Shuyoka Faith Experience Speech: The Joy of Making Spiritual Growth by Kan Shang-tin

Having been able to enter Shuyoka, I can now live cheerfully, and I can smile. Some of my fellow students even confide their problems to me and let me share in their sorrows. My life has changed so much, all thanks to my faith in Tenrikyo.

As a child, I was selfish and rebellious and did not care about others at all. Before I became a Tenrikyo follower, I would hang around with delinquents, thus causing a great deal of worry and anxiety to my teachers at school as well as my parents. I would constantly argue with my parents and my brother.

My parents got a divorce when I was 15. Thereafter, I hated being at home even more than before. Consequently, I would spend most of my time out with friends. By so doing, I was trying to have fun. In fact, however, I felt emptier and emptier. I could no longer see any purpose in life; I had lost my orientation in life completely.

I had lived that way for a year or two before I met Ms. Hsu Ying-lin during extra-curricular activities at high school when I was in my second year. That event represented my first encounter with Tenrikyo and a turning point in my life.

Ying-lin and her mother, Rev. Gan Sai-ga, who at the time headed a mission station (she is now serving as the head minister of Shinmei-shin’ei Church), put the teachings into practice in their daily lives, as well as organize weekly youth activities designed to help young people understand the teachings more easily. While attending these activities at their mission station, I was deeply impressed by the cheerful and enthusiastic attitude of all the participants. I was stunned at how sincere and uncontrived, and joyous and caring human relationships could be. I had never experienced anything like that before. At their mission station, I was able to find spiritual support and true joy, which led me to participate enthusiastically in their other activities as well, such as hinokishin.

The following year, I was given the opportunity to return to Jiba and enroll in Oyasato Seminar (which is intended for high school students from overseas). Because of my personality, however, my classmates soon gave up on me and would not have anything to do with me. At the time, however, I failed to see my shortcomings and, instead, I held a grudge against my classmates. After going home, I found myself in the constant company of someone who was, like me, arrogant and selfish–no doubt this must have been due to God the Parent’s blessings. Yet I was troubled by this situation. Ying-lin then told me that since whatever we see is causality and whatever we hear is also causality, I would do well to reflect on myself, seeing this person as a reflection of myself. When I heard this, it suddenly dawned on me why I had been disliked by people, and I resolved to correct my shortcomings.

Nevertheless, once things began to improve somewhat, I neglected my effort to stay connected to Tenrikyo and went back to my old ways, again hanging out with delinquent friends. Despite my pathetic behavior, however, Rev. Gan and Ying-lin never gave up on me. Instead, they continued caring for me and guiding me with utmost patience and loving-kindness. It was thanks to them that I was able to move forward, however slowly. Later, I decided to enter Shuyoka to change my habits of thought, work off my causal force, and polish myself so as to reinforce my faith in God the Parent.

At first, however, my father was unable to understand my intentions and refused to let me enter Shuyoka. Besides, my family hardly had any funds to support my enrollment in Shuyoka. Nonetheless, Rev. Gan and Ying-lin were kind enough to patiently explain Shuyoka to my father, and he finally agreed. As for the funds, the money was not available even several days before my departure, and I was worried. Rev. Gan, however, gave me tremendous encouragement, saying that since this was a trial sent by God the Parent, things were bound to be all right, once my mind settled. Her words helped strengthen my resolution to attend Shuyoka, and I prayed wholeheartedly, asking God the Parent to give me the opportunity to change the direction of my life. Eventually, thanks to the painstaking efforts of Rev. Gan, I was able to enter Shuyoka.

After I came here, however, my sense of delight gradually waned and even gave way to dissatisfaction, and my arrogance raised its ugly head. I would criticize the behavior of my classmates while neglecting to reflect on myself. Conceited, I would feel dissatisfaction when my friends belonging to the same church won more praise or enjoyed greater trust from our instructors than I did. I would make sarcastic remarks about them. In early May, when I had a high fever, Ying-lin (who is currently doing hinokishin at the Home of the Parent) told me that my fever was perhaps the result of my mind filling up with dissatisfaction and hatred. Her remark set me reflecting on myself, and I realized that I had, once again, let my thought habits gain the upper hand. I felt ashamed of myself for my arrogance and selfishness, and tears filled my eyes. As Ying-lin suggested, I repented to God the Parent and pledged to cultivate my loving care for others. Shortly afterwards, I found that my temperature, which had been 38.9°C (which corresponds to 102°F), was down to 37.1°C (or 98.8°F).

Because I wanted to start over from the beginning, I tried to keep my mind humble. My mind then began to open up, little by little, to the teachings. Then, I realized that my instructors and classmates genuinely cared about me. Ms. Go, one of my instructors, told me:

You must give first if you wish to gain. For example, imagine yourself sitting in a pool of water and pushing water away from you. You get water coming back to you. On the other hand, even if you try to gather water to yourself, it will flow away. Giving is not losing, as it might seem. Rather, if you give, you are bound to receive something, perhaps something invisible. If you keep trying to make everything your own, however, you will eventually lose even things that seem to have become yours.

When I try to cultivate my loving care for others, time passes fast, and I feel fulfilled. When we try to understand one another’s point of view, we are better able to help one another engage in self-reflection and give one another encouragement, especially if our backgrounds and personalities are similar. Moreover, when we devote ourselves to helping others with their spiritual growth, their progress can bring us a feeling of joy.

Unfortunately, when such joy was rewarded to me, I once again fell into the error of forgetting my sense of gratitude and deceived myself into believing that I had been responsible for someone’s progress. I was becoming too sure of myself, with my classmates now being so kind to me and placing their trust in me. In addition, having been given the honor of representing the Chinese class at the Faith Experience Speech Rally, I came close to letting my arrogance raise its ugly head yet again.

Fortunately, however, Ying-lin warned me. She told me that delivering this speech was an opportunity provided by God the Parent for me to sweep dust from the mind, but that if I forgot my feeling of gratitude and became conceited, I would let this opportunity come to naught. I took her remark to heart.

Although not much time is left in Shuyoka, I am now determined to watch out for my dust of arrogance and correct what need be corrected. My parents are divorced, yet my faith in this path has helped me improve my relationships with both my parents as well as my brother. In addition, I am delighted that I am valued for who I am both at the church and at work. Had it not been for my faith, I think both my brother and I would have stayed mixed up in bad company. During the remainder of Shuyoka, I am committed to strengthen my conviction of faith, maintain a dialogue with God the Parent, engage in self-reflection, and be honest and straightforward in my relationships with others, for these efforts will, I believe, allow for further spiritual growth.

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