What baha'is do

Bahá'ís understand that the practical realization of unity envisioned in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh will not come about through the efforts of a few people acting alone, no matter how noble their aims. Rather, it will require a growing community, unified in thought and action, engaged in an ongoing process of education.

In all types of settings, Bahá’ís are learning how to foster gatherings for friends and neighbors to unite in prayer and explore how to draw from spiritual forces like love, service and an attraction to beauty that provide meaning to our individual and collective lives; how to tend to the spiritual aspirations of children and make their education central to community and family life; how youth and young people, whether Bahá’í or not, can be given particular assistance in navigating crucial stages of their lives, to carry out acts of service and help their communities progress spiritually and materially. Women and men, young and old alike, are invited to wholeheartedly participate.

A pivotal concept in the Bahá’í teachings is that the refinement of one’s inner character and service to humanity are inseparable facets of life. In light of this, Bahá’ís have come to appreciate the operation of a two-fold purpose that is fundamental to their lives: to attend to their own spiritual and intellectual growth and to contribute to the transformation of society.

In pursuit of this personal and community wide transformation, Bahá’ís the world over participate in core activities.  There are four generally recognized core activities: study circles, devotional meetings, children’s classes and junior youth groups.

Study Circles

Study circles are a series of courses designed to help individuals create a conscious basis of a life of service to humanity, and to find practical applications of spiritual principles. They are usually conducted in small groups with one individual serving as a tutor to facilitate the learning process.  Study circles combine study of the text at hand with acts of service and community development. The most commonly used material for study circles is the Ruhi curriculum, though other curricula exist.

Devotionals

Regular devotional meetings are essential to the spiritual life of the community. They serve to both reinforce the spiritual growth of the individual and foster the dynamics of love and unity within the community. The programs are simple and free from rituals. People may gather in the local Baha’i Center or in someone’s home. Music and candles may be used to create a meditative and reflective atmosphere. Sometimes writings may be pre-selected and focused on a specific topic. Devotional meetings are open to all and you are warmly welcomed to join us.

Children’s Classes

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.

–Baha’u’llah

As children are the future of the community, their spiritual education is viewed by Baha’is as the most important and meritorious of services. In light of this, the Baha’i community offers children’s classes at Baha’i centers and other venues, so that the classes may be available to as many children as possible.

Each child is unique, endowed by God with specific talents and faculties. The purpose of the classes is to assist children to acquire spiritual qualities and an upright character, revealing those gems latent within them. Lessons include various modes of learning, memorization of quotations, storytelling, games, songs and art.

Children should be instructed using an attitude of love and understanding, guiding their behavior in order to create a joyful and disciplined learning environment, respecting the nobility of the children. Special training helps teachers to increase their understanding of the Baha’i principles on education and to conduct the classes with love and discipline.

Some of the spiritual qualities taught:

Generosity

Justice

Kindness

Unity

Courage

Truthfulness

Reliance on God

Love

Trustworthiness

Humility

Service to Humanity

 

Junior Youth Empowerment Programs

Junior youth classes help youth ages 11-14 develop spiritual and intellectual capacities. The classes combine learning with service, teaching youth to put spiritual principles into practice in their lives. The curriculum helps them to enhance their spiritual perception and make sound moral decisions.

Youth at this age are at an important part of their lives, where they will be making decisions and forming habits that will have a great deal of influence on their character as they grow older. Junior youth classes help them to understand how they can develop a sound character through spiritual understanding and upright conduct. The philosophy behind the classes assumes that youth at this age have great potential, and that even at a young age they can make a valuable contribution to the betterment of the world. Junior youth classes help them to achieve this potential.

The classes also help youth develop the power of expression through the arts. Classes may include singing, drama, crafts and other art forms to help teach spiritual principles. The classes are designed to be engaging for the youth while instilling in them positive values.

It is essential then that ever-growing numbers of those in the prime of their lives “steel themselves for a life of service” to society. Naturally, many matters occupy their time and energy: education, work, leisure, spiritual life, physical health. But they learn to avoid a fragmented approach to life that fails to see the connections among life’s various aspects. Such a disjointed view of life often makes individuals fall victim to the false choices suggested in questions such as whether one should study or serve, advance materially or contribute to the betterment of others, pursue work or become dedicated to service. Failure to approach one’s life as a coherent whole often breeds anxiety and confusion.

Through service, young people can learn to foster a life in which its various aspects complement each other.  Thus, for example, they are not only expected to pray and reflect daily in their personal lives, but also to make efforts to infuse their surroundings with a devotional spirit; they are asked, not only to deepen their own knowledge of the Faith, but also to share with others Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings; they are not only admonished to learn to resist the dictates of the ego in their own lives, but also to strive, with courage and humility, to reverse the tendencies of a culture that glorifies self-gratification and erodes the foundations of solidarity.

In selfless service to society is the possibility for both personal growth and enhancing capacity to contribute to social progress. “Service to humanity is service to God”, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stressed. Through directing our talents and abilities to the elevation of society, we “become the cause of the tranquility of the world of creation”. As we infuse our day-to-day activities with a spirit of generous giving, and offer voluntary acts for the well-being of others, they attract the assistance and confirmations of God.