Dedicated to the Hands of the Cause of God

Dedicated to the Hands of the Cause of God

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

People Learn More Easily when their Hearts are Happy

I have found that when a serious story--such as a story about one of the martyrs, or a story about Covenant-breaking--is followed by a story that is lighter or more humorous, the participants are more easily able to retain the information, and have a longer attention span. Laughter relaxes the soul, and makes it easier for people to reconcile the more serious material--and serious material must sometimes be conveyed.

For example, let's say that you are telling the story of the child-martyr Ruhu'llah--a very serious story. He was martyred at the age of 12, with his father, for being a Baha'i.

Ruhu'llah Varqa, the Baha'i child-martyr
Public domain photograph obtained from Wikipedia

The story is inspiring and sad; it can be found in
The Diary of Juliet Thompson, in Hasan Balyuzi's Edward Granville Browne and the Baha'i Faith, and in Volume 4 of Adib Taherzadeh's The Revelation of Baha'u'llah. It is an important Baha'i story. If after telling it, the story of Ruhu'llah's encounter with a priest is told, it may make it easier to retain and grasp the import of Ruhu'llah's steadfastness and sacrifice.

The name "Ruhu'llah" literally means "Spirit of God" and is the title by which Jesus Christ is known in much of the Arabic-speaking world. In her book Fire on the Mountain-Top, Gloria Faizi tells of the time when Ruhu'llah was walking along a street in a city some distance from his home town. A Muslim priest was passing by on a donkey, saw Ruhu'llah, and recognized by his garments that Ruhu'llah was not from the area. He called out to him and asked his city of residence and his name. Ruhu'llah answered that he was from Tehran, and his name was Ruhu'llah. The priest commented on his name, saying that it was the same name as that of Jesus Christ, Who raised people from the dead. Ruhu'llah said to the priest that if he would ride a bit more slowly he would tell him of the Baha'i Faith, and "I will raise you from the dead, too."

This is not a frivolous story, or a joke, but it is humorous. Telling it does not move the focus entirely away from Ruhu'llah; but it gives the listeners an opportunity to relax, after the severe story of Ruhu'llah's martrydom. I have found that people cannot take a lengthy series of somber stories. If a serious presentation is broken up by some stories that are lighter, and some that provoke laughter, I have found that the presentation is more succesful. You might wish to try it when you share stories in your study circles, and see what works for you.

This is a Baha'i study circle in Australia which includes my friend David Podger:

Faces ring a bell...some members of the Australian telephone study circle. (Left to right) Leila Deighton, Maxien Bradley, David Podger, Narelle Kinneally Tolstoff.
Copyright © 2006, Baha'i International Community Used with permission

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