Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 12: BELIEF

 

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 BELIEF. 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.

Belief is a feeling that something about yourself, the world or others is true but you do not have any proof. Obviously we cannot prove everything before we believe like the generosity of the universe or the air we breathe, but our beliefs could affect us positively or negatively. However, beliefs are very important. For one thing our beliefs affect the way we interact with our environment. If you believe in brotherhood irrespective of color, race, nationality or religion you will tend to see all creatures as your brothers and sisters. On the other hand if you believe that some of us are masters and others are slaves or if you believe that some animals are unclean as we have in some religions, that is the way you will live your life. Our beliefs also empower us more especially when we face obstacles in life or in the face of suffering or uncertainty. This study will attempt to share the importance of belief and how we could use positive beliefs to change our lives.

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 Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning. - Mahatma Gandhi
2 When you believe "I can do it," the "how to do it" develops- David Schwartz
3 What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are. - Anthony Robbins
4 These then are my last words to you. Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. - William James
5 The greatest force in the human body is the natural drive of the body to heal itself - but that force in not independent of the belief system. Everything begins with belief. What we believe is the most powerful option of all.- Norman Cousins
6 The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds. - William James
7 
The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world. Max Born
8 Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right.- Max Lucado
9 What people believe prevails over the truth. – Sophocles
10 In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true. John Lilly

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 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” ChristianityNew Testament. Mark 9:23
2 The faith of a man follows his nature, Arjuna. Man is made of faith: as his faith is so he is.( In other words "Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is)  Bhagavad Gita 17:3
3 Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, Or who said it, Even if I have said it, Unless it agrees with your own reason And your own common sense.  The Dhammapada
4 What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. The Dhammapada 1:2
5 Then his father spoke to him: “my son, from the very essence in the seed which you cannot see comes in truth this vast banyan tree. Believe me, my son, an invisible and subtle essence is the Spirit of the whole universe. That is reality. That is Atman. THOU ART THAT. Hinduism: Chandogya Upanishad
6 And give glad tidings to those who believe and do good works, that for them are gardens beneath which flow streams. Whenever they are given a portion of fruit therefrom, they will say, 'This is what was given us before,' and gifts mutually resembling shall be brought to them. And they will have therein pure mates, and therein will they abide. Islam: Qur’an 2:25
7 Clay is shaped into a bowl, but it is the empty space that makes it useful. Taoism: Tao Te Ching
8 Whatever is flexible & flowing will tend to grow, Whatever is rigid & blocked will wither and die. Taoism: Tao Te Ching
9 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. Christianity: New Testament, Matthew 21:22
10. 
Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Christianity: New Testament, Hebrews 11:1

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?

Fate Is in Your Own Hands
Once upon a time, there was a general who was leading his army into battle against an enemy ten times the size of his own. Along the way to the battle field, the troops stopped by a small temple to pray for victory. The general held up a coin and told his troops, "I am going to implore the gods to help us crush our enemy. If this coin lands with the heads on top, we'll win. If it lands with the tail on top, we'll lose. Our fate is in the hands of the gods. Let's pray wholeheartedly." After a short prayer, the general tossed the coin. It landed with the heads on top. The troops were overjoyed and went into the battle with high spirit. Just as predicted, the smaller army won the battle. The soldiers were even in higher spirit when they won and during their victory celebration one of the soldiers approached the general and declared, "It's good to have the gods on our side! No one can change what they have determined." After the general heard that statement he pulled the solder to the side and showed him the coin; both sides were heads.

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 centers on the importance of our beliefs

  1. Our beliefs influence our success. If you believe that you are born to succeed you will succeed. However if you have a failure mindset and succeeded in life at some point there is a theory that you would eventually sabotage your success.
  2. Our beliefs influence our actions. Let us assume that you believe that Africans are cannibals you will be very uncomfortable in the presence of Africans because you don’t want to be eaten. And if you follow this belief you might even try to kill the African before he kills you.
  3. Our beliefs influence our development. If we are constantly told that we are not good for anything we could grow up believing that we are not good and develop a low self-esteem.
  4. Our beliefs could imprison us. Exclusive truth claims could isolate us from the rest of the world but questioning our beliefs and finding out more information about our beliefs may liberate us.
  5. Our Beliefs Pin Us Down: Change the focus of the eye and you will see the possibilities in life but holding onto human thoughts and ideas whether in sacred texts or in scientific journals would be better that we were not born!

Certainly we cannot live without beliefs but it is our responsibility to question our beliefs more especially if those beliefs imprison us, separate us from our neighbors or are self-limiting beliefs.

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.

O LOVE who pervades the Universe and who resides in us
We thank You for Your presence during our studies and reflections.
May these studies bear fruits within us for our good and the good of our environment.
As we go through our day to day activities may You guide us and protect us.
And bring us here again to continue your work for your glory. 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 Awakened Living 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 time to share your Awakened Living Tips for the benefit of the group. 

Addendum:
Jesus heals a Boy with an impure spirit from the New Testament.
Once upon a time a man whose son was possessed by an evil spirit brought the son to Jesus. According to the man when the evil spirit possesses the boy it throws him to the ground. His mouth begins to foam, he gnashes his teeth and becomes very rigid. The man further said that he asked the disciples of Jesus to drive out the spirit but they were not able to do so and that that was why he brought the boy to Jesus. When the spirit saw Jesus it threw the boy into a convulsion and the boy fell to the ground rolling and foaming in his mouth. According to the father the spirit has been with the boy since childhood and has often thrown the boy into fire and water in order to kill the boy. Then the man asked Jesus to help him heal his boy to which Jesus said that “Everything is possible for one who believes”. “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up” Mark 9:14-26

A Tale of Two Frogs by Swami Vivekananda: Once upon a time a frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. One day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.

"Where are you from?" "I am from the sea." "The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?" and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other. "My friend," said the frog of the sea, "how do you compare the sea with your little well?" Then the frog took another leap and asked, "Is your sea so big?" "What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!" "Well, then," said the frog of the well, "nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out." And the frog from the well pushed the frog from the sea out of the well.

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 and doing drugs?

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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