Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA
When the Year-End Blessing ceremonies begin, we know the new year is coming soon. I am grateful for every peaceful day we have had in the past, and grateful for how everyone’s love has continuously gathered together. With the power of our love, we keep encouraging each other.
Whenever I hear people share about their diligence in spiritual cultivation, such as their study groups, I feel very happy. Finally, there are people who are listening to what I said. Not only do they listen, they are willing to study the books, and together they will discuss the Dharma from the books. When we get connected to the Buddha Dharma, our hearts become purified. When our hearts become purified, society and the world become purified.
For more than fifty years, my aspiration and vow every year has been to bring purity to people’s hearts. I hope everyone can truly take the Buddha Dharma to heart.
When people can truly realize the Buddha Dharma, it can help them eliminate ignorance and afflictions. In life, people suffer because they are filled with afflictions. Whenever something happens, they are troubled by the things they encounter, as they cannot see through their issues, nor resolve them.
Life is truly suffering! The suffering of birth, old age, illness, and death are truths of life. With the union of a sperm and egg, a fetus comes into being in its mother’s womb. As the days and months pass, it wondrously takes form, warm and protected. At the moment of birth, the baby feels a sharp pain throughout his body from coming into contact with the air, so he cries and screams. All of this is part of life’s suffering. Then as time passes, we change without realizing it, gradually growing from childhood to adolescence, to young adulthood, to middle age, and then to old age.
I happened to see scenes of video footage that truly evoked fond memories. Among them was footage of Ms. Cao Meiying1. She wholeheartedly devoted herself to Tzu Chi for decades. She was a great member of our Teachers’ Association, a good Dharma sister to our Tzu Chi volunteers, and a good disciple to me. She was like this from the moment she joined Tzu Chi until her final moments. In her final words, she sincerely said, “I have no regrets from walking the path of Tzu Chi.” She also vowed to follow me lifetime after lifetime.
I believe that this disciple of mine who has departed before me has already been reborn in another family. I hope she will grow up safely and return to Tzu Chi. Once her karmic causes and conditions mature, she will be able to earnestly pave the path and wait for me. We must pave this Bodhisattva Path for each other and make it even smoother and wider. This is the everlasting spirit of a bodhisattva, as well as the aspiration and vow we make for a brighter future.
People come and go in life. We repeatedly leave and return to this world, but the most important thing is to not get lost. We need to be in a state of clarity and awareness as we come and return to this world to fulfill our shared vow of walking the Bodhisattva Path. This is the “eternity” that the Buddha teaches us about. We should not avoid this; even if we try to avoid it, it is of no use.
It is like the children in the ending scenes of the 2020 Tzu Chi Global Footprints video. During this coronavirus pandemic, they are in different countries, but they share the same resolve to promote vegetarianism and the concept of respecting life. Among them, there is a child whose mother was a vegetarian even before he was conceived; this child was a vegetarian already before he was born. From the time he was able to talk, he began promoting vegetarianism. There was another child, named Boqian, who attends school in Hualien. He started promoting recycling and vegetarianism when he was just three years old and could speak confidently about vegetarianism in front of thousands of people.
In over fifty years, there have been many Tzu Chi volunteers who vowed to walk on the path with me lifetime after lifetime. In our great family of Tzu Chi, some senior volunteers have left this world before me, and perhaps since then, they have returned. As I see these children, it has strengthened my belief in the law of karma that the Buddha teaches. As are the causes and conditions we plant, so are the effects and retributions we receive.
As these children have returned following their vows, the older generations will also be able to leave in peace. Once they have grown up, they will undertake our mission as they wait for us to return and continue the work. In this way, the world of Tzu Chi will grow ever more mature in its philosophy and more developed in its missions.
The Dharma study groups have flourished like lotus flowers blooming everywhere. Please keep forming more study groups. As long as you make sure that gossip and interpersonal conflicts are not part of it, it doesn’t matter which passage or book you discuss; there is Buddha Dharma in all of them that you can share and use to encourage each other. By doing this, you bring purity to people’s hearts, opening the door and paving the path for the Buddha Dharma.
Suffering in life comes from our entanglements with each other. We cannot escape the natural law of birth, aging, illness, and death, but what is important is our wisdom life. Please remember that our wisdom life is everlasting. I see so many senior bodhisattvas who have been consistently walking the path with me for decades. I also feel very happy and at ease seeing our young bodhisattvas, and I am even more at peace seeing this group of even younger bodhisattvas, who are so innocent and pure. Our wisdom lives are closely interconnected, a connection which can never be broken. Thus, your diligence puts my mind at ease.
You all love and cherish me, and I cherish you even more. We must seize our causes and conditions and cherish the bodhisattva affinities that we share with each other. It is thanks to the affinities that all of us have with each other that the world of Tzu Chi is formed. Please remember to take my wisdom life, my teachings, to heart so that they permeate your life. When this happens, we are sustaining this wisdom life. When we have the Dharma in our every action and take the Dharma to heart with our every thought, our wisdom life can become everlasting.
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings on November 24, 2020 at the seventh Certification and Year-End Blessing ceremony in the Central Region of Taiwan.
1 Cao Meiying (Dharma name: Ming Ling) worked at Nantou Junior High School. After retiring, she made use of her teaching experience to establish the Great Love Mothers’ Classroom in Nantou, and also guided several dozen Tzu Chi volunteers to get certified. In February of this year, Cao Meiying was diagnosed with stomach cancer, but she did not want to spend her time in vain. She constantly thought about doing Tzu Chi’s work. “I have no regrets from walking the path of Tzu Chi” were the last words she said. She passed away three days later and donated her body to be a Silent Mentor. This marked a beautiful end to the life of an exemplary living bodhisattva.