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Buddhist Study

Our Gratitude Puts Us on the Path to Genuine Humanity

Photo by Joey Liao.

“Thank you!”—such a short but powerful phrase. Research has shown that living with gratitude has positive, lasting effects on our overall well-being and relationships with those around us.[1] Expressing gratitude is vital to leading a happy, fulfilling life. 

Ikeda Sensei says:

Solar systems follow their own defined orbits. Galaxies also travel through space in harmonious rhythm with the universe. Similarly, in Buddhism, there is a path for living with genuine humanity and dignity, and that is the path of appreciation and gratitude. (June 13, 2008, World Tribune, p. 4)

Nichiren Daishonin exemplified a life of gratitude. Despite facing relentless oppression ever since he declared the establishment of his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on April 28, 1253, he always lived with appreciation. 

As he writes: 

Ever since I began to study the Law handed down from Shakyamuni Buddha and undertook the practice of the Buddhist teachings, I have believed it is most important to understand one’s obligations to others, and made it my first duty to repay such debts of kindness. … One who understands this is worthy to be called human, while one who does not is no more than an animal. (“Conversation between a Sage and an Unenlightened Man,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 122)

Sincerity invites sincerity. Many of Nichiren’s letters to his disciples begin with his thanks for their offerings, which they, in turn, had made out of appreciation for his guidance. As mentor and disciples, they worked in solidarity to spread his teachings. 

Offerings in Buddhism

The exchange between the Daishonin and Nichinyo, a dedicated disciple, illustrates this point. 

To thank Nichiren for conferring to her the Gohonzon, she made an offering of “five thousand coins, one horseload of polished rice, and fruit” (“The Real Aspect of the Gohonzon,” WND-1, 831). 

Offering goods is one way Buddhists have traditionally shown their appreciation. In addition, we also make offerings of the Law. For us today, this consists of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon; sharing Buddhism with and supporting those around us; and contributing to the sangha, our community of SGI Buddhists. 

In response to Nichinyo’s offerings, the Daishonin writes: 

A woman who makes offerings to such a Gohonzon invites happiness in this life, and in the next, the Gohonzon will be with her and protect her always. Like a lantern in the dark, like a strong guide and porter on a treacherous mountain path, the Gohonzon will guard and protect you, Nichinyo, wherever you go. (WND-1, 832)

He reassures her that she will be protected and fulfilled in this life because of her sincere efforts in faith. Her faith in the Gohonzon serves as “a lantern in the dark … a strong guide and porter on a treacherous path” (WND-1, 832).

Like Nichinyo, we make offerings out of our appreciation for the many benefits we have gained through Buddhist practice and to express our resolve to contribute to advancing kosen-rufu. A sincere offering for the cause of spreading the Mystic Law will result in lifetime after lifetime of benefits. 

Many of us volunteer our time and energy to support SGI activities that encourage fellow members. We also make financial contributions to develop our facilities and operations that support the kosen-rufu movement. 

Nothing brings greater benefit than making such offerings of the Law. Taking such action with gratitude is how we live the path of genuine humanity and dignity.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department 

Photo by Julia Margeth Theuer / Unsplash

Heartfelt Exchanges Between Mentor and Disciple

Sowing Good Seeds of Fortune

Though one may perform meritorious deeds, if they are directed toward what is untrue, then those deeds may bring great evil, but they will never result in good. On the other hand, though one may be ignorant and make meager offerings, if one presents those offerings to a person who upholds the truth, one’s merit will be great. How much more so in the case of people who in all sincerity make offerings to the correct teaching!

In addition, we live today in a time of trouble, when there is little that ordinary people can do. And yet, busy as you are, in your sincerity you have sent me thick-stemmed bamboo shoots of the moso variety as offerings to the Lotus Sutra here in the mountains. Surely you are sowing good seeds in a field of fortune. My tears never cease to flow when I think of it.  (“The Bodies and Minds of Ordinary Beings,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1134)

Abundant Blessings From Making Offerings

I have received three hundred coins from the wife of Abutsu-bo. Since you two are of the same mind, have someone read this letter to you and listen to it together.

I have also received the unlined robe you sent all the way from the province of Sado to the mountain recesses of Hakiri Village in Kai Province. …

The blessings from making offerings to a votary of the Lotus Sutra in the evil age of the Latter Day of the Law surpass those from earnestly making offerings with one’s words, thoughts, and deeds for the space of an entire medium kalpa to a Buddha such as Shakyamuni. Though this seems impossible, you must never doubt it, because these are the Buddha’s golden words. (“The Letter to the Lay Nun of Ko,” WND-1, 595)

April 7, 2023, World Tribune, Insert, p. D


  1. “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain,” <accessed on March 30, 2023>. ↩︎

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