Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA
Time flies by, and another week has passed. I often wonder if I still have time to sit here and talk to everyone. People have felt, “Is Master feeling down lately?” That is correct, and it is because of the instances of impermanence I have observed. There was impermanence in past events, and now, impermanence also continues to manifest.
Looking at this world, we see how impermanence can manifest in an instant. On this map in front of me, every day, there are countries whose landscapes change. What was originally a majestic mountain can suddenly be subjected to earthquakes or torrential rain; the imbalance of even one out of the four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind can cause instantaneous changes in the natural landscape and change people’s lives.
Looking back through history, after the earthquake in Turkey on August 17, 1999, we raised funds to provide relief. The presidents of the Tzu Chi schools, the superintendent of the Tzu Chi Hospital, and other leaders of the four missions all responded to my call to action; everyone picked up a donation box and went onto the streets and into alleys, big and small. We could see commissioners everywhere bumping into each other in the alleys. “I see that you also came to this alley!” “You also came to this street!” Many Bodhisattvas emerged at the time.
Volunteers did this not just for fundraising, but also to awaken everyone to the impermanence of the world. In any place, whenever a disaster strikes, Tzu Chi volunteers will go into the streets and alleys, alerting everyone to the disasters in the world, and guiding these Bodhisattvas to create blessings for the world. Only by creating blessings can we eliminate disasters. This is what it means to “create merit and virtue.” Merit and virtue are about benefiting all sentient beings, helping people alleviate their hardships, illness, and suffering, and walking the Bodhisattva Path.
Ordinary beings always have expectations of gain. If we seek merits, we must also create merits, for only then will we have blessings. The Buddha teaches that we should create blessings, and that we should do so not to seek merits in return, but because it is something that we ought to do. The Buddha taught us to awaken our intrinsic Buddha nature, give without asking for anything in return, and walk the Bodhisattva Path.
We need to walk on the right path, and the true principles define that path. In addition, we ought to teach the Bodhisattva Way. The Buddha came to this world to show us the Path and the truth. I am worried that people do not understand this, so I repeatedly talk about the true path that we should walk in this world.
The Saha World refers to the human world, which is Earth. It is also known as “the world that must be endured.” This means that in order to engage in spiritual practice, we must be able to endure, and only then can we truly attain the “principles,” which is the path to attain Buddhahood. How do we endure in this world in order to attain this undoubtedly True Path? We must start with the Bodhisattva Path and meet with suffering sentient beings.
If we cannot see or feel the principles, we may not clearly understand them. When we cannot provide real-life examples, what we describe are just vague feelings, and it can seem as if we are just preaching. But when a sudden disaster strikes, it can be used to teach the true principles, and we can experience the True Dharma.
Therefore, we must seize the moment every time and make earnest appeals to others. We must give actively, and in addition, aspire to mobilize people and recruit more Bodhisattvas. We must continue our efforts with strength and without interruptions.
From the beginning of Tzu Chi, we have gone from near to far, beginning with our work in Taiwan. Later, wherever our help was needed in the world, we quickly set foot in places unfamiliar to us. As we serve and help others, we get to know a group of people. We guide these people with the affinities into Tzu Chi to become Living Bodhisattvas, and they are able to go on to guide others. Over the past few decades, we have used true matters to train and inspire our minds. Thus, we have truly put the Bodhisattva Way into practice.
Teachings compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings during a sharing session of the Tzu Chi Charity Foundation on June 27, 2022.