Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 10: GRATITUDE

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 GRATITUDE. 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 mind and body so that we may learn the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen.

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.

Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation with emotion. We thank people who give us something or do us a favor, but gratitude is an emotional component of thankfulness and appreciation. In other words, we really mean it because they touched our heart and we are very grateful. Their action brought us happiness even if it is for the moment. Apart from people some of us are also grateful to the universe for the life we enjoy and this could make us feel special and happy because we feel blessed. Further gratitude could also be a source for future happiness; that is being grateful could actually get us want we want. Some teachers call this aspect of gratitude the “power of gratitude”, but I call it the “miracle of gratitude”.

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 At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. Albert Schweitzer
2 Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. Brian Tracy
3 When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears. Anthony Robbins
4 If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily." Gerald Good
5 Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life." Christiane Northrup
6 He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." Epictetus
7 When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer
8 Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure — the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” Sarah Ban Breathbach
9 “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens
10 “If you can’t be content with what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.” Author Unknown

Sacred Text 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 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. Christianity. New Testament: 1 Timothy 4.3-5
2 All human bodies are things lent by God.  With what thought are you using them? Terrikyo.  Ofudesaki 3.41
3 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Christianity: New Testament, Philippians 4:6-7
4 "There are two persons who are rare in the world. Which two? First the person who volunteers to help others selflessly (pubbakari), and second, the one who is grateful (kattunu) and helps in return (katavedi)." Buddhism,Anguttara-Nikaya Sutta
One upon whom We bestow kindness but will not express gratitude, is worse than a robber
Who carries away our belongings. Orisha, The Yoruba Religion
O you who believe!  Eat of the good things that We have provided for you, and be grateful to God, if it is Him that you worship. Islam.  Qur'an 2.172
7 Everywhere and in every way, most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this with profound gratitude. Christianity: New Testament: Acts 24:3
8 And he said to David, "You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me with goodness, while I have repaid you with evil. Judaism: Tanakh, 1 Samuel 24:18
9 Blessed is the Lord, for He has heard the voice of my supplication. Judaism: The Tanakh, Psalm 28:6
10 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. Christianity: New Testament, Luke 1:49

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?

Androcles and the Lion
Once upon a time in ancient Rome a slave named Androcles escaped from his master and fled into the forest. As he wandered in the forest he saw a lion moaning and groaning with pain. His first reaction was to run away from the lion as fast as he could but when the lion did not pursue him for dinner he stopped but the lion was still moaning and groaning. Androcles summoned up the courage and decided to go toward the lion. As he approached, the lion put out his right paw for Androcles to see. It was swollen and bleeding. Androcles inspected the paw and found a big thorn stuck deeply into the lion’s paw. He immediately pulled out the thorn and dressed the wound for healing. The Lion felt relieved and thanked Androcles by licking his hands like a dog. Next the lion took Androcles to his cave and brought him a young deer for food. Androcles made a meal with the deer and helped himself. The two lived in the cave helping each other for some time until both lion and Androcles were captured. Androcles was taken to his owner and the lion was taken to a den. For running away Androcles was condemned to death by fighting a lion in the arena to the death. On the appointed day Androcles was given a spear to protect himself and led into the arena to face the lion that had been without food for several days. The emperor gave the signal for the lion to be let loose but when the lion came near Androcles he recognized his friend and began to lick his hands again like a dog. To say the least, the Emperor and all the people were surprised at the lion’s strange behavior. As people started wondering the Emperor summoned Androcles and asked him what was really going on. Androcles told the Emperor how the two had met in the forest and how he pulled a thorn from the lion’s paw and how they have lived together before they were captured and brought to the arena and that the lion was showing its gratitude by licking his hands instead of tearing him to pieces. The Emporer was so impressed and touched by the story that he decided to pardon Androcles and ordered his master to set him free. The lion was also release and set free in the forest.

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.

Being grateful could actually help us to get what we want and in the process enhance our joy and happiness. We could increase our business by simply being grateful to our clients or customers. This is not the “thank you” we repeat to our customers after each sale. Gratitude goes further than that. In order to unleash the miracle of gratitude you need to call, write or send an email to your clients just to say “thank you” without any form of marketing.  A simple “thank you” is the magic you need to increase your business. On a personal level we could also get what we want by being grateful for it before it actually comes to pass. For instance if you are looking for employment you could simply say “thank you for my job with Union Bank”, “thank you for my job with Disney Land”, “thank you for my job with Microsoft”, etc The secret is to repeat the gratitude in your moments of silence in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. Of course it goes without saying that you need to put in your application for employment. You could use the same formula for almost every aspect of your life including relationships, financial problems, and even to change a life of addiction. The psychology is that everything begins in the mind and when you change your mind you could literally change your life.

A life of gratitude is really not new. Jesus practiced it over 2000 years ago. In the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and a two fish Jesus gave thanks before the event as written in the book of John.

Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. New Testament: John 6:1–14

In the raising of Lazarus Jesus also thanked his father before the miracle:

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me. New Testament: John 11:41-42.

Now if being grateful could change our lives how could we develop an attitude of gratitude? Here are few ways to help us to develop an attitude of gratitude:

  1. Have a Gratitude Rock. I learned this on "the Secret". In the presentation Lee Brower talked about how he uses his Gratitude Rock. He carries the Gratitude rock in his pocket and gives thanks for something each time he touches it. I think this is one of the ingenious methods to remind you to be grateful. Think of the many times you put your hand in your pocket and each time you touch your Gratitude Rock is a call to be grateful for something. I will go further and put Gratitude Rocks in all my pockets just to make sure that I give thanks each time I put my hand in any of my pockets. Any rock will do but you could make it special by choosing those that really appeal to you.
    2. Morning Gratitude Statement. Remember to be grateful when you wake up in the morning, preferably before your morning prayer. The moment you open your eyes make your gratitude statement and of course with emotion. For instance, you could say, "I am grateful for the returning of consciousness; may my thoughts and actions be worthy of this day."
    3. Evening Gratitude Statement. Give thanks before you close your eyes in sleep every day. This will probably be after your evening prayer if you pray as a family before going to bed. Before you close your eyes in sleep you may repeat the following statement: I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the passing day and thank you for a peaceful and nourishing sleep."

Many if not all of us feel thankful unconsciously when we take time to reflect on our lives in silence and as you do so tears begin to rush through your eyes. What has happened? You have come to a very soft spot where you are thinking "I do not deserve this?" or "I am sorry for my foolishness" "I will be nice from this day forward", "I now dedicate my life to feeding the hungry" Such moments help us to look outside ourselves and appreciate what we have. Our challenge is to make this appreciation and thankfulness a daily, hourly and eventually part of every moment of our life.

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 Child’s Thankful Prayer
Thank you for the world so sweet.
Thank you for the things we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you, God, for everything.

In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen

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.

1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods and doing drugs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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

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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