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Q: How can I feel proud of my offering even though it is modest?

Many Treasures Group members celebrate the opening of the SGI-USA Philadelphia Buddhist Center, Jan. 1, 2019.
Many Treasures Group members celebrate the opening of the SGI-USA Philadelphia Buddhist Center, Jan. 1, 2019. Photo by Dave Goodman

Q: I am often conflicted when our May Commemorative Contribution activity comes around. I have tremendous gratitude for having practiced within the SGI-USA for the last four decades. I have always given monthly contributions and really challenged myself in May to make a significant offering. Now in my late 70s and living alone on a fixed income, I cannot make the kind of contribution in May that I had previously been able to do when I was working. How can I feel proud of my offering even though it is modest?

A: Regardless of the size of your offering, if you continue to practice with conviction, from the heart, as you most assuredly do, then you are contributing mightily to the foundation of Soka in the United States.

Nichiren Daishonin wrote these words of praise in 1280 to a woman who had sent him strings of coins as a sincere offering:

The Buddha, being truly worthy of respect, never judges by the size of one’s offerings. In the past, the boy Virtue Victorious offered a mud pie to the Buddha, and was reborn as King Ashoka and ruled over all of Jambudvipa. A poor woman cut off her hair and sold it to buy oil [for the Buddha], and not even the winds sweeping down from Mount Sumeru could extinguish the flame of the lamp fed by this oil. Accordingly, your offerings of two and three strings of coins are far greater even than those of the ruler of Japan. (“Reply to Onichi-nyo,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1089)

The SGI-USA made a goal to have 75,000 future division members by 2030. This lofty approach of being aware of our reality and yet fighting for our great ideal with pride and optimism is exactly how we can challenge our own situation and encourage others.

Ikeda Sensei once quoted the noted pacifist scholar Johan Galtung: “We must be realists in our brains while keeping the flame of idealism burning in our hearts.” Of this, Sensei remarked: “Both of these—to see the world as it is and how it could be—are essential to reform. A firm hold on reality should not entail being swamped by or resting easy in the status quo. To pioneer uncharted ways requires that people today keep the lamp of optimism lit” (Buddhism Day by Day, p. 352).

When you feel disheartened, please remember the mission you carry as a precious Many Treasures Group member. Sensei says of us:

Their lives are free and unconstrained. Their abundant wisdom about life and their warm humanity, along with their unflagging good cheer and optimism, brighten the hearts of all. Having dedicated their lives to value creation, they are people of true wealth, veterans in Buddhist practice, victors and inspiring examples of the teaching that ordinary people are Buddhas. (August 2020 Living Buddhism, p. 55)

Sensei continues: “As you grow older, it’s only natural that you may not be able to do as much as you once did. But if you are resolved to do whatever you can and to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as much as possible to support your capable successors, you can contribute without end to kosen-rufu” (p. 56).

The spirit of contribution, imbued with sincerity and conviction, will never change. Sensei [who appears as Shin’ichi Yamamoto in The New Human Revolution] explains:

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. (vol. 4, revised edition, pp. 117–18)

Please remember that encouragement in the SGI is always “Do your best!” And that is something only you can determine, so please be confident that doing your best will always produce great benefit in your ongoing efforts for kosen-rufu.

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