Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 21: PEACE

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 PEACE. 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.

 Peace is a state of harmony within an individual and within an environment. We often begin our meditations by observing a moment of silence in order to attain a state of peace. This peace is within us and we can tap into it at any time, in any place and irrespective of the conditions within the environment. It is important that we connect with this peace in our families before we begin our daily activities.

What does peace mean to you? Recall a time when you were at peace with yourself. Recall a time when you were at peace with your environment. Recall a time when you were not at peace with yourself. Recall a time when you were not at peace with your environment. What did you learn about being at peace and not being at peace? Meditate on the importance of peace in human relationships. Project a state of peace into the world. Decide to live a peaceful life.

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. Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war. Maria Montessori
    2. First keep the peace within yourself, then you can also bring peace to others. Thomas A. Kempis
    3. If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa
    4. Nobody can bring you peace but yourself. Ralph Waldo Emerson
    5. Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it. Thomas Jefferson
    6. Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. John Lennon
    7. Those who are at war with others are not at peace with themselves. William Hazlitt
    8. Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. Baruch Spinoza
    9. 
    Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. Ralph Waldo Emerson
    10. 
    Yesterday is ashes, tomorrow wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.  Live Today! Old Eskimo Proverb

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. This is peace, this is the excellent, namely the calm of all the impulses, the casting out of all "basis," the extinction of craving, dispassion, stopping, Nirvana. Buddhism.  Anguttara Nikaya v.322
2. Even as all waters flow into the ocean, but the ocean never overflows, even so the sage feels desires, but he is ever one in his infinite peace. HinduismBhagavad Gita 2:70
3. Men do not mirror themselves in running water--they mirror themselves in still water.  Only what is still can still the stillness of other things. Taoism.  Taoism: Chuang Tzu 5
4. The monk looks for peace within himself, and not in any other place.  For when a person is inwardly quiet, there is nowhere a self can be found; where, then, could a non-self be found? There are no waves in the depths of the sea; it is still, unbroken.  It is the same with the monk.  He is still, without any quiver of desire, without a remnant on which to build pride and desire. BuddhismSutta Nipata 919-20
5. God dwells in the heart of all beings, Arjuna: thy God dwells in thy heart. And his power of wonder moves all things-puppets in a play of shadows-whirling them onwards on the stream of time. Go to him for thy salvation with all thy soul, victorious man. By his grace thou shall obtain the peace supreme, thy home of Eternity. HinduismBhagavad Gita 18:61-62
6. And He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Judaism: Tanakh: Isaiah 2:4
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Christianity: New Testament. Matthew 5.9
8. 
O tranquil soul, return to your Lord so pleasant and well-pleased! Enter among My servants and enter My garden! Islam.  Qur'an 89.27-30
9. 
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Judaism: Tanakh, Numbers 6.26
10. 
If a man sings of God and hears of Him, And lets love of God sprout within him, All his sorrows shall vanish, And in his mind, God will bestow abiding peace. Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Japuji 5, M.1, p. 2 

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 the Real Meaning of Peace by an Unknown Author

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried and submitted their work. The king looked at all the pictures. There were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake, perfectly mirroring the peaceful, towering mountains all around it. Overhead was blue sky with fluffy, white clouds. It was the favorite of all who saw it. Truly, they thought, it was the perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of one mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. A less peaceful picture would be difficult to imagine. But when the king looked closely, he saw beside the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace.

Which picture would you have selected? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

“Because,” explained the king, “Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all these things and still be calm in your heart. This is the real meaning of peace.”

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.

Peace is within us and we can enhance the peace in us by practicing the following teachings:

  1. Meditation: Learn to meditate even if it is for 5 minutes every day. Be consistent and you will see results.
    2. Affirmation or Prayer: Write an affirmation for peace and repeat it daily. You may also pray daily if you prefer. You may actually use both affirmations and prayers.
    3. Look for Happiness within: What makes you happy is not the amount of money you make or the size of your family but something else. Look for it within; it could be your dance, your songs, your music, your writing, or your contribution to humanity. It is not something you have but something you give. Find it and be free!
    4. Go with the flow: Do not resist change but try to find out what the change is telling you. Going with the flow is often described as the Law of Least Effort.

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. 

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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