The Ruhi Problem

Despite repeated assurances that “entry by troops” was just around the corner, the numbers of Baha’is worldwide has remained about the same for over a decade. In the United States, the number of active Baha’is has probably declined. Although worldwide numbers of Baha’is grew rapidly in some developing countries in the 1960s and 1970s, many of these new Baha’is did not remain active, and drifted back to their traditional religious and cultural belief systems. Evidence for this partly comes from the numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies, which is arguably the best way to evaluate the presence of a functioning community. As it turns out, LSA numbers have actually dropped in Africa, Asia, South America since the 1980s.

In response to this situation of low growth and poor community development, the Universal House of Justice requested all national communities to develop their human resources through systems of systematic training and group study. The intention was to enthuse Baha’is to teach more and develop their community life, which would in turn attract new converts to the religion. And importantly, it provided new converts with a system of learning, so they would not drift away from the religion after their initial enthusiasm.

{josquote}The Ruhi-system is treated tantamount to a revelation from God. It is perfect and suitable, nothing to change about it: it just needs to be implemented. If it doesn´t work, it´s not the material that´s wrong. We were just too dumb to use it.{/josquote}

So since 1996, the House of Justice has requested all national communities set up “training institutes.” These institutes use a decentralized system of locally based group learning, “study circles”, which are led by a trained tutor. Study circles are supposed to develop the “spiritual insights, knowledge, and skills” that are needed for the large-scale growth of the Baha’i community. Baha’i communities, encouraged by institutions such as the International Teaching Centre, have used the “Ruhi” books as the curriculum for these study circles. Currently, there are seven such books: “Reflections on the life of the spirit,” “Arising to serve,” “Teaching children’s grade 1,” “The Twin Manifestations,” “Teaching children’s grade 2,” “Teaching the Cause,” “Walking together on a path of service,” and Baha’is are encouraged to complete them all in a consecutive fashion.

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Good news: The future is here

In order to advance to an A cluster a certain number of people must complete a few of the courses. Since I don't really learn anything or enjoy Ruhi I was wondering if there is some way one can 'do' a course without going in a course with others. Would I be able to do it in my own time and write my answers in the book and then get it checked off by a tutor? That way I could do it quicker rather than prolonging the agony.

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Thoughts on Ruhi

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I am curious about Ruhi, a Baha’i deepening program. What is “deepening”? One might say it’s spiritual education or indoctrination.

I am curious about Ruhi because I have heard so many aweful remarks about it. I’ve been told to try it for myself, but I don’t think that’s likely to happen, given that I am a rather outspoken apostate, and frankly, it’s really not designed for the likes of me.

This page is intended to be a slate for me to work out my thoughts on Ruhi upon.

My source is the Ruhi Resources site, which outlines the seven Ruhi books and the units within them.

The Emphasis of Ruhi

One thing that I have noticed is that most of these books concern matters of communicating doctrines, as opposed to discussing the doctrines themselves; for example: teaching oneself (reading and deepening), teaching children, teaching non-Baha’is (proselytizing), teaching Baha’is, and well, teaching Ruhi itself (tutoring).

It appears to me that the one book that is almost entirely about the primary beliefs of the Baha’i Faith is Book I (Reflections on the Life of the Spirit). Books IV and VII appear to be a mix of primary content and preparation for communicating that content. The remainder of the program is mostly about communication (proselytism and indoctrination).

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The Absolute M.I.N.I.M.U.M. Plan for E.B.T.

{josquote}...the fragmentation of our Bahá’í activities into “devotions” “teaching” “proclamation” “deepening” “children’s classes” “socializing” etc. is artificial and destructive of unity.{/josquote}

Here are some ideas for a basic plan to achieve Entry By Troops. It is not flashy, splashy, exotic or sexy, so you may not have heard of it. It does not require large sums of money, lots of people or even lots of time. All it requires is consistency. Consistency is like compound interest. It is not as exciting as winning a million in the lottery, but it is guaranteed to make you a millionaire if you invest a few dollars a day for every day of your life.

What must we be consistent in? As I said, just the basics. The kind of things you would expect any other organization to do. If we are absolutely consistent in the following areas, I firmly believe that God will do the rest.

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M - Meetings
I - Invitations
N - Newspaper announcements
I - Image
M - Message
U - Unity
M - Meditation & Prayer


When a seeker expresses interest in the Faith, one of the first questions they will ask is “When and where do you meet?” And nine times out of ten, they aren’t asking “when do we get together to intellectualize.” They want to know when we gather to worship together. If we can’t give them a straight-forward answer like “Sunday afternoon at John Smith’s house,” then we immediately lose credibility as a real religion.

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