Circles of study, open to all, enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing and explore the application of the Bahá’í teachings to their individual and collective lives. Bahá’í study circles provide participants with the knowledge, spiritual insights and skills to enable them to contribute to the betterment of society, starting with their own neighborhood. This is done through systematic study of a sequence of courses based on the Bahá’í Writings using the courses of the Ruhi Institute.
Study circles are held all around the region and across the globe. Study circles are held in an uplifting environment conducive to the spiritual empowerment of individuals, who come to see themselves as active agents of their own learning. The role of the study circle facilitator is not to impart knowledge, but to assist discussion, learning, and action. Study circles feature participatory learning, carrying out acts of service, and the use of the arts.
A brief description of each book in the sequence can be found below.
The first book in the sequence of courses is largely concerned with the question of identity. What is the real identity of the “I” in the sentence “I walk a path of service”? A group progressing through this book develops the capacity to understand and reflect on the Bahá’í Writings, to pray and to study prayers, and to shape a pattern of life known for its devotional character.
Book 2: Arising to Serve
Book 2 of the sequence explores the nature of a path of service and the manner in which it is to be trodden. An essential feature of community life is unity and fellowship. Participants think about the joy of service, sharing their faith, and acquiring the skills and abilities, knowledge and qualities, needed to enter into conversations with others that are uplifting to the mind and spirit.
Book 3: Teaching Children’s Classes Level 1, Teaching Children’s Classes Level 2, and Teaching Children’s Classes Level 3
A further act of service addressed by the Institute is the spiritual education of children. The education of children is essential to the transformation of society. Book 3 and its branches focus on some of the knowledge, skills and qualities necessary for those wishing to enter this important field of service. Participants learn to foster the development of spiritual qualities in small children with love and discipline.
Book 4: The Twin Manifestations
Book 4 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 Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, and His Forerunner, the Báb. Seeing clearly the elements that characterize the past enables individuals to contribute more effectively to shaping the future.
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. Book 5 focuses 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.
Book 6: Teaching the Cause
People from every walk of life are welcome to explore the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and learn how to apply them to better their lives. Although the sharing of Bahá’u’lláh’s message is one of the most essential services to be rendered, teaching is also a state of being – a state of being in which one is constantly sharing with others a gift.
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. Mutual accompaniment on a path of service to one’s community is central to the process of capacity building set in motion by the courses. Participants study the spiritual dynamics of advancing along a path of service, examine some of the concepts, attitudes, skills and abilities needed to accompany a group a friends on this path, and consider the role of the arts in the activity of a study circle.
Additional books in succeeding sequences are in development.