Skip to main content

Buddhist Study

‘Earnest Resolve’: The Spirit of Value Creation

Photo by Anthony Wallen.

What does it mean to create value

The word soka, in Soka Gakkai, is derived from the Japanese phrase kachi sozo, which translates to English as “value creation.” Before getting into creating value, let’s discuss what “value” really means.

What is considered valuable varies among people and cultures and changes over time. Naturally, we develop an affinity or attachment to those things.

For instance, among life’s various challenges, we find four universal sufferings that all people face—birth, aging, sickness and death. All point to the fleeting nature of life, and failing to grasp this, people often attach great value to temporary things like health, status and material possessions. And when change inevitably occurs—especially in the things we value—we experience suffering.

Yet there is an underlying source or essence of all phenomena, the Mystic Law. By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and carrying out Buddhist practice, we can joyfully navigate our ever-changing circumstances, remain unshaken and find deeper meaning in everything.

Ultimately, what Buddhism values most highly is life itself and its tremendous potential. Therefore, to create value is to draw from our life’s potential amid any circumstance and, more so, apply universal principles that champion and support the well-being and fulfillment of all.

Aspiring to support others reflects the noble qualities in oneself. The life philosophy of Nichiren Buddhism identifies two aspects of the “self”: the lesser self and the greater self.

The lesser self focuses primarily on oneself and is ruled by basic desires, lacking the capacity to consider, include or extend oneself to others. When operating from our lesser self, we tend to cling to fleeting matters and act out of self-preservation, which can cause suffering for ourselves and others.

However, when we reveal the greater self, we operate based on life’s unifying principles, including compassion for others and respect for the dignity of life, and find fulfillment in supporting others’ happiness. When we take action based on the greater self, we can transcend the constraints of the lesser self.

We might assume that the greater self is free from desire. But that’s not true. Ridding ourselves of desires would mean losing our motivation to acquire things necessary for survival, like food and shelter, and other things that enhance our quality of life.

Living based on the greater self means illuminating the creative potential of our desires or attachments for the betterment of all, enabling us to draw endless value from our lives.

So, how can we tap the value-creative power of our greater selves?

The greater self, in essence, is an expression of Buddhahood.

In a letter to a disciple, Nichiren Daishonin explains the key to attaining Buddhahood: “Ordinary people keep in mind the words ‘earnest resolve’ and thereby become Buddhas.”[1] “Earnest resolve” points to sincere dedication and determined efforts.

The recipient had sent the Daishonin rice, yams and nori (dried seaweed),[2] so Nichiren wrote this letter to express his appreciation for the disciple’s sincere offerings.

Making offerings, or almsgiving, is a foundational practice in Buddhism by which practitioners support the spread of Buddhism by offering things of value, like food, clothing, money and time.

Earlier in his letter, Nichiren writes that the greatest treasure of all is life itself. While sages described in Buddhist scriptures attained Buddhahood by offering their very lives, ordinary people, the Daishonin says, need not resort to such extreme measures.[3] What matters is our “earnest resolve”—the spirit with which we use our lives to advance kosen-rufu. Ikeda Sensei explains:

Earnest resolve means to focus our minds. What we direct our minds at is important. Clarifying and setting a fundamental purpose for our actions is crucial. 

As SGI members, we direct our minds toward the Gohonzon and kosen-rufu. 

Earnest resolve cannot be seen, but through its power we can orient ourselves in the direction of victory and happiness.[4]

In concrete terms, the first step is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. We then do our best each day while earnestly studying Buddhism, sharing it with others and offering our time, energy and resources to support SGI activities and those around us. By advancing kosen-rufu, we can redirect our attachments to nourish our greater self, the source of unlimited value.

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

May 3, 2024, World Tribune, p. 9


  1. “The Gift of Rice,” The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1125. ↩︎
  2. See Ibid. ↩︎
  3. See Ibid., p. 1126. ↩︎
  4. The Teachings for Victory, vol. 7, p. 98. ↩︎

Study We Can Apply in Daily Life

Creating Allies for Peace