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Joyful and Triumphant With the Heart of the Lion King!

Photo by Pobytov / Getty Images.

Living Buddhism sat down with youth division members to talk about what taking part in the May Commemorative Contribution activity means to them.

Contributing Out of Appreciation

Miho Homma
Long Island City, New York

In 2011, I worked for a company that paid low wages and had never given a bonus to employees. This was my first job after college. Living away from my parents, I was homesick but appreciated SGI members who encouraged me. I determined to do my first financial contribution to the Soka Gakkai. I saved whatever I could for eight months, finding ways to cut spending, which was difficult as I wasn’t using much money anyway! I participated full of joy knowing that my money would be used for kosen-rufu.

As I got more consistent in my Buddhist practice and read Ikeda Sensei’s writings, I was inspired by his address at the founding of the SGI in 1975, where he said:

Rather than seeking after your own praise or glory, I hope that you will dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law throughout the entire world. I shall do the same. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 21, p. 33)

These words inspired me to go outside of Japan and strive for worldwide kosen-rufu. I studied English in Austin, Texas, in 2014, where, as a student, I still participated in May Contribution with a small amount, determined to do kosen-rufu in America. After finishing school in Texas, I returned to Japan as I didn’t have a visa.

Back in Japan, I went to the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Shinanomachi every day after work to chant to find a way to come back to the U.S. In 2018, I came to New York. I chanted for many hours every day and searched for jobs. I did SGI activities, helped clean the SGI center and shared Buddhism with as many people as I could. Amazingly, within a month I found a job that would sponsor my visa!

I have completely transformed my life since I began doing contribution. I used to be closed off and lacked confidence. Now, I feel, There’s nothing I cannot overcome! Of course, sometimes I doubt myself, but I am full of confidence because I have Ikeda Sensei and the SGI. This confidence in myself has been the greatest benefit of contributing.

Now, my company supports me in so many ways like paying for my parking, gas and phone bill. I also won a housing lottery in a new building, where I have a view of Manhattan from my apartment, with a clear view of the United Nations building! I invite young women from my chapter to my place, and they leave feeling encouraged to fight for their goals with our Buddhist practice.

Before making my contribution goal, I always read Sensei’s guidance and chant for my goal to come from my appreciation for the Gohonzon, Sensei and SGI members.

Investing in a Movement That Empowers Humanity

Marko Bajkovic
Irvine, California

I remember the first meeting I ever went to, looking around, glaring at all the smiling faces around me. It wasn’t until my second meeting, when I broke down in tears so upset by everyone’s happiness, that I realized just how much I was suffering. My next meeting was in my district. After the meeting, three members sat down with me to chant. I could feel their prayer for me—for me to break through my obstacles and be happy. It’s hard to explain, but I felt I could do anything while I was there with them. And I felt, I want to muster this feeling with my daimoku anytime!

When May Contribution came around the following year, there was all this talk about “the May Campaign” and at first I was like, What the heck is this? But the spirit was clear. I didn’t have much, and that wasn’t the point. It was simple: Make a personal goal, make a contribution goal and fight toward accomplishing both. Doable, I thought. I was just out of school and needed a job to allow me to stay in the states. I made my contribution that last week of April.

Naturally, my prayers at the time revolved around my own situation—around securing residency in the states and becoming financially stable.

As I deepened my faith, however, my prayers began to change. After experiencing for myself the empowerment that came from practicing in the SGI, I began chanting to extend to others the same opportunity. Having been so supported, I began to ask myself, How can I support others? The following May, I made another ambitious contribution.

Ikeda Sensei says that we should each have the spirit, “I am the president of the Soka Gakkai.” I asked myself, If need be, could I move kosen-rufu forward on my own? In May 2022, I set my most ambitious goal yet. Why? Simple. Every time I’ve fought toward May contribution, setting a personal and contribution goal, and fighting toward both with the spirit to advance kosen-rufu, I move my life forward by leaps and bounds. Currently, I’m working for a firm that allows me great independence and I have achieved a financial freedom that enables me to contribute to kosen-rufu to my heart’s content.

If anything, my financial goals have grown larger as I’ve deepened my faith. But my understanding of money’s purpose has deepened, too; I no longer want it for a yacht or other material things but for the sake of something deeper. To me, May Contribution has become an opportunity to challenge myself to expand my life, to become a person who can advance kosen-rufu.

Proud to Support Kosen-rufu

Gabriella Grange
Plano, Texas

When working at Starbucks in 2017, I was going through a World Tribune and read an experience by a musician talking about the fortune she created by participating in SGI-USA’s Sustaining Contribution program. This encouraged me as a struggling musician right out of college. She explained how she developed an appreciation for everything she had and how she opened up new career opportunities as a result. That’s when I started doing May Contribution and then Sustaining Contribution. This changed the way I thought about money, from something elusive to another way I could support kosen-rufu activities.

Reading the SGI-USA publications and Nichiren Daishonin’s writings helped me learn how profound offerings are in Buddhism. In his writings, Nichiren often opens his letters to his disciples by sharing his appreciation for their sincere offerings.

In summer 2017 I was accepted to a prestigious music program in New Hampshire. When I returned, I continued to work at Starbucks to pay off my student loans while looking for new employment. In 2018, I paid off my student loans and started a new job where I received quarterly bonuses and a higher salary. To express my appreciation to the SGI, I continued participating in May Contribution and Sustaining Contribution. Studying Buddhism also taught me that making the cause to contribute in less-than-ideal circumstances is actually the greatest opportunity to create fortune—not because it’s easy but because it’s hard.

I can’t begin to describe how much making contributions has strengthened my practice. It’s given me a deeper appreciation for everything about the SGI. When I contribute, I think about our centers, the Florida Nature and Culture Center, our Buddhability online platform and all the expanding resources for introducing more people to Buddhism in America. I feel so happy I can be a part of SGI’s expansion in society.

I still want to pursue a music career as well as become a prolific writer and show actual proof in society.

Proud to Support Kosen-rufu

Tushar Dadlani
San Francisco

Growing up, my father’s business experienced all kinds of losses, but neither my mother or I knew anything of them until my father suffered a heart attack in 2004. He could no longer support the business nor shield me and my mother from the realities of its condition. It became clear to me that financial karma was what my family needed to transform. My father passed away in 2019. When I graduated from high school, I told my parents I would work to support the family, but, “No, no, no,” they said. “You study. Don’t worry about work right now. We’ll make sure you get an education.”

Thanks to them, I did. But with my father gone, our family was left without any real source of income. I’ve got to do something, I thought.

Second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda gave guidance about money that blew my mind, explaining how money is always flowing in the world, if you accumulate good fortune, you can tap into it when you need it.

I’d found that this was true—when I put my life in rhythm with the Mystic Law, making causes to support others in faith, I began tapping into this resource. In 2015, I began a startup with some friends. Incredibly, we found an investor before we even quit our jobs. When we sold the company in 2019, we found a buyer at the perfect time, without missing a single paycheck for our employees. I attribute this to the causes I’d made over the years to support my SGI family.

But in May 2020, I challenged myself in a way I hadn’t before, to contribute an amount that would push me to really expand my life, with the goal of transforming my family’s financial destiny.

I made as many causes as I could for kosen-rufu. I also made contributions, not out of ego but with appreciation for this organization that had fostered my growth over so many years.

Reasons to be grateful are too many to count, but one I’ll mention is the global aspect of the SGI. I moved to the states from India in 2013 and found here a thriving SGI community that warmly embraced me. I remember thinking, I can go anywhere in the world and feel at home with the local SGI community. I asked myself, How can I use my life to contribute back to this organization?

When I sat down with the company I work for now, they asked me, quite simply, “How much do you feel we should pay you?” and I told them what I thought, and they said, “OK.”

Beyond transforming my family’s financial destiny, I am determined to transform the destiny of humankind, striving alongside my mentor and my SGI family the world over.

From the May 2023 Living Buddhism

Transforming Karma

Hold High the Proud Banner of Soka!