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Buddhist Study

Joyful Offerings Elevate Our State of Life

When you think of “joy,” what comes to mind? Maybe eating delicious food, going on vacation or celebrating significant milestones. 

But there’s no need to wait for such moments. We can find genuine joy in appreciating day-to-day happenings. Appreciating the people and things that support us regardless of our circumstances can foster a deep sense of fulfillment. And what’s more, expressing our appreciation motivates us to improve our lives and become more socially engaged.[1]

Thus, supporting a cause for the greater good of society, like making offerings to our Soka movement for peace and happiness for all, enables us to feel enduring appreciation and fulfillment. 

Traditionally, in Buddhism, we can make two kinds of offerings to express appreciation for our Buddhist practice. 

The first is offerings of goods, such as food, money or clothing. The second, offerings of the Law, indicates supporting and encouraging fellow Buddhist practitioners and sharing Buddhism with others. 

Nichiren Daishonin sustained his life and continued spreading his teaching of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo by receiving these two types of offerings from his disciples. 

In the winter of 1280, he addressed a letter to Nanjo Tokimitsu, titled “The Wealthy Man Sudatta,” praising his young disciple’s sincerity in sending a thousand coins despite intense challenges.

Tokimitsu oversaw his family’s estate, but—perhaps as punishment for protecting his fellow practitioners during the Atsuhara Persecution[2]—authorities had levied heavy taxes on him. They also demanded that he provide unpaid labor for numerous public works. This left Tokimitsu and his family in financial straits. Yet, he supported Nichiren, determined to work alongside his mentor to spread his teaching into the future. 

In the same letter, Nichiren writes: 

The way to become a Buddha easily is nothing special. It is the same as giving water to a thirsty person in a time of drought, or as providing fire for a person freezing in the cold. Or again, it is the same as giving another something that is one of a kind, or as offering something as alms to another even at the risk of one’s life. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1086)

He assures Tokimitsu that making sincere offerings to support the spread of Buddhism amid intense difficulty is the practice of attaining enlightenment. 

Underscoring this point, Nichiren writes about the story of Sudatta, who had experienced cycles of poverty and wealth seven times. During his last period of poverty, Sudatta and his wife had only five measures of rice in their possession. When Shakyamuni and four of his disciples arrived at their doorstep, Sudatta and his wife gladly offered all their rice. From then on, Sudatta became the wealthiest man in India and built the Jetavana Monastery for Shakyamuni. 

“From this,” Nichiren writes, “you should understand all things” (WND-1, 1086). The point is not to offer up all our possessions. Instead, the spirit of offerings lies in willingly and joyfully contributing to the noble aim of kosen-rufu. Ikeda Sensei explains:

Sudatta’s offering of the Jetavana Monastery is certain to have brought him even greater benefit and good fortune. 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. (The New Human Revolution, vol. 4, revised edition, p. 115)

Like Tokimitsu and Sudatta, we can elevate our state of life by making sincere and joyful offerings to advance kosen-rufu. Keeping in mind this year’s May Commemorative Contribution theme, “Moving Toward 2030 With Joy and Courage,” let’s infuse every effort we make in our Buddhist practice with gratitude and determination to turn suffering into joy and joy into even greater joy and to create a firm foundation for kosen-rufu toward 2030 and beyond!

—Prepared by the SGI-USA Study Department

April 5, 2024, World Tribune, p. D


  1. See <accessed on March 27, 2024>. ↩︎
  2. Atsuhara Persecution: A series of threats and acts of violence against followers of the Daishonin in Atsuhara Village (in present-day central Shizuoka Prefecture), starting in around 1275 and continuing until around 1283. ↩︎

With Pure Appreciation