The 30th English class of Shuyoka (the three-month Spiritual Development Course) began in the Home of the Parent on April 1 as part of the 756th session of Shuyoka, which has a total of 737 students (as of June 1). The course offers an opportunity to spend three months in the Home of the Parent working on spiritual growth so as to savor the joy of faith. Anyone who is 17 years of age or older and who has the wish and resolve to seek faith is eligible for admission to Shuyoka.
This year, there are 20 participants from five countries: 14 from the U.S.A. (including 6 from Hawaii), 3 from Nepal, and 1 each from Canada, the Philippines, and South Korea. The instructors for this year’s English class are Rev. Owen Nakao, head minister of Pearl Church in Hawaii, and Rev. Lena Okada, wife of the head of Shimagahara Hawaii Mission Station located in Tenri. Rev. Nakao serves as the homeroom instructor and teaches the classes on The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and the service dance, while Rev. Okada teaches the classes on The Life of Oyasama and the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service.
For those who may have difficulty adjusting themselves to the lifestyle in Japan, Tenrikyo Overseas Department offered the option of staying at Moya 132 (the dormitory for followers from Brazil and Canada), where all the activities are conducted in English though the daily routine is basically the same as in followers dormitories, so that they could focus themselves on spiritual growth. Ten students took this offer. Some staff members of the Overseas Department take turns serving as the dormitory counselor and assistant counselor each month.
Some aspects of Shuyoka life, according to Rev. Nakao, are designed to promote a sense of discipline and unity. “Discipline (and eventually self-discipline) fosters a sense of order and progress toward the goal of being able to do things when we need to do them whether we feel like it or not,” he writes. “True faith comes from making sincere efforts to become one with God or living in accord (or aligning our thinking) with God’s intention even at our inconvenience. This will enable us to sweep away our dusts of the mind, see the truth in all things, make resolutions and keep them, and then become single-hearted. This, I believe, is a state of being focused, resolved, and joyous without being swayed or distracted by the ‘dust’ in and around us. Relying on God will also enable us to receive God’s free and unlimited blessings.
“Unity encourages us to work together with other people. It encourages us to recognize that other people are part of me and I am a part of them, needing each other (we are not alone in this world), and that we are working together toward a common goal of spiritual maturity–the goal of the ‘construction of our mind and the construction of the joyous and peaceful world’ where we all live together as brothers and sisters. This sense of discipline and unity is also expressed in the Service.”
Also in progress from April through June is the Chinese class, in which 39 are enrolled. The Thai class, which has 11 students, is being held between May and July. In addition, the Indonesian class will be held for the first time starting in September.