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Q: Recently retired on a fixed income, I’m more cautious with finances than I once was. How can I partake in SGI-USA contributions with a youthful, lionlike spirit in this new chapter of my life?

Photo by Stephanie Araiza.

A: This is a courageous question. Matters of financial security and faith are ones that Ikeda Sensei himself has given painstaking thought. 

At the headquarters in May 1961, deeply pondering the future of kosen-rufu, Sensei’s thoughts turned to the question of funding. Numerous construction projects were underway and even more were on the horizon, all of them crucial to the advancement of kosen-rufu, all of them unlikely without financial resources. The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, describes his thoughts.

Members were definitely receiving benefit as a result of their practice, but few of them could be called “well off.” The majority, after all, had been motivated to embrace faith due to financial hardship or illness. Shin’ichi didn’t want to add to their burden.[1]

Sensei understood their burden well. Reflecting on the Soka Gakkai’s turbulent beginnings, when his mentor’s business was experiencing severe difficulties, Sensei recalls his own “joy and secret pride” in supporting his mentor to advance kosen-rufu in those trying circumstances. 

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. … 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.[2]

We need not push ourselves to extremes; financial security is something we each deserve, especially in our later years. Sensei does not stress some specific figure but rather sincerity—the cheerful, spontaneous spirit he assumed toward contribution—as the source of lasting benefit. 

Despite not having affluence or status, because she offered her lamp with a vow to illuminate the darkness of all living beings, her lamp continued to burn brightly.

Sensei recently cited the story of “The Poor Woman’s Lamp” to illustrate the importance of action rooted in sincerity: 

Shakyamuni was residing at Jetavana Monastery. Many lamps were lit as offerings to him from the king and by other illustrious and wealthy people. By dawn, however, their lamps had all burned out. Only the single lamp offered by a poor, unknown woman continued burning brightly. It could not be extinguished even by gales like those buffeting Mount Sumeru.[3]

Despite not having affluence or status, because she offered her lamp with a vow to illuminate the darkness of all living beings, her lamp continued to burn brightly.

In The New Human Revolution, vol. 26, Sensei writes: 

What does the poor woman’s lamp correspond to for us? Faith and the Soka Gakkai spirit. While all the other lamps may have been extinguished by a powerful wind, the poor woman’s lamp, offered out of a spirit of single-minded faith, did not go out.[4]

—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

The Third Stage of Life: Aging in Contemporary Society


  1. The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, revised edition, p. 108. ↩︎
  2. Ibid., p. 118. ↩︎
  3. April 1, 2022, World Tribune, p. 2 ↩︎
  4. NHR-26, 203. ↩︎

As a single parent, I worry if my child is missing out on something. What can I do?

Making Good Causes Day After Day