Shadow puppet show in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
This article is for those of you who either feel “terrified”, or maybe just simply “at a loss” when it comes to integrating the arts into your study circles. You know that we are urged by the Ruhi Institute to “include artistic endeavours in the activity of every study circle”, and that we should not think of these endeavours as “entertainment or as an extracurricular activity…but as an essential element enhancing the spiritual development of the participants”.
But how do we do this when we don’t feel necessarily musical, artistic, or dramatic? Continue reading →
Meetup.com is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in over 196 countries. It’s typically used by people wanting to practise a new language, meet people in a new city, or dress up as wizards and play dungeons and dragons. So my friends and I thought, why don’t we start a devotional on Meetup.com for people who are interested in having soulful reflections?
We live in Melbourne, Australia, and one year on and we’ve had 105 people express their interest by joining the group. We’ve held 19 Meetups with an average of 11 people attending each time. The diversity of backgrounds and views has made it a fascinating way to meet people from our local area who are looking to have meaningful conversations.
Based on our experience and our learnings, here are five tips for starting a devotional of your own using Meetup.com: Continue reading →
As Baha’is, we know that education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. As a mother, I have always found the first two kinds relatively easy to manage. When it comes to their spiritual education however, I tend to feel a little more uneasy, especially since Abdu’l-Baha refers to this kind of education as the “true” kind when he says:
Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education…
The pressure is mounted with the following quote:
Training in morals and good conduct is far more important than book learning. A child that is cleanly, agreeable, of good character, well-behaved – even though he be ignorant – is preferable to a child that is rude, unwashed, ill-natured, and yet becoming deeply versed in all the science and arts. The reason for this is that the child who conducts himself well, even though he be ignorant, is of benefit to others, while an ill-natured, ill-behaved child is corrupted and harmful to others, even though he be learned. If, however, the child be trained to be both learned and good, the result is light upon light.
A few of the mothers in our community recently decided to start a children’s class specifically for those aged between zero and five. These preschool classes aim to encourage the development of morals and good conduct in our young ones, with each lesson based on a different virtue and featuring prayer, singing, stories and crafts.
Below are the 10 main steps we took when starting up the preschool classes: Continue reading →
Members of a community in Brazil plant flowers. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
Baha’is and their friends around the world are currently engaged in a process of community-building that primarily consists of four core activities: the education of children, the spiritual empowerment of junior youth, the strengthening of the devotional character of communities through prayer gatherings and collective worship, and engagement in the institute process which serves both to deepen our understanding of the Baha’i teachings and to develop our skills to carry out these various acts of service. These are obviously not the only arenas of service for Baha’is. For example, the Universal House of Justice has begun to increasingly emphasize the role Baha’is play in social action, or efforts to improve the social and material conditions of our communities, as well as public discourse, or the infusion of Baha’i ideals into spaces dedicated to discussing social issues such as the media, governments, and civil society organizations. Continue reading →
One of the interesting features of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) is the fact that the arts are used to explore the various concepts presented in the series of books the particpants go through. While the use of the arts is something which happens organically and the participants themselves are encouraged to come up with artistic ways and ideas to explore these concepts, sometimes sharing ideas of activities can help to get things going.
So if you’ve got a junior youth group and are looking for some more ideas of activities to help you jump-start those creative engines, here are three ideas we’ve used with our junior youth groups which are a lot of fun and may help! Continue reading →
Study circle participants in Biharsharif, India (Image courtesy Baha’i World Centre)
Several weeks ago we conducted a Baha’i Blog survey, and many of the survey participants said that they liked the posts relating to the Institute Process and wanted more.
Of the eight articles we publish every month, we always try to have at least one of them relate to the Institute Process in some way, and so here’s a roundup of 22 Baha’i Blog articles we’ve published over the last few years which relate in various ways to the Institute Process. Continue reading →
Towards a Better Society is a new 53 minute documentary from the Baha’i Community of the United Kingdom which follows the movement of youth; before, during and after the London Youth Conference in 2013.
The London Youth Conference was one of 114 Youth Conferences announced by the Universal House of Justice across the globe, and the documentary captures the personal stories of young people from Camberwell (London), Sheffield and Ennis (Republic of Ireland) as they strive to work towards building a better society.
Hopefully this film will serve as an inspiring resource and tool for furthering the community building efforts at the grassroots.
A Baha’i shares the message of Baha’u’llah with her neighbour in Norte del Cauca, Colombia. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
For many of us, determining our role in the current Five Year Plan can be a major struggle. The Baha’i community is progressing and learning at such a rapid rate that it can seem difficult to keep up. There may also be certain community initiatives that are new to us and make us feel uncomfortable, so we watch others conduct the teaching work as we try and find our place.
In its most recent Ridvan message, the Universal House of Justice praised and encouraged our global teaching efforts and indicated that there is no formula to how we serve the current plan. During each cycle of activity, several methods of teaching can be employed depending on the characteristics of each population. The Supreme Body states: Continue reading →
The Baha’i World Centre has just released a series of 11 short videos commissioned by the Universal House of Justice which are collectively called To Serve Humanity.
The Baha’i World News Service (BWNS) explained that “To Serve Humanity explores, through the diverse voices of a few of the 80,000 young people who participated in the 114 gatherings, the ways in which young people can contribute to the spiritual and material well-being of their communities. As the young participants articulate insights on themes covered at each conference, what it means for their generation to be dedicated to the service of humanity is brought to life. Continue reading →
Junior Youth in Banting Malaysia. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
Most Baha’is, both young and old, can accept that the future of our community and the driving force behind its growth will be the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program – or JYSEP.
What fewer Baha’is can reconcile with is their role within this movement. There are children who become junior youth, and junior youth who become participants, and “older” youth who become the animators that accompany them.
And then there’s the rest of us.
If you’re a youth in spirit though not in reality, you may feel you are on the periphery of a phenomenon. As we are encouraged more and more to support the youth, to support this Program, it is easy to ask, “But, how?” if you are neither a youth nor part of this Program.
It is, of course, never too late to become an animator of a junior youth group, particularly if you are in a cluster, community or neighbourhood, in which the need outweighs the available resources.
If, for whatever reason, serving as an animator is not feasible for you, there are still a number of ways you are able to contribute to the JYSEP. Continue reading →