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Buddhist Study

Making Offerings in Buddhism

This SGI-USA center is being developed in Long Island City, N.Y., one of the fastest developing neighborhoods in New York City. Rollmann Architecture

The holiday season, when many deepen their spirit of generosity and giving, is a good time to reflect on an important element of Buddhist practice: “almsgiving,” or making offerings to support the spread of Buddhism. This is an act that makes possible the endeavor to lead all people to enlightenment and happiness while implanting abundant good fortune in the life of the giver.

Nichiren Daishonin observes, “The Buddha, being truly worthy of respect, never judges by the size of one’s offerings.”[1] In essence, the sincerity behind an offering is most important.

In a letter titled “Blessings of the Lotus Sutra,” Nichiren praises his disciple Myomitsu for his earnest offering, writing:

Your sincerity in sending a gift of five strings of blue-duck coins whenever the opportunity arises truly entitles you to be known as one who propagates the daimoku[2] of the Lotus Sutra in Japan. As first one person, then two persons, then a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, and then all the people throughout the country come to chant the daimoku, before you know it, their blessings will accrue to you.[3]

This letter was written in 1276, when the Daishonin was living at Mount Minobu. It is thought that Myomitsu and his wife, who were in Kamakura, frequently sent offerings to Nichiren there. The growing number of those taking faith in the Daishonin’s teaching also invited government repression. Despite facing such challenges, Myomitsu and his wife maintained sincere faith.

The Daishonin assures Myomitsu that, because of their sincere offerings and support, the more people who come to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, the more blessings and benefits they will accrue. Thus, Nichiren teaches that our earnest wish and actions to support and advance kosen-rufu will bring about unimaginably wonderful and boundless benefits.

Two Types of Offerings

The practice of “almsgiving” is one of the six paramitas, or six bodhisattva practices. In the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni describes how in a previous existence he was “never stinting in heart” when giving alms, no matter how precious were the goods he gave away.[4] While there are various types of almsgiving in Buddhism, the two most commonly known are: the offering of goods, providing food and other goods to the Buddha and Buddhist Order; and the offering of the Law, sharing or explaining the Buddha’s teachings.

The Daishonin stresses that our contributions, whatever form they take, “implant benefits and roots of goodness”[5] in our lives. Moreover, by supporting efforts to widely spread the Mystic Law in this way, we are living the vow of a bodhisattva to help all people become happy.

Unseen Virtue Brings Visible Reward

As SGI members, we make offerings by supporting fellow members, participating in SGI activities and offering financial contributions. Each effort we make is not a casual act. For instance, especially in this time when many are experiencing financial challenges, contributing money comes from a commitment that requires what Nichiren describes as “earnest resolve.”[6]

He deeply praises those disciples who, out of their own sincere initiative, supported him in his propagation efforts even while they themselves faced hardships.

Ikeda Sensei says:

Making offerings to the Lotus Sutra means living out our lives based on the Mystic Law. 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 the 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.

Buddhism teaches that “It is the heart that is important.”[7] As long as our hearts are true and pure, taking the Buddha’s great vow for the happiness of all people as our own, all our efforts for kosen-rufu will turn into benefits. Everything is determined by our heart, our spirit of faith.[8]


  1. Reply to Onichi-nyo,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1089. ↩︎
  2. Daimoku refers to the title of a sutra, which represents the essence of the sutra. Daimoku also refers to the invocation of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in Nichiren’s teaching. ↩︎
  3. “Blessings of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 672. ↩︎
  4. See The Lotus Sutra and Its Opening and Closing Sutras, p. 221. ↩︎
  5. See “On Attaining Buddhahood in This Lifetime,” WND-1, 4. ↩︎
  6. See “The Gift of Rice,” WND-1, 1125. ↩︎
  7. The Strategy of the Lotus Sutra,” WND-1, 1000. ↩︎
  8. August 2015 Living Buddhism, p. 35. ↩︎

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