The 31st English class of Shuyoka (the three-month Spiritual Development Course) began in the Home of the Parent on April 1 as part of the 768th session of Shuyoka, which has a total of 787 students (as of June 20). This year, there are 31 participants from various countries: 9 from Nepal, 7 from the U.S.A. (including 1 from Hawaii), 5 from the Philippines, 4 from Uganda, 2 from Japan, and 1 each from Australia, Canada, Kenya, and New Zealand. Their instructors are Rev. Takahiko Hayashi, successor to the head minister of America West Church in California, and Rev. Colin Tsuneo Saito, head minister of Honolulu Church in Hawaii. Rev. Hayashi serves as the homeroom instructor and teaches the classes on The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and the service dance, while Rev. Saito teaches the classes on The Life of Oyasama and the Mikagura-uta, The Songs for the Service.
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. Staff members of the Overseas Department took turns serving as dormitory counselor for the seven students who chose to stay at Moya 132.
The following are impressions of Shuyoka that were contributed by the instructors.
Rev. Takahiko Hayashi
In our class, we had students come from nine countries speaking a variety of English accents. And from the very first day, there was a wonderful comraderie among them that I think is possible only at a place like the Jiba. Each person contributed something special to the class, and each person will walk away with a special experience with Oyasama. This is the opportunity afforded to all of us at Shuyoka, and I believe that we are all thankful for this opportunity to better know the teachings and realize the Joy that God the Parent intended for us.
Rev. Colin T. Saito
The 2005 English class of Shuyoka began on April 1 of this year. The weather was still cool and brisk as the 31 students from nine countries were drawn together to the Jiba, the home of all human beings, to begin their quest of learning the teachings of Oyasama.
Rev. Takahiko Hayashi served as the homeroom instructor and taught The Doctrine of Tenrikyo and the Otefuri (Hand Dance) classes. I was the instructor for The Life of Oyasama and the Mikagura-uta classes. This year we were blessed with the biggest group ever with 31 students and I commend Rev. Hayashi for doing a superb job in leading the class successfully, through the ever-changing schedules and mountains of paper work required by the Shuyoka Office.
With only nine native speakers of the English language, it proved to be a teaching challenge as far as the method in the classroom was concerned. For example, the level of English had to be adjusted, speaking had to be slowed, and I found that I had to write more on the blackboard. Along with writing the words, I used diagrams and outlines to give them visual aids, so that they could see the words rather than just hear them, in order to make understanding easier. Pictures are a wonderful tool to explain an idea which I tried to use whenever possible. As this was only my second time in 17 years teaching about Oyasama, I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be, but it turned out to be a precious experience of learning to teach about Oyasama from my heart.
There were two things that I learned through all this. At first, I thought I was sort of doing the class a favor, but I found out later that it was I who would also gain from this because the outlines and diagrams ultimately made the teachings clearer in my own mind. The second thing I experienced with this class was that I found that teaching was not to be done with the mind only. To truly teach about The Life of Oyasama, one would have to show by example, not only through the spoken and written word, but also through your own example, just as Oyasama did in Her Divine Model. To teach The Life of Oyasama is to teach about Her love and compassion for Her children and about Her single-heartedness with God the Parent; and to truly be able to do this, one would have to ask Oyasama Herself to assist you and thus allow yourself to become Her spiritual tool, so that She may convey the teachings through you to those who have come to learn. I was not here to teach others, but rather, I came to learn “how to teach” about Oyasama’s life.
During the first week of class, a student came up to me and asked for an “interpretation” of a vision he saw while praying to Oyasama. After giving my opinions, he asked me to inquire of other teachers also, so I promised to do so. In the office, I decided to ask one of the senior instructors. After hearing my explanation, the instructor asked, “What was he praying for?” And I responded, “That’s right, I should ask what the prayer was about.” And then the instructor said, “Why did you come to me? Why didn’t you take him to Oyasama and ask Her directly?” Then I responded by saying, “You are right, I should teach him to believe in the everliving Oyasama and ask Her directly.” Finally, the instructor said to me, “This may be an attitude problem with you.”
At first I was offended by his blunt advice but then I thought that this must be a message from Oyasama. Suddenly the realization came to me: I was there to teach The Life of Oyasama, and so I should rely on the everliving Oyasama to teach through me! I always felt that although I was the instructor, I was also a student at the same time, and once again, Oyasama was leading me by the hand with Her warm and loving parental heart. I thank Oyasama for Her love and care in letting the 2005 English class of Shuyoka have a wonderful experience here at the Jiba.