Shuyoka is a three-month spiritual development course. Offered at the Home of the Parent, it provides people with an opportunity to learn and implement the teachings of God the Parent. Approximately 662,000 people have completed Shuyoka since it was established in 1941. Anyone who is 17 or older—from any background and any walk of life—is eligible to apply to the course. Shuyoka students, whether healthy or not and whether troubled by personal problems or not, are all encouraged to spiritually grow into Yoboku who implement the teachings of the Joyous Life.
Shuyoka has recently made reforms to its program with the aim of having students feel closer to the teachings and learn them in a more practical manner. Three major changes to the program, which have been implemented since April, are to increase discussion sessions, to make a better connection between the lectures on the Mikagura-uta and the Service Dance Practice, and to introduce a Homeroom class.
Firstly, the new program provides students with more opportunities to have discussions. The Doctrine of Tenrikyo class and The Life of Oyasama class each include six discussion sessions. After listening to lectures, students focus on some key teachings and discuss how they will put them into practice in their daily lives. Reviewing important points of the lectures in small groups also helps students deepen their understanding of the teachings. In addition, students now use Anecdotes of Oyasama as an additional textbook for classes. Based on the stories in the book, students reflect on how they live their daily lives.
Secondly, the new program reinforces the connection between the lectures on the Mikagura-uta and the Service Dance Practice. The lectures on the Mikagura-uta are followed on the same days by the service dance practices for the same parts of the Mikagura-uta covered in the lectures, thereby helping the students practice the service dance while savoring God the Parent’s intention embodied in the songs instead of just moving their hands and feet. The practices are led by the same instructors who teach the Mikagura-uta.
Lastly, a Homeroom class has been added to the program. Having different themes for each month, the activities of the Homeroom class help students get to know one another better so that they can pursue their spiritual growth together. Homeroom activities also encourage students to stay connected to their churches and to fulfill their tasks as Yoboku who work toward the Joyous Life after Shuyoka. In the first month, students share with their classmates their motivations for applying to Shuyoka, talk about people whom they admire, and so on. In the second month, they discuss the implementation of the teachings while looking back on their life in Shuyoka. In the third month, they talk about their mission practice and discuss how they will lead a life of faith after completing Shuyoka. As part of the Homeroom activities, in addition, students write short essays to look back on their first and second months in Shuyoka. They work on the essays at their followers dormitories so that they can reflect on their Shuyoka life together with their dormitory counselors and other staff members of their dormitories. Students are thus encouraged to implement the teachings at the dormitories as well.
As a result of these reforms in the program, each Shuyoka class now has a homeroom instructor and an assistant instructor. They work together to provide careful guidance and care for the students in their class.