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Discover The Gift

DTG lotusA New Film that Required Discovering and Giving One’s Gift to Complete

Discover the Gift: It’s Why We’re Here is a book and film that will be shown in Encinitas this August 12. It’s the film’s first full-length screening on the West Coast and the event will have many of those who are in the film or who produced it, in attendance. (see details on the back cover and news section).

While the film could be described as one of the best and most useful seminars you could take, it’s not strictly a how-to seminar.

It’s an emotional story about real people—a dysfunctional family that had given up on being a family—and their healing journey. What it took to do that and what they learned in the process is told in the film. It describes how going through the process of healing their relationships was also the process of discovering and living their Gifts.

Sonia Powers“…if you hold back, then the universe will hold back from you, and you won’t get to participate fully in this magnificent life. The more you give your Gift, the more you are yourself, the more you participate and make a difference in the world, the more the world will make a difference for you. The More people around you will want to be around you and share their Gifts. The more you will benefit. I promise.”

—Sonia Powers

The producer and director of Discover the Gift (DTG) is Demian Lichtenstein, a successful Hollywood movie producer who also produced music videos for Grammy-winning artists such as Sting and Eric Clapton. He is the main storyteller in the film.

His relationship with his family was contentious, however, and his work left him unfulfilled.

His sister, Shajen Joy Aziz and her husband Cherif Aziz eventually both became involved in the film. Shajen (pronounced like Cheyene) wrote the book and film with her brother Demian, but at first wasn’t so sure she even wanted to reconcile with him.

ravi shankar“Looking within, I discover I have all that I need for myself, and now I am going to share it with others. The joy of wanting to have things is natural. We are born with it. We all see that as children we want to have something more. But that joy has to mature and become the joy of sharing. It’s like the grandmother and the grandfather and the love they share with their grandchildren. The joy of sharing is much more life-fulfilling. It is good to move from wanting to sharing.”

—His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

The film shows what they went through to reconcile, which also meant completing with their parents; and for Shajen and Cherif, putting their marriage back together. It’s also the story of how the film was made and what they had to go through to produce it—it took each one of them going through the process of discovering and giving their Gift.

Each of them saw they weren’t living their dream. They were stuck, denying their Gift. They each had to shift toward having their life be an expression of their Gifts.

“…we believe we are not making a difference. But making a difference is really about the way you show up in the world every day. In fact, know it or not, like it or not, you’re already making a difference just by your presence. It may be a good difference or a bad difference, a large difference or a small difference, but you had an effect on everyone who saw you, felt you, or heard you today. So the question is not whether you can make a difference, but what kind of difference are you making?”

—Barbara De Angelis

The film describes the process of discovering your passions and your Gift. Identifying your Gift, clarifying it, taking steps toward it and manifesting it in your life.

Another powerful section of the film describes the synergy and fulfillment that occurs once we are giving our Gift.

As you can see on these pages, Demian and Shajen had some great people assisting them in describing what’s involved in that process.

After seeing the DVD I felt it described what “full self-expression” must be—but that is just part of the film.

“There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart, is our temple. The philosophy is kindness. This is my simple religion. I feel that compassion is not merely a‘‘warm heart.’ I think that with genuine compassion there is a sense of responsibility. That’s why I’m always trying to share my own experience. Whether they accept it or not is a different matter. But I do feel that if I explain something according to my experience, at least some people might get some new ideas.”

— His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Manifesting what we want is something we’ve all heard about before, but I think you’ll find this description different. One well-developed section of the film gets into what happens when we don’t express our Gift.

Jack Canfield said, “Not to discover your Gift is to die with the music still inside of you.”

In a similar vein Michael Bernard Beckwith said, “If we don’t give the Gift, we’re killing ourselves.”

It certainly describes the feeling most of us have had if we’ve been stuck where we don’t want to be. We’re dying.

“The mere act of speaking out loud creates ripples in the atmosphere and thus begins the journey of the thought, because it has been made into tangible energy. Aligning thinking and action with your Gifts unlocks potentiality, and sharing your Gifts also creates possibility for others.

There are multiple layers and dimensions to our Gifts, our talents, and our inspiration. When we truly share who we are and what lights us up, we empower all to do the same.”

—Shajen Joy Aziz

It’s not hard to see that in the world around us today. In these “hard” times is easier to think we can’t express our Gift. On the other hand, maybe the universe is telling us we can’t wait. It’s what we have to do. The film is well-done, powerful and very timely.

Following in the footsteps of recent transformational movies such as The Secret, some feel this may leave an even bigger footprint. It pulls together many teachers, authors and consciousness leaders that TLC readers will recognize. They’re on the cover and on these pages, and many have been there before, so TLC readers will know most of them and know the quality of the people who have come together to make this film.

“Forget the word can’t.… Instead of saying you can’t, take a step. It might not be the right step, but you won’t know unless you do it. In order to find you Gift, you need to take action. If it doesn’t feel like love or it’s not working toward love, you’re probably on the wrong path anyway.”

—Rick Mars

They are obviously too numerous to mention, but we tried to highlight as many as we could here. Some, unfortunately, we left out, such as David “Avocado” Wolfe, who previously lived in San Diego and is known to many in this community.

Also left out were Terry Tillman, Mary Manin Morrissey, Penney Peirce and Sir Ken Robinson, but I’m sure you’ll come away from the film remembering their contributions to the message. They and others are among those who appeared in the film and contributed to it being acknowledged by as the number one inspirational movie to see in 2011.

There are more significant San Diego connections to the film that you may notice, perhaps people you know.

“When people feel anger or are depressed, it’s usually because they’re thinking about something in the past—something they have no control over. Only when you are in the present do you have control over your thoughts, your actions, how you’re feeling. When you’re feeling negative, you’re only doing it to yourself in the present.”

—Bobbi DePorter

The movie is dedicated to Demian and Shajen’s family and also to a “friend,” the late Sonia Powers, Ph.D., who passed away suddenly in January 2010.

I first met Sonia when we were both involved in Terry Cole-Whittaker’s ministry in the 1980s. I always remember Sonia in Terry’s dressing room helping Terry prepare for her service—and always picture her with a smile. I remember people mistaking her for Terry. I also recall her as being very persistent and focused—there to do what needed to be done.

When I sat down to talk about the film with her husband, Rev. Rick Mars, another San Diegan, I discovered another story within the story of the film that I think that those who know Rick and Sonia will appreciate.

“I have a lot of joy in my life. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. But I can’t tell you why, because I subscribe to the notion of being happy for no reason. This I know: no one is joyful and fearful at the same time, so it has something to do with the absence of fear.”

—Stewart Emery

Rev. Rick was the executive co-producer of the film with Shajen. Sonia was one of four producers and very involved along the way. Both appear in DTG.

Sonia and Rick talked with Demian early on about the film and brainstormed with him about its direction. They were all together when some of the early scenes were shot on the French and Italian Rivieras.

Both Sonia and Rick were also involved in what they call TLC, the Transformational Leaders Conference, which brings many of the people in this story and the film together a couple of times a year to exchange ideas.

“When we’re giving, we’re coming from a premise of abundance, and we’re acknowledging that abundance, and that acknowledgment creates the space for even more abundance to flow into our lives. There’s nothing that you give that you won’t experience. It’s like if you smile at someone, you get the Gift of feeling the smile. Or if you give the Gift of laughter, you’re the one who is laughing. Or if you give the Gift of love, you’re feeling the love because it’s flowing through you and it comes back.


I heard it was Sonia’s persistence that persuaded some of these very busy people to participate.

Making the film took almost five years. Once it was done, with the exception of a few minor edits, Sonia complained of not feeling well. It was an incredible shock to Rick and her doctors that within four days she was gone.

“In the process of reconnecting with my sister, a veil had been lifted. I could see that the ‘choices’ I had made in my life were not really choices, but reactions. I had never really chosen my life. I had been living out of alignment with the spiritual laws of the universe. I had to decide on my intentions and then focus and disconnect with them. I realized that I wasn’t my past (a very arrogant and self-centered and righteous ass); I was an emerging possibility. My life was headed in an entirely new direction.”

— Demian Lichtenstein


After she passed in January of 2010, editing the film began again to include a tribute to her.

Here’s a quote from Sonia that gives us a look at her vision, as well as her Gift:

“I try to think of this time as that moment in history when people became conscious and chose to be responsible. They chose to look at what was happening in their lives as a Gift. They chose to express their own Gifts. They chose to be that which they were seeking. And in seeking and being, they shared their Gifts with other people. We let go of war, and we let go of sickness, we discovered that there was enough of everything, that all we needed was to be ourselves, and that would be enough.”


“When you start to use your Gift to serve, magic happens in your life. It’s like a soloist becoming a part of the band. . . . One of the most spiritual moments for me is feeling the connection between people I thought were my enemies and myself, not making my music or their music, but coming together and forming something new, a new song.”

— Christine Stevens

“When we perceive life through dark glasses, through the filters of fear, lack, and limitation, we make our decisions based on fear. Transformation denies that reality. Transformation comes in every moment we choose not to judge by appearances. We choose not to base our decisions on what appears to be, but rather to make our decisions based on who we are as spiritual beings. When we wake up to who we really are and stay awake in very moment, we are transformed.”

—Terry Cole-Whittaker

“Some of you are going through some very dark times. You don’t see a way out…ask this question: ‘If this experience were to last a long time, what quality would have to emerge in my life for me to have peace of mind?’ If you ask this question, the moment your attention goes to that quality rather than the ‘getting rid of’ the so-called problem, in that moment you’ve come into harmony with the evolutionary impulse and you begin to free yourself to be able to share your Gifts. You’re not trying to get ‘out’ of the problem. You’re trying to become more yourself. That’s the real deal. We want to become ourselves. Every time we become more ourselves, the problems at the previous level disappear. They’re only there because we’re not activating our potential.”

—Michael Bernard Beckwith