5. Donations (Fuse) , Offerings (Kuyo)
The meaning of donations, offerings, and sustaining:
Priest:Let us study the meaning of Donations, and Offerings. What comes to your mind when you hear these words?
Q:Fuse is asociated with the monetary gifts given to a priest and offerings with the food offered to the participants after an Oko service.
A:I believe so. The public's generally accepted idea of a “Donation" is offering money to a priest. On the other hand, the general public's use of the word, “Kuyo" means offering words and services for the respose of the souls of the deceased. However, words have a very deep meaning. First of all, donation is equivalent to the Sanskrit word, Da-na, of ancient India. It means the act of giving to others materialistic and spiritual aid.
Q:Is it always money?
A:No. The word Fu in Fuse means to “donate". That is, anything donated to aid others. In Buddhism, “donation" can be divided into three main classifications:
a).Wealth Donation (Zai Se):Donating one's assets, such as money and property, for the sake of spreading the religion, and not necessarily making a donation to a Head Priest or other priests, but also to aid others.
b).Religious Donation (Hosse):For spreading the teachings of the Buddha.
c).Veneration Donation (Mu I Se):Doing voluntary service in times of (materialistic, spiritual) calamities and sufferings.
Q: Are sermons provided by a priest considered as religious donations?
A:A priest delivers his sermon to the best of his ability to educate the participants on religious teachings, but, some parishioners leave that “religious donation" at the temple and depart without taking it with them.
Q:Is warning the parishioners about their slanderous act or negligence during religious services, to advise them to improve their religious practices, and to attend other parishioners services, considered as “veneration donations"?.
A:Yes. Next, let's discuss, “An offering" (Kuyo). This isn't merely an offering of food or a prayer mass for the deceased. It is serving the three treasures (San Bo); of Buddha, of Dharma, and of Priest. It means to perform pure practices in return for protection by the Buddha and previous Great Masters.
Kuyo can be divided into two aspects: 1) donation categories; Asset Donation and Religious Donation; and 2) three categories of practices, “Body, Mouth, and Mind";or “Benefit, Respect, and Practice".
Q:The “Asset Donation" and “Religious Donation" seem to have similar meanings, but what is “Benefit Donation?"
A:“Benefit Donation" is not a donation of merchandize or money. It has the same significance as “Asset Donation". In other words, everything that we do for the sake of the religion or assisting others is a Benefit Donation".
A:Let's leave the discussions on donation and offerings and go on to study the fundamental intention of Nissen Shonin's Instructive Poems. What do you think are the significance and objective of “Donation" and “Offerings"?
Q: Aren't they to accumulate merits?
“Through Offerings practices
Practitioners of the Lotus Sutra
Can receive good fortune in this present world".
The practice of “Donation" and “Offering and Sustaining" is never a one-way street. Its rare merits will always be returned to oneself. From that standpoint, the significance and objective of “Donation" and “Offering and Sustaining" are to accumulate merits. But there is one other thing that one should keep in mind. Greed is part of human nature. And indeed, a civilization can flourish through greed. Can greed be viewed as bad or evil?
“The word greediness embodies
Many seeds of pain and sufferings"
said Shakyamuni Buddha.
If one acts on greed, it will do more harm than good. That is why Shakyamuni Buddha warned that one should control his desires of greed. The practice of “Donation" and “Offering and Sustaining" is to get rid of greediness that lies deep in one's soul.
Q:The significance and objective in engaging in the practice of “Donation" and “Offering and Sustaining" are not only to recive merits but also to get rid greediness in our souls.
Attitude of mind is important:
A:“Offerings" is Pujana in Sanskrit. Pujana means to respect.
Q:That is to say, to express your gratefulness to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Priest by action, isn't it?
A:Exactly. If one does not make donations with a soul of reverence, the merits provided by the Gohonzon will be minimal. An Instructive Poem elucidated:
“Even if one does not have assets
By having an intention to give
The merits will be deeper than a large ocean"
The most important aspect of “Donation" and “Offerings" is based on the donor's intention when making the contributions.
Are you aware of the following story?
Shakyamuni Buddha was to arrive in a village late at night. Each villager decided to donate a candle so that they could welcome him by lighting up the roadside. The wealthiest villager contributed thousands of candles to the cause.
There was a woman in the village who also wanted to make a contribution but did not have the money to buy a single candle. In order to accomplish her wish, she sold her precious hair in exchange for money and purchased a single candle.
Night came, and just as Shakyamuni Buddha and his followers were about to enter the village by the light of burning candles, a strong wind suddenly came and blew out all but the one candle that was donated by the poor woman.
It is elucidated in the Buddhist Doctrine, that this poor woman received good fortunes in this present world and was given the name, Komyo Tathagata for the future world.
Q:It is truly proof of the aforementioned Instructive Poem, isn't it?
Having an intention:
A:There should be no misapprehension or misunderstanding about having a good intention. It is important to show how one wants to make an offering. The underlying intent of an offering should not be connected to the size of monetary donations or materialistic contributions. There is a saying, “If one has a heart, its color will appear on the surface". The extent of the offerings should be commensurate with the donor's ability according to their religious devotion and financial condition. Are you familiar with the names, Millionaire Shudatsu (Shudatta) or Tokusho Doji? Shudatsu was a wealthy man (when Shakyamuni Buddha was alive) and a Cabinet Minister of King Hashinoku. After hearing Shakyamuni Buddha's sermon at the Chikurin Shoja Temple around the King's Castle, Shudatsu became deeply involved in the religion and relied upon the Buddha. Since he wanted the Buddha to preach his teachings in his country, he purchased a forest owned by Prince Gita where he built a temple, Gionshoja, and invited Shakyamuni Buddha to it. Shakyamuni Buddha stayed in this region for over 20 years and preached his teachings.
Tokusho Doji was a little boy when Shakyamuni Buddha was alive. During Shakyamuni Buddha's pilgrimage in the area of the King's Castle, this little child sincerely wanted to make an offering to the Buddha. He made a mud pie from sand and offered it to the Buddha. It is recorded in a Buddhist document that Tokusho Doji through his sincere intent, received the merit of becoming the Great King Aiku in the future world.
“Reverend Ishioka Nichiyo, the 17th Head Priest of HBS, during his service at another temple, stated the following as it pertained to Shudatsu and Tokusho Doji:“ Receiving a merit by an adult imitating a child, or a millionaire Shudatsu imitating Doji by offering a pie made out of sand, was questionable. A millionaire is a millionaire. One should make offerings commensurate with his status."
“Donations" and “Offering and Sustaining" must be shown by a posture of self-status, form, and real condition. When one's financial condition improves, and faith deepens, offerings should be made accordingly.
Q:Since Doji was a little child, he was able to receive a rare reward by just offering a pie made of sand, but a millionaire making an offering of a single pie is tantamount to trying to fool the Buddha rather than a meritorious contribution, isn't it?
A:An inexperienced fly‐weight lifter training with fifty kilogram barbell may be effective, but a heavyweight lifter who may be capable of receiving a gold medal in the Olympics, training with a 50 kilogram barbell would have no effect, would it? This is similar to the practice of the faith, isn't it?
At any rate, it is important to make donations and offering with a sense of joy and sincerity. At the same time, it is important to persuade others to do the same. To see those accomplishing virtuous deeds is a joy. Do not stop others making donations or offerings. It would be wrong to do so. Finally, two Instructive Poems relating to “Donation" and “Offering" follows:
“Hold on to good fortunes
The opposite to that is act as desires"
“A wealthy person is only rich in this world
Use wealth of the benefit of the Land of the Tranquil Light
Your rewards will be extensive."