Sunday, November 5, 2017

A broad outline for Ruhi 1

I've had the wonderful bounty of tutoring a number of study circles over the years, and one of my favorite things to look at, when training new tutors, is to look at the outline of the books. In fact, when I encounter those numerous people, and you know what I mean, who say, "Oh, I don't need to do Ruhi anymore. I did it umpteen years ago." I usually reply by asking them for the first theme in section 1 of Book 1. Naturally, they usually don't know, for many of us don't look at this way. We look at the quotes, the questions, a bit of discussion, and rarely go deeper than that.

But, dear Reader, when we look at the progression of themes, we uncover something new.

Now I'm sure there are many of you who are aware of all this, but I get asked for this outline often enough that I thought I'd post it here.

Oh, and just to clarify my terms and numbers, each book has three units, each of which is made up of a number of sections. Rather than typing Book 1, Unit 2, Section 4, I will just type "1:2:4". Make sense? Good.

Now, Book 1, Unit 1, or 1:1, is a little unusual in that in English the themes stretch out over 2 sections, rather than 1 in most other languages. Why this is, I have no clue, but there you go.

Anyways, Book 1, Unit 1. The very first theme in it is "deeds", or "action". I mean, if you look at the quotes, they are all about this important theme. In fact, when you look at the pedagogy of the series, their primary importance is the application of the teachings. This is reflected in the idea that out of all the themes and quotes they could have chosen to begin this whole journey, this path of service, they started with "The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct." (And I didn't even need to look that up.) After all, if the teachings aren't applicable in deeds, what good are they?

From there, the next theme is truthfulness. This only makes sense, for if your deeds are not based on truth, then hey're not really good deeds, are they?

The third theme is kindliness. Why? Well, you might be truthful, but sort of mean. After all, you could always tell someone, "Wow, that outfit looks really horrible on you", but that wouldn't be nice, would it? To say it more kindly, you might want to phrase it, "Wow. You know, I think green would look even better on you." Kindliness. It's a very nice thing. Oh, and to reinforce this, there is that one exercise in which they ask which of the following phrases proceed from a kindly tongue. When tutoring this section, I usually ask people, if the phrase is not kindly, how they would re-phrase it in a more kindly manner. This especially had an impact on one participant who came back the next session and said that she had had a very trying day at work. She was about to snap at someone when she had recalled this exercise, and the question I had asked. She ended up pausing, reflecting, considering, and saying what she wanted to say in a more kindly way, thus defusing a potentially difficult situation. "Wow", I thought, "this actually changer her behaviour. How cool!"

The final theme in 1:1 is about backbiting: don't do it. In other words, you may want to act, might actually be truthful, think you're being kind, but really be backbiting. Beware of this.

Then there is that quote in 1:1:7, in which we are told that if we backbite the light of our heart is quenched, and the life of our soul has been extinguished. "Whoa!" I thought when I first read this. "I'm really in trouble." But not to fear. 1:2:4 comes to the rescue. In it we discover that prayer can kindle our soul. "To kindle", as you know, means to either ignite a fire, or make it grow in size and intensity. What a saving grace.

So, 1:2 helps us remember to turn daily towards God in prayer. And then 1:3 helps give us a vision for our entire life, where we want to go, and how we want to dedicate our fleeting moments.

And then, to finish off Book 1, we are asked to consider, in 1:3:18, how we will live our life now that we have begun to consider these elements of our life. Naturally, many of the participants want to begin discussing these ideas with their friends. And that, dear Reader, leads us straight into Book 2, Arising to Serve.

Oh, and just in case that isn't cool enough, there is another marvelous path discovered when we examine the themes in Book 2. But maybe I'll talk about that tomorrow.

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