Contributing With a Vow for Kosen-rufu

Message from Adin Strauss, SGI-USA General Director

SGI-USA Cleveland Buddhist Center Grand Opening August 9, 2015 Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Karen Green.

AdinStrauss_headshotThank you very much for your sincere financial contributions to the SGI-USA, year after year. Your efforts have enabled the creation of an ever-expanding network of peace, dedicated to securing a humanistic future for humanity. In this issue, let’s study together the origins and fundamental spirit of financial offerings in Buddhism. In The New Human Revolution, volume 4, SGI President Ikeda gives a comprehensive explanation of the history of offerings from Shakyamuni’s day to Nichiren’s time, a history still being created today through the grand tradition of contributions to the Soka Gakkai.

We often hear of the immeasurable benefits received from making offerings for the sake of spreading Buddhism. For example, Nichiren writes:

Now here is a woman who donates a robe to the Lotus Sutra. In future lives she will not only escape the sufferings of the eight cold hells, but in her present life she will be spared major calamities. Her benefits will be such that they extend to her sons and daughters, so that they are dressed in robe upon robe, of color upon color! (“On the Eight Cold Hells,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 722)

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Whether you chant the Buddha’s name, recite the sutra, or merely offer flowers and incense, all your virtuous acts will implant benefits and roots of goodness in your life. With this conviction you should strive in faith. (“On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” WND-1, 4)

It is only natural that we receive benefit from making offerings. However, it’s also vital that we make such offerings based on the vow to achieve widespread propagation of the Mystic Law.

For example, during Shakyamuni’s time, his disciples offered various items to assist Shakyamuni in his efforts to propagate, such as oil to fuel a lamp so he could work after daylight hours, or monasteries where disciples could gather to engage in practice and study. In Nichiren’s time, his disciples would provide offerings that were appropriate to sustain his and his disciples’ lives, and support his efforts to propagate Buddhism. It’s a fact that a great many of Nichiren’s letters begin with appreciation for various offerings he had received.

In “The Person and the Law,” for example, addressed to Nanjo Tokimitsu, Nichiren writes:

I have received your gifts of a horse-load of salt, a sack of beans, a bag of seaweed, and a bamboo container of sake . . . I can hardly find words to say how much I appreciate your sincerity in sending me a letter and the many gifts. (WND-1, 1097)

Throughout the history of the Soka Gakkai as well, we observe this same spirit of contribution. The Soka Gakkai began with the publishing on November 18, 1930, of the epoch-making work Value-Creating Pedagogy, which was financed by Josei Toda and written by founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. Not until after assuming the role of second Soka Gakkai president, did Mr. Toda allow financial contributions from Soka Gakkai members. He carefully ensured that no financial burden was placed on a single member, and that members contributed freely, willingly and joyfully.

In this Year of Expansion in the New Era of Worldwide Kosen-rufu, let’s create a new beginning for our May Commemorative Contribution Activity by returning to the spiritual roots of offerings in Buddhism, based on our fervent vow to accomplish kosenrufu in the United States and become a model for SGI organizations throughout the world. Such roots lie in Nichiren’s writings and the guidance of President Ikeda. I therefore warmly invite you to enjoy the following selected writings on the spirit of contribution from Nichiren and President Ikeda. Once again, thank you very much for your dedicated efforts!