Q: Why are financial offerings part of Buddhist practice?
This Q&A series addresses frequently asked questions about Nichiren Buddhism.
A: The act of making financial offerings to the SGI is based on the Buddhist tradition of almsgiving, which began in the days of Shakyamuni Buddha, when believers gave alms to him out of genuine appreciation and the desire to support the spread of his teachings. This tradition continued in Nichiren Daishonin’s time with his disciples providing shelter and life-sustaining goods based on their shared desire to propagate his teachings.
Likewise, all the things we enjoy now in our Buddhist practice—from our SGI centers to our various SGI activities—are a direct result of the sincere commitment of our founding Soka Gakkai presidents and the members who pioneered the global kosen-rufu movement.
Throughout the history of Buddhism, mentors and disciples have worked selflessly together to spread the Mystic Law, a spirit we proudly carry on today.
Buddhism traditionally describes three kinds of offerings: offerings of goods, offerings of the Law and offerings of fearlessness. Offerings of goods are material items such as food, clothing and money, while offerings of the Law refer to sharing Buddhism with others. And offerings of fearlessness refer to being dauntless in our practice while also encouraging those undergoing difficulties by removing fear and inspiring courage.
SGI President Ikeda says, “Making offerings to the Lotus Sutra means living out our lives based on the Mystic Law” (August 2015 Living Buddhism, p. 35). Today, this means chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon with deep appreciation, sharing Buddhism with others, opening our homes for meetings, making financial offerings to the SGI and supporting the ongoing development of the organization.
Nichiren emphasizes that our mindset in Buddhist practice is key, saying that our “earnest resolve,” our sincerity, is what makes our offerings meaningful (see “A Gift of Rice,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1125). Most important is having the genuine feeling that “I want to support the advance of kosen-rufu!”
President Ikeda elaborates: “We practice and encourage others to practice the Mystic Law, which nourishes all things and makes their inherent Buddhahood shine. The resulting benefits are like the light of the sun and moon, giving rise to unsurpassed, inexhaustible value. That’s why the benefits attained by SGI members—who are striving tirelessly for kosen-rufu and the welfare of society, day after day, with unwavering faith in the Mystic Law—are immeasurable. In light of the strict law of cause and effect in life, all their actions will become future good fortune and blossom unfailingly as visible reward arising from unseen virtue. No effort we make in our Buddhist practice is ever wasted” (August 2015 Living Buddhism, p. 35).
Every cause we make for kosen-rufu is also a cause for our own happiness. When we realize this, our lives will be filled with joy, appreciation and a sense of pride in supporting the spread of the Mystic Law. Ultimately, everything is determined by our sincerity.