Study Circle and the courses of the Ruhi Institute

The purpose of Bahá’í study circles is to provide participants with the knowledge, spiritual insights and skills to enable them to contribute to the betterment of society, starting with their own neighbourhood.

This is a local, collaborative, self-directed learning process that is being undertaken around the world, to better understand our spiritual reality and purpose in life. Together with friends and neighbours, Bahá’ís gather in homes and other informal settings to study and reflect upon the Bahá’í teachings pertaining to individual and societal progress. Through the study of a sequence of courses, spiritual insights are gained and practical skills and capacities developed that place service at the heart of our lives.

Picture of an ongoing study

These gatherings are called Study Circles. The material and format of the Study Circles have been developed by the Ruhi Institute. Its model and method was developed over a period of more than two decades, beginning in the 1970s in Colombia, where a systematic and sustained programme of education in the Writings was devised and soon adopted in neighbouring countries. Influenced by the Colombian community’s parallel efforts in the field of social and economic development, the breakthrough was all the more impressive in the fact that it was achieved against a background of violence and lawlessness that was disrupting the life of the surrounding society

The courses of the Ruhi Institute

The courses of the Ruhi Institute are for the purpose of enhancing our capacity for service, or in other words, to help us “walk a path of service”.

Book 1- Reflections on the Life of the Spirit

The first book “Responds to the inmost longing of every heart to commune with its Maker. It awakes spiritual susceptibilities, and shapes a pattern of life distinguished for its devotional character.” This book is concerned with the question of identity. What is the real identity of the “I” in the sentence “I walk a path of service”? It consists of three units “Understanding the Bahá’í Writings”, “Prayer”, and “Life and Death”. Through these three units we explore three aspects of our spiritual identity:

  1. We strive to increase our understanding of Bahá'u'lláh’s teachings, and learn to apply them to our own daily lives and to the life of the community.
  2. Our most cherished moments are those spent in communion with God, for prayer is the daily nourishment that our souls must receive if it is to accomplish its exalted purpose.
  3. The reality of our existence is our souls which pass through this world to acquire the attributes they need for an eternal and glorious journey towards God.

Book 2 - Arising to Serve

Book 2 contributes to the enhancement of two capabilities we all must acquire, those of conversing on spiritual matters and of nurturing others. In this context it explores the nature of a path of service and the manner in which it is to be trodden. It includes:

  1. The Joy of Teaching
  2. Deepening Themes
  3. Introducing Bahá’í Beliefs

Book 3 - Teaching Children’s Classes

This book is concerned with the spiritual education of children, which is essential to the transformation of society. Many who study the book do not actually intend to teach children’s classes. Yet everyone has to pay attention to this responsibility of paramount importance. Book 3 focuses on the knowledge, skills and qualities necessary for those wishing to enter this important field of service. The units include:

  1. Some Principles of Bahá’í Education
  2. Lessons for Children's Classes
  3. Conducting Classes for Children

This book reviews the importance of education, and gives tools for teachers. The classes include games, songs, and various arts and crafts.

Book 4 - The Twin Manifestations

The theme that runs throughout Book 4 is that of crisis and victory and their impact on the progress of the Bahá’i Faith. It is important that the participants studying this book acquire a profound understanding of this process. Book 4 in the main sequence returns to the question of identity, the “I” in the statement “I walk a path of service”. History shapes much of the identity of individuals, as well as entire peoples. The second and third units in the book are dedicated to the study of the life history of Bahá'u'lláh, the Author of the Bahá’í Faith, and His Forerunner, the Báb.

This book reviews the importance of the Bahá’í revelation, and retells many of the famous stories of the two founding figures in the Bahá’í Faith.

Book 5 - Releasing the Powers of Junior Youth

Junior Youth are young people between the ages of twelve and fifteen and represent a special segment of society. This book enables someone who works with this age group (called an “animator”) to highlight the issues that may help them to deal with the complexities of life, combat the forces of moral decay and become active agents of social change.

This book has a special place in the sequence of the Ruhi Institute. According to the Bahá’í teachings, an individual reaches the age of maturity at 15, when spiritual and moral obligations become binding. The years immediately before this age, then, take on special significance. This is the time when fundamental concepts about individual and collective life are formulated in the mind of an adolescent struggling to leave behind the habits of childhood. Youth between the ages of 12 to 15 have much to say, and whoever treats them as children misses the opportunity to help them form a proper identity. The three units that make up Book 5 focus on some of the concepts, skills, qualities, and attitudes that experience has shown are required by those wishing to implement a program for the spiritual empowerment of junior youth.

The trained facilitators “assist junior youth to navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and to become empowered to direct their energies toward the advancement of civilization.” The Video “Frontiers of Learning” documents the effectiveness of the Junior Youth Program in various parts of the world Click here for the Junior Youth Programme in Toronto, Canada.

Book 6 - Teaching the Cause

People from every walk of life are welcome to explore the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and learn how they can apply them to better their lives. As these teachings are explored and applied, it is natural to share them liberally and unconditionally with others.

The theme of walking a path of service (“being” and “doing”) runs through the three units of Book 6. The first unit of Book 6 is about “The Spiritual Nature of Teaching”. The next two units, “The Qualities and Attitudes of the Teacher” and “The Act of Teaching”, examine various notions about the nature of teaching in light of the Bahá’í writings and how it should be approached, emphasizing the importance of adopting a posture of learning.

Book 7 - Walking Together on a Path of Service

Book 7 is dedicated to an act of service crucial to the functioning of the Ruhi Institute itself, namely, helping a group of individuals go through the initial six courses in the sequence. That individuals accompany one another on a path of service to their communities is central to the process of capacity building set in motion by the courses. The first unit of the book, “The Spiritual Path,” raises awareness of the spiritual dynamics of advancing along a path of service and increases understanding of the forces at work. The second unit, “Becoming a Tutor of Books 1-6,” examines some of the concepts, attitudes, skills and abilities that contribute to the capability of helping a group of friends to go through the earlier courses.

This is generally done by bringing together eight or ten people in what is termed a “study circle”. The third unit, “Promoting the Arts at the Grassroots,” is designed to create appreciation for the role of artistic endeavours in the activity of a study circle.