Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Dev. Dept, Tzu Chi USA
The Jing Si Dharma Lineage originates from the spirit of the Buddha Dharma and is inseparable from the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism. Many say, “The Jing Si Dharma Lineage is the Dharma essence of Tzu Chi; it conveys the spiritual ideals behind Tzu Chi.” Therefore, I hope that whenever you think of the Jing Si Dharma Lineage, you will not forget about Tzu Chi. When you go among people, you should talk about Jing Si Dharma Lineage and convey my spiritual ideals. Everything I do and say is inseparable from Tzu Chi and from relieving suffering in the world.
To retrace the footsteps of the Buddha, we must go back to over two thousand years ago. The Buddha expounded the Dharma at Vulture Peak. Vulture Peak was also the place where the Buddha expounded the Lotus Sutra, and perhaps we were all present there, listening to the Dharma at the Lotus Dharma Assembly. Now, you and I are living in this same era, but perhaps I was more blessed, and I was able to follow the Buddha more closely. Perhaps I was one of the disciples following the teacher. Therefore, I now feel a strong sense of warmth and closeness regarding Vulture Peak.
When it comes to the heart and our state of mind, so long as our hearts are dedicated, we can return to the spiritual state of Vulture Peak over two thousand years ago. Dear Bodhisattvas, we are called “ordinary beings.” The initial aspiration of an ordinary being is originally pure and undefiled. However, we become lost over many lifetimes of transmigration through the Six Realms. Yet, over such a long time, it is possible that I have sown seeds of goodness and formed karmic connections with all of you. So, though we may be at different points in time, we are all returning to the Buddha’s inner spiritual training ground.
For over fifty years, I have been guiding you and everyone in this world. Tzu Chi is based in Taiwan, which is a small island. Yet, in this small place, Bodhisattvas from different countries and different corners of the world are gathering here one after another; they were present at the Vulture Peak Assembly and have formed karmic affinities with Tzu Chi.
Recently, I have been saying that we should “take inventory of our lives” and reflect on how much we have contributed to the world in this lifetime. The love for our family comes from the karmic connections we formed in previous lifetimes. In our current lifetime, we should form positive karmic connections with even more people. Bodhisattvas not only love their own families; when the right causes and conditions are present, they must also seize the time in life and expand their Great Love. For instance, there are many people in Tzu Chi who are still working professionals. However, they seize the causes and conditions and take time off to engage in Tzu Chi activities. They do not take time off from Tzu Chi. They go to work as part of their profession, but they also carry out Tzu Chi’s work as part of their mission in life, and they give without asking for anything in return.
I always say to everyone, “I am grateful!” I have gratitude at all times, in all places, and toward everyone. “I am grateful,” and “I give you my blessings” are the most wonderful words. These are the essence of the Dharma. The teachings that I give are not cold, hard facts. Rather, I always explain the principles and pave a way; I teach to pave a way for people to walk on.
You have all contributed a lot, yet I have not been able to do much for you. What I offer to everyone is intangible yet enduring; there is no physical weight to it, yet you take it wherever you go. You should bring my mindset and views with you, and learn etiquette from me. In this way, wherever you go, you will be loved and respected.
When I reflect on my life, I have no regrets. I can confidently tell you that what I have said is true and not false. In addition, my heart encompasses the universe. I treat people with sincerity; my actions are genuine and real, and my heart is always open and accommodating.
Without an accommodating heart, Tzu Chi would not have made it this far. There are times when the conditions we are in are pleasant and feel like a gentle breeze. However, there are also times when it feels scorching hot and suffocating. In such situations, we must endure. Even though our heart will ache in those moments, we still feel happy after everything passes. Sometimes, when the “wind of ignorance” blows, we feel so much pain, it is as if it is cutting through our flesh. However, after the pain, there is happiness, because little by little, we can resolve the unpleasant karmic forces and adversities created in the past.
When it comes to the things that I do, when others do not agree with me or understand me, they will come and challenge me. These challenges are like polishing material; the more challenges I face, the more polished the mirror of my heart becomes. Therefore, I am very grateful. Without such challenges and without polishing the mirror of the heart, it will become covered by dust. In this world, not everything will go our way. If we do not diligently wipe away the dust on that mirror in our hearts and polish it, who will do it for us?
In the Jing Si Bookstores, when we choose books for customers, it depends on people’s capacities and dispositions to decide which book or passage to share with those we are unfamiliar with, so we must work hard. When people come and challenge us with difficult questions or situations, we can put smiles on our faces; when the mirrors of our hearts are clear, we will be able to quickly call to mind a suitable Jing Si Aphorism and share it with those people
In the era of Dharma degeneration, there needs to be people to spread the right Dharma. Nowadays, we cannot promote the right Dharma in a way that feels too religious; instead, we need to skillfully adapt to various religions and beliefs and convey it in a way that would be suitable. No matter what we say, we should not cause afflictions in others. This is the true spirit behind the Jing Si Dharma Lineage and the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism.
I am grateful for all of you who have been safeguarding the Jing Si Dharma Essence at the Jing Si Bookstore. Please do not forget to put the teachings into action and walk on the Bodhisattva Path. Only when we embody the spirit of Jing Si can we truly be called Tzu Chi volunteers. I believe all of you can understand this. Nowadays, when I speak, it takes a lot of effort, so please listen attentively. In the past, I spoke softly and all of you listened attentively. Now, you must cherish our affinity even more and truly listen attentively.
You are safeguarding Tzu Chi, safeguarding me as your teacher, and safeguarding the love of Jing Si. Please pool your strength together, and let there be no distance between all of you. You should maintain harmony, be loving and supportive to eac
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings from the closing ceremony of the Jing Si
Humanistic Culture Retreat for Singapore and Malaysia volunteers on May 21, 2023