Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 40: PEER PRESSURE


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 PEER PRESSURE. 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.

Peer Pressure is a social pressure by a peer group on an individual to behave like the peer group like wearing baggy clothes (sagging), smoking, drinking, having a relationship with the opposite sex when you are psychologically and mentally not ready. I have given negative examples because that is what most parents think about when they hear the phrase “Peer Pressure” and it often refers to teenagers who are struggling with identity issues. But peer pressure is not always negative; it could be positive when a greater percentage of the peer group is made up of people who are doing the same positive thing, it puts the pressure on the remaining members to do the same thing in order to fit in. An example is when a greater percentage of the members of a peer group belong to a football team, a basketball team or a choir. It puts the pressure on the remaining ones to do the same. I have personally benefited from peer influence because I met my spiritual teacher through my peer group. Thus peers could be a source of good but our presentation will center on the negative influences of peer pressure.

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 I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine. Bruce Lee
2 Talk to your children about peer pressure. Explain what a powerful force it can be, and tell them that you will never accept the excuse that everyone did it! - Tom McMahon
3 No child is immune to peer pressure. Kathi Hudson
4 The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught. He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept. John W. Gardner
5 “Conformity is that jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”  John F. Kennedy
6 “You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note.” Doug Floyd
7 “Just because something is tradition doesn't make it right.” Anthony J. D'Angelo
8 “All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.” Adlai Stevenson
9 “Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
10 “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” Mark Twain

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 Liberation comes from living the holy Word. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sri Raga, Ashtpadi 14.8, M.1, p. 62
2 Truth is said to be the one unequaled means of purification of the soul. Truth is the ladder by which man ascends to heaven, as a ferry plies from one bank of a river to another. Hinduism. Narada Dharma Sutra 1.210
3 As a strong wind blows down a weak tree, Mara the Tempter overwhelms weak people who, eating too much and working too little, are caught in the frantic pursuit of pleasure. As the strongest wind cannot shake a mountain, Mara cannot shake those who are self-disciplined and full of faith. Buddhism. Dhammapada 7-8
4 My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them. Judaism, Tanakh: Proverbs 1:10
5 Those who live in accordance with the divine laws without complaining, firmly established in faith, are released from karma. Those who violate these laws, criticizing and complaining, are utterly deluded, and are the cause of their own suffering. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 3.31-32
6 Confucius remarked, "The life of the moral man is an exemplification of the universal moral order (chung yung). The life of the vulgar person, on the other hand, is a contradiction of the universal moral order. "The moral man's life is an exemplification of the universal order, because he is a moral person who unceasingly cultivates his true self or moral being. The vulgar person's life is a contradiction of the universal order, because he is a vulgar person who in his heart has no regard for, or fear of, the moral law." Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 2
7 Because perfect wisdom tames and transforms him, wrath and conceit he does not increase. Neither enmity nor ill-will take hold of him, nor is there even a tendency towards them. He will be mindful and friendly.... It is wonderful how this perfection of wisdom has been set up for the control and training of the Bodhisattvas. Buddhism. Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 3.51-54
8 Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Judaism, Tanakh: Proverbs 13:20
9 People under delusion accumulate tainted merits but do not tread the Path. They are under the impression that to accumulate merits and to tread the Path are one and the same thing. Though their merits for alms-giving and offerings are infinite. They do not realize that the ultimate source of sin lies in the three poisons within their own mind. Buddhism. Sutra of Hui Neng 6
10 One who is rich in the enlightenment will not indulge in any sinful action, since his conscience is guided by the intellect fully illumined with Truth. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.174

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?

Once upon a time Akim grew up in a moral and practical family. The family is moral in the sense that they practice the golden rule and they are practical in the sense that they learn from the world. With this background Akim’s parents raised him to love all creatures without conditions and to stay out of trouble by all means. Akim’s parents also advised their son never to smoke or take any type of drugs because they were bad for his health and well being. After his elementary education Akim met Abu, a successful young man who is a little older than him. Abu had a job as a typist with a local company. Akim had no job but he was preparing to begin High School in the next school year. Meanwhile there was a local festival and Akim went there to see what was going on. As soon as he was close to the festival Abu called Akim and offered him a cigarette. Akim didn’t know that Abu smoked and was surprised. “Thanks but I do not smoke”, Akim said. “What do you mean you do not smoke”, Abu asked. “Cigarette is good for you and it could even make you smarter in High School”, Abu encourage Akim. Akim was tempted by the thought that it could make him smarter but he remembered his parent’s advice and simply walked away from Abu and that was the end of their friendship.

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 deal with peer influences. It is taken from the Universal Holy Book, the Book of Life 6:48-89 Dealing with Peer Influences

Quite often you will find acceptance from your peers than from your parents. Quite often you will find support from your peers than from your parents. Quite often you will find understanding from your peers than from your parents. It may seem to you at this period that your peers love you more. But make no mistake about the love of your parents. You are part of your parents. You are not part of your peers. Your parents love you and they want the best for you. Your peers pretend to love you and they want to be the best. Your parents are a permanent part of you. Your peers are a temporary part of you. Your parents will be there for you at the end of the day. Your peers will go to their homes at the end of the day. Your parents will be there for you for as long as they live. Your peers will not be there after this phase. Investigate peer pressure before you conform. Avoid peer pressure that involves drinking alcohol, using drugs, and smoking. Have nothing to do with peer pressure that involves marital experimentation. Boycott peer pressure that involves participating in an unethical behavior.  The consequences of some of these actions could be deadly.  And you may not have a second chance. Confide in your parents about the pressures you face among your peers.  They know this world better than you do or your peers. Your parents understand what it means to be accepted by your peers. Go for the gold when associating with peer groups. Associate with one that is concerned with excellence. Associate with the virtuous, wise, humble, patient, kind, sincere, courageous, honest, and industrious people. Why? You are here to be the best. Look up to the best! It is very important that you make the right choices in these formative years.  Good choices will become the foundation for a happy and prosperous adult life.  Bad choices will also become the foundation for a life of failure and heartache. This is your life and it is your life alone, not the life of your peers! Be in control of it and make the best use of it.

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 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, 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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