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With Pure Appreciation

Randy Pfannenstiel with his wife, Yuko Caruso, in Denver, March 2024. Photo by Jeremy Joffee.

World Tribune: What does May Commemorative Contribution mean to you?

Randy Pfannenstiel: As a family, we reflect on how much our lives have transformed over the decades, starting with my mother and stepfather’s practice. Being able to live with unshakable confidence in the Gohonzon is the greatest fortune. So, every May Commemorative Contribution is my way to give back, with pure appreciation, to this wonderful Buddhist practice.

At the same time, it’s an opportunity to challenge myself anew, set a financial contribution goal and strive toward that goal with courage. Whether in the highs or lows of my life, I never once gave up contributing. I ask myself, Is this Buddhist practice and the Gohonzon important to me? And I simply strive to match that sense of value with my contributions. It’s never a sense that I’m losing or sacrificing anything—again, it’s just appreciation.

As I share in the video experience, I was laid off 32 years into my career. Had this happened 15 years before, when I was a single parent going through financial difficulties, it would’ve been devastating. Maybe it was my karma to face obstacles in my career at some point, and I’m not sure what more I have in store. But I believe it’s through the good fortune I’ve accumulated through financial contributions that I can face my karma, be absolutely protected and come out victorious.

When I have doubts about whether or not I can contribute, I sit in front of the Gohonzon, chant, redetermine, go back out into my daily life and repeat this process. It’s just like one of the Buddha’s titles, “One Who Can Endure.” But I know that, when I base everything on faith, I’ll always come out saying: I did it. I won.

What does May Commemorative Contribution mean to you?

Illustration by NGEDIT_VECTOR / FIVERR.

Chika O’Berry
Ashburn, Va.

May Commemorative Contribution, to me, is about actualizing world peace, Ikeda Sensei’s dream. The wonderful resources that SGI-USA is able to provide—Buddhability, publications, Buddhist centers and more—are what helps us do it.

Our SGI community was built by our pioneers, alongside Sensei, selflessly struggling to eliminate misery from the land. We must carry on this same spirit and pass it on to our next generation, and contribution is one way we can do so.

Find Chika’s full experience in the April 2024 Living Buddhism.

Watch Chika’s video here!

April 5, 2024, World Tribune, p. C

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