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The Ruhi Institute is an educational institution, operating under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í Faith in Colombia. The general idea of an institute in Bahá'í terms originates with the beginning of the Nine Year Plan (starting in 1964) designated by the Universal House of Justice. The institute or training institute was especially for countries where large-scale expansion was taking place to meet the needs of the thousands who were entering the Faith. At that time, the emphasis was on acquiring a physical facility to which group after group of newly enrolled believers would be invited to attend deepening courses. Over the years, in conjunction with these institutes as well as independent of them, a number of courses— referred to, for example, as weekend institutes, five-day institutes, and nine-day institutes— were developed for the purpose of promulgating the fundamental verities of the religion and how to serve it. The Ruhi Institute developed in Colombia after the 1970s from the general form and eventually was organized under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í Faith in Colombia, and dedicates its efforts to the development of human resources for the spiritual, social, and cultural development of the Colombian people. Although its center is in the town of Puerto Tejada in the department of Cauca, its area of influence extends throughout the entire country. Especially in recent years, its educational programs have been adopted by an increasing number of agencies worldwide.
Like any other institution involved in the process of education for development, the Ruhi Institute has formulated its strategies within a special framework and a philosophy of social change, development and education. In this case, that understanding has emerged from a consistent effort to apply Bahá'í teachings to the analysis of social conditions.
The Ruhi Institute's main sequence of courses aims, in its entirety, at achieving three overall objectives: providing insights into spiritual matters, imparting knowledge about the Bahá'í Faith, and helping to develop specific acts of service.
Each study circle using the Ruhi Institute's materials involves at least one tutor, with generally 3-10 participants. Except as mentioned below, the format is not rigid, so each gathering may be different from the next, or different between countries and cities.
The materials prepared by the Ruhi Institute focus on the Bahá'í writings by assisting participants to understand the texts on three different levels. The first level is that of basic comprehension--understanding the meanings of the words and sentences. Towards this end, participants formulate questions whose answers are direct quotes from the texts, in order to gain a literal understanding of the meanings and context of various quotes. The second level relates to the application of the texts to various real-world situations. For example, this would entail examining simple daily acts (lying about one's taxes, cheating on an exam) in light of the Bahá'í emphasis on truthfulness. Finally, the third level deals with the implications of the various quotations on other aspects of Bahá'í belief.
There are currently eight books in the Institute's main sequence of courses, with more courses in development. Each book is broken up into three units each with many sections. Tutors are encouraged to apply the arts, using music, games, crafts, and such during the training. Each book has one or more practices that can be done outside of the training. For example, the third book helps people to become teachers of children's classes, and the practice is to give an actual class. Also encouraged throughout the books is the practice of memorizing passages and prayers.
It is suggested to take the books in their numbered order.
This first and shortest book of the sequence is divided into three units with different themes:
This book can be used as an introduction to people investigating the Faith, or as a study of fundamental principles by people already familiar with the teachings.
One practice for this book is to visit two people, and study a prayer with them.
The second book in the sequence involves community life and teaching. Units include:
This book aims at developing specific acts of service. Providing tools to raise up human resources capable of fostering the growth of the Bahá'í Community with efficiency and love.
One practice for this book is to visit a few people and practice one of the deepening themes learned in the second unit.
The third book in the sequence is designed to develop the capabilities needed to conduct children's classes. The units include:
This book reviews the importance of education, and gives tools for teachers. The classes include games, songs, and various arts and crafts. The practice for this book is to offer a children's class.
Branch courses: Teaching Children's Classes, Grade 2 Teaching Children's Classes, Grade 3
This book reviews the importance of the Bahá'í revelation, and retells many of the famous stories of the two founding prophets of the Bahá'í Faith.
One practice is to visit a friend, and share a story from the book.
The fifth book in the sequence trains individuals to facilitate Junior Youth groups, which are for ages 12-15. Individuals who complete the book and go on to facilitate a Junior Youth group are called animators, thus named because they animate the endeavors of the junior youth. Currently the book only exists in a pre-publication edition while development of the material is still in progress. After completing book five, animators use a separate strand of books to work with the junior youth.
Series 1: Continuation of Bahá'í Education (6 titles planned)
Series 2: Language (6 titles planned)
Series 3: Science and mathematics (6 titles planned)
Series 4: Living in society (6 titles planned)
Many of these books do not make direct references to Bahá'í texts, and thus serve as a "Baha'i Inspired" source of moral education and character development for young people.
The sixth book in the sequence is a continuation of the theme of the second book, which is teaching.
This book is intended to enhance the participants' understanding of the spiritual significance of teaching, and the attributes that a teacher of the Cause should strive to acquire.
One practice is to participate in a teaching campaign.
The seventh book of the sequence is designed to give its participants the ability to tutor their own study circles for the first six books.
This book teaches of the spiritual dynamics of service. It gives tools and practice to those people interested in becoming tutors.
The practice of this book is to tutor a study circle.
The eighth book of the sequence is still in development.