and firewood was brought in to keep fires brightly burning. At a banquet, much work always goes on behind the scenes because as Vernon taught, truth lies in making the banquets and all New Life activities as efficient and as well-organized as possible. Other classes were held on Wednesday night, and Saturday and Sunday mornings. In Bill Brown's talk, he said that we want to work out our own salvation instead of letting it come to us. Richard worked long and tirelessly in order to have the new and beautiful brochures ready and printed, which he brought with him from Colorado.
Christmas afternoon all gathered to enjoy the entertainment. Among the acts and skits, Kyle and Lynne sang the beautiful "Oh Holy Night" followed by "All Through the Night," then danced a beautiful "Christmas Ballet." Judith Anderson recited a most appropriate poem, "Winter Chill," at about the time snow started falling again.
All the efforts made did receive a special reward best described by David Hearst in his closing talk with this statement. "I feel the presence of God here." The next banquet, also in Strawberry, Arizona, will be held on March 12. If you too, want something different than anything this world has to offer, something REAL, keep studying the truth as Vernon Howard gave the world and join us then.
“Cease to be a problem to yourself, and you’ll cease to be a problem to other people,” said New Life Director Richard Wooldridge, in his talk which launched the 2015 Thanksgiving Day banquet at New Life’s Westminster CA branch.
Remarking on how some students had driven a long way to attend the banquet, he said, “A great place to work on yourself is on the freeway. Vernon Howard guaranteed that with a right aim, we can be 100-percent alert and aware when driving. When that person cuts you off, watch the irritation jump up and try to take over. Don’t be carried away by the negativity but just stand aside and watch it try to take over your emotions, your internal and external talking and even your physical body.”
Richard pointed out that when a request is made of you to do a job at New Life, “watch to see if any resistance comes up and just do what you’re asked to do in good cheer.” With this relaxed attitude, you’ll begin to understand that what is asked of you is for your own benefit.
Richard continued, “Vernon always had my best interests at heart but I didn’t always fully appreciate that. In fact, I was an idiot about Truth but eventually Truth won. What’s that song? I fought the law of cosmic Truth, and the Truth won! So, catch yourself in complaint and just drop it. Do you know that gratitude can take you all the way out?”
Paul Wolfe, also speaking on Thanksgiving Day, based his remarks on the Vernon Howard booklet, “Freedom from a Life of Hell.” “This is a life of hell,” Paul said. “We’re not meant to live this way. He declared that “Hell is being conflicted inside. Hell is division but Heaven has no opposite. Truth would say that if you want to be a genuine human being, you must get rid of all your negativity. For true happiness, life doesn’t need to conform to your demands.”
Paul also reminded us of an incident related in the New Testament in which Christ healed a crazed man with an impure spirit. When Christ asked the man “Who are you?” the man replied “I am Legion, for we are many.” We have a number of selves inside of us and the purpose of life here on earth is to become a whole and integrated man or woman. “There’s more wrong with us than we think there is. But it’s not beyond repair. We can get out.”
Students’ comments started off by David Hearst telling the class, “Today is the one day when turkeys get to eat turkey!”
Tom Geiger brought up a freeing principle if we’ll take it to heart. “Don’t be psychologically connected or identified with anybody. That includes family members, friends. Something different will happen in your relationships and you’ll suffer a lot less if you do this.”
After the break Richard commented, “Be aware of everything. Be aware that impatience is hell, irritation is hell. Fear, being afraid, is hell. Truth will come in when there’s less of you. The less there is of you, the more excited you’ll get about this.”
He also reminded the group: “If you make a mistake, you can start life all over again. For the rest of today, here are two exercises: Don’t defend yourself, and know you’re sitting in your chair.”
Students chimed in to wrap up class. “The purpose of this class is to grow in ways you can never imagine,” said Doug Stewart.
The talks reminded Lynne Wooldridge of a story Vernon once told in which he said, “The New Life train will never be stopped.” She continued the theme by remarking that “The train has endured saboteurs for a long time but has kept Vernon Howard’s pure message of Truth going out to humanity. The Spirit of Truth can never be blocked or stopped.”
Talks were followed by a delicious turkey dinner with all the fixin’s. Then the day’s entertainment began with rousing versions of “Home on the Range” and “Red River Valley,” sung by a talented trio. The skits and jokes were funnier than ever and emcee Doug Stewart did a masterful job of creating a light and fun atmosphere in which everyone could relax and enjoy themselves. In the grand finale, the New Life Parisian Pretties performed an especially excellent and graceful dance.
One student mentioned that he regularly reads the books and listens to the talks but that the banquet experience adds an extra dimension which he feels is invaluable for growth. So join us for more enlightenment and lighthearted fun at New Life’s Christmas Banquet in Strawberry, Arizona.
Basic and vital principles of truth emerged in the powerful talks at the New Life Banquet in Strawberry, Arizona this September week, as well as numerous opportunities to practice using them by receptive students.
Truth Principles in Talks
Victory over Harmful Forces, a series of talks given by Vernon Howard, provided a guiding light for Wednesday night’s talks. Bill Brown introduced the concept of time in contrast to the principle Now is new: “The Devil’s pitchfork is in time. He can’t get into now.” To break the spell of what wants to possess and destroy us, Dave Netherton brought us into the present moment to listen to the loud chorus of chirping crickets outside.
New Life Director Richard Wooldridge emphasized in his talk how we must go beyond the mind to the heart or essence. Our mind and the self can’t provide the answer; we must turn to God. Why would we believe that our minds, which drive us crazy with wild, negative thoughts, have the ability to lead us to spiritual sanity? We must also slow down the mind in order to glimpse what has been running our lives so frantically.
More truth principles were given on Sunday when the section called “Heavenly Bread” from The Power of Esoterics was used by speakers. The baker or truth tells us exactly how to make bread but we don’t follow the recipe, or the instructions of truth. Instead we put in our own ingredients, like wrong thinking, because we think we know better than God. Moderator Paul Wolfe pointed out several “recipes for a happy life” from different Vernon Howard books, for instance the “four golden keys” in The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power (see Chapter 8).
Dining, Dancing and Entertainment
This banquet’s dinner tables held outstanding Italian dishes of spaghetti and sauces, lasagna, beautiful green salad and bright deep red, garden fresh tomatoes. Dining was accompanied by soft, light music. Abundant and delicious pies, puddings and cakes filled the dessert table all day. Charming waltzes, lively polkas and funny songs imparted an easy-going background for informal dancing. That dancing is a good example of the chance to go against the harmful voice which screams “I can’t do that” — and you say “No!” to it and it turns out you can do it and even enjoy it.
The formal entertainment accentuated harmonious and old-fashioned songs, like “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree,” “Red Red Robin” and “Country Roads,” and was concluded by an excellent, graceful dance by the New Life Parisian Pretties. We were fortunate to have piano accompaniment for our sing-along of “Brighten the Corner Where you Are.” And it was most instructive in the skits and jokes that the person who got the most laughs never said a word but had a bucket over his head.
Comments of Gratitude
At breakfast Sunday a student said, “I wish banquets were longer. There is so much to see and learn.” Another commented that when you put 30 or 40 people in a room talking and working together, there will be much that’s new to encounter and stir us up. “It’s a chance for us to grow up and be adults,” David Hearst said.
And a chance to give up our personal life in order to find new life. Or as Richard put it, “Be willing to see thru your pretensions that you have a practical purpose in life, in order to find your real purpose.” The highly energetic atmosphere of the banquet coming down from heaven increased our opportunity to do just that.
“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!
I love receiving the newsletter twice a year and wouldn’t want to miss it. I reread them over and over.
Also I want to let you know that I love the website. I visit it almost every day. It is so helpful because of the excellent design and information. Also the daily e-mail reinforce the message and give me something nice to look forward to every single day.
I have been studying Vernon Howard for about 13 years and he has helped to completely change my life. From a whining, self-pitying person to someone who is beginning to take responsibility for my own actions and know that there is indeed a way out!
I am planning to attend the class in Pagosa Springs, Colorado next year and maybe one in Strawberry too. I can’t wait to meet like-minded people and enjoy the wholesome atmosphere.
God Bless you all for carrying on Vernon Howard’s work!
— S. C., Delray Beach, Florida
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