Accumulation of Small Amounts

National Headquarters  |  March 31, 2024

Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Dev. Dept, Tzu Chi USA

With each passing day, a lot has passed. 

There are 86,400 seconds in a day. This is a large number, yet each  second is very brief. In an instant, a second has passed. Imagine the  ticking sound of a clock; each tick symbolizes the passing of a second.  It is so fast! 

We should be grateful for being healthy and safe thus far. Amidst this  peace, all things in the world also went by with the tick-tocking of time.  Everything makes a sound; even things that seemingly make no sound  do, in fact, make extremely subtle sounds. Furthermore, everything  is constantly changing. The movement of time is obvious, as we can  observe the seconds ticking away on a clock. This is what we call the  “obvious appearance.” 

In fact, life passes by with these fleeting fractions of a second, and if  we are unaware and oblivious of it, we will allow time and days to fly  by. Only by seizing the true value of time can we make those fleeting  moments everlasting. 

Then, when we reminisce on certain moments, we can say, “I remember  at that time, this was what I wanted to do.” The phrase, “At that time,”  refers to a time in the past. When we say, “I am now doing Tzu Chi,” we  must remember that the effort actually began fifty-seven years ago. 

I remember holding the first winter distribution at the Puming Temple  in 1969. Since then, every year Tzu Chi volunteers have had a hot pot  reunion dinner with our care recipients and the elderly. Although many  of them arrive alone, after coming to the Tzu Chi family, they get to  know each other while sitting and eating at the same table. Affinities  in life bring us together, and as we celebrate reunions together, we  get to know each other. When people bond with each other, keep in  touch, and often accompany each other, those are affinities. 

During the Lunar New Year, dozens of Tzu Chi spiritual practice centers  held grand feasts with numerous New Year dishes, gathering early with  care recipients to share a reunion dinner. Some of our care recipients  are impoverished, facing difficulties, disabled, lonely, and elderly. Tzu  Chi volunteers cannot bear to see them suffer, so they extend love and  care with sincerity and earnestness. 

Earnestness means deep sincerity. Every morning in the prayer hall,  we chant the Incense Praise, “As we give rise to utmost sincerity, all  Buddhas fully manifest before us.” Can we see the full form of Buddhas  and Bodhisattvas? Not with our eyes, but we can feel it with our hearts.  Our sincerity becomes one with the full form of the Buddhas, and the  Buddhas and Bodhisattvas enter our hearts. With utmost sincerity,  Buddhas fully manifest in our hearts. 

If everyone has such a mindset, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will constantly  be in our hearts. When we have a Buddha’s heart or Bodhisattva’s  heart, naturally we treat all sentient beings with sincerity. 

During the reunion meal, Faith Corps members or commissioners  accompany the care recipients at each table. For those who cannot see,  our commissioners will help them with their food. Everyone joyously  enjoys the meal because, not only do they eat delicious food, but they  feel the beauty of sincerity and joy. 

Many care recipients also donate to their “bamboo bank” each month.  During the Lunar New Year, they return the bamboo banks one by one.  Even if it is just a few coins, they still clang and clatter the same way.  Each coin goes into the big tank, and by the end of the day, the big  tank is eighty percent full. 

This is just as drops of water or grains of rice can fill a tank. Each  person’s small contribution comes together to be used for international  disaster relief. If we want drops of water to form a river, each tank  of water can come together to form a river that nourishes drought 

stricken land. Therefore, we must not overlook each “one.” We must  earnestly accumulate and not overlook even a single drop, because  each drop can nourish the land. Likewise, only with individual coins can  we accumulate enough to fill a tank. 

Time is ticking away. While we cannot hear the clinking sound of  bamboo banks each day, the love in life continues to make the clicking  sound. While we have fewer and fewer days before us in life, our “past”  continues to grow. We can think to ourselves, “Great, I am glad I did  those things.” 

Bodhisattvas, I hope everyone forms good karmic connections with  others every day, and often bless ourselves with the thought, “I am  in the big Tzu Chi family. Master always calls me a ‘Bodhisattva!’ I  want to become a Bodhisattva.” So, please do not forget this name of  Bodhisattva by which I address you. 

A Buddhist sutra states, “Supremely good people gather together.”  Supremely good people refer to Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas return  to their worlds to deliver sentient beings. When they come before  the Buddha, they present what they did and report to the Buddha,  “I was in this world. I have delivered this many sentient beings.” The  numbers could be as many as the sands in the Ganges River. In the  Lotus Sutra, these uncountable grains of sand symbolize the length of  a Bodhisattva’s spiritual cultivation and the number of spiritual training  grounds they were in. 

Bodhisattvas engage in spiritual cultivation to deliver sentient beings.  The longer they practice, the more beings they deliver. They deliver  many beings while saving many more. They do not necessarily do this  individually, but through Tzu Chi. Furthermore, it is not just in Taiwan;  we expand from Taiwan to the world. We observe all sentient beings  of the world. Wherever there are disasters and suffering, whether the  cause is nautral or man-made, as long as causes and conditions are in  place, Tzu Chi volunteers can go and mobilize local Bodhisattvas. 

Bodhisattva Paths are everywhere and each one leads to the path to  Buddhahood. I want to express my gratitude to all of you for your  support over the decades. Tzu Chi would not exist without everyone,  and without Tzu Chi, we would not have been able to bring together  Bodhisattvas to walk the Bodhisattva Path. 

It is every Bodhisattva’s mission to forge a path. The act of forging a path  is their “cause.” It sows the seed, and the seed will bear fruit. We gain  from what we do. Each person’s actions lead to personal attainments.  A Bodhisattva who does not forge a path is merely a passerby. 

Time continues to pass in this lifetime, and we are accumulating  blessed karma for our next lifetime. We must not forget that our next  life may be even longer than what is left of our current lifetime, so we  must accumulate blessed provisions for our future lifetime. I offer my  blessings to everyone; may you all accumulate seeds for good health  in body and mind in the future, so you may continue to benefit people. 

Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings from the Morning Volunteer Assembly  on February 9, 2024 (the 30th day of the 12th month of the Lunar calendar). 

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