Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 58: UNIVERSAL LOVE

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 UNIVERSAL 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.

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.

Universal Love is the unconditional LOVE that the Universe bestows on all things. It also denotes the Love we aught to render to all creatures as well as the underlying Spirit of the Universe. According to the Universal Holy Book, UNIVERSAL LOVE supports the material Universe. UNIVERSAL LOVE enriches the life of every creature within the Universe. UNIVERSAL LOVE loves all creatures without conditions. You are LOVED in spite of your nationality, culture, race or color. You are LOVED irrespective of the choices you make or have made in the past. UNIVERSAL LOVE is not concerned with your beliefs, affiliations, economic background, social status, position in life, or birth circumstances. UNIVERSAL LOVE only cares for your good. You are a hereditary heir of UNIVERSAL LOVE. And any one who realizes this TRUTH is not only saved but will also be healed, be prosperous, be joyful and be at peace! 

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 Love the whole world as a mother loves her only child. Buddha
2 I love you my brother whoever you are whether you worship in your church, kneel in your temple, or pray in your mosque. You and I are all children of one faith for the diverse paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand of one Supreme Being, a hand extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, eager to receive all. Kahil Gibran
3 There are two ways to live your life. One is to live as though nothing is a miracle. The other is to live as though everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein
4 No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future that is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see, and to see we have only to look. Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging the gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy, or hard. Remove the covering and you find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom with power. Welcome it, grasp it and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there; the gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence. Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts. Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth that cloaks your heaven. Courage, then, to claim it; that is all! But courage you have and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home. Fra Giovanni
5 He who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire. Lao Tzu
6 I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.” Jessie Belle Rittenhouse
7 “Be universal in your love. You will see the Universe to be the picture of your own being.” Sri Chinmoy
8 “In water and on land, in trees, shrubs, and creepers-everywhere in the whole universe abides my Beloved. Further, all the various forms and modes of being that we behold, are they not expressions of my Beloved? For there is none save Him. He is smaller than the smallest, and greater than the greatest.” Sri Anandamayi
9 If you love God, you can't hate anything or anyone. If the love one offers is met with hate, it doesn't die, rather it manifests in the form of compassion. That is universal love. It is not just a sentiment. It cannot be manifested merely by a shift in mental disposition. It can only come from inner cleaning, an inner awakening. Radhanath Swami
10 To fill the human heart with compassion, mercy and universal love, which should radiate to all countries, nations and peoples of the world. To make a true religion of the heart as the ruling factor in one's life. To enable each one to love God, love all, serve all, and have respect for all, as God is immanent in all forms. My goal is that of oneness. I spread the message of oneness in life and living. This is the way to peace on earth. This is the mission of my life, and I pray that it may be fulfilled. Kirpal Singh

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 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. ChristianityNew TestamentLuke 6:35
2 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are on all His works. Tanakh: Psalm 145.8-9
3 God drives away flies for a cow which has no tail. Orisha, Yoruba Religion
4 He [God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Christianity: New Testament, Matthew 5.45
5 The Tao is the asylum of all things; the good man’s treasure, the bad man’s last resort. Toaism: Tao Te Ching 62
6 His (Jesus) disciples said to him: On what day will the kingdom come? (Jesus said:) It will not come while people watch for it; they will not say: Look, here it is, or: Look, there it is; but the kingdom of the father is spread out over the earth, and men do not see it. Gnosticism: Gospel of Thomas, Saying 113
7 The ninth perfection is: Loving-kindness. As water quenches the thirst of the good and the bad alike, and cleanses them of dust and impurity, so also shall you treat your friend and your foe alike with loving-kindness. Buddhism: Suta-Pitika; Buddha-Vasma
8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Christianity: New Testament: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
9 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Christianity: New Testament, 1 John 4.7-8
10 ‘Even as the radiance of the sun shines everywhere in space, so does the glory of God rule over all his creation. In the unfolding of his own nature he makes all things blossom into flower and fruit. He gives to them all their fragrance and color. He, the ONE, the only God who rules the universe’. Hinduism: Svetasvatara Upanishad(P.93). 

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?

Our Teaching story is the Parable of the Wise African Prince

Once upon a time an African Prince, a graduate of Harvard University and a world traveler wanted to make his mark in the world before he ascends the throne and decided to become a missionary in a remote Island and spread the teachings of the New Spiritual Vision for the world. His father and the elders were visionaries of a Universal Spiritual Reality and were excited at the prospect of the heir willing to spread the Universal Spiritual Vision. They saw their influence abroad as the beginning of a new world order that unites all people.

The basic teachings of the New Spiritual Vision are as follows:

LOVE is the underlying MYSTERY of the Universe.
LOVE has no Sacred Texts but pervades the Universe.
LOVE has no chosen people but is within all creatures.
LOVE enriches the life of every creature in the Universe.
LOVE nourishes all creatures without conditions or requirements.
You are loved irrespective of the choices you make or have made in the past.
You are loved without regard to your race, color, nationality, culture or belief.
LOVE is not concerned with your birth circumstances or social status.
LOVE does not care about your affiliation or position in life.
LOVE only cares for your good and well being.
You are a hereditary heir and custodian of LOVE.
And anyone who realizes this TRUTH is not only saved
But will also be healed, be prosperous, be joyful and be at peace.

With this background the Prince left for the Island and landed in one remote village. It was the end of the typhoon season and he was greeted with destructions, deaths, orphans, the homeless and the hungry all over the Island. He could not believe the devastation and he started to feel homesick. But there was no time to waste because the survivors need help in rebuilding the Island. Everywhere he went he saw people trying to recover what is left from the destruction and he did whatever he could to help. Overwhelmed with the need and the loss he took time out to meditate on the nature of his missionary work when he realized that what the people needed was his humanity. And he added: “But in serving the people I will also be doing the work or the Universal Spiritual Vision.” With this revelation he decided to meet with the Islanders to discuss their hopes and their aspirations.

There was no tap water. There was no school for the children. There was no direct transportation to the nearest big city. There was no clinic and there was no viable economic activity to sustain the Island. People just lived day by day and those who could afford the transportation leave for the big cities! The Prince thought there must be a better way and assured the people that there is a better way, but where do we go from here?, he asked. Then he recalled Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and said ‘we begin from the very bottom with what we have!’

Money was not an issue for the Prince for he could get whatever amount he wanted. But his plan does not include giving handouts. He believes all people are blessed to change their lives for the better; they just need to know how to do it. So they set out to set goals and plan for the living.

Their first goal was to build houses that would survive the cycle of destruction. Their second goal was to build a thriving economy in the Island. There were farmers, fishermen, artists, carvers and weavers. He lent each household a sum of money to invest in their occupation. The Prince was aware that lending the money was just the beginning of his efforts and that for it to succeed he needed to train the people in their trades and manage the resources with diligence. He set rules of conduct and behavior and encouraged and rewarded excellence in their works. They met daily on weekdays to share their progress, ask questions and obtain feedback and training from the Prince. They also used part of their disclosure meeting time for meditation and physical exercises. And for their inspiration they studied the Universal Sacred Texts every Sunday. The Prince ate their food, slept on the floor and learned to speak the local dialect.

In time the harvests started pouring in. The carvers brought their handcrafts, the weavers brought their baskets, the farmers brought their produce, the fishermen brought their fishes and so did everyone who participated in the program. In this way they were able to meet the needs of the community and beyond. Meanwhile the participants paid off their loans and with the extra income they now make they decided to invest in the good of the community. They re-built the roads, created parks including tennis and basketball courts.  Next they renovated the town market and acquired a boat for easy transportation.

The Prince on the other hand built a school, a clinic and an apartment complex. The clinic and the school were free for all Islanders but the apartments were offered to the community as rent to own. After 10 years of his “missionary work” it was time for the Prince to return home. Meanwhile all the people including children and the elderly became connected with the Prince and they were sad that he had to leave. But with love and goodwill in their hearts they organized a farewell party for the Prince.

In his farewell speech he told them the major reason why he came to the island. “I came to your Island to introduce a Universal Spiritual Vision but I was greeted with the devastation that you suffered. I was overwhelmed with what I saw and had a revelation to focus on your lives rather than on a vision. I have learned that what is important is not my vision but my service to you. But I believe that in serving you I am also doing the work for which I was sent. So I leave you with the satisfaction that I have made my mark. I thank you for the opportunity to serve” Then among the people the mayor of the Island stood up and said: If your Spiritual Vision is about all you have done for us then we are all part of this vision. That was how the Prince introduced the Universal Spiritual Vision to the Islanders. His success spread beyond the Island to all parts of the world. Thus through sacrifice, love and compassion the Prince made his mark and the Universal Spiritual Vision became known all over the world.

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.

Remember the ways you have benefited from life. Think of the day you realized a dream. What about the day a stranger found your lost item and returned it to you. Reflect on the love of your parents. Do not forget the joy of your friends. Now let us count the ways we can love our fellow creatures. For instance we can love our neighbor by sending a greeting card during a national holiday; we can love our friends by baby sitting for them; we can love our fellow human beings by attending their funerals; we can love our parents by keeping in touch with them regularly; we can love our clients or customers by granting their wishes without counting the costs. Make a list of the ways you can love others and begin doing it today.

Here is a lesson from Divine Parables by Anna Zubkova

… And the man went on and listened and looked …And he saw a Master of Soul, who loved God with all His heart. And then the man asked the Master: “Please, tell me: what is love taught by God? And how can one cognize it? How can one distinguish what is love and what is not? And the Master answered: “In wanting something for oneself — there is no love! There can be only passions, whims, and vicious desires… Love is the foundation of the Universe! Love is also the light of soul!”

And then the Master taught:

“The transparent flow of water is streaming and nourishing everyone; this is how God loves! “The Earth raises and carries on itself all the lives; this is how God loves! “The sun shines and gives its light to everything and everyone; this is how God loves! “You, too, should love, always giving your care with tenderness to everyone! “Love giving itself — this is the light of the soul! “Cultivate love inside you and you will be able to see and feel God!”

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.

The Daily Prayer by Dr. Sonari
O Love who pervades the Universe.
Bless this day with all the inhabitants in it.
Bless our day including our thoughts and our actions.
Bless our activities, our interactions and our hopes.
Give us the courage to ignite the Light within us.
And let IT glow wherever we go.
To enable us to help others to see their own Lights.
For our own Enlightenment and for the triumph of Universal Love.
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. 

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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