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Buddhist Study

“Sowing Good Seeds in a Field of Fortune”

SGI-USA members in New Jersey participate in the annual May Contribution activity. In The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, SGI President Ikeda writes about the spirit of making off erings in Nichiren Buddhism as an expression of one’s sincere faith and dedication to kosen-rufu. Photo by KEVIN LYDEN.

In the following excerpts, which are from The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, pp. 115–19, Shin’ichi Yamamoto (the character depicting SGI President Ikeda in the novel) turns to passages from Nichiren Daishonin’s writings to reflect on the meaning of making offerings in Buddhism.

Shin’ichi [Yamamoto] opened his copy of Nichiren [Daishonin’s] writings. He wanted to thoroughly study again the true meaning of Buddhist offerings in light of the Daishonin’s teachings. …

[He turned] to “The Wealthy Man Sudatta,” a letter sent to Nanjo Tokimitsu on the 27th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar in the year 1280.

At the time, Tokimitsu was in dire financial straits. Because he supported the Daishonin’s followers during the Atsuhara Persecution, the authorities forced him to pay heavy taxes and supply workers for unpaid labor to the government. Though he could no longer maintain a horse for himself and lacked adequate food and clothing for his wife and children, he offered the Daishonin 1,000 coins out of his sincere concern for [his] well-being in the winter cold of Mount Minobu. This was the letter the Daishonin had written in response.

Looking at the many letters addressed to Tokimitsu, we find that his offerings to the Daishonin normally consisted of food and other provisions. That on this occasion Tokimitsu had instead sent money suggests that he no longer had anything in the way of practical items to offer the Daishonin. It may well be that the string of coins he sent was money he had set aside for an emergency.

The Daishonin expressed his deep respect and praised Tokimitsu’s sincerity. Although Tokimitsu was almost destitute, his spirit was lofty and heroic. Offerings must always derive from a sincere spirit of faith. …

Shin’ichi next turned to “The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings.” He stopped at a passage near the end of the letter. He read it over and over, sensing its profound meaning:

Though one may perform meritorious deeds, if they are directed toward what is untrue, then those deeds may bring great evil, but they will never result in good. On the other hand, though one may be ignorant and make meager offerings, if one presents those offerings to a person who upholds the truth, one’s merit will be great. How much more so in the case of people who in all sincerity make offerings to the correct teaching! (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1134)

In short, the Daishonin’s statement indicates that offerings can bring about either good or evil, depending on to whom or for what cause they are made.

In light of this passage, Shin’ichi thought about the offerings made within the Soka Gakkai. The offerings and financial contributions the organization solicited were exclusively to accomplish the Daishonin’s mandate to widely propagate the Mystic Law. Offerings made toward this end were equivalent to offerings made to the Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law. 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 Daishonin concludes this letter by praising the spirit of this follower who had sent offerings to him at Mount Minobu: “Surely you are sowing good seeds in a field of fortune. My tears never cease to flow when I think of it” (WND-1, 1134).

Dedicating oneself to kosen-rufu means “sowing good seeds in a field of fortune”—Shin’ichi had been strongly convinced of this since his youth. He recalled his days of earnestly striving to protect and support Josei Toda, who took leadership to widely propagate the Daishonin’s teachings. Back then, Toda’s business was experiencing severe difficulties, and for a long time payment of Shin’ichi’s salary was in arrears.

Shin’ichi realized that to support this great lion of a man, who had arisen alone to spread the Law, was the way to protect the Soka Gakkai and to accomplish the goal of kosen-rufu.

He drastically cut his living expenses and made it his creed to use even a little of the money remaining from his pay to support Soka Gakkai activities, to contribute to spreading Nichiren Buddhism. To do so was his joy and secret pride. Because of this, he even spent an entire winter without an overcoat. Whenever he received some of his back salary, he would use a sizable portion of it to support Toda’s activities to promote kosen-rufu. Shin’ichi was absolutely convinced that the benefit and good fortune he had acquired as a result had enabled him to overcome his illness and today assume the Soka Gakkai’s leadership with confidence and composure.

He had not acted to support his mentor or the organization at someone else’s behest. He had done so spontaneously, with a spirit of cheerfulness. It was an expression of his sincere faith, a reflection of his profound resolve to dedicate his life to spreading Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world.

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