Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA
The state of severity of the pandemic continues to fluctuate, so we cannot let down our guard. I am grateful that healthcare workers suit up in their “armor” and go into battle against the virus to save lives. These healthcare workers walk into others’ lives, risking their own lives despite all the hardships they have to endure. This mindful dedication is truly a show of reverence. They are never careless, and they hold their ground. With reverence, they remain firm in carrying out their duties and do not neglect their aspiration; they always remain vigilant and reverent. I am also grateful that our bodhisattva volunteers gave care to the doctors and nurses. The contributions of the medical personnel settle people’s minds, and at the same time, all the volunteers are very willing to give of themselves. In particular, local Jing Si Halls work closely with medical personnel to serve as venues for vaccine clinics. As Tzu Chi receives contributions from society, Tzu Chi gives back to society, and we form good connections with the general public. This is a fundamental duty of Tzu Chi volunteers.
In the past, Tzu Chi has done a lot of work in Taiwan that people may not be aware of. However, this time, most people should be aware. I am grateful for everyone’s support; this is why I can freely express what I wanted to do. Our vaccine donation initiative1 requires billions of Taiwanese dollars. This is a huge number. Be it donations of one hundred or fifty Taiwanese dollars, these numbers accumulated with time as commissioners invite members to join, one by one.
Everything has its own causes and conditions, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem. In the past, the call to save fifty cents a day led to the accumulation of five, ten, or fifteen dollars every month, and this has continued to the present day. Tzu Chi began with people saving fifty cents per day. At that time, Master Yin Shun wanted me to go to Chiayi. It happened that Jing Hong, Jing Nian, and Jing Yuan came to me and asked to take refuge. I replied, “If you want me to stay in Hualien, you need to become commissioners to help me bring small amounts together. If I can do charity work, there is something meaningful for me to do in Hualien. Then, I will never leave.” They all said, “Sure, as long as it is something Master wants to do.”
For our vaccine donation initiative, we also received monetary donations in support of the initiative from Tzu Chi volunteers overseas. A few days ago, members of the Friends of Tzu Chi gave their support. I often think to myself, “I have no regrets in life. Whatever I wanted to do, people always contributed selflessly.”
I remember that when the 921 Earthquake happened, I also went ahead and adopted many schools in Project Hope. At that time, I did not know where the money would come from. Without realizing it, I bravely selected more than thirty schools. Then, the Ministry of Education and other schools came to ask for help one after another. In the end, through Project Hope, we helped to build more than fifty schools in total2. I said, “We are doing this!” and everyone eagerly came to donate to the project. Some even joined the construction themselves.
During this pandemic, volunteers not only inspired people’s love and raised funds, but they also contributed their effort and companionship. They worried that people would be too hot or would be caught in the rain, so they set up tents. They even used big fans to blow on buckets of ice to cool down the temperature. To protect the floors at Jing Si Halls from damage, they also had many protective measures. What else can I say? I really do not know how to express my gratitude. However, as it is said, “We reap what we sow.” We form good karmic connections, and what we have done will bring merits and virtues to ourselves. People say, “With virtue comes attainment.” “Virtue” is what we attain after we give, and we will realize the meaning of life. This is how people join Tzu Chi, giving to others and caring for society; many people will be protected by our love.
The sutras say, “One gives rise to infinity; infinity arises from one.” We must not take even a small act lightly. As long as we have love in our hearts, “one” can give rise to infinity, creating infinite merits and virtues. It is rare to be born human, so we must take the Buddha Dharma to heart and make the most of our time in life to exercise our altruistic potential and truly benefit the world. Taiwan is a small piece of land surrounded by the sea. If we cannot widely vaccinate people, once the virus spreads extensively, the result will be unimaginable. Right now, there is a need for human, material, and financial resources. We have built up trust for more than fifty years. Tzu Chi gave to Taiwan, as well as the world, bit by bit, and I hope everyone will form aspirations and give of themselves as well.
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s conversations with Taipei Tzu Chi Hospital staff on
August 24, 2021 and Northern Region volunteers on August 6, 2021
1 In May of 2021, Taiwan discovered the spread of COVID-19 in local communities. The pandemic has affected people’s daily living, livelihood, and schooling. In the humanitarian spirit of saving lives, and in order to help people return to normalcy as soon as possible, Tzu Chi Foundation purchased five million doses of the Pfizer
BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and donated all of them to the government in order for them to be administered to the public. Through the collaborative efforts of TSMC, Foxconn, Yonglin Foundation, and Tzu Chi, the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Taiwan on September 2.
2 According to statistics from the Tzu Chi Foundation Construction Department, after the 921 Earthquake in 1999, including the 1022 Earthquake that happened the same year and the 331 Earthquake in 2002, Tzu Chi assisted in the complete reconstruction of thirty-nine school campuses. Tzu Chi also carried out reconstruction projects for eleven schools, as well as the landscaping project of Xinan Elementary School in Puli, Nantou, which were all commissioned by the Ministry of Education. In total, Tzu Chi has adopted the reconstruction work of fifty-one middle and elementary schools. The “921 Project Hope” reconstruction project was launched on October 5, 1999. After four years and seven months, the project officially came to a close after the last school, Qingshui Elementary School, was completed and dedicated on May 8, 2004.