What Bahá’ís in Switzerland do
Bahá’ís and their friends are engaged in a global process of learning that is helping to build their capacity to apply the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh to the transformation of society.
Together, they have come to appreciate the operation of a two-fold purpose that is fundamental to their lives: to attend to their own spiritual and intellectual growth and to contribute to the transformation of society. This two-fold purpose helps to shape endeavours in all areas.
All are invited to join the different activities organised throughout Switzerland, and to join activities in your area contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or 031 352 1020.
The Training Institute
Building capacity for service
The courses offered by the Bahá’í community trace a path of service to humanity, upon which we walk at our own pace, assisting and being assisted by others. This implies the pursuit of the two fold moral purpose mentioned above. Progress on the path entails the development of a number of capabilities that require understanding and knowledge, spiritual qualities and praiseworthy attitudes, as well as a host of abilities and skills. The sources of knowledge upon which the books of the institute draw are, on the one hand, the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith and, on the other, the accumulating experience of the worldwide Bahá’í community in furthering material and spiritual civilization. It is Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of the individual we can become and of the civilization we can build that inspires the Institute.
Study circles are a small group of people that meets regularly, usually in the home of one of its members to study the courses of the institute.
Some of the themes study circle participants explore are:
- How to create environments that put people in contact with the spiritual forces released through prayer and devotion
- How to strengthen bonds of true friendship
- How to make the education of children an integral part of community life
- How to maintain an environment that helps young people develop their intellectual and spiritual capacities
- How to carry out specific acts of service
Junior youth groups
A setting where young people share ideas, plans activities and form a strong moral identity
The period between the ages of 12 and 15 is a time when fundamental concepts about individual and collective life are formulated in the mind of an adolescent struggling to leave behind the habits of childhood. Youth between the ages of 12 to 15 have much to say, and whoever treats them as children misses the opportunity to help them form a proper identity.
In small groups at the local level, junior youth meet and, with the help of their animator, develop their language skills and the power of expression. They think of acts of service they want to do in order to contribute to the betterment of their neighborhood.
Developing the spiritual qualities that every child naturally possesses
Bahá’ís see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment. In a world where the joy and innocence of childhood can be so easily overwhelmed by the aggressive pursuit of materialistic ends, the moral and spiritual education of children assumes vital importance.
Children’s classes emphasise the acquisition of spiritual qualities. Ultimately, the goal is for the children to reach a stage in which they can understand and act upon the imperative to tend to their own spiritual development and contribute to the well-being of society.
The material currently covers several topics, addressed over a few years:
- Acquisition of spiritual qualities, such as truthfulness, kindness, courage, purity of heart, generosity
- Development of a virtuous behavior leading to a fruitful and productive life for the betterment of the world
- Exploration of the life and teachings of some of the Manifestations of God, such as Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroastre, Jesus, Mohammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh
Generating a spirit of worship and unity within local communities
Bahá’ís in localities throughout Switzerland gather together in centres or in one another’s homes with their friends and neighbours to offer prayers. In addition to providing opportunities for the participants to read aloud and listen to the recitation of extracts from Holy Scriptures and other illuminating passages, these devotional gatherings often include uplifting music and song.
They serve to awaken spiritual susceptibilities within the participants, and in concert with the acts of service they perform, lead to a pattern of community life that is infused with the spirit of devotion and focused on the attainment of spiritual and material prosperity.
There is no formula on how a devotional meeting can be organised. All can contribute to this informal space.
Contributing to the discourse of society
A humble approach
At any given moment, and in social spaces at all levels of society, there are a range of ongoing discourses concerned with various aspects of humanity’s wellbeing and progress: discourses on such subjects as the equality of women and men, peace, governance, public health, and development, to name but a few.
The Swiss Bahá’í community tries to contribute through various avenues to the promotion of ideas conducive to public welfare. It is currently involved in conversations on interreligious collaboration, on the equality of women and men, and on human rights.
At the international level, the Bahá’í international community is similarly engaged. It is an international non-governmental organization which represents all National Spiritual Assemblies around the world and which has offices in Geneva, Brussels, New York, Jakarta and Addis Ababa.