Bahá’í’s want to build a better world for everyone.
To do this requires an ever-growing pool of people capable of contributing to this shared goal in many different ways. To be able to build the abilities and capacities of the community, Training Institutes were introduced by the Bahá’í Community in the mid-1990s. They are designed to support individuals to gain the spiritual insights and practical skills needed to carry out acts of service within their local communities, all through deepening their understanding of the Bahá’í teachings.
The nature of these training institutes, also known as Ruhi, can be understood as a series of books that stimulate learning and conversation among friends in social spaces —neighbourhoods, villages, schools, and workplaces— concerned with the betterment of the world. As the number of participants in these conversations grow, understanding of what is needed to achieve material and spiritual progress in each of these spaces grows with it. The principal elements of our system include the “study circle”, the tutor, and a set of materials —grounded in the Bahá’í writings— that help translate Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings into action.
A study circle typically is formed by a group of friends and acquaintances —usually 10 people— who meet once a week for a few hours in each others' homes to study the course materials developed by The Ruhi Institute. Anyone aged fifteen or older —whether a Bahá’í or not— is welcome to participate, and the group is facilitated by a tutor. Here, a tutor is defined as a person who has advanced further along the course materials, and strives to create a group atmosphere where everyone takes ownership over their own learning goals. Tutors do not have any special status in the group, and anyone can serve as one.
Course materials include passages from the Bahá’í writings related to specific acts of service. Together, participants think about the application of these passages to their individual lives and the community at large. Among the questions they explore are:
Acts of service arising from these groups include -but are not limited to- serving as a teacher for children's classes, as an animator for junior youth groups, as a host for devotional meetings, or as a tutor for study circles.