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Sincerity Rooted in a Vow Is What Counts

Photo by Anthony Wallen.

When it comes to gift giving, many of us are familiar with the phrase “It’s the thought that counts.” And in Buddhism, too, it’s our sincerity to advance kosen-rufu that counts. Ikeda Sensei writes: “Sincerity is not something special. It is a treasure of the heart that we all possess. … This invisible treasure of the heart shines in our visible actions. Sincerity is also a struggle against our own selfishness.”[1]

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.[2]

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.

In the same way, as long as we maintain a purehearted, solid and unshakable commitment in faith—in other words, the Soka Gakkai spirit—then, no matter what prejudice or criticism we face in society, nothing can ever destroy the boundless good fortune that accompanies such commitment.[3]

When we light a lamp, or give offerings with sincerity and the determination to lead others to happiness, we cannot fail to “brighten [our] own way.”[4]

Prepared by the World Tribune staff


  1. Jan. 21, 2022, World Tribune, p. 3. ↩︎
  2. April 1, 2022, World Tribune, p. 2. ↩︎
  3. The New Human Revolution, vol. 26, p. 203. ↩︎
  4. “On the Three Virtues of Food,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 2, p. 1060. ↩︎

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