Juniour Youth Animation Programme
Study Circle Groups
IntroductionStudy circles are guided by a profound conviction in the basic nobility of the human being. The Bahá’í Writings state:
“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.
Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures,
and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.”
Education is not simply seen as the acquisition of knowledge and the development of skills, but also in terms of the development of vast and powerful potentialities inherent in the very nature of every human being. The development of these potentialities and talents, which is considered a God-given right and responsibility of the individual, attains fruition when it is pursued in the spirit of service to humanity and in the context of creating a new world civilisation that enshrines the wellbeing of all people.
"Think ye at all times of rendering some service to
every member of the human race"
-Bahá’í Writings, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
The purpose of a study circle is to provide participants with the knowledge, spiritual insights and skills which will enable them to “walk a path of service” to humanity. This is done through the study of a sequence of courses developed by the Ruhi Institute – each course or book concentrating on a specific path of service. The first study course in the sequence of books is called "Reflections on the Life of the Spirit".
The courses are based on the Bahá’í Writings, but are open to all, regardless of religious or cultural background. Discussion, participatory learning and the use of the arts are essential to the learning process, and the role of the tutor of the study circle is to facilitate discussion, not to impart learning. All courses are free of charge and open for all people to access.
What does a Study Circle look like?A study circle usually consists of 6 to 8 people in a given locality, who, with the help of a tutor, study the programme’s sequence of courses together at their own pace. There is a great deal of flexibility in the functioning and membership of a study circle. Some groups may wish to meet once a week over an extended period, while others may choose to meet daily, or for a weekend every so often.
In a typical study circle, once all the participants have arrived at the chosen venue and greeted each other, the programme begins with a few prayers. This draws the group’s focus to the Divine and renews their sense of nobility of purpose. The participants will then begin studying the course material. This entails reading the selections from the Bahá’í Writings and discussing their meaning, as well as their applications to daily life and their implications on how we should be and act. The course also includes exercises and questions that stimulate discussion and provoke different angles of thought. The tutor may ask the discussion to be carried out in pairs or smaller groups, or as a whole group.
To maintain the attentiveness of the group there is usually a break time for refreshments where participants can also socialise and create meaningful bonds with each other. As each course includes a practical service outcome relating to the learning obtained, some of the time of the study circle will be dedicated to preparing the participants for the performance of this service.
The use of the Arts in the Study CirclesThe arts are a powerful means of expressing one's thoughts or feelings, even if one is not well versed in the arts. The Study Circles aim to create an environment where expression is undemanding and non-threatening, and is based on encouragement and joyful appreciation for one another. Participants are encouraged to be creative in expressing their learning and thoughts through the various forms of art – visual, dramatic, musical, etc.
The tutor endeavours to draw on the talents of the individuals in the group in order to both nurture the gift of the individual and to allow that individual to be of service to the group by sharing their gift. The arts are also frequently used in the carrying out of the service outcomes.
"All Art is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
These gifts are fulfilling their highest purpose,
when showing forth the praise of God"
Bahá’í Writings, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Reflections on the Life of the Spirit:"Reflections on the Life of the Spirit" is the first course in the sequence of courses, and is aimed at helping the participants advance in their path of service to humanity by recognising the spiritual forces which govern our day-to-day life. The book is comprised of three self contained units which can be viewed as describing three essential spiritual relationships: our relationship with others, our relationship with God and our relationship with our own inner self.
"Service to humanity is service to God"
Bahá’í Writings, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Unit 1: Understanding the Bahá’í Writings:The purpose of this unit is to develop the capacity to read the Bahá’í Writings and to meditate on their meaning. This unit introduces some of the Bahá’í Writings on topics such as the importance of pure and goodly deeds, the virtue of truthfulness, and the harmful impact of backbiting and conflict. This enables the participants to begin the process of actively re-examining and enhancing their social interactions at every level.
In this unit, one discovers that reading the Holy Writings is not the same as reading the thousands of pages that a literate person sees during a lifetime. To read the Sacred Word is to drink from the
Unit 2: PrayerThe purpose of this unit is to vitalise one’s relationship with God by understanding the importance of daily prayer and to develop the required attitudes of prayer. The unit reflects on three principal objectives.
Unit 3: Life After DeathThe purpose of this unit is to reflect on the life of the inner self, and to understand that life is not the changes and chances of this world; its true significance is found in the development of the soul. The theme of life and death has been included in the first book of the sequence because it is considered essential for participants’ understanding of the paths of service they will choose to follow. Service in this world has to be understood in the fullest context of life that extends beyond our earthly existence and continues forever as our souls progress through the worlds of God. This unit includes topics such as:
How life begins and what is death.
The Full SequenceAt the beginning of each book, or “path of service”, participants mostly learn and develop new concepts and skills. Later on, they participate in courses that prepare them to act as tutors of the earlier courses, thus creating a unique and dynamic environment for the development of human resources who will, in turn, guide others along this continuing path of service and for the spiritual, social, and cultural development of the community.
How to ParticipateAll of these activities take place on a regular basis all around
Alternatively you can contact Robin on 01926-774453
Ruhi Book 2