Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 24: HUMILITY


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 HUMILITY. 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.

Humility has several meanings or we associate different meanings to the word. For instance if someone is from a poor family we could say that he or she is of humble birth and if he happens to live in a cheap house we would say that the person lives in a humble dwelling. Synonyms of humility include shyness, abasement, diffidence, lowliness, meekness, passiveness, resignation, sheepishness, submissiveness, timidity and inferiority complex. You will agree that most if not all of these synonyms are not what you want for your children or for anyone for that matter. Thus this study is not about the lowly ways we address other people nor is it about resignation and sheepishness but about us. In this context humility is an insignificant estimate of one’s importance. In other words when you meet someone you are not saying “I am this and I am that”. Instead you are saying, “you are important, how can I help you”?

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. Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. William Temple
    2. Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved? Carl Sagan
    3. I believe the first test of a truly great man is in his humility. John Ruskin
    4. Humility leads to strength and not to weakness. It is the highest form of self-respect to admit mistakes and to make amends for them." John J. McCloy
    5. "Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life." George Arliss
    6. It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err. Mohandas K. Gandhi
    7. People that put themselves above others will fall longer and harder. Gina Lindley
    8. There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Ernest Hemingway
    9. There is no respect for others without humility in one's self. Henri Frederic Amiel
    10. It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. Saint Augustine    

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 leads the humble with just rules and He teaches the humble His way. Judaism: Tanakh. Psalms 25:9
2. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Christianity: New Testament 1 Peter 5:5
3. If a fool can see his own folly, he in this at least is wise; but the fool who thinks he is wise, he indeed is the real fool. Buddhism: Dhammapada 5:63

4. And a man should not abandon his work, even if he cannot achieve it in full perfection; because in all work there may be imperfection, even as in all fire there is smoke. Hinduism: Bhagavad Gita 18:48
5. Without merit am I; all merit is Thine. Thine, Lord, are all merits--by what tongue have I power to praise Thee? Sikhism.  Adi Granth, Wadhans, M.5, p. 577
6. The body is impure, bad-smelling, and replete with various kinds of stench which trickle here and there.  If one, possessed of such a body, thinks highly of himself and despises others--that is due to nothing other than his lack of insight. Buddhism.  Sutta Nipata 205-067. Confucius said, "A gentleman does not grieve that people do not recognize his merits; he grieves at his own incapacities." Confucianism.  Analects 14.328. A brahmin should ever shrink from honor as from poison, and should always be desirous of disrespect as if of ambrosia. Hinduism.  Laws of Manu 2.1629. The fool who knows that he is a fool is for that very reason a wise man; the fool who thinks he is wise is called a fool indeed. Buddhism. Dhammapada 6310. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Christianity.  New Testament, Philippians 2.3

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 the life of Nelson Mandela: 5 Great Stories about Nelson Mandela’s Humility, Kindness and Courage. Remarkable moments recalled by some of the people who knew him best By Kharunya Paramaguru@Kharunya Dec. 06, 2013 

ANC’s, South Africa’s governing political party, Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte, who was his personal assistant between 1990-94: “He always made his own bed, no matter where we traveled. I remember we were in Shanghai, in a very fancy hotel, and the Chinese hospitality requires that the person who cleans your room and provides you with your food, does exactly that. If you do it for yourself, it could even be regarded as an insult. So in Shanghai I tried to say to him, ‘Please don’t make your own bed, because there’s this custom here.’ And he said, ‘Call them, bring them to me.’ So I did. I asked the hotel manager to bring the ladies who would be cleaning the room, so that he could explain why he himself has to make his own bed, and that they not feel insulted. He didn’t ever want to hurt people’s feelings. He never really cared about what great big people think of him, but he did care about what small people thought of him.”

South African photographer, Steve Bloom, whose father, Harry Bloom was a political activist:

During the 1950s my parents, who were anti-apartheid activists, knew Nelson Mandela. I remember the story he told them about the occasion he saw a white woman standing next to her broken car in Johannesburg. He approached her and offered to help. After fiddling with the engine he fixed the car. Thankful for his help, she offered to pay him sixpence. “Oh no, that’s not necessary,” he said, “I am only too happy to help.”“But why else would you, a black man, have done that if you did not want money?” she asked quizzically.“Because you were stranded at the side of the road,” he replied.

Neville Alexander, a political activist who spent ten years imprisoned on Robben Island alongside Mandela, describes his first meeting with him:“I was impressed mainly by the warmth and the genuine interest, which was a feature that, subsequently I discovered, is very much part of the man and something which I also must admit now, I learned from him … to give your full attention to your interlocutor, and really take notice of what people are saying, listen to them carefully. In his case, there was a spontaneous, charismatic exuding of warmth. That’s probably the most important, most vivid memory I have of our first meeting.”

Wolfie Kodesh, who hid Mandela for nearly eight weeks in 1961 in his apartment in a white suburb of Johannesburg: “…We had a discussion and an argument about who is going to sleep where. I had a tiny flat … and I had a bed and I had a camp stretcher in a cupboard. So when I brought out the camp stretcher, I said to him, ‘Well, I’ll sleep on the camp stretcher. You sleep on the bed because you are six foot something, I am five foot something. So the stretcher is just right for me.’ No, he wasn’t going to have that. He hadn’t come there to put me out, and we had a bit of a talk about that and … it was arranged, and I would sleep on the bed.”

Rick Stengel, who spent almost two years with Mandela working on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom: “In 1994, during the presidential-election campaign, Mandela got on a tiny propeller plane to fly down to the killing fields of Natal and give a speech to his Zulu supporters. I agreed to meet him at the airport, where we would continue our work after his speech. When the plane was 20 minutes from landing, one of its engines failed. Some on the plane began to panic. The only thing that calmed them was looking at Mandela, who quietly read his newspaper as if he were a commuter on his morning train to the office. The airport prepared for an emergency landing, and the pilot managed to land the plane safely. When Mandela and I got in the backseat of his bulletproof BMW that would take us to the rally, he turned to me and said, “Man, I was terrified up there!””

The King’s Humility, from Illumination-Experiences on Indian Soil by Sri Chinmoy
One day a sage came to a King for an interview. The sage had to wait for a long time because the King was very busy. Finally, the King said he could come in.

When the sage entered the hall, the first thing he did was to take off his hat and bow to the King. Immediately the King took off his crown and bowed to the sage. The ministers and others who were around the King asked, “What are you doing? He took off his hat because he is an ordinary man. But you are the King. Why should you have to take off your crown?”

The King said to his ministers, “You fools, do you think I wish to remain inferior to an ordinary man? He is humble and modest. His humility is a peerless virtue’. He showed his respect to me. If I did not take off my crown, then I would be showing less humility than an ordinary man, and I would be defeated by him. If I am the King, I should be better than everybody in everything. That is why I took off my crown and bowed to him!”

Abou Ben Adhem by James Henry Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the Presence in the room he said
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so,"
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still, and said "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

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 how to develop an attitude of humility. Like the Prodigal son in the New Testament life often humbles us and in some cases we may come to our senses after the humiliation. But why wait for life to humble you when you could have a head start and enhance your life? Our children often tell us that they want to experience our suffering. We tell them that if they followed our family values they would not experience our suffering. They argue that it is by suffering that they could learn. We have no problems with the lessons of suffering but we do not want them to make the same mistakes that we made. If they are making the same mistakes the family is not progressing. So we advise them to look up to our family values and that they should not worry about suffering because life has enough for each of us. Our challenge is to be prepared for suffering at a higher level and not at the level of our parents. Here are my thoughts on how to develop humility:

  1. Know your Shortcomings: In his conversation with Brutus in Julius Caesar, Cassius asked Brutus if he could see his face? Brutus answered, No, Cassius. The eye can’t see itself, except by reflection in other surfaces. In the same way we may not really know about our short comings and that is where our friends, family members, parents, siblings, teachers and mentors could help. Parents could really play a significant role here by observing their children as they grow up. Later in life we could use the positive qualities we observed in our children as a platform to advise them on their shortcomings.
  2. Be open to the possibilities of life: I have often told my family that if today the “devil” came and is giving a press conference, in downtown Portland, I would be there. The reasoning is that what he had to say might trigger something within me to solve a difficult problem, remember to visit a friend or family member that I have neglected all the years or even enhance my life. In other words let us not pretend to have all the answers even in the presence of people who look up to us. It is okay to admit that you do not know because that opens the door for inquiry.
  3. Live a life of Contribution: Our economic system is based on competition. My product or service is better than yours and if we really do what we preach it is really good for the economy. The good products will push the inferior products out of business but we should guard against monopoly and higher prices. Our lives are not that complicated as the economic system and we could actually forget about the competitive behaviors of our friends and neighbors and live a life of contribution.
  4. Be Kind to all Creatures: The phrase “Be Kind” reminds me of a neighbor who drove a taxi in Nigeria. He called his taxi “Be Kind” and he was actually the talk of the town. People are naturally drawn to acts of kindness and they want to help. Let your kindness not be for your family members and your friends alone but to all creatures and without discrimination.
  5. Put others First: This is the apex of humility and it is not an easy task because of our inflated egos but with practice, even you could learn to subdue your ego and put others first. And as William Temple put it:

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.

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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