Q: What should my attitude be when making financial contributions to the SGI?
This Q&A series addresses frequently asked questions about Nichiren Buddhism.
A: It is the heart that matters—the heart of appreciation and determination to stand up with our mentor for kosen-rufu.
We can learn a lot about the spirit of contribution by reading letters that Nichiren Daishonin wrote to his disciples. A majority of them begin with words of appreciation for the various offerings he received.
For instance, having received salt, beans, seaweed and sake, Nichiren writes to Nanjo Tokimitsu, “I can hardly find words to say how much I appreciate your sincerity in sending me a letter and the many gifts” (“The Person and the Law,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1097). It was due to such offerings that Nichiren was able to sustain his life and continue his arduous efforts to propagate his teachings.
Nanjo Tokimitsu, while still in his teens, had been forced to take on the role of steward of Ueno Village after the death of his father and older brother. Together with Nikko Shonin, another of Nichiren’s trusted disciples, Tokimitsu supported the spread of Nichiren’s teachings in Ueno and Atsuhara, offering his residence as a center of propagation activities. As Nichiren’s disciples increased in number, opposition mounted from local authorities, escalating into what is known as the Atsuhara Persecution. During this time, Tokimitsu, who was only around 20, used his influence in society to protect believers, sheltering them in his home. In retaliation, authorities levied exorbitant taxes upon him for several years. Despite such struggles, Tokimitsu continued to diligently send money and offerings in support of Nichiren and supported the spread of his teachings.
Because he exhibited such a noble and heroic spirit of faith, Nichiren deeply respected, praised and appreciated Tokimitsu. And Tokimitsu’s actions exhibit the deep sense of mission with which he lived, a way of life taught to him by the Daishonin.
The spirit of Tokimitsu underlies the Soka Gakkai’s tradition of making offerings based on sincerity, appreciation and the vow to support the widespread propagation of the teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. SGI members consistently experience the mutually beneficial and inspiring relationships of supporting and being supported by others while striving for kosen-rufu. And our financial contributions support the continued growth of this beautiful Soka network.
SGI President Ikeda says: “Being grateful for the support so many others have given us—that awareness, that feeling, that joy—will bring us even greater happiness. In addition to being grateful because we are happy, the feeling of gratitude itself actually brings us happiness. Prayers with a spirit of gratitude, too, harmonize most effectively with the rhythm of the universe and turn our lives in a positive direction” (April 2015 Living Buddhism, p. 16).
Making financial contributions and supporting SGI activities based on this sense of appreciation and earnest faith is the key to revealing and enjoying the highest state of life—Buddhahood. Such sincere action is the way to “become a Buddha easily.”