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Perspectives on Offerings in Buddhism

Photo by Harald Arlander / Unsplash.

If one lights a fire for others, one will brighten one’s own way. (“On the Three Virtues of Food,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1060)

by Nadia Ullah

The greatest benefit of my Buddhist practice has been the awareness of choice. I can break patterns of behavior that cause me suffering and grow into a better person. For several years after my son was born, I was depressed and began to cope with my pain with excessive drinking. One day, in 2020, I realized that I wasn’t in control of my life. I opened my Buddhist altar for the first time in a while and reengaged in SGI activities. I started to remove the shackles of illusion and create causes to love myself.

I’ve learned that offerings in Buddhism light a fire for others. By contributing to the SGI-USA, I make this philosophy of choice and empowerment available to more people and bring them happiness.

Through contributing, I feel as if I’m in a cycle of appreciation and victory. When I contribute, my gratitude increases, and when my gratitude increases, so does my life condition and the benefits I experience.

By making these causes in my Buddhist practice, my career has advanced beyond my imagination. Just a few years ago, I was working at a grocery store to make ends meet. In the past two years, I brought out the courage to advance my career, and am now a Health and Safety Lead at a manufacturing water technology company.

In 2030, I see myself as a reliable, inspiring women’s leader who empowers young people. I want to advance in my career, serve my community and effect deeper change in society based on Buddhist humanism.

Perseverance and compassion are like two sides of the same coin. Profound compassion based on a wish to free all people from suffering gives one incomparable strength to endure persecution and spread the Law. (The Opening of the Eyes: SGI President Ikeda’s Lecture Series, p. 64)

by Ryan Ainsworth
Santa Clarita, California

Six years ago, my family encountered a profound obstacle. I blamed my father for this situation and didn’t speak to him for two years. In 2018, I decided to transform our relationship and began talking to him again. In chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo about our situation, I realized that I had built a wall around my heart, so even though we were talking, I was ignoring his Buddha nature.

This experience awakened me to my tendency to get hotheaded when I disagreed with others. I determined to emulate Bodhisattva Never Disparaging, who praised the Buddha nature of others, regardless of their reaction. Whenever I contribute to the SGI-USA, I feel as if I’m praising the Buddha nature of all people. For me, contribution is a powerful cause to behave as Bodhisattva Never Disparaging in my daily life and create harmony with those around me.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I faced many financial setbacks, including my restaurant closing down and my being forced to move in with my parents. Despite these challenges, I continued to participate in both May and Sustaining contributions. During this period, I’ve achieved things I had been putting off. First, six months after moving in with my parents, I was able to mend my relationship with my father. Second, I’m advancing my dream of becoming a physical therapist for a professional sports team, as I recently began working at a sports rehabilitation clinic. My Buddhist practice has empowered me to deeply transform my life and take action to spread this philosophy of hope to others.

As for the matter of becoming a Buddha, ordinary people keep in mind the words “earnest resolve” and thereby become Buddhas. (WND-1, 1125)

by Kaori Garcia
Mission Viejo, California

My daughter, Ruby, taught me how to develop this “earnest resolve” in my Buddhist practice. My husband and I struggled for five years to have a child, and in November 2021, our precious Ruby was born.

This struggle pushed me to strive harder in my Buddhist practice. I went through several rounds of fertility treatment, requiring procedures and medications, leaving my husband and I in difficult financial situations. Despite this, we continued to participate in the May Contribution activity each year, knowing that this was another cause to break through our karma and achieve our goal of becoming parents. In November 2020, I was devastated after a second miscarriage. I got up again, determined to not give up. That same month, we signed up for Sustaining Contribution. We weren’t able to give much, but we contributed with the earnest resolve to win over our circumstances. One year later, Ruby was born.

Contributing financially to the SGI-USA has been a journey of deepening my vow for kosen-rufu. I have not always been able to give as much as I’d like, but I always determine to give more than the year before. For me, summoning this resolve to do more has led to my family’s great victories in the past year, including Ruby’s birth and purchasing a home for kosen-rufu.

Our aim is the happiness of each resident and the prosperity of the entire region. We must therefore be careful not to allow a barrier to come between the Soka Gakkai and the community. When we are firmly resolved to work for the community and contribute to society, we can make Nichiren Buddhism accessible to the public and advance kosen-rufu. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 19, p. 30)

by Everton Carvalho
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

My mother taught me that no matter what difficulties I face, if I continue my Buddhist practice, I will be victorious. Growing up in São Paulo, Brazil, our home was a lighthouse for the community, as we hosted SGI meetings. With the meetings at our home, I was constantly exposed to the warmth of SGI members.

I developed self-reliant faith when I moved to the United States in 2016 for college. I found myself in a small town in West Virginia, with just 7,000 people, coming from a city with over 12 million. I went from attending SGI meetings in my living room to the closest member living 90 minutes away. On top of that, my family faced financial hardships, so I couldn’t pay for a cell phone plan.

Despite my challenges, I contributed a humble amount to the SGI-USA, knowing that this was contributing to people’s happiness. With my practice, I persevered based on my mission for kosen-rufu and the support of my friends and family in the SGI. I’m now attending graduate school at Louisiana State University, focusing on mass communications. So many people are suffering without a strong philosophy or support system. For me, contributing is not a question of sustaining an organization but of how I can help others encounter this practice and transform their lives.

Challenging Limits of My Own Making

The Compassionate Practice of Shakubuku