The following are impressions of Shuyoka which were contributed by the instructors and the students of this year’s English class of Shuyoka.
Rev. Ikuo Higashibaba
In Shuyoka, together with the students, I explored the truth taught by God the Parent. It was a very rewarding adventure. I thank Rev. Ichise and the 12 students for making the English Class 2001 a truly special, inspiring place to study.
Rev. Takaharu Ichise
This was the first time for me to teach the Life of Oyasama and the Songs for the Service. And I honestly confess that this was not an easy job at all.
There is such a saying that goes, “Seeing is believing.” To teach the Life of Oyasama and the Songs of the Service requires much more than that phrase. To me, teaching is not only studying the text and other related books in Japanese and English, but asking myself many many questions as self-reflection: whether I am living in the faith, performing the service daily and monthly, sweeping various dust in mind, doing hinokishin from the mind of gratitude, helping or saving others, and so on and on. And this all reflects on the daily attitude of the Shuyoka students. Unless I am given this kind of opportunity, my faith may tend to stay on the level of “knowing” the teachings.
I assume this would be the same situation with most of the people. So I would like to propose to as many people as possible, “Please take the chance to serve as a Shuyoka instructor.”
I feel grateful that I could finish this 720th session with such nice students and with a very peaceful and joyous mind at the end.
Thank you very much everybody and Oyasama.
Akira Yamamoto (U.S.A.)
Most people in Shuyoka reflect back on the past three months and wonder at how fast it all passed by. In retrospect, however, I realized that I could not have learned as much about myself and about God the Parent in any other “short” three-month program.
Growing up in a Tenrikyo church, I entered Shuyoka thinking that I am here just to learn a few more facts on the Truth of Origin or about the Life of Oyasama. However, this course instilled in me the single-hearted mind of a Yoboku. It realigned my focus in life and greatly affected how I view my friends and family.
This course is not just about how much Tenrikyo we can preach—more importantly it is about how much Tenrikyo we can teach other people by living the path of the Joyous Life ourselves.
I will never forget the three months I spent here in Jiba.
Ken Black (Australia)
I feel that Shuyoka is a benefit to those who attend it, if you keep an open mind. When I came I wanted to learn as much as possible about Tenrikyo teachings. I realize now that I was drawn to Shuyoka to strengthen my relationship with God. I have thoroughly enjoyed Shuyoka and would recommend it to anyone looking for spiritual development. I would like to thank all those in the English class, the teachers, all those who helped me to get here and also while I was here. I take so much for granted that most of all I would like to thank God for the free and unlimited blessings each and every day.
Cecilia Gan (Singapore)
Before coming to Shuyoka, I was wondering how I am going to pass these three months without feeling lonely. But now I feel that three months are actually not long. Every day passes by quickly because the daily schedule is very tight and compact, and therefore there is hardly anytime to be alone or ponder.
During Shuyoka, I learnt about the Doctrine of Tenrikyo, Oyasama’s life, the musical instruments, the service dance, and, of course, hinokishin. But the most important thing of all is the opportunity to trust and get closer to God the Parent.
During Shuyoka, staying together with two of my classmates has made me realize the importance of joyous harmony. Sharing and helping each other with our problems is the key to achieving a joyous life within the same environment.
God the Parent has taught us, “To know how to be happy and to create happiness for ourselves is a joy. But to be able to help and see that others are happy is better than our own joy.”
The experience in Shuyoka has been wonderful, rewarding, fulfilling and value added. It is the best part of my life and something that I would not forget for the rest of my life.
Miguel Angel Lopez Suastegui (Mexico)
In my case Shuyoka gave me the opportunity to understand more about my fiancée and her religion. Before I came to this course, I never believed in religion. Shuyoka is the period to reflect, learn, and encounter God the Parent. God the Parent says: “Husband and wife working together in hinokishin; I This is the first seed of everything.” (Song XI:2)
Yes, when I was working spiritedly in hinokishin daily with my fiancée, each helping and encouraging the other, we were happy. In this way I understand that hinokishin is all work made with joy, faith, and tanno.
In Jiba I made new friends from many parts of the world. We participated in all types of hinokishin and studied the teachings of Tenrikyo. I thank Rev. Ichise and Rev. Higashibaba, who with patience and devotion guided us every moment in this wonderful place, Jiba.
All these great experiences I will never forget.
Tee Kok Kwee (Singapore)
Upon recommendation from a close friend, I finally entered Shuyoka which I had been resisting for the last one year. I got to make a lot of friends, meet various kinds of people. Through this course, I learnt to understand myself more, the good side, and also the bad side of me. Things which I dislike in other people, actually reflect the bad character of myself which I did not notice before. I thank God for giving me this opportunity to rediscover myself, and to learn the importance of tanno whatever situation occurs. Last of all, I wish to thank Rev. Higashibaba for his wonderful lessons and Rev. Ichise who has been very patient and considerate to us during the three month Shuyoka.
Chen Yi-Chieh (Taiwan)
During the three months, I have learned a lot. It amazed me how organized parts of this course are, which makes our spiritual life grow greatly. Class for the Life of Oyasama is my favorite part, since it taught me how to lead my life as a Tenrikyo follower. Especially I learned how to overcome some difficulties in my life. In the Doctrine of Tenrikyo class, there are many details of the beginning of our lives. These details help me to understand what my religion is about more completely.
Also, I am very pleased I had three months to learn the dance and musical instruments for the service, because I know I will do these two throughout my life. Moreover, during Shuyoka, I always enjoyed hinokishin. This is the best way to show my appreciation to God the Parent and Oyasama. Hinokishin taught me how to cooperate with other people. When I do hinokishin, I feel very close to God the Parent. I am happy that God the Parent gave me many chances to share faith experience with other followers, because we learn from each other and grow together. It is a very significant experience during Shuyoka.
I am very thankful to God for letting me return to Jiba for Shuyoka. I appreciate all of my mentors who spent three months to share many excellent teachings of Tenrikyo with me. All the TLI staff made me feel warm at Jiba as if I were at home. Also I had wonderful classmates who spent three months with me. I love them all and I hope all well in their future. This three-month period is a very important part of my life.
Fridah Nkirote (Kenya)
How wonderful it is to be in Shuyoka, and to meet with a lot of people from different countries and all parts of Japan, coming to learn the teachings and the difficulties that our mother Oyasama went through!
I thank God the Parent for giving me this chance to come to Shuyoka. I wake up early in the morning to do morning hinokishin at the Main Sanctuary and later go to attend Shuyoka classes.
The three-month course is advantageous to me and I will not forget what I have seen and what I have been taught.
In my mind I have accepted tanno, and I would like to help others live a joyous life, as well as to cleanse my heart and mind by doing a lot of hinokishin.
Laurie Kojima (U.S.A.)
I am thankful to God the Parent to have the opportunity to live in Jiba for three months to attend the Spiritual Development Course and to be a part of an international English class. I enjoyed making friends with people from several different countries and learning about them and their cultures. Together, my classmates and I supported and encouraged each other, learned about the Tenrikyo teachings, and engaged joyfully in hinokishin. I would like to thank Rev. Higashibaba and Rev. Ichise for being great instructors and for always being there for us.
Through Shuyoka, my faith in God the Parent, Oyasama, and the Tenrikyo teachings has strengthened. It has given me time to reflect on myself and to grow spiritually. I am grateful for the daily blessings, guidance, and love of God the Parent. Shuyoka has been a wonderful and unforgettable experience.
Kim Murakami Singh (South Africa)
Travelling through many years of valleys and mountains, I have destined to a place called paradise. After my time here, I call Shuyoka my paradise, a place of harmony, peace, joy, happiness, and laughter. To enter the gates of paradise it takes a little bit of sacrifice and effort. And then you would never know how you have entered paradise. It is like walking through an aisle during marriage, a new life with honesty, purity, loyalty, understanding, and accepting good and bad times of hardship to make a happy future and destination work. The best thing about my paradise is starting and ending your day with sweet sound of melodies that fills your heart with endless love, and the purifying that my paradise brings to people.
This is the paradise where my one and only living parent, friend, and every second of the day and future guidance resides. The name of my paradise is called Jiba where I will always be welcomed wholeheartedly.
Thank you Shuyoka for opening my heart and mind. I thank also for the help of Rev. Higashibaba and Rev. Ichise. I do not think I could feel the way I feel about Shuyoka without your help.
And I thank you Oyasama for drawing me to your paradise with your invisible strings. I am most grateful to all my classmates who have been with me through this experience.
Ann Masako Kawasaki (U.S.A.)
“Parting is such sweet sorrow.” (Shakespeare)
Shuyoka is like a car wash. I, being the car, came in with doubts, questions, and dusts, hoping to be somewhat cleansed.
All the elements, the soap, water, brushing, wax, and final wipe, are the stories I heard and the people I met who helped answer my questions and lessened my doubts about life and my spirituality.
For future Shuyoka students, enjoy the food, enjoy the people, because this chance may or may not come again.
Kathy Ting Choy Kuen (Malaysia)
I am sure each one of us has learned an important lesson that we will keep in mind for a long time. I thank God the Parent for giving me this opportunity to take this course and also to those who have made my trip and stay here possible. Shuyoka is a place to learn, to reflect, to encounter God the Parent. Also at Shuyoka, you meet and see different types of people from all walks of life so that you can learn a lot from them in Shuyoka too . I have learned to work together, share and help one another, all this has brought joy to my heart. Being here has been like nothing I have ever experienced before, and it is something that I will never forget.
When we learn about the life of Oyasama, how can we ever doubt our own life, as Her life is full of hardship, and how much endurance She had. I regret how I felt before as my past has robbed my life away, but I am happy now as I have found my true self as well as the path I would like to follow in the future. Upon receiving the blessing from Oyasama, it has certainly brought a new and more meaningful episode in my life. Now I hope to use what I learned in Shuyoka so that I may serve in my role as a true Yoboku. After graduating from Shuyoka, I intend to lead my life in a way that will bring joy to others.
Ian Ellis (Australia)
For the three months at Tenri doing the Shuyoka, the Spiritual Development Course, I have learned many things I had not ever heard of before. Teachings of the Origin of Life and a way of living, a new way of life that one may be happy, joyful and have an understanding of oneself and why one does certain things. The teachings of tanno, innen, and passing away for rebirth. These I need to ponder over, dust of the mind and much more.