What is the purpose of Bahá’í Study Circles?
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. Study circles are held all around the United States and are open to all. 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. Study circles feature participatory learning, involving discussion with others, and the use of the arts.
What do Baha’is mean by building a “spiritual community?”
Baha’is believe that spiritually nurturing one’s self and others is a vital aspect of social change. Studying the Baha’i Faith’s texts, discussing them and putting them into action feeds our spirits and brings change for the better. Two actions will achieve this: individual prayer and meditation, matched with meeting regularly with others to consult on ways the Baha’i principles can be applied to improving communities through service.
This is beginning to happen in neighborhoods around the U.S. and across the world. Study circles, devotionals, classes for children, and junior youth empowerment programs for pre-teens are helping to create an uplifting environments where each individual is empowered to lend his or her talents to the improvement of the community.
It is vital that the individual and the society as a whole work on building their spirit and their communities because they are intertwined. From the Baha’i writings, it is said:
“We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.”
How do Baha’is meditate and what are the intended effects?
Like prayer, meditation “puts man in touch with God,” said Abdu’l-Baha (the son of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith). During meditation, “The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened . . . through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives Divine inspiration, through it he receives heavenly food . . .Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries.” As to how to meditate, there is no prescribed form. Baha’is are enjoined to meditate, but the manner in which they do so is left entirely to the individual.