Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 4: TOLERANCE
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 TOLERANCE. 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!
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.
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
Tolerance is the capacity to accept and value others irrespective of their gender, religion, nationality, race or color. A tolerant person is often compassionate because he or she knows that all of us operate at different levels of consciousness. So the tolerant person does not judge anyone but accepts people as they are. A tolerant person is also knowledgeable and comfortable with diversity. Education opens our minds to see further than our immediate environment and in the process we see the world where we are all free to seek liberty and happiness according to our inclinations. The tolerant person knows that differences enrich us and each of us is only a part of the whole. So the tolerant person is at home in the many! And as the United States Declaration of Independence state: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (CREATURES) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
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 Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others. John F. Kennedy
2 In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher. Dalai lama
3 We need to promote greater tolerance and understanding among the peoples of the world. Nothing can be more dangerous to our efforts to build peace and development than a world divided along religious, ethnic or cultural lines. In each nation, and among all nations, we must work to promote unity based on our shared humanity. Kofi Annan
4 The highest result of education is tolerance. Helen Keller
5 Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another's beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them. Joshua Liebman
6 Tolerance and celebration of individual differences is the fire that fuels lasting love. Tom Hannah
7 Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself. Robert G Ingersoll
8 True love means infinite tolerance for each others differences. M. K. Soni
9 The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority. Ralph W. Sockman
10 It is the duty of every cultured man or woman to read sympathetically the scriptures of the world. If we are to respect others' religions as we would have them respect our own, a friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty. Mohandas K. Gandhi
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.Truth has many aspects. Infinite truth has infinite expressions. Though the sages speak in divers ways, they express one and the same Truth. Ignorant is he who says, "What I say and know is true; others are wrong." It is because of this attitude of the ignorant that there have been doubts and misunderstandings about God. This attitude it is that causes dispute among men. But all doubts vanish when one gains self-control and attains tranquility by realizing the heart of Truth. Thereupon dispute, too, is at an end. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.15.
2. Do not break a promise, not that which you contracted with a non-Zoroastrian nor that with a co-religionist. Both are valid. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Mihir Yasht 10.2
3. Those who praise their own doctrines and disparage the doctrines of others do not solve any problem. Jainism. Sutrakritanga 1.1.50
4 Like the bee, gathering honey from different flowers, the wise man accepts the essence of different scriptures and sees only the good in all religions. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3
5. The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. But Peter made him get up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.” While talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. He said to them: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. Christianity: New Testament, Acts of the Apostles 10:24-28
6. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Christianity: New Testament, Matthew 7:1-5
7. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village. Christianity: New Testament, Luke 9:52-56
8. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Christianity: New Testament, 1 Corinthians 10:31-33
9. And he shall judge between many peoples and reprove mighty nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift the sword against nation; neither shall they learn war anymore. And they shall dwell each man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them move, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken. For all peoples shall go, each one in the name of his god, but we will go in the name of the Lord, our God, forever and ever. Judaism: The Tanakh, Micah 4:3-5
10. Comprehend one philosophical view through comprehensive study of another one. Jainism. Acarangasutra 5.113
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?
Heirs of Universal Love
There is no doubt many well meaning people feel very strongly about their beliefs which they hold to be the only TRUTH. But it is naive to think that others do not feel strongly about their own beliefs. Perhaps knowing that others are also like us is the first step toward acceptance and understanding." The introduction to the Universal Holy Book asked what would have happened to us if only one faith, or culture, or nation has the absolute Truth? Further the Holy Book invites you to imagine a scenario in which you woke up one morning and found that all your beliefs about your culture, family and people have been replaced by a text-the ABSOLUTE TRUTH, from a foreign land. Now assume that you are required to believe in alien Gods instead of the Gods of your people and you have no say in the matter because the alien Gods are the true Gods while your native Gods are false Gods. How would you feel? According to the Universal Holy Book "We don’t want to live in a world where one race or nation or culture has ABSOLUTE TRUTH". The Holy Book states: “From the look of things, such a text in the hands of any culture, race, nation or group of people will be the day the world will go down in darkness again. It will be slavery, colonization, holocaust, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and every evil imaginable by the human mind. Instead we want to live in a world where each individual is free to pursue spiritual truths in whatever way acceptable to him. Thus instead of trying to promote the truth in your religion or sacred text, promote and celebrate diversity. It is constricting and divisive to believe that only a certain group of people will be saved because of their affiliation, race or nationality but it is liberating and uniting to believe that we are all heirs of the glory of UNIVERSAL LOVE”!
Our second teaching story is a parable by Ebrahim Rashid:
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. What food might this contain?' The mouse wondered . He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap. Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!'
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, 'Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.' The mouse turned to the pig and told him, 'There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!' The pig sympathized, but said, I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.' The mouse turned to the cow and said 'There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!' The cow said, 'Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose.'
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap . . . alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail was caught by the trap. The snake bit the farmer's wife.
The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever. Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig. The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them. The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness. So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember ----when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all involved in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.
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.
Most if not all of us feel very strongly about our religious or secular beliefs but is our belief worth anything if it separates us from the rest of creation? It has been said that what separates us cannot really be good for us but through tolerance we can find the missing link that binds us together. As an exercise find out some information about a different culture, religion or lifestyle and share with your brothers and sisters during the next meeting.
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.
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 St. Patrick (c.385-461)
May the Strength of GOD pilot us.
May the Power of GOD preserve us.
May the Wisdom of GOD instruct us.
May the Way of GOD direct us.
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.
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, 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?
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?