Peaceful and at Ease – Living an Enriched Life

National Headquarters  |  December 26, 2023

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

During my recent travels, I was frequently told, “Master, please take  care of yourself and your health.” I would always reply, “Birth, aging,  illness, and death are the laws of nature. Illness closely follows aging,  and ultimately, all life ends with death.” Aging, illness, and death are  unavoidable processes. Not only can we become physically ill, but we  may also suffer from ailments of the mind. However, we can prevent  illness, and we can also regain our health. Between life and death,  time, space and interpersonal relationships are also very important. 

Advancing technology allows us to “see” very far, and our “vision”  has become wider. In the past, the Buddha talked about “seeing the  world with the Buddha’s eyes.” The world is inseparable from the Four  States. The Three Principles and Four States are the greatest principles  in life. 

The three principles of life, matter, and the mind all follow the four  states of existence. The body follows the principles of life and always  undergoes birth, aging, illness, and death. Tangible things follow the  principles of matter and undergo formation, existence, decay, and  disappearance. The mind follows the principles of the mind and goes  through arising, abiding, changing, and ceasing. 

The modern world is changing at an increasingly faster pace. New  things are constantly being invented; however, their usage remains  the same. For example, the folders I am given have always been black  or blue, but today I was given a brand new one that was a different  color. Changes like this can make familiar things seem fresh. However,  the appearance of things changes only to attract attention and desire,  and to constantly create new consumer demand. Furthermore, the  more we consume, the more garbage we create. 

Wherever I go, people in various fields, including the recycling  Bodhisattvas, always ask questions regarding protecting the  environment, such as how to reduce waste, how to achieve zero waste,  and so on. People have the knowledge to protect the environment, but  they lack wisdom. We know how to make things better, but lack the  will to become more frugal. If we could only reduce our desires, the  altruistic potential of our wisdom would naturally increase. We would  not accumulate unnecessary things, and would produce less garbage. 

I hope Tzu Chi volunteers will exercise a “conserving” spirit. What that  entails is to give old things a new lease on life; if we mindfully fix and  maintain old things, they can sometimes work even better than new  ones. But what is most important is that we should awaken our love  and avoid unnecessary consumption. 

We live very comfortable lives. The tap water we use is called “self coming” water in Mandarin Chinese. But in fact, water does not truly  come to us on its own. It requires abundant engineering work, the  wisdom and labor of many people to connect a water pipeline to our  homes. We should cherish water. Not only should we conserve water  ourselves, but we should also spread this awareness to others. 

We must teach about principles. The shortcomings in the world require  the guidance of principles. We must transform a “lacking” mindset  to a “content” one and help people realize that they are blessed and  should express gratitude all the time. If we can always be frugal, have  few desires, and be content, our lives will be enriched. 

When it comes to birth, aging, illness, and death, death is actually a  form of liberation. Life is full of suffering, and the demands of the  mind truly make life hard. The current social environment demands  that everyone be satisfied but, ironically, we are never satisfied with  ourselves. We seek to be satisfied until our last breath. 

So, we have to be satisfied and content now to foster gratitude. With  gratitude, we will naturally become happy in life. To achieve peace in  society, we need education. Only when everyone is content and at  peace can we achieve social harmony. This form of contentment and  happiness is referred to as being “free and at ease” in Buddhism. Being  free and at ease means that we are relaxed, and our mind is at ease.  Then, we have an enriched life. 

Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s conversation with the Taiwan Water Corporation  team on October 26, 2023 

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