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Q: What does it mean to make offerings based on a vow for kosen-rufu?

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A: Let’s start with the second part of the question, regarding the vow for kosen-rufu.

As SGI members, we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for the happiness of ourselves and others, participate in and support SGI activities, and strive to share this Buddhism with our friends. Such efforts are themselves expressions of our vow for kosen-rufu.

This vow for kosen-rufu can also be described as our deepest, most fundamental wish for the absolute happiness and fulfillment of ourselves and others, which we express by widely spreading the practice and ideals of Buddhism to our families, society and the world. This vow directly accords with the Buddha’s wish to lead all people to enlightenment.

The Buddhist practice of making offerings mentioned in your question also directly connects with this vow.

SGI President Ikeda describes the spirit of making offerings in The New Human Revolution (where he appears as Shin’ichi Yamamoto). He writes: “The offerings and financial contributions the [Soka Gakkai] organization solicited were exclusively to accomplish [Nichiren] Daishonin’s mandate to widely propagate the Mystic Law. Offerings made toward this end were equivalent to offerings made to the original Buddha. There was, then, no greater offering, no greater good. Certainly, nothing could bring greater benefit. This thought filled Shin’ichi with a sense of immeasurable good fortune and joy at having had the chance to make such offerings as a Soka Gakkai member” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, revised edition, p. 117).

Our financial contributions are an important part of our efforts to support the spread of the Mystic Law, because they fund many of our activities, ranging from opening and maintaining SGI-USA Buddhist centers to implementing special programs like the successful 50,000 Lions of Justice Festival that took place last fall. Thanks to everyone’s contributions, we are laying the foundation for kosen-rufu in the United States.

Nichiren writes, “Ordinary people keep in mind the words ‘earnest resolve’ and thereby become Buddhas” (“The Gift of Rice,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1125).

He teaches us that our “earnest resolve,” or sincerity, is what makes offerings in Buddhism a meaningful act. It all comes down to the innermost intent and sense of purpose. The depth and strength of the sincerity behind every effort we make will determine the fulfillment and empowerment those efforts bring to us and to others.

By always taking action with “earnest resolve” and an ever-deepening vow, we can fully support the further advancement of kosen-rufu, and build lives of the greatest good, benefit, fortune and joy. 

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