Sunday, November 15, 2009

Study Sessions on the Book of Certitude

Baha'u'llah directs us to “mediate on that which the Scriptures … have revealed” (Tablet to Maqsud, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 162, quoted in Ruhi Book 1, Section 13). Also in Ruhi Book One, Sections 8 and 9 we read that “when we recite the verses of God we are being faithful to His Covenant,” paraphrasing this verse from the Most Holy Book (paragraph 149): “Recite ye the verses of God every morn and eventide.” At the end of the First Unit of Book 1, it is suggested, “Baha'u'llah teaches that each person should read from the Holy Writings every morning and every evening. During this course, you have already begun to form this habit which is extremely important for your spiritual progress. Now you may wish to acquire a book of the Writings of Baha'u'llah and read parts of it every day.”

This website is in support of study sessions on the Book of Certitude, for those of you who have selected the Book of Certitude for your morning and evening reading.

The Book of Certitude is Baha'u'llah's greatest work, second only to the Most Holy Book. The Guardian calls it Baha'u'llah's greatest "doctrinal" work, which he translated because he said it would "infinitely enhance the teaching work in the West." He urged us to form study classes, and read the important literature of the Faith, "especially the Iqan which contains the basic tenets of the Faith"; stating that the study of the Iqan is of "special importance" and we should "master" it; and that we should acquaint ourselves with "each and every detail" in it, so that we can present the Faith in a "befitting manner." (The citations to these quotations are found in the links to Quotations at the top right of this website)

The essential thing is not what we will discuss in the study sessions, or what is written here; the important thing is the individual believers' communion with the Word, drawing sustenance from it in their morning and evening recitation of the Word of God.

One of the skills we learn in the Ruhi courses, is the sharing of deepening themes with others. One of these suggested themes is the Covenant of God, and this is the central theme of the Book of Certitude. By studying this Book we will gain a greater depth, will increase our ability to present the Covenant and to respond to questions about it, and about the nature of the Manifestations of God.

In these brief sessions we cannot cover the entire ocean of this great Book; we can only address a few themes, pick a few pieces of fruit from this Tree. One of the important things for the friends to realize, is that consistency in studying the Word of God results in gaining greater familiarity with the Revelation, through our repeated study of the same Texts. Often, the friends think that the amount of Revelation Baha'u'llah has given to us, far exceeds our ability to read it. In fact, if a person were to read only 6 pages per day, in one year he or she would read the entire body of Baha'u'llah's revelation which we have at present in the English language. This can be seen by totaling the pages of all of His Books we presently have in English:

181 Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
79 Gems of Divine Mysteries
346 Gleanings
52 Hidden Words
254 Kitab-i-Aqdas
257 Kitab-i-Iqan
339 Prayers and Meditations
122 Proclamation of Baha'u'llah
65 Seven Valleys and Four Valleys
272 Summons of the Lord of Hosts
80 Tabernacle of Unity
269 Tablets of Baha'u'llah
2316 pages total.

This actually overstates the total, because only 121 pages of the Aqdas consists of sacred Text-- about half of the Book; and all 122 pages of the Proclamation of Baha'u'llah and about 70 pages of the Gleanings are quotes from Baha'u'llah's other Books. If we divide this total by 365, this comes to 6 pages per day. If a person reads 3 pages every morning, and 3 pages every evening, for one year, he or she will read the entire body of Baha'u'llah's Writings we have in English; and establish a pattern of re-reading the sacred Text every year. But speed is not the point; reading with understanding, reading to gain inspiration and insight, and ability to share the Message is the point. It is hoped that these sessions will prime the pump, so that the real study will occur in the privacy of the person's own home, the pattern of daily study will become established and will provide fuel for the believer's study and sharing of the Word through the Ruhi courses and practices. Among the themes studied, particular emphasis will be paid to those sections of the Iqan that help us to teach the Faith to believers in the Bible. In addition to the Iqan itself, we will rely on Mr. Hooper Dunbar's excellent book "A Companion to the Study of the Kitab-i-Iqan" available here.

“It behoveth the friends in whatever land they be, to gather together in meetings, and therein to speak wisely and with eloquence, and to read the verses of God; for it is God's Words that kindle love's fire and set it ablaze.” (Baha'u'llah, quoted in Ruhi Book 2, Unit 2, Section 5)

“We hear that thou hast in mind to embellish thy house from time to time with a meeting of Baha'is, where some among them will engage in glorifying the All-Glorious Lord... Know that shouldst thou bring this about, that house of earth will become a house of heaven, and that fabric of stone a congress of the spirit.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, quoted in Ruhi Book 2, Unit 2, Section 5)

In Part 7 of Unit Two of Book Two, there is discussion of setting a weekly meeting for the study of the Writings. It is hoped that these study sessions will assist the friends in their personal study of this great Book. The focus will be on the believer's own individual relationship with the Word of God, in his or her morning and evening readings; which will energize the friends to spiritually advance, and to carry out the activities of the Five-Year Plan.


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