Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 5: LOVE

Introduction
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 LOVE. 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.

Announcements
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.

Love has been talked about by both great and small; it has also been written about in all the sacred texts but quite often we misunderstand what love is. For starters love is not dependence; love is not domination; love is not just a feeling; love is not what you could get from the one you love; and love is not a sexual attraction. Love is something deeper than all these and by the time you finish this Study you might have the insights to come up with your own definition of love.

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 Do all things with love Og Mandino
2 If you want to be loved, be lovable Ovid
3 Some love lasts a lifetime. True love lasts forever. Anonymous
4 What the heart gives away is never gone. It is kept in the hearts of others. Robin St. John
5 Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. Lao-Tzu
6 The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. Mother Teresa
7 Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence. Erich Fromm
8 Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river. Malagasy Proverb
9 Love is a symbol of eternity. It wipes out all sense of time, destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. Author Unknown
10 Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. Robert Heinlein

Sacred Text 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 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Christianity: New Testament-Bible, Matthew  5.43-45
2 He who offers to me with devotion only a leaf, or a flower, or a fruit, or even a little water, this I accept from that yearning soul, because with a pure heart it was offered with love. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.26
3 For hate is not conquered by hate; hate is conquered by love. This is a law eternal. Buddhism. Dhammapada 1:5
4 Have benevolence towards all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the indolent and ill-behaved. Jainism. Tattvarthasutra 7.11
5 Hatred arouses quarrels, but love covers all transgressions. Judaism: The Tanakh-Proverbs 10:12
6 He who can find no room for others lacks fellow feeling, and to him who lacks fellow feeling, all men are strangers. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 23
7 Treat people in such a way and live amongst them in such a manner that if you die they will weep over you; alive they crave for your company. Islam (Shiite). Nahjul Balagha, Saying 9
8 The monk who is full of love and who fully lives in the law of Buddha, he follows the path of Nirvana, the path of the end of all sorrow, the path of infinite joy. Buddhism:  Dhammapada 25:368
9 Through my love to my devotees I demolish all strongholds of evils. I destroy all malicious forces when I help my dear devotees obeying Me. Hinduism: Rig Veda 4.26.3
10 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Christianity: New Testament 1 John 4:7

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?

The Deer Couple from Jarkata Tales

Once upon a time, there was a herd of deer grazing by the riverside, lead by a Deer King. One day, a hunter set up a trap to hunt animals, but unfortunately, as the herd of deer was grazing by the riverside, the Deer King was caught by the trap. He struggled and struggled against the trap, while the other deer were so scared that they all ran away. But, a female deer did not escape. She stayed with the Deer King and said to him, "Before the hunter comes along, you better try all your strength to loosen the trap. May be you still have a chance to get away with it." But, no matter how the Deer King tried, it was no use. Finally he said, "I am becoming weak now. There is no hope of escaping. You better go and take care of yourself." At this time, they saw the hunter was coming. . "You see," said the Deer King, "that black faced man must be the hunter. He is wearing a deer-skin robe and he will kill me for my skin and for my meat." On hearing this, the female deer approached the hunter and confronted him, "Mr. hunter, you may kill me first, before you kill the Deer King." The hunter was surprised by the courage of the female deer and asked, "What is the relationship between two of you?" "He is my husband," replied the female deer. "I love him so much that I am willing to die for him. We cannot be separated from each other. Now, if you want to kill him, you should kill me first!" The hunter was startled by what he had just heard, "she is a very loving wife! I never seen any thing like this before." He was so moved that he told the female deer, "I have never come across such a loving wife before. How can I be so cruel to separate both of you. OK, I will release your husband and let both of you go. I will pray for your love with each other." Having said that, the hunter cut loose the Deer King and let them go. The female deer was so happy and said, "Thank you very much. I, my husband and my herd are so grateful to your compassion." Having finished the above story, the Buddha told his disciples, "In our former lives, I was the Deer King and Yasodhara (Note 2) was the female deer. She had always been by my side, supporting me and suffering because of my deeds. Other couples may be separated or even divorced, but not us."

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 are we conscious of our environment? Quite often we behave as though we are the only people that live on the planet. We do not notice our fellow human beings let alone the squirrels, plants, pets and birds. If we have love in our hearts we will be aware of our neighbors and be there to help them when they need help.

Donations
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 Adversity—Author Unknown

Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth.
Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.
Lead me from hate to love, from war to peace.
Let peace fill my heart, my world, my universe.

In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen

Refreshments
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.

Health
1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods, etc?

Spirituality
1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?

Family
1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?

Relationships
1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?

Education
1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?

Mission
1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?

Finances
1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?

Work
1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?

Play
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?

Environment
1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?

Creativity
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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