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Buddhist Study

Creating a Groundswell of Hope With the “Vast Heart” of Soka

Photo by Greg & Lois Nunes / Unsplash.

Each year in the SGI, we welcome May 3, Soka Gakkai Day, in the same way that we celebrate New Year’s Day. For us, not only is May 3 a time to appreciate how our Buddhist practice has enhanced our lives, it is also a time to refresh our resolve to widely share Nichiren Buddhism and ensure that our kosen-rufu movement continues far into the future.

It is during this significant month of May that the SGI-USA conducts its traditional May Contri-bution activity. This year’s theme, “Creating a Groundswell of Hope With the ‘Vast Heart’ of Soka,” was inspired by Ikeda Sensei’s message commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai’s founding last November 18.

He writes:

[The “vast heart” of Soka] is the great, invincible spirit to keep striving together with the Mystic Law through even the bitterest adversity to transform all poison into medicine and freely create value with confidence, strength, wisdom and opti-mism. (November 20, 2020, World Tribune, p. 2)

By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo we align our lives with the Mystic Law and tap into this vast and powerful life force that enables us to be resilient and forever hopeful, no matter our circumstances.

Sensei emphasizes that living with gratitude is most essential in our Buddhist practice, saying: “When we face difficulties, thinking of all those who have helped us in some way can rouse in our hearts a renewed fighting spirit. Gratitude is the source of fundamental human strength” (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 3, p. 100).

He also points out that those without gratitude are miserable, “because they destroy the very fabric that makes them human” (The Teachings for Victory, vol. 3, p. 100).

We can win over our arrogance and negativity by maintaining each day the basics of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, studying Buddhism and sharing the practice with others.

Gratitude: The Starting Point of Nichiren Buddhism

From a young age, Nichiren Daishonin was compelled to find answers to life’s sufferings based on his deep desire to repay his gratitude to his parents. He sought out Buddhism, and after two decades of intensive Buddhist study, he identified in the Lotus Sutra the universal Law of life for leading all people, including his parents, to enlightenment. He revealed this Law as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.

Nichiren began spreading his teaching during a time much like today, when natural disasters, famine, epidemics and political instability filled people with anxiety and fear. And amid a society that highly valued social rank and status, his effort to empower all people incurred the wrath of those in power, and he soon faced an onslaught of intense persecutions in spreading the Mystic Law.

Yet, because of his appreciation and vow to advance kosen-rufu, Nichiren declared that he endured all these things solely to express his gratitude to his parents, his mentor, Buddhism and his country (see “On Repaying Debts of Gratitude,” WND-1, 728).

His extraordinary commitment to repay his gratitude to humanity lives on today through us, practitioners of Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world, who strive to maintain the same resolve to spread his teaching of universal respect and enlightenment.

Appreciation Is Best Expressed Through Our Actions

Engaging in efforts for kosen-rufu with gratitude for our loved ones, mentors in faith, Buddhist practice and community invigorates our lives and brings benefit, good fortune and unceasing growth.

An integral part of our Buddhist practice—alongside carrying out the basics of faith, practice and study—is making offerings with a heart of appreciation.

Two vital offerings in Buddhism are: 1) the offering of goods, such as food, clothing, money and other goods, which allows us to release our attachment to material possessions; and 2) the offering of the Law, or spreading the teachings of Buddhism, which helps us let go of attachments that cause us to suffer.

Thus, making offerings is an essential part of our Buddhist practice. Taking action with gratitude each day enables us to pull forth the wisdom and life force necessary to conquer our funda- mental negativity and and transform our lives.

Sensei says:

If … we engage in our Buddhist practice with a spirit of goodwill toward others and a desire to praise and support everyone, we will experience a deep sense of joy and appreciation. Everything in life will seem rewarding and enjoyable. In fact, this is proof of our human revolution and the true embodiment of happiness. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 26, p. 301)

By living each day with such joy and apprecia-tion, we will surely illuminate our communities with the “vast heart” of Soka and create a ground-swell of hope.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

Dedicating Our Lives to the Great Path of Mentor and Disciple

Commentary on Volume 26