Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 22: CREATION

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 CREATION. 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 Meditation
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.

Creation is one of the intriguing subjects of all time. Naturally people want to know how the Earth with everything in it came to be or how the Universe started. As you would have it many cultures have provided answers to this question. Science has also provided a working definition of how the Universe began with the Big Bang Theory.

Basically there are two different thoughts regarding the existence of the Universe. One view claims that the Universe was created by an Almighty God. This view is common with theistic traditions. The other view claims that the Universe was not created by any God. According to this view the Universe has always existed. This view mostly comes from atheistic traditions and philosophical organizations. For instance Buddhists deny the existence of an Almighty God who created the Universe. According to this believe the Universe has always existed and that it does not require any God to bring it into manifestation. According to the theistic view it is safe to assume that most cultures and most religious adherents believe in their creation stories. They believe that their God actually created the Universe. For example in the Yoruba tradition we can see the Great God Olorun coming down from heaven and giving instructions to Obatala the Creator to create everything, including human beings. Then we can see Obatala getting down to work by first getting the clay from the Earth and molding the creatures and of course we can see Olorun coming down again in the evening to breathe the Life Force into each creature in order to make them living creatures.

The only problem with this idea is that other cultures also have similar stories. Given this state of affairs an inquiring mind would probably ask if some are true stories and others are false stories. If I believe that the story from my culture or religion is true that makes other stories false in my view. What if my neighbor also believes that the story from his culture is true does that make the story from my culture false? But the fact that these stories were written in isolation make each story equally true or equally false? Irrespective of what you believe I think it is a blessing that we have different creation stories. It teaches us two lessons.

The first lesson is that ‘No Body Knows’. Many thoughtful people have made this claim. In his PBS presentation on the Power of Myth Joseph Campbell said that the existence of the Universe is a mystery that is never to be discovered because it is a transcendent mystery. One might ask if no one knows why did they do it? The answer is that the stories help them to explain the mystery around them. They are not intended to be true stories because no one was there in the beginning. The other lesson is that we are all equal on the cosmic scale. No culture is superior; no culture has an absolute claim to the universe and no culture occupies a special place in the cosmic scheme of things. What would have happened to us if only one creation story survived? Given the human thirst for control, power and superiority that will be the day the world will go into darkness again. According to the introduction to the Universal Holy Book it will be slavery, colonization, genocide, ethnic cleaning, holocaust and every evil imaginable by the human mind. Let us rejoice for the contributions from different cultures and look forward to a new spiritual vision.

However in this study I want you to focus more on your own creative abilities. First you need to internalize the fact that you are a creator or co-creator if you want to acknowledge the Creator within you. Knowing that you are a creator will go a long way in your creation processes in the sense that failure will no longer deter you from your dreams.

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 Everything in Nature contains all the powers of Nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff. Ralph Waldo Emerson
2 The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action. John Dewey
3 Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system. Bruce Lee
4. The only things in my life that compatibly exists with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit. Ansel Adams
5. In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment. Maxine Hong Kingston
6. There is no greater joy than that of feeling oneself a creator. The triumph of life is expressed by creation. Henri Bergson
7. Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will. George Bernard Shaw
8. This whole universe, with all its vastness, grandeur and beauty, is nothing but sheer imagination. In spite of so many discoveries, researches and scientific knowledge, the creation remains a great unsolved riddle.  Meher Baba
9. While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation. Maya Angelou
10. All human beings are interconnected, one with all other elements in creation. Henry Reed

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 He was. Taaroa was his name. He stood in the void: no earth, no sky, no men.
Taaroa calls the four corners of the universe; nothing replies. Alone existing, he changes himself into the universe. Taaroa is the light, he is the seed, he is the base, he is the incorruptible. The universe is only the shell of Taaroa. It is he who puts it in motion and brings forth its harmony. Tahitian Tradition
2 In the beginning of God's creation of the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated between the light and between the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night, and it was evening and it was morning, one day. Judaism: Tanakh: Genesis 1:1-53
3 And the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and He breathed into his nostrils the soul of life, and man became a living soul. Judaism: Tanakh: Genesis 2:7
4 This (universe) existed in the shape of Darkness, unperceived, destitute of distinctive marks, unattainable by reasoning, unknowable, wholly immersed, as it were, in deep sleep. Then the divine Self-existent (Svayambhu, himself) indiscernible, (but) making (all) this, the great elements and the rest, discernible, appeared with irresistible (creative) power, dispelling the darkness. He who can be perceived by the internal organ (alone), who is subtle, indiscernible, and eternal, who contains all created beings and is inconceivable, shone forth of his own (will). He, desiring to produce beings of many kinds from his own body, first with a thought created the waters, and placed his seed in them. That (seed) became a golden egg, in brilliancy equal to the sun; in that (egg) he himself was born as Brahman, the progenitor of the whole world. Hinduism: Laws of Manu, 1:5-9
5 Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. It springs into existence, unconscious, perfect, free, takes on a physical body, lets circumstances complete it. That is why every being spontaneously honors the Tao. The Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them, maintains them, cares for them, comforts them, protects them, takes them back to itself,
creating without possessing, acting without expecting, guiding without interfering. That is why love of the Tao is in the very nature of things. Taoism: Tao Te Ching 51
6 And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and they shall rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the heaven and over the animals and over all the earth and over all the creeping things that creep upon the earth." And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Judaism: Tanakh: Genesis 1:26-27
7 I am the father of this universe, and even the Source of the Father. I am the Mother of this universe, and the Creator of all. I am the Highest to be known, the path of purification, the holy OM, the three Vedas.  Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 9:17
8 The Big Bang Theory attempts to explain the beginning of the Universe and it states that our universe was once smaller than the size of a proton. But this particle has all the matter and energy in it. Then at about 13.7 billion years ago the particle expanded to about 1026 times its original size in 0.0001 seconds. Essentially this process of expansion is what is called the Big Bang. Scientific Theory of the Origin of the Universe
9. Vast indeed is the sublime Creative Principle, the Source of all, co-extensive with the heavens. It causes the clouds to come forth, the rain to bestow its bounty and all objects to flow into their respective forms. Its dazzling brilliance permeates all things from first to last; its activities, symbolized by the component lines [of the hexagram], reach full completion, each at the proper time. [The superior man], mounting them when the time is ripe, is carried heavenwards as though six dragons were his steeds! The Creative Principle functions through Change; accordingly, when we rectify our way of life by conjoining it with the universal harmony, our firm persistence is richly rewarded. Confucianism. I Ching 1: The Creative
10 Before the beginning Olorun, Olodumare and the Orishas ruled the heavens. Oloru is the Almighty God, the most high, the Source, the loving, the beneficent, the merciful, the provider, and the helper. Olodumare is the creator and the Orishas are the divinities. Olodumare is a manifestation of Olorun and the Orishas are manifestations of Olodumare.

There was nothing then but an infinite void. Seeing the void and thinking of life Olorun manifested into a tiny ball suspended in the void. By its own energy the ball expanded and filled the void and Olorun became one with the Universe. Through an internal action the Universe put in place the heavenly bodies and the laws and principles to guide them. Olodumare surveyed the Universe and breathed his Life Force (ashe) into it and time started.

The Earth was unique among the planets. The land stretched from the City of Ile-Ife and beyond; carefully carving out rivers, seas and oceans for the people. There were also trees and plants of many kinds in and around the city of Ile-Ife and beyond. The Orishas saw the land and were amazed by its beauty and comfort so they descended into the city of Ile-Ife and took human forms. They built palaces to live on Earth and the Orishas became the first living beings in Ile-Ife and in the whole world.

Meanwhile Olodumare appointed Obatala, the arch Orisha to begin molding the manifestations of life with the clay of the Earth. To assist Obatala in his work Olodumare appointed Orunmila, a wise Orisha who could see into the future. Olodumare instructed Obatala to mold different fishes to live in the waters; different birds to fly in the air; and different animals to live in the forests, and that each kind should be of different sizes and of male and female. Obatala and Orunmila set out to work but Orunmila first looked into the future and saw that fishes needed fins and a streamlined body to enable them to move freely in water and that they also needed gills to breathe, mouth to eat and eyes to see. With this insight Obatala began to work on molding the fishes.

While Obatala was molding the fishes Orunmila divined the future and saw that birds needed wings to fly, legs to walk when they are not flying, nose to breathe, eyes to see, mouth to eat, ears to hear and feathers to protect their body. As soon as Obatala finished molding the fishes he spread them outside to dry and started molding the birds. Meanwhile Orunmila divined the future of the animals and saw that animals needed four legs to walk, nose to breathe, mouth to eat, ears to hear, eyes to see and hair to cover their body. Obatala finished molding the birds and started molding the animals each according to its kind and male and female. When they were all done Obatala spread his creation outside to dry. In the evening Olodumare came down and breathed his life force (ashe) into all the fishes, birds and animals and blessed them to multiply. After breathing His life force into the fishes, birds and animals Olodumare further instructed Obatala to mold two human beings, male and female to represent him and to take care of the earth. This time Orunmila did not have to look into the future because the Orishas represented the future of the human race so Obatala looked at himself and molded the first male and the female orishas and molded the first female and laid them on a golden bed to dry. In the evening Olodumare came down and breathed his life force (ashe) into both humans and blessed them to multiply. Creation in Africa: Yourba Creation Story retold by Dr. Sonari

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 Hymn of Creation from the Rig Veda. 

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?
 Then there was neither death nor immortality
nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.
 At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.
All this was only unillumined cosmic water.
That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,
arose at last, born of the power of heat.
 In the beginning desire descended on it -
that was the primal seed, born of the mind.
The sages who have searched their hearts with wisdom
know that which is kin to that which is not.
 And they have stretched their cord across the void,
and know what was above, and what below.
Seminal powers made fertile mighty forces.
Below was strength, and over it was impulse.
 But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the Devas (minor gods) themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?
 Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows - or maybe even he does not know.
Translated by A. L. Basham.  Hinduism: Rig Veda, 10.129.1-7


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 centers on how we can improve our creative abilities. I have often told my family that if the “Devil” Came to Portland, Oregon and was giving a lecture against “GOD”, I would be there. Why? I am not really going there to pick a fight with him; instead I am going there to be inspired. What he might say could trigger my creativity. So be there! Here are some ways to improve your creativity:

  1. Listen to your favorite music or other audio recording: Music has a way of opening the door of our creativity when we become connected with the music. You loose yourself in the music and that opens your creativity.
  2. Be there: Attend lectures, funerals, religious services and similar events. These events help us to shift the focus from us to the event and this has a way of enhancing our creativity. In short the moment you stop thinking about yourself and your problems your creative juices will flow.
  3. Meditate: The act of sitting in one place and doing nothing has the effect of transporting us to another world where we can truly create to our heart’s content. If you want to use meditation as a creative vehicle you may begin by sitting comfortably on the floor, facing the east, placing your hands face up on your lap and concentrating on your breath.
  4. Have a walk: Walking, more especially in the woods could improve creative thinking. Actually any type of walking can improve your creative thinking as long as you are not distracted by the environment.
  5. Do your favorite Exercise: Mine is treadmill and the moment I step on my treadmill I’m taken to a different world. It helps my creative thinking.
  6. Write by Hand: We become focused the moment we start writing and this enhances your creativity.
  7. Find out from others: If you have a question, do not hesitate to ask someone who knows. However it is not about getting an answer but about opening your mind to see the total picture.
Lastly  let us learn from the Unitarian Universalist Affirmation:
 “Unitarian Universalism affirms:
That Creation is too grand, complex, and mysterious to be captured in a narrow creed. That is why we cherish individual freedom of belief. At the same time our convictions lead us to other affirmations . . .
That the blessings of life are available to everyone, not just the Chosen or the Saved;
That Creation itself is Holy -- the earth and all its creatures, the stars in all their glory;
That the Sacred or Divine, the Precious and Profound, are made evident not in the miraculous or supernatural but in the simple and the everyday;
That human beings, joined in collaboration with the gifts of grace, are responsible for the planet and its future;
That every one of us is held in Creation's hand -- a part of the interdependent cosmic web -- and hence strangers need not be enemies;
That no one is saved until we All are saved, where All means the whole of Creation;
That the paradox of life is to love it all the more even though we ultimately lose it.”
Quote by William Schulz Quote

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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