Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 18: EQUALITY

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 EQUALITY. 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.

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.

 What immediately comes to mind when we hear the word “Equality”? Depending on your age, race, gender or nationality you might be thinking of women rights, minority rights, majority rights and currently gay and lesbian rights. These rights are important to us because they protect our freedom to live our lives without discrimination. You will learn in this lesson that equality is not a clear-cut concept but the underlying idea is equal treatment for all people in our families, in our cities, in our states and in our countries.

What is equality? When was the last time you practiced equality in your family? When was the last time you treated members of your family unequally? When was the last time you treated members of other races unequally? When was the last time you treated members of other nations unequally? How did you feel? Reflect on the time you were on the receiving end, that is, you were treated discrimination. How did you feel? Decide to practice compassion, fairness and unconditional love.

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.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Abraham Lincoln
2. Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes. Khalil Gibran
3. Equality may perhaps be a right, but no power on earth can ever turn it into a fact. Honore de Balzac
4. Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions - it only guarantees equality of opportunity. Irving Kristol
5. All people are equal, it is not birth, it is virtue alone that makes the difference. Voltaire
6. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. George Orwell
7. the result of human organization. We are not born equal. Hannah Arendt
8. We didn't all come over on the same ship, but we're all in the same boat. Bernard M. Baruch
9. Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box. Italian Proverb
10. Don't be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn't do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn't know what you know today. Malcolm X

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 I look upon all creatures equally; none are less dear to me, and none more dear. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 9:29
2 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Christianity. New Testament Galatians 3:28
3 All the people of the whole world are equally brothers and sisters. There is no one who is an utter stranger. There is no one who has known the truth of this origin. It is the very cause of the regret of Tsukihi (God). The souls of all people are equal, whether they live on the high mountains or at the bottoms of the valleys. Tenrikyo. Ofudesaki XIII.43-45
4 Confucius said, "By nature men are pretty much alike; it is learning and practice that set them apart." Confucianism. Analects 17.2
5 So what of all these titles, names, and races? They are mere worldly conventions. Buddhism: Sutta Nipata 648
6 Lord God of glory is He to whom both the Ariyans and the outcastes (Dasa) belong. Hinduism. Rig Veda 8.51.9
7 All those who take refuge in me, whatever their birth, race, sex, or caste, will attain the supreme goal; this realization can be attained even by those whom society scorns. Kings and sages, too seek this goal with devotion. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 9.32
8 You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian. How can you expect to be a Buddha?" asked the Patriarch. Hui Neng replied, "Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their Buddha-nature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our Buddha-nature." Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 1
9 For the white to lord it over the black, the Arab over the non-Arab, the rich over the poor, the strong over the weak or men over women is out of place and wrong. Islam. Hadith of Ibn Majah
10. By deeds, not by birth, is one a brahmin. By deeds one is a ksatriya, by deeds is one a vaishya, and by deeds is one a shudra. Jainism. Uttaradhyayana Sutra 25.3


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 comes from Sudan, in Africa. It is about a disproportionate division.

Once upon a time three friends; a lion, a wolf and a fox went out hunting together. They caught a wild ass, a gazelle and a hare. After the hunt they threw a lot as to how they would divide their catch. The lot fell on the wolf. The wolf re-examined the hunt and said that the lion should have the ass, the fox gets the hare and he gets the gazelle. But the lion was not satisfied with the division and to show his disapproval he struck the wolf on the head and cracked his skull. The wolf died on the spot. Next they threw another lot and this time the lot fell on the fox to divide the hunt. At this time the fox was trembling and he spoke uneasily and said the hare will be for your majesty’s breakfast, the gazelle for your lunch and the ass for your dinner. The lion was very happy with this disproportionate division and asked the fox where he learned to be wise. The fox said “when the wolf dropped death before me”.

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.

The story of the lion, the wolf and the fox is an interesting fable. We may have laughed at the action of the lion but deep inside us we think it is not right. The lion used his position to take advantage of his “friends” and even to kill another creature. However when we relate the action of the lion to our lives we may also be guilty of using our position to take advantage of others or to discriminate against others. Our challenge is to rise above the forces of discrimination and favoritism and embrace a life of compassion, understanding and love. When we do that we will be fair for example in our treatment of a foster or an adopted child in the presence of our biological children and we will treat all creatures with love irrespective of their color, nationality, religion or race.

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

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.

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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