Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA
Recently, I have been encouraging everyone to take an inventory of their lives and look back at what they have done in this lifetime. As I look back on my own life, I find that my greatest accomplishment— and what I am most grateful for—is having all of you share my mission, walking the path of Tzu Chi for more than fifty years. Life fades with every second. As there is so much suffering in this world, we must give love to the world. By bringing light to everyone’s life, we can dispel the darkness from this world and bring out our life’s full potential.
In the Philippines, we have seen that residents on Bohol Island, and in Zamboanga and other places, have difficult living situations. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation. For example, many visually impaired massage therapists have lost job opportunities. Local tricycle and jeepney drivers have to beg to make a living, having lost tourist income.
Tzu Chi volunteers could not bear to see this, so they gathered the love of the public to help them. People felt the love of Tzu Chi, and to express gratitude, some took the initiative to spread the word at their local stores. They said, “This is Tzu Chi. This organization does a lot of good deeds.” Even those who had little money were willing to donate to the bamboo banks. Some even started raising funds or promoting vegetarianism, following the example of our volunteers.
I am grateful for the Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines. Although they are few, they are dedicated to helping those in need. Since last year, they have distributed materials to more than 200,000 households. Although we cannot provide all the help they need, the recipients can feel the warmth in our volunteers’ hearts, and they are grateful for the support. Local entrepreneurs have also willingly gone into remote areas to help others. In this way, they have moved many others to join them to give with a heart of love.
Giving is not just the privilege of the rich. Anyone who is willing can give, and love will never run out. In fact, the more we give, the richer we become; the more dedicated we are, the more Dharma joy we feel. If someone says, “My life is difficult. How do I help others?” we can share the story of how poor people in Myanmar contribute to their “rice piggy bank” every day and encourage people to “eat until eighty percent full and save twenty percent to help others.”
If everyone only focuses on helping others and creating blessings, how could there be people in poverty? How could people still fight over things? How could the world not be at peace? If we diligently give our love, compete for goodness, and stop indulging in material things, more people will be saved.
As we take an inventory of our lives, we see that if we have been able to help others, then we are truly blessed; our lives are truly valuable and are worthy of praise. However, when only a few people are doing good, our strength is limited. This is why we must come together and widely recruit Living Bodhisattvas in this world. We must encourage them to take action, now and in the future. I hope that everyone will form aspirations and make vows. What we are hoping for is not about giving a lot, but that people’s hearts will turn toward goodness. Where there is goodness, there will be blessings. With blessings, we can mitigate disasters.
Let us not worry about how small our good deeds may be. Once we begin and encourage others to join us, we will accumulate kind thoughts, resources, and strength; drop by drop, they will converge into a river that can go on to nourish sentient beings. When goodness accumulates in society, this energy can protect and bring peace to the world.
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings during a conversation with Tzu Chi Philippines on September 24, 2021, charity foundation sharing on September 27, 2021, and closing ceremony of Tzu Chi missions staff retreat on October 2, 2021. Appears in Tzu Chi in Japan Issue 170.