A Worldwide Development Process

Ruhi Institute | Walking a Path of Service | Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program |

A simultaneous worldwide development program unique in the history of the world

Bahá’u’lláh states that the purpose for which humankind has been created is “that they may work for the betterment of the world and live together in concord and harmony.” His teachings help make this possible. Building a society that consciously pursues this collective purpose is the work of not only this generation but of many generations to come. ~ The Universal House of Justice, 30 December 2021

Bahá’ís everywhere are engaged in a global process of learning that is helping to build their capacity to apply the teachings of Baha’u’llah to the transformation of society. Enhancing such capacity in the individual can be likened to walking a path of service. “And crucially, one walks the path in the company of others.” In a humble posture of learning.  This worldwide grassroots community development program started in Colombia and utilizes the courses of the Ruhi Institute. The Baha’i World Community now has the experience of the past twenty-five plus years to build on. 

In 2022 a wave of global conferences spread across the world in response to a call by the Universal House of Justice. (See video: Global Conferences: Striving for the greater good of humanity.

This global process, what Baha’is call a culture of learning, consists of: 

  • Gatherings for collective worship that strengthen the devotional character of the community 
  • Fostering a spirit of friendship and intimacy that transcends the barriers of race and class
  • Working together for a social order free of prejudice and characterized by unity in diversity
  • Learning to walk with others on the spiritual path, in a humble posture of learning, engaging in individual and collective service for the betterment of the world
  • Classes for the moral and spiritual education of children in which they develop their innate qualities such as truthfulness, kindness and compassion as well as recognizing the oneness of humanity and and appreciating the innate dignity and nobility of every human being plus a deep appreciation for the fundamental unity of the world’s religions
  • Groups that assist young people to navigate a crucial stage of their lives and to withstand the corrosive forces that especially target them
  • Circles of study wherein the participants reflect on the spiritual nature of existence and build capacity for service to the community and society
  • Home visits to build strong bonds of friendship, have meaningful conversations or to offer support by praying together
  • A program that recognizes the power of communities to unify, heal, and transcend differences
  • Finding those souls longing to shed the lethargy imposed on them by society and work alongside one another in their neighborhoods and villages to begin a process of collective transformation  
  • A process that seeks to raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development where everyone feels empowered to contribute to the betterment of all.
  • A cyclical pattern of reflection, consultation, planning, and action is put on a systematic basis, so that those involved learn from each cycle and are thus constantly improving their plans of action — an evolving, self-correcting method—what Baha’is call a culture of learning.

Note: You do not have to be a Baha’i to get involved—it is open to all. In fact, in some areas the majority of those participating are not Baha’is.

Transformation of the Individual and Society  

Is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions?  — Bahá’u’lláh

For Examples & Inspiration of this Development Process in Action:

A Rich Tapestry – Building vibrant communities across racial and cultural divides. A video storytelling series that expresses and illustrates how love is being translated into action to address questions of race and culture in the United States and a Navajo Indian Reservation. Bridging the Culture Gap for Immigrants in America

To Serve Humanity: This series of short films captures the insights and conversation among participants of youth conferences held around the world, gathered to consult on the ways in which their generation can contribute to the spiritual and material well-being of their communities. Here they explore some of the themes that are central to the process of community building. The words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “God is the helper of those souls whose aim is to serve humanity and whose efforts and endeavours are devoted to the good and betterment of all mankind”, inspire the hearts of many youth, who are collectively striving to translate their aspirations into reality.

Welcome to the DC Baha’i Community  – In 1910 the DC community became the first integrated Baha’i Community in the US. This video captures some of the work done towards race amity both in the past and in the present. It also has a nice segment of two youth talking about their role as animators for a Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program which is a vital part of the Baha’i community development program. This video offers a sampling of the work Baha’i communities around the world are engaged in.

Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program in Toronto – It begins after having had the JYSEP in this neighborhood for six years. After having gone through the program the older youth are now serving as animators to the younger youth. “If you were here in the community five years ago there was a lot of violence present in the community. But through the establishment of this program the future generations were guided toward a more positive direction and the service projects that they have done have impacted the community in a positive way and presently you do not see violence in our community.” Esther, an animator, from Toronto, Canada