Awakened Living Study Program: Lesson 1: PROVIDENCE

Introduction
Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is Alaye Soteme and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is PROVIDENCE. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.

All quotes relating to GOD are interpreted in a Universal sense; in other words our use of the word GOD does not refer to any religion, cultural Gods, saviors, or created Gods. GOD is the underlying ESSENCE of the Universe. GOD has no chosen people, GOD has no Sacred Text and GOD has no Sacred Place! The Universe is the Sacred Text, the Universe is the Sacred Place and all creatures are Testaments of GOD! 

Further you are here to look at life from a different angle. You are not here to follow what others have put in place be it their religion, their Gods, their sacred texts, their beliefs or their way of thinking. You are here to share your LIGHT with the world.  The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities. Our challenge is to look at life in ways that promote interdependence and destroy all forms of discrimination including racism, tribalism, nationalism, nepotism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, favoritism, exclusivism, chosen people and racial superiority. 

Lastly, none of the quotes here is absolute or written in blood. They are all human thoughts and ideas based on their experiences and according to their levels of consciousness. The Awakened Living Study Program is a platform to study what others have said and improve on them. Do not for any reason use the quotes as mantra for life because you are the LIGHT!

 Opening Meditation
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:

O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of the world so that we may receive the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. Amen.

Announcements
The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.

Opening Thoughts
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words. 

Providence is Divine guidance or care. Many people believe that Spirit guides the Universe and that guidance is also there for all creatures. Most if not all of us may have realized things that we did not expect like help coming to us during  our moments of need. Notice that these events are not based on our moral actions; they can happen to anyone irrespective of belief, affiliation, race, color or what you have done or not done. If Divine guidance were based on our moral actions none of us would qualify. The only requirement in this case is the mere fact that you are born into this world. It is simply free and there are no requirements. However looking at the world today many people live as if they are alone or they need to do something like accepting a God before they would benefit from the providence of the Universe. If it were so you won’t even be breathing! However, we can all increase the chances of Divine blessings with love, generosity, kindness, compassion and other spiritual values. 

Famous Quotes
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote.  Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.
 
1 We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing. Robert E. Lee
2 A firm faith in the universal providence of God is the solution of all earthly troubles. B. B. Warfield
3 God gives us the ingredients for our daily bread, but he expects us to do the baking! Chip Ingram
4 When God closes a door, He always opens a window. Woodrow Kroll
5 It is true that we may desire much more. But let us use what we have, and God will give us more. Adoniram Judson
6 God will never allow any action against you that is not in accord with His will for you. And His will is always directed to our good. Jerry Bridges
7 Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence. St. Augustine
8 Providence has nothing good or high in store for one who does not resolutely aim at something high or good. A purpose is the eternal condition of success. Thornton Wilder
9 He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God's providence to lead him aright. Blaise Pascal
10 Providence has at all times been my only dependence, for all other resources seemed to have failed us. George Washington

Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found. 

1 A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord prepares his step.. Judaism, the Tanakh Proverbs 16:9
2 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ChristianityNew Testament-Matthew 6:26-27
3 The Tao is the asylum of all things; the good man’s treasure, the bad man’s last resort. Taoism:Tao Te Ching-LXII (62)
4 Beware of the plea of the oppressed, for he asks God Most High only for his due, and God does not keep the one who has a right from receiving what is due. Islam. Hadith of Baihaqi
5 Whoever vows to tyrannize the humble and the meek The Supreme Lord burns him in flames. The Creator dispenses perfect justice, And preserves His servants. His majesty is manifest from the primal hour to the end of time! The traducer is destroyed, afflicted with a great malady. He is destroyed by Him, against whom no savior exists: Of such here and hereafter, evil is his repute. He cherishes His servants, clasping them to His bosom. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri, M.5, p. 199
6 In any way that men love me in that same way that they find my love: for many are the paths of men, but they all in the end come to me. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 4:11
7 For all the world pass away, even the world of Brahma, the Creator: they pass away. But he who comes unto me goes no more from death to death. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 8:16
8 I am the Way, and the Master who watches in silence; thy friend and thy shelter and thy abode of peace. I am the beginning and the middle and the end of all things: their seed of Eternity, their Treasure supreme. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 9:18
9 The traveler has reached the end of the journey! In the freedom of the infinite he is free from all sorrows, the fetters that bound him are thrown away, and the burning fever of life is no more. Buddhism: Dhammapada: 7:90
10 Heaven hears and sees as our people hear and see; Heaven brightly approves and displays its terrors as our people brightly approve and would fear; such connection is there between the upper and lower worlds. How reverent ought the masters of the earth to be! Confucianism: Book of History 2.3.3, Counsels of Kao Yao

Teaching Story
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?

Our teaching story is God alone is the Giver by Sri Ramakrishna

 Once upon a time Akbar was the Emperor of Delhi. At that time there was a hermit who lived in a hut in the forest. Many people visited the holy man. At one time he felt a great desire to entertain his visitors. But how could he do so without money? So he decided to go to the Emperor for help, for the gate of Akbar's palace was always open to holy men. The hermit entered the palace while the Emperor was at his daily devotions and took a seat in a corner of the room. He heard the Emperor conclude his worship with the prayer, "O God, give me money; give me riches", and so on and so forth. When the hermit heard this he was about to leave the prayer hall, but the Emperor signed to him to wait. When the prayer was over the Emperor said to him, "You came to see me: how is it that you were about to leave without saying anything to me?" "Your Majesty need not trouble yourself about it", answered the hermit. "I must leave now." When the Emperor insisted, the hermit said: "Many people visit my hut, and so 1 came here to ask you for some money." "Then", said Akbar, "why were you going away without speaking to me?" The hermit replied: "I found that you too were a beggar; you too prayed to God for money and riches. There upon I said to myself: 'Why should I beg of a beggar? If I must beg, let me beg of God." (90)

Closing Meditation
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study.  The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.

Our closing meditation will focus on the gift of providence to all creatures. Have you noticed that everyone who had a dream often realized their dreams? Have you also noticed that realizing your dream is not a function of your beliefs, nationality, race, color or affiliations? Universal love is there for all of us. I hope this presentation will help you to think differently about your life and accept what is freely given to you without any conditions. No one could have articulated this gift better than Jessie Belle Rittenhouse:

I worked for a menial’s hire, Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have willingly paid.”

Donations
You may accept gifts and donations at this time for the work you are doing. It takes effort, time and money to put the Study Program together so I encourage attendants to give. An appointed person may now pass the donation bag. The leader may bless the gifts after the donations.

 Closing Prayer
Always close your Study Program with a prayer or an affirmation. Pray for guidance and direction during the week. Pray for everyone present. The leader or an appointed person may offer the closing prayer. You may use the sample prayer if needed.

A Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)
Teach us, good LORD, to serve THEE as THOU deservest; to give and not to count the cost;  to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest;  to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do THY will. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen

Refreshments
You may serve refreshments after the Study. This is a time to relax and socialize. Get to know the people in the Program with you and I mean really know them well. One of the secrets of success is connection so I encourage you to know the people around you. The host may decide what to serve or he or she may ask the attendants what they want for refreshments before each Study Program.

Talent Contribution
You may now entertain the group with your talent in music, songs, dance and poetry including playing musical instruments. This is also a good time to share some Awakened Living tips for the benefit of the group. 

Circle of Life
The Circle of Life depicts different aspects of your life. You are at the center and the different aspects radiate outwards to form a circle as long as they are in harmony. You can pinpoint an aspect of your life at any given time and find out if you are in harmony with the rest of the circle. If an aspect needs improvement you may have an uneven circle. Your challenge then is to work on the area that needs improvement in order to keep it in harmony with the rest of the circle.

There are 12 aspects in this version of the Wheel of Life including Health, Spirituality, Family, Relationships, Education, Mission, Finances, Work, Play, Personal Development, Environment, and creativity. Take time to answer the following questions and begin to work on the areas that need improvement.

Health
1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods, etc?

Spirituality
1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?

Family
1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?

Relationships
1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?

Education
1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?

Mission
1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?

Finances
1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?

Work
1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?

Play
1. Do you play regularly?
2. When was the last time you played with your friends, children, spouse, parents or pet?

Personal Development
1. Do you lose your temper often?
2. When was the last time you took a class on human development?

Environment
1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?

Creativity
1. Are you sharing your creativity?
2. When was the last time you wrote a poem, painted, sang, danced, or played a musical instrument?

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