Making ‘May Appreciation’ A Part of My Buddhist Practice

By Kevin D’Arcy

As a “baby Buddhist,” I continue to be hungry for knowledge.  There is so much to read; so much to learn. The reality, however, has set in. This is a life-long journey so I’m challenging myself to “slow my roll” while at the same time “diving into the deep end” and participating as fully as possible whenever possible so I keep my practice a priority so calling myself a Buddhist is not just an empty title I give myself.

Now, I am wrestling with my understanding of what exactly May Contribution is and what it means for the spiritual foundation of my newly forming practice and me.

One of the surprising things I discovered, as I have been attending various SFV Buddhist Center activities, is,  I have not seen the usual “collection plate” being passed around. Truthfully, I never understood how the SFV Buddhist center could stay open without the weekly collection plate.

I got my answer as I listened to various discussions on “May Contribution.”  It feels as if it is more a symbolic exercise than a financial necessity of the organization.

To my understanding, contributions are either thru volunteering your time in support of the organization or thru a financial contribution that you feel comfortable giving. I like this approach.  Whether this was the intention or not, “May Appreciation” is giving me an opportunity to decide how I can incorporate a sense of gratitude into my life and my actions.

I will be lying to myself if I say I am not OVERJOYED by the profoundly transformative effect chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” has had on my life in these two short months of participation.  I have spent much of my weekends chanting at the center and deepening my relationships with my fellow district members. On a very practical level, I don’t want that to stop.

That being said, I look at my sharing my thoughts and experiences on this website as part of my efforts to show my appreciation and help make in some way the journey of another “newbie” a little easier.  At the same time, I have set a goal for myself of how much I want to donate throughout the month, and I am challenging myself to make that goal through periodic trips to the contribution tables set up in the SFVBC lobby.

I know sustaining donations aren’t the same as May Contributions but, I also want to find a way to make a monthly financial contribution so I can feel like an active participant in keeping the “lights on” at the SFV Buddhist Center that I am slowly thinking of as my second home. The amount I can afford may only pay for half of ONE light bulb on ONE of the prayer room altars but that is something.

I’m not looking at doing these things so that I improve my karma. I want it to simply be my way of saying “Thank You” to the Universe, “Thank You” to SGI and all the new members of my spiritual family who I am getting to know with each passing day.

This is my personal commitment. What is yours? Δ