Awakened Living Study Program: Lesson 3: NON VIOLENCE

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 NON VIOLENCE. 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.

Non-Violence is a practice of avoiding using violent means to achieve a positive social end such as against discrimination, inequality, injustice, slavery, colonization or oppression. In the main non violence extends beyond the political and social spectrum. It also includes our thoughts, speeches and actions as we interact with our environment. What do you tell your child who asks you what he should do when someone hits him at school? Do you tell him to hit the person back or do you tell him to turn the other cheek? Does non-violence only refer to humans or does it also include other creatures? What would you do for food when non violence includes all creatures? Do you totally avoid eating meat, fish and poultry or do you eat other creatures with the understanding that the creature is a willing sacrifice and use your life for the good of others? What does non violence mean to you? Whatever it is, the decision on what to eat and what to do in case of a threat to your life is your responsibility but whatever path you decide to choose make sure that your life is not at risk and the well being of your family is assured. The practice of non violence is not a new idea. It has been with us from the beginning of time and we can learn more about it from the teachings of the heroes and prophets of non violence such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and C’esar Chavez just to mention a few. Mahatma Gandhi was the champion of non violence against British rule in India. Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates used non violent protests to win civil rights for African Americans in the United States and C’esar Chavez used non violent campaigns to protest the treatment of farm workers in California.

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 Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. Mahatma Gandhi
2 Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages. Thomas A. Edison
3 “Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win. Cesar Chavez
4 Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. Ralph Waldo Emerson
5 We must not allow ourselves to become like the system we oppose. We cannot afford to use methods of which we will be ashamed when we look back, when we say, '...we shouldn't have done that.' We must remember, my friends, that we have been given a wonderful cause. The cause of freedom! And you and I must be those who will walk with heads held high. We will say, 'We used methods that can stand the harsh scrutiny of history.' Desmond Tutu
6 “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love” Mahatma Gandhi
7 “We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves” Dalai Lama
8 "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools." Martin Luther King Jr.
9 My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realizing Him. Mahatma Gandhi
10 “The test of ahimsa is the absence of jealousy. The man whose heart never cherishes even the thought of injury to anyone, who rejoices at the prosperity of even his greatest enemy, that man is the bhakta, he is the yogi, he is the guru of all." --Swami Vivekananda

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 Have benevolence towards all living beings. Jainism: Tattvarthasutra 7.11
2 The mode of living which is founded upon a total harmlessness towards all creatures or [in case of actual necessity] upon a minimum of such harm, is the highest morality. Hinduism: The Mahabharata, Shantiparva 262.5-6
3 One should not injure, subjugate, enslave, torture, or kill any animal, living being, organism, or sentient being. This doctrine of nonviolence is immaculate, immutable, and eternal. Just as suffering is painful to you, in the same way it is painful, disquieting, and terrifying to all animals, living beings, organisms, and sentient beings. Jainism: Acarangasutra 4.25-26
4 Without doing injury to living beings, meat cannot be had anywhere; and the killing of living beings is not conducive to heaven; hence eating of meat should be avoided. Hinduism: Laws of Manu 5.48
5 “Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Christianity: New Testament Matthew 5:39
6. Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. ChristianityNew Testament: Matthew 26:52
The peace in the sky, the peace in the mid-air, the peace on earth, the peace in waters, the peace in plants, the peace in forest trees, the peace in all Gods, the peace in Brahman, the peace in all things, the peace in peace, may that peace come to me. Hinduism: Rig Veda X
8 Ahimsa is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one's mind, speech or body. Hinduism: Sandilya Upanishad
9 It is the principle of the pure in heart never to injure others, even when they themselves have been hatefully injured. Hinduism: Tiru Kural, Verse 312.
10 If one is trying to practice meditation and is still eating meat, he would be like a man closing his ears and shouting loudly and then asserting that he heard nothing... Pure and earnest bhikshus, when walking a narrow path, will never so much as tread on the growing grass beside the path. How can a bhikshu, who hopes to become a deliverer of others, himself be living on the flesh of other sentient beings? Pure and earnest bhikshus will never wear clothing made of silk, nor wear boots made of leather for it involves the taking of life. Neither will they indulge in eating milk or cheese because thereby they are depriving the young animals of that which is rightfully belongs to them. Buddhism: Surangama Sutra

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?

A Mother’s Wise Advice
Once upon a time, the son of Brahmadatta was ruling righteously in Benares, in northern India. It came to pass that the King of Kosala made war, killed the King of Benares, and made the queen become his own wife. Meanwhile, the queen's son escaped by sneaking away through the sewers. In the countryside he eventually raised a large army and surrounded the city. He sent a message to the king, the murderer of his father and the husband of his mother. He told him to surrender the kingdom or fight a battle. The prince's mother, the Queen of Benares, heard of this threat from her son. She was a gentle and kind woman who wanted to prevent violence and suffering and killing. So she sent a message to her son - "There is no need for the risks of battle. It would be wiser to close every entrance to the city. Eventually the lack of food, water and firewood will wear down the citizens. Then they will give the city to you without any fighting." The prince decided to follow his mother's wise advice. His army blockaded the city for seven days and nights. Then the citizens captured their unlawful king, cut off his head, and delivered it to the prince. He entered the city triumphantly and became the new King of Benares.

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.

Let us practice non violence in our homes with our family, friends and strangers. Let us practice non violence in our choice of food by appreciating little sacrifices and living our lives to be deserving of those sacrifices. Let us grow in our practice of non violence in our homes for a better world for all of us. Some of the choices we need to make on the issue of non violence may not be as clear as night and day but we could all reduce the incidence of violence in our lives by practicing non violence in our thoughts, in our speeches, and in our actions including avoiding violence in the media and on the internet.

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 of Angela of Foligno (c.1248-1309)
O SUPREME GOOD, THOU hast designed to make us know that THOU art love, and makest us in Love with that love; wherefore they who come before THY face shall be rewarded according unto their love, and there is nothing which leadeth the contemplative unto contemplation saving true love alone. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, 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. 

Addendum: Dharam Das & the Holy Man: A Parable of Non Violence
Once upon a time Dharam Das inherited a lot of wealth from his father. Dharam Das was a humanitarian and spend most of his wealth on the poor and the sick. He was always surrounded by a lot of people because of his generosity. In time he spent all his wealth and became poor. Meanwhile most of the people who benefited from his wealth when he was rich deserted him. But his lot did not change his mind or his beliefs; he continued to pray to God and continued to help people when he can. One night he had a dream in which a holy man said: “Dharam Das, there is one way for you to become wealthy again. Tomorrow I will be passing by the tall tree in front of the temple at about noon time. I will then stop by the shade and sleep there. All you need to do is to pick up my staff and hit me on my head. My body will turn into a heap of gold. You can take all the gold and begin your humanitarian work.”  Dharam Das woke up after the dream and thought about his dream. He was not sure if it was a prophetic dream or just an ordinary dream but decided to check it out. The next day Dharam Das went to the place and behold there was a man that looked like the one he saw in his dream. The man walked past the tall tree and went to the shade, put down his staff and sack and went to sleep.

Dharam Das thought about the idea of killing his fellow creature just for wealth but his humanitarian heart told him to care for the man and not to kill him. So he sat near the man to protect him as he slept. When the holy man woke up he asked: “Why didn’t you kill me? You just missed a chance of a lifetime but I’ll give you a second chance.” Dharam Das said, “No, master, give me as many chances as you want but I am not here to kill you but to protect you, that is the whole purpose of life-to take care of each other.” The holy man was touched by the wisdom of Dharam Das and placed his hand on his head and blessed him. When Dharam Das opened his eyes the holy man was gone but left behind a sack full of gold coins.

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, etc?

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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