Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 39: LIFE PRIORITIES

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 LIFE PRIORITIES. 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.

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.

Life Priorities are things that are important in our lives that we need to do or address immediately. If I ask the question “what is important in your life?” most people might say relationships, which is good.  Remember the Poem Abou Ben Adhem in which Abou begged the angel to write his name as one who loves his fellow men? Relationship is very important and it includes family, friends, customers, clients, and strangers. However as important as relationship might sound I will place it as number 2 when considering life priorities. What then do you think is number 1? This presentation will explore the different faces of life priorities.

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 Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.” Thomas S. Monson
2 Our great business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand. Thomas Carlyle 
3 The most important part of every business is to know what ought to be done. Lucius Columell
4 No matter what you've done for yourself or for humanity, if you can't look back on having given love and attention to your own family, what have you really accomplished? Lee Iacocca
5 “When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.” Herophilus
6 Good things happen when you get your priorities straight. Scott Caan
7 Lack of time is actually lack of priorities.” Timothy Ferris
8 Sometimes it`s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever. Keri Russell
9 Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. Benjamin Franklin
10 If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” Stephen R. Covey

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 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Christianity, New Testament: Matthew 6:33 
Chuang Tzu said, "Were I to prevail upon God to allow your body to be born again, and your bones and flesh to be renewed, so that you could return to your parents, to your wife, and to the friends of your youth, would you be willing?" At this, the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and said, "How should I cast aside happiness greater than that of a king, and mingle once again in the toils and troubles of mortality?" Taoism. Chuang Tzu 18
3 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.   But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”   But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Christianity, New Testament: Luke 10:38-42 
4 He in whom desire has been stilled suffers no rebirth. After death, having attained to the highest, desiring only the Self, he goes to no other world. Realizing Brahman, he becomes Brahman. Freed from the body, he becomes one with the immortal spirit, Brahman, the Light eternal. Hinduism. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.6-7
5 Liberation is the best thing, as the moon is best among the stars. Jainism.  Sutrakritanga 1.11.22
6 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. Christianity, New Testament: Matthew 6:19 
7  Desire is a chain, shackled to the world, and it is a difficult one to break. But once that is done, there is no more grief and no more longing; the stream has been cut off and there are no more chains. Buddhism.  Sutta Nipata 948
8 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! Christianity, New Testament: Luke 12:22-24 
9 Open yourself, create free space; release the bound one from his bonds! Like a newborn child, freed from the womb, be free to move on every path! Hinduism.  Atharva Veda 6.121.4
10 Brahman is all in all.  He is action, knowledge, goodness supreme.  To know him, hidden in the lotus of the heart, is to untie the knot of ignorance. Hinduism.  Mundaka Upanishad 2.1.10

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 titled “Priorities and the Empty Jar taken from the website: http://www.inspirationalstories.eu/stories/inspirational-stories-about-priorities/

A professor of philosophy came into his class. He brought some items with him and put them on the table. When the class began, he took a large transparent empty jar and started to fill it with rather massive stones. Then the professor asked his students: „Is the jar full?” They confirmed that it was.

Now the professor picked up a box of small pebbles, poured them into the jar and shook it, so that pebbles filled the open areas between the rocks. He asked once again: „Is the jar full?“. They agreed that it was.

This time the professor poured a bucket of sand into the jar, and the sand filled up everything else.

„Now,“ said the professor, „I want you to see that this jar is just like your life – the stones are the most important things, your main values – your family, health, morality.

The pebbles are other things that matter – your job, house and car. The sand represents the small stuff.

So if you put the sand into the jar first, there would be no place left for pebbles and large stones. Therefore pay most of your attention to the things, that are the most important in life – spend enough time with your family, take care of your health and don‘t forget to develop spiritually – be kind, honest, sensitive, helpful. These are the things that really matter. They should be your priorities. The rest is just sand.

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 is on life Priorities. I said earlier that relationship is not #1 on my list of life priorities. Here is my list on life priorities:

  1. Health: Take care of yourself in order to be there for others. Take care of yourself by believing in your body to heal itself; by exercising regularly; by being clean; by having enough rest; by drinking enough water; by mostly eating nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits; by having enough sleep; by belonging to a spiritual organization; by educating yourself; by meditating regularly and by not smoking or drinking.
  2. Relationships: Love the people around you unconditionally and enjoy the time you have with them at work and in play because they could be gone in an instant. Further a loving relationship with family and friends is good for your health and well being.
  3. Career: This is what you do to earn a living or your contribution to humanity or the purpose of your life. Your contribution to humanity ought to be a life priority for the fact that others have contributed what you now enjoy. It is your responsibility to accept the torch, keep it burning and hand it over to the next generation.
  4. Pleasure: Having fun is another life priority. Do not forget to pay yourself first after the day’s job. Enjoy your life in ways that enhance your health and well being so that you will be there for your friends and family and be able to fulfill your life purpose.

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.

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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