Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 27: FREEDOM DAY

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 FREEDOM DAY. 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 mind and body so that we may learn the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, 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.

Freedom is the power to act without an external restraining force. It is also the power to speak without any interference as in freedom of speech. Freedom is also the absence of control by another. Further freedom is a condition of not being enslaved in mind or in body. It is also a condition of not being bound by rules that the individual did not agree to obey. Freedom implies that you decide what to do in all cases; you think for yourself and you say what you have to say and you believe whatever you want to believe. The Pilgrim Fathers for example left England to settle in North America in order to worship their God according to their own beliefs. They were free! However if you are a slave to someone you are not free. If you have to have someone’s approval before you act or speak, you are not free. If you have to obey a rule that you did not agree to obey, you are also not free. And if you have to believe in something that was forced on you, you are also not free. But in all these cases freedom also comes with responsibility. Your freedom should not interfere with another person’s freedom. In other words if you cherish your freedom you must make sure that others are also free in the exercise of your freedom!

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.

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself. Thomas Paine
History does not teach fatalism. There are moments when the will of a handful of free men breaks through determinism and opens up new roads. Charles de Gaulle
3 Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. Abraham Lincoln
4 No one is free when others are oppressed. Author Unknown
5 Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. Woodrow Wilson
6 No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck. Frederick Douglass
7 Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. George Bernard Shaw
8 When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free. Charles Evans Hughes
9 You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free. Clarence Darrow
10 Patterning your life around other's opinions is nothing more than slavery. Lawana Blackwell

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 The SELF is not known through study of the scriptures, nor through subtlety of the intellect, nor through much learning; but by him who longs for him is he known. Hinduism: Katha Upanishad.
The man who wisely controls his senses as a good driver controls his horses, and who is free from lower passions and pride, is admired even by the gods. Buddhism: The Dhammapada 7:94
3 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Christianity: New Testament, Romans 6:14
4. The man who has learned that the SELF is separate from the body, the senses and the mind, and has fully known him, the soul of truth, the subtle principle-such a man verily attains to him, and is exceedingly glad, because he has found the source and dwelling place of all felicity. Hinduism: Katha Upanishad.
5 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Christianity, New Testament: Galatians 5:13
6 But one is the path of earthly wealth and another is the path of Nirvana. Let the follower of Buddha think of this and, without striving for reputation, let him ever strive after freedom. Buddhism: The Dhammapada 5:75
7 Those who have high thoughts are ever striving: they are not happy to remain in the same place. Like swans that leave their lake and rise into the air, they leave their home for a higher home. Buddhism: The Dhammapada 7:91
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Christianity: New Testament, John 8:32
9 And he who is free from credulous beliefs since he has seen the eternal Nirvana, who has thrown off the bondage of the lower self, and far beyond temptations, has surrendered all his desires, he is indeed great amongst men. Buddhism: The Dhammapada 5:75
10 Confucius said, "Set your heart upon the Way, support yourself by its power, lean upon goodness, seek distraction in the arts." Confucianism.  Analects 7.6

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?

Paul and Silas in Prison, Acts 16:8-40
Once open a time Paul and Silas were in Troas. There Paul saw a vision at night. In the vision he saw a man of Macedonia begging them to come to Macedonia and help them: “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” After the vision they left Troas for Philippi, a city in Macedonia, where they met a woman named Lydia who provided accommodation for them. Meanwhile Paul and his companions met a certain damsel possessed by the spirit of divination. The damsel made money for her masters by soothsaying. The damsel followed Paul and his companions saying: “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who show unto us the way of salvation.” She followed them for many days and Paul decided to cast out the spirit in her. “I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”

The spirit immediately came out of her as Paul commanded depriving her masters of any more gains from her divination. Seeing that their gain was no more they got hold of Paul and Silas and took them to the authorities. They were found guilty of teaching foreign ideas in Rome and were ordered to be beaten and cast them into prison. At midnight Paul and Silas began to pray and to sing praises to God. In response to their singing and praises and prayer there arose a great earthquake and the foundation of the prison shook, opening all the doors of the prison and the chains on their hands fell. When the prison keeper woke up and saw that all the doors were open he taught that all the prisoners had fled and drew a sword to kill himself. But Paul said to him in a loud voice: Do thyself no harm, for we are all here!”

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.

How often have we been freed from human domination and captivity? Slavery, colonization, Apartheid and what have you...have been taken down for the good of all creatures. So whatever situation you find yourself, there is hope! There is hope because no condition is permanent! You are loved without conditions and the Universe takes care of all creatures because we are part of the Universe. This is not about believing but about knowing that you are part of the Universe is all the help you need to triumph over all obstacles on your way to total Freedom! Never be afraid when misguided people discriminate against you, colonize you, enslave you or throw you into prison for no just cause because the Universe is always there for you and you are the UNIVERSE!

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.

A prayer for Freedom by Dr. Sonari
O Lord who pervades the Universe
Lead me to freedom from this cell of life!
I sing your praises night and day.
Because I know my freedom is near. 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 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 good time to share some 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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