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Daily Life

Setting Your Life Up for Ultimate Victory

How Sustaining Contribution builds the foundation for our happiness.

Each October, we celebrate the day in 1960 when Ikeda Sensei embarked on his first overseas journey to spread the life-affirming tenets of Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world, starting from the United States.

Pushing the limits of his physical exhaustion, Sensei met with and encouraged the pioneering Soka Gakkai members practicing Buddhism in seven U.S. cities, and he established the first districts, creating a framework for the U.S. members to carry out their Buddhist practice centered on the discussion meeting.

More than six decades later, members gather at more than 2,500 discussion meetings each month held in every corner of our country and hold activities at 90 Buddhist centers, which serve as training grounds for our youthful successors.

The Sustaining Contribution initiative, held Oct. 1–Nov. 5, enables us to both financially protect and extend our kosen-rufu movement far into the future, so that we can elevate the life state of humanity and bring about an era that treasures the dignity of each person. 

How do youth engage in this activity? See the message from our national youth leaders, and  voices from young women’s and young men’s leaders on why they participate in Sustaining Contribution.
—Prepared by the World Tribune staff

‘The Causes We Make Now Will Determine Our Future’

by Amelia Gonzalez and Shota Okajima 
SGI-USA Young Women’s and Young Men’s Leaders

Sixty-three years ago, on Oct. 2, Ikeda Sensei traveled to the U.S. on his first journey overseas to spread the light of Buddhism throughout the world. When we look at our beautiful organization today, it’s hard to believe how much it has expanded and developed since 1960.

We owe it to Sensei and our amazing pioneers who dedicated their lives to introducing Nichiren Buddhism to the U.S. for the sake of people’s happiness. How incredible, then, that we get to join them in ensuring our kosen-rufu movement extends far into the future through our efforts to share Buddhism with others and make financial contributions.

When you think about it in that way, the future of our movement is up to us, the youth!

Making offerings with appreciation and based on our vow to spread Buddhism is an essential part of our Buddhist practice. As we expand our lives through making offerings, we also gain so much benefit and fortune.

Both of us started making financial contributions to the SGI-USA many years ago because we were inspired by the noble efforts of the women’s and men’s division members who have challenged themselves since their youth to advance kosen-rufu alongside Sensei. They shine with incredible life condition, joy and freedom.

Having made such causes ourselves, we now look at our lives and can’t believe where
we are today. Only fortune can explain it. We continue to participate in Sustaining Contribution to express our deep appreciation and because we can’t wait to see where our lives will continue to go.

Every time we challenge ourselves to do a little more, we make a cause to break free from our lesser selves, which are bound by self-concern, and expand our greater self, whose love and concern extends to all humanity.

As youth, of course, there are many things we want to do and spend our money on. We often strategize about how we can find the money to do those things. But Buddhism teaches that living the kind of life we want is based on the causes we make and the fortune we build. We cannot strategize our way to the lives we want, but they will open before us when we use our lives to support our kosen-rufu movement. 

When Sensei was young, he supported the businesses of his mentor, Josei Toda, when they were experiencing difficulties, and he himself was battling tuberculosis. Of his own volition, Sensei used the little money he had to support Soka Gakkai activities. He writes of that time:

Shin’ichi [Yamamoto] 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. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, revised edition, p. 118)

What kind of lives do we want to live? What current struggle do we want to overcome? The causes we make now will determine our future. We hope that no youth misses out on the opportunity to create the fortune that will set their life up for ultimate victory. 

Sensei says:

The spirit of joyful offering elevates our state of life and produces immeasurable benefit. This, in turn, deepens our conviction in faith. It is an unchanging equation for consolidating the foundation of happiness in our lives. (NHR-4, revised edition, 115)

Toward Nov. 18, the 10th anniversary of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu, and the March Youth Peace Festivals in 2024, let’s challenge ourselves and create astonishing victories, while continuing to build an unshakable foundation of happiness in our lives. Thank you so much!

The Gohonzon Has My Back

Kenyale Kearney • San Diego, Calif.

I lived with my auntie after my mom passed away when I was a teenager. She encouraged me to participate in contribution as a great cause for my happiness. “Just try to give something,” she told me. “You never know how it is going to turn out someday.” 

I heard other members’ experiences of not really understanding the spirit but contributing anyway and seeing how their lives changed. That is what happened to me. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I had all kinds of financial issues, and my landlord stopped trusting me when I could barely make rent. But I thought, The Gohonzon always has my back, and kept making causes in faith, including taking part in Sustaining Contribution. 

When I put my trust in the Gohonzon, something shifted. People started flocking to me, telling me my energy was so good and coming to me for advice—to the point that I started wondering, Why are all these people trusting me with their problems?

All my struggles taught me to manage my money better, because you never know what might happen. Now, my life looks completely different. I get to spend time with my daughter during a long maternity leave, I am working on my third degree without any student debt, and I’m moving into a home that is way better for my family—I finally got a washer in the house! 

My dream is to be an understanding mom for my daughter, someone she can trust. I’m determined to keep standing up for myself and my daughter. Throughout my life, I’ve been through the wringer. Maybe life isn’t meant to be easy, but why can’t it be? It’s about building fortune. All the fortune I have now is from my Buddhist practice, from my auntie making sure I was connected. I hope that my daughter can have this kind of fortune, too. 

No Cause for Kosen-rufu Is Wasted

Koda Jordet • Fargo, North Dakota 

One thing I’ve been chanting for since I started practicing Buddhism 10 years ago was to find my biological family. My mom had given my siblings and me up for adoption at birth.

Last year, as a region young men’s leader, I often drove back and forth from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis (a 3.5-hour drive) to do Soka Group and Gajokai shifts and visit the young men there. I also took part in Sustaining Contribution as a way to express my gratitude for this practice.

One day, my two biological sisters and I received a letter from the Native American tribe that my mother belonged to. They had been trying to locate the heirs to her inheritance since she passed away in 2007.

Our mother had set us up at birth to receive a per capita check from her tribe. It had accumulated over the years to a pretty significant amount. I was shocked. I realized that although my mother gave us up for adoption, she must have really loved us. She just couldn’t take care of us because of her own mental health. 

I immediately increased my Sustaining Contribution with tremendous appreciation for my mother and my Buddhist practice. 

In August 2022, I felt the protection of the Mystic Law. My adoptive father had a heart attack—but it occurred while he was in a hospital! I can only explain that as protection. He received immediate care and, after returning home, he’s completely shifted his daily life to include exercise and an improved diet. He’s now a lot healthier and happier than before. I realized that all of the causes I’m making are protecting me and my family. 

When I told my father that I wanted to move closer to the Minneapolis Buddhist Center so I could fully support the young men and go back to school, he told me to base everything on my Buddhist practice. He doesn’t practice Buddhism, but he sees the dramatic change in me. 

No cause for kosen-rufu is ever wasted. Our contributions—of time, effort and money—help our movement for world peace and help people become happy. This is the greatest joy.

Recognizing My Fortune

Ankita Deb • Pittsburgh

It was my young women’s leaders who encouraged me to do Sustaining Contribution. I’ve always struggled financially, so it was something I had to do a lot of human revolution to understand. I learned that making offerings were part of developing a consistent Buddhist practice—that, with Sustaining Contribution, I could win monthly and create fortune for my life. 

Whenever I do contribution, I experience obstacles that try to stop me. But I’ve learned that it is about developing the life state to give with appreciation. And every time I do contribution, I transform something in my life. 

Recently, we found out that my husband would receive a significant increase in his student stipend. This news came at a time when I was struggling to believe in my own life and the causes I was making. As I was doing morning gongyo, I prayed with appreciation and resolved to contribute to the SGI again with gratitude. Then I realized that my husband’s stipend was a huge benefit. I couldn’t see it before because I was drowning in my own suffering. Had it not been for that prayer to contribute based on appreciation, I might have taken my recent benefits for granted. 

I have no idea what the state of our finances will be next year, and I don’t know when I will get a job. But my life force is strong enough that I can recognize my fortune and benefits. I feel confident that I can live without money being an obstacle. I feel so much joy—I have the great fortune of participating in contribution. This is the most profound cause that I can make. 

October 20, 2023, World Tribune, pp. 6–7

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