Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 30: THANKSGIVING


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 THANKSGIVING. 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.

Thanksgiving after a good harvest or a prosperous year is common to many cultures of the world. In the United States Thanksgiving is often said to have started with the Pilgrims and the Native Americans in the Autumn of 1621. For the pilgrims however Thanksgiving was more of a tradition that they brought with them from England. All the same Thanksgiving holiday as we know it today is credited to Sarah Josepha Hale, a writer and an influential editor. She wrote letters to different presidents beginning from 1846 to 1863.It was the letter she wrote to President Abraham Lincoln that convinced the President to support legislation to establish a national holiday of Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November in 1863. 

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 Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it. Ralph Marston
None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone's help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you. Harvey Mackay
4 When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Tecumseh
5 If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. Meister Eckhart
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 If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily. Gerald Good
8 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
9 When you are grateful fear disappears and abundance appears. Anthony Robbins
10 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
11 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
12 Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some. Charles Dickens
13 “If you can’t be content with what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped. Author Unknown

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. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Christianity: New Testament, 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Hallelujah. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His kindness is forever. Judaism: The Tanakh, Psalm 106:1
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Christianity: New Testament,: Philippians 4:6
4 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Christianity: New Testament, Colossians 3:17
5 The unworthy man is ungrateful, forgetful of benefits [done to him].  This ingratitude, this forgetfulness is congenial to mean people...  But the worthy person is grateful and mindful of benefits done to him.  This gratitude, this mindfulness, is congenial to the best people. Buddhism.  Anguttara Nikaya i.61
6 "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
7 Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His loving-kindness exists forever. Judaism: Tanakh, 1 Chronicles 16:34
8 I will thank the Lord according to His righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. Judaism: Tanakh, Psalm 7:18
9 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him and I was helped; my heart rejoiced and I will thank Him with my song. Judaism: Tanakh, Psalm 28:7
10 Come into His gates with thanksgiving, [into] His courtyards with praise; give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His kindness is forever, and until generation after generation is His faith. Judaism: Tanakh, Psalm 100:4-5

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?

The Grateful Leper Christianity: New Testament, Luke 17:11-19
Once upon a time Jesus traveled to Jerusalem. He traveled along the border of Samaria and Galilee. As he went into the village ten lepers called unto him in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Jesus was touched by their plea and he asked them to go and show themselves to the priests and as they went Jesus healed them of their leprosy. They were all very happy with their healing but one of them, a Samaritan, decided to go back to Jesus and thanked him personally. He threw himself at the feet of Jesus and thanked him with joy and gratitude. As he did Jesus realized that he healed 10 of them, not just one and he asked the Samaritan, Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

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 four thousand with seven loaves and a few fishes Jesus gave thanks before the event as written in the New Testament: Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. (Matthew 15:36). 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.” (John 11:41-42)

Personally I believe that we should be thankful everyday because I came to the realization that all the sufferings my fellow creatures experience could be me because I am not different from them.  Homelessness, chronic incurable pain, hunger, false imprisonment, death of a son, death of a daughter, death of a spouse, death of a child's mother, death of a child's father, drug addiction, discrimination, lynching, murder, incurable disease, rape, incest, prostitution,  slavery, colonization, apartheid, natural disasters, accidents and many more. Here is how an unknown author put it: 

If you can’t be content with what you have received, be thankful for what you have escaped.” Author Unknown

Further we should also be thankful for the contributions others have made to make our lives worthwhile. The farmers who grow the food we eat, the workers who harvest the fruits and vegetables we eat, the dentists who clean our teeth, the doctors who heal us when we get sick, our parents who love us without conditions, scientists who find the cure for diseases, the tailors who sew the clothes we wear, the shoemakers who make our shoes, our friends who come to our aid when we need help, strangers who meet us at the cross roads of life and many contributions by our fellow creatures too numerous to mention. 

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 Grateful Heart by ~George Herbert
Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, — a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.

The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers -Unknown Confederate soldier
I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but everything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed. 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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