My Children Have Returned

National Headquarters  |  February 29, 2024

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

You all have crossed over mountains and oceans and come back to  visit me with single-minded resolve. This is such a sweet thing to hear.  When I was young and about your age, I always thought, “How can I  help everyone who is suffering in this world?” I had a direction in my  mind.

That direction is just like the vows made by all the young people here.  Your hearts are pure and clean, like clear mirrors. When they reflect  even the faint light of a small candle, the mirror can amplify it into a  brilliant light.

It was really fortunate that, along my journey, many causes and  conditions came together, and all the little pieces of a story came  together as part of Tzu Chi’s history, now approaching sixty years.  Although I have also aged over the years, I have seen how Tzu Chi  volunteers are working in concert, with unity and harmony, putting  teachings into practice.

This unity cannot be achieved by me alone. So many of you here  have received higher education, and you certainly have a sense of  responsibility to contribute to society and the people. We must  not underestimate even the faintest of light or our small, individual  strengths. When we pool everyone’s strength, the power will be great.

You have placed written promises inside “time capsules” to present  to me, thus making them tangible and within my reach; this makes it  seem as though everyone’s heart is close to mine. However, I hope  that these aspirations will not be left here; I hope they will forever be  engraved in your hearts.

The universe is immense, and Earth is vast. I hope every one of you  young Bodhisattvas will form aspirations and make vows to truly  devote yourselves to the world. No matter which country you reside in  in the future, do not let distance block this Bodhisattva love.

The empty chair of mine you saw at the year-end blessing ceremony  will truly be empty one day. The “value” of life lies in every moment  that can be experienced. We must cherish the fact that we can still see,  hear, and experience these moments. Do not wait until the day when  you cannot see or experience these moments, for by then, you will  never be able to attain what you pursue.

Please return often, and not just once a year. In fact, you can “return”  every day, as I am in your heart every day. When you think of me, I  am there. However, only when you apply the Dharma, wherever you  reside, are you truly close to my heart. If you do not accept the Dharma,  or if you accept the Dharma but do not practice it, that is the same as  being far away from me.

Even when we are mountains and oceans apart, your sincerity comes  through. Without sincerity, even if we are just one step apart, it is as if  we are separated by vast mountains and oceans. To truly understand  my heart and share my aspirations and vows, you need to give your  love and love those whom I love.

We truly attain the Dharma when we walk the path and practice it. We  can extend a hand to help those who are suffering. We can accompany those who are deluded back onto the right path. This is how Tzu Chi  Bodhisattvas act in the world.

Someday, my chair will truly be empty. As stated in the Lotus Sutra, we must take “the emptiness of all phenomena as the seat, and abiding  here, we expound the Dharma.” Although the chair in the crowd is  empty, it can nonetheless express True Dharma. You must bring this  mindset back home; you can place a chair in any event, showing your  respect as if I were there with you.

I am grateful to everyone for joining Tzu Chi. It really makes my  aspirations feel very grounded. Our society is everyone’s responsibility. The first generation of Tzu Chi volunteers are aging, and as the second  generation, you need to take on responsibility. You must shoulder the responsibilities passed down and be responsible for those coming  after you. Everyone must make vows and form aspirations to provide  abundant spiritual provisions for children and young people in the  future and give them the strength to grow in wisdom.

Do not forget that you have made true vows here today. You must  earnestly take responsibility for sentient beings in the future, shoulder  the rice basket for the world, and create blessings. Do not forget  that today you have come to Taiwan to spend the New Year holidays,  and the New Year resolution you made is your direction in life;  furthermore, remember to put more effort into recruiting more Living  Bodhisattvas.

Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s conversations with overseas Tzu Chi collegiate  volunteers and alumni members from December 31, 2023, to Jan 4, 2024

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