(Photo courtesy: Baha'i World Centre)
In the Baha’i Faith, education is extremely important, and the Baha’i Writings explore and honour the noble station of the teacher, particularly in relation to the education of children. It is in this exchange between the learner and the teacher that education takes on meaning. 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
Participants of a Study Circle in Battambang, Cambodia (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
The word “accompaniment” has become a quintessential part of Baha’i “jargon”. As the Universal House of Justice wrote in their 2010 Ridvan Message, “the growing frequency with which the word ‘accompany’ appears in conversations among the friends” is in fact a sign of the evolution of a collective consciousness emerging among the Friends. Accompaniment is, as the House writes, “a word that is being endowed with new meaning as it is integrated into the common vocabulary of the Baha’i community” and signifies no less than the strengthening of a culture that fosters the participation of more and more people in a united effort to apply Baha’u’llah’s teachings to the construction of a divine civilization.
Accompaniment, like everything in the Baha’i Faith, is a concept that needs to be translated into action if it is to have any effect in achieving the vision described by Baha’u’llah and laid out by the Universal House of Justice.
What then can accompaniment look like as we advance from merely talking about it to carrying it out? Continue reading
Photo: Morris S
Over the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to participate, tutor, and be involved to varying degrees in numerous Baha’i study circles in different parts of the world. I’ve experienced very good ones, and ones that could use a little work. Ones that completed the Ruhi book we were working on, and ones that fizzled out before completion. Ones that were run at an extremely intensive and accelerated pace, and ones that took over a year to complete. Ones that brought people into the Faith, and ones that weren’t very well received by some of the participants.
The fact is that no matter what you think about study circles or what your involvement has been with them over the years, study circles have and continue to revolutionize many Baha’i communities worldwide, helping to change the overall culture of the Baha’i community – and I think for the better.
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and we’re all learning through action and reflection while continuously developing and working on improving our ‘posture of learning’, but I thought it would be interesting to look at just six of the ways study circles have helped the Baha’i community, so let’s take a look: Continue reading
I’m super happy to announce the release of MANA’s latest album Teaching the Cause, which is based on the passages found in the sixth book of the Ruhi sequence of books.
MANA is a Baha’i inspired music and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Islanders (mainly based in Australia), and over the last 10 years they’ve been putting the passages found in the Ruhi sequence of books to music.
Teaching the Cause is MANA’s fifth album, and their catchy tunes make the memorization of the passages easy and fun. As with all of MANA’s albums, the songs are predominantly in English, but they’re infused with various Pacific Island languages, rhythms and chants, something MANA has become well known for.
Over the last 10 years I’ve had the privilege of being heavily involved with the group, and sadly, this will be MANA’s last album, as the members of MANA are busy with other Baha’i initiatives and the group has spread out even more geographically, making it logistically more and more difficult to work on an album. Continue reading
The Ruhi Institute has made available for download, recordings of the songs contained in the new lesson plans for Grades 1 and 2 of the Teaching Children’s Class book.
These songs can be downloaded for free, and you can also download a page which contains both the lyrics and the chords for each song – so that’s pretty cool!
These materials can be used in both children’s classes and other educational activities, and The Ruhi Institute also permits the songs to be translated and recorded into various languages, provided that no recording be sold or used for commercial purposes in any way.
You can access the songs here: http://www.ruhi.org/resources/songs.php
Image by birdeye (Flickr)
On one occasion the Buddha asked several of the monks, “How often do you contemplate death?”One of them replied, “Lord, I contemplate death every day.””Not good enough,” the Buddha said, and asked another monk, who replied,”Lord, I contemplate death with each mouthful that I eat during the meal.””Better, but not good enough,” said the Buddha, “What about you?”The third monk said, “Lord, I contemplate death with each inhalation and each exhalation.” Mahaparinibbana Sutta
Last Saturday night, I was out for dinner with an old friend who was visiting from out of town. It was a typical Saturday night at the end of an even more typical week. I’d gone from one weekend to the next without even realising that a whole week had gone by – going from one thing to the next; trying to cross as many tasks off a to-do list as possible; scheduling in new appointments while waiting for Melbourne’s notoriously unreliable trains. Even dinner at a new restaurant seemed old and familiar – I’ve come to know this city like the back of my hand.
But then, I received a call from home that violently pulled me out of my comfortably predictable, routine-filled world in a second – a family member had passed away. In the hours and days that followed, I found myself in unfamiliar territory.
Death isn’t generally something we – as humans – tend to think very much about until life forces us to by confronting us with the reality and inevitability of death. Following that phone call, I rushed to cancel all my appointments and to catch the earliest flight back home. Much of the next 84 hours was spent shuttling to and from airports, waiting to board flights and trying (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep in between the turbulence and captain’s announcements. These long, empty hours and my need to make sense of a very emotional situation forced me to do something that I’ve realised we – as a society – simply don’t do enough: contemplate death.
It’s always inspiring seeing what Baha’is around the world are doing in their local communities. This video from Bahai.us, documents the story of one of the rougher neighbourhoods in Savannah, Georgia near a Baha’i Unity Center. Local Baha’is set out to involve the community in activities, to serve the community and to create a real bond with the surrounding neighbours through their center.
For me the most inspiring part is the men’s study circle that some of the local residents form, calling themselves One of Us, and doing a huge variety of service projects including taking local kids to baseball games, visiting nursing homes and serving at a soup kitchen. Eventually One of Us starts a really awesome community event called Movies on the Wall where they screen movies on a giant wall in a nearby vacant lot. Continue reading