Teacher and Disciples Walking the Bodhisattva Path Together

National Headquarters  | October 20, 2020
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Photo by Peter Lin

Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA

Sometimes I have the feeling that, since we have come to this world, as long as we do not live in vain, then we have done our part for this lifetime!

In particular, recently, I feel that I have done what I needed to do. My only wish is to be able to see your wisdom life extended. I truly hope there are people who will take on this mission and walk this path steadily and smoothly.

When we walk, one of our feet steps forward while the other one stays behind. Then we move the back foot forward, continuing to move each foot forward in turn. The most worrisome is when we try to take one step forward and it becomes stuck, only to step the back foot forward and find that it becomes stuck too. Then, we cannot move. In addition to taking each step firmly, we must keep moving forward step by step without stopping. But is this enough? It is not enough.

Twenty years ago, Tzu Chi helped Wuhan Children’s Welfare Institute1 to rebuild and assist a group of children with hearing and speech impairment. Now, these children have grown up, and they came here to Taiwan to present the performance piece, “Thousand-Hand Guanyin,” 2 as a way to show their gratitude. Following the rhythm of the music, a hand, another hand, a hundred hands, and a thousand hands continuously extend in succession. Then, these many hands stretch out at the same time and remain still. This really looks like the image of the thousand-handed Guanyin found in temples that people worship.

The images of the thousand-handed Guanyin on the altar are man-made, but when this group of hearing- and speech-impaired young people come together on the international stage, their bodies dance to the music and follow the rhythm perfectly. This is a testimony to how, as long as we are willing to work hard, one day we can all exercise our skills and cooperation to manifest our flawless altruistic potential.

Can it really be that they cannot see, hear, or speak? When they work together, not only can they speak, but they can follow the rhythm and even express themselves effectively using body language. Individually, each of them experiences sensory impairment but working together, they are like a single, unencumbered entity.

In life, is there anyone who has everything? Everyone has shortcomings. When we all share the same aspiration, then even if I have the aspiration but lack strength, you might have both the strength and the aspiration to carry out our mission. As long as our hearts are united and we can express ourselves with kindness, we will come together in harmony and joy. Then, we can exercise the spirit of bodhisattvas and use the selfless love of volunteers to practice unconditional giving.

Do we really give without seeking anything in return? The only thing we seek is unity and harmony. How could bodhisattvas go among people if they were unable to endure hardship? In the morning Dharma talk, I am discussing Chapter Twenty-Three of the Lotus Sutra, the Chapter on Medicine King Bodhisattva’s Past Lives. In it, we are reading about how Medicine King Bodhisattva, for the sake of seeking the Dharma, toiled, and endured many lifetimes of suffering. Yet in each lifetime, his only thought was about suffering sentient beings.

We often say, “The affinities of bodhisattvas are with suffering sentient beings.” As doctors, you are in a position of authority, so patients go to you for help. And now that you have devoted yourselves to Tzu Chi, every time I refer to you, I use the word “bodhisattvas.” Bodhisattvas are actually enlightened sentient beings. Sentient beings suffer with no way to escape. When they suffer, they may call upon the heavens and the earth for help, but to no avail. However, doctors can manifest their spiritual powers to respond wherever there is a need. Only bodhisattva-doctors can show up at any time and eliminate other people’s suffering. Thus, you all appear like Living Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who are able to save lives and help those suffering from illness.

I am very grateful for you! On behalf of all sentient beings, I say, “Thank you!”

We must make every second count and not allow the days and moments to leak away. In the span of a single thought, a second can be expanded into a kalpa, or a kalpa can be shortened into a second.

So, when we form good thoughts, we must use our hearts and minds in tandem, leaving footprints behind us as we advance. When you move your hands to take someone’s pulse, check on patients, and comfort them, your hands become very beautiful. When your hands make contact with the patients’ bodies, remember to be gentle and comforting so that they will feel that they have encountered and received care from good people in this life.

On one Da Ai TV program, there was an elderly woman who said, “Goodness! When you show your love for me like this, my life lacks nothing.” All she was lacking was love, but once we gently comforted her and gave her a hug, there was nothing that she lacked, nor did she have any regrets.

This is very simple. You doctors come together to form a thousand- or ten-thousand-handed bodhisattva; I ask you to please bring my hands along with you when you go to help others. As you take care of and comfort your patients, please remember to give them a gentle touch in my place. I will remember you in every lifetime, and together, you and I will continue to walk the Bodhisattva Path together, lifetime after lifetime.

Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s conversation with Taiwan Northern Region TIMA  members on September 6, 2020. 

1 Wuhan Tzu Chi Children’s Welfare Institute adopts abandoned infants and orphans. Tzu Chi, after assessing that its facilities were old and insufficient, helped with building a new complex. The building was officially completed and began operations in  1997, and was renamed “Wuhan Tzu Chi Children’s Welfare Institute”, combining the functions of childrearing, treatment and education. There are kindergarten classes,  infant classes, preschool classes, special education classes, and conventional education classes in the orphanage. The children’s age ranges from newborns to university graduates. 

2 This is one of the programs performed by the “China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupes” in Taiwan in July 2006. 

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