Tzu Chi Volunteers Find Mutual Spiritual Support Online

Mid-Atlantic  |  September 23, 2020
On the Fourth of July, 2020, Tzu Chi volunteer Joe Huang holds an online Dharma class containing Master Cheng Yen’s teachings, followed by a group sharing. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.

Written by Jenny Liu
Translated by Pen-Chi Liu
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

The COVID-19 pandemic is flaring up and down, here and there, with no end in sight in the United States and globally. Concerned, Master Cheng Yen constantly thinks of all living beings, including her followers in the United States. Her consistent hope is that all of us will calm our minds with the Buddha’s great wisdom, reverently repent our ignorance and unwholesome thoughts and behavior, and switch to a vegetarian diet: This is the only way to save the world.

As a spiritual support, disciples from around the world are welcome to come and join the Dharma Masters at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien and listen to Master Cheng Yen’s teachings in person. However, due to current social distancing guidelines, coming together physically to practice and learn isn’t possible.

Tina Lee, CEO of Tzu Chi USA’s Mid-Atlantic Region office in New Jersey sets up their online study and sharing platform with her team. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region

Consequently, online study groups have sprouted up everywhere, taking advantage of the convenience provided by modern technology, and allowing everyone to study the Buddha Dharma together and stay connected.

Learning that many Tzu Chi USA volunteers had a thirst for learning Dharma together,  L.R. Lin, from the Volunteer Training Department connected several groups with Joe Huang, a volunteer who had vowed to spread Dharma on behalf of Master Cheng Yen. And, on the Fourth of July, U.S. Independence Day, six Tzu Chi USA regional offices (New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. area, Chicago, Dallas, and Texas) assembled online for a Dharma class containing Master Cheng Yen’s teachings.

Joe Huang’s online Dharma class on July 4, 2020, reaches around 220 people. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.

During the virtual class, entitled “Calm our Mind, Develop Wisdom, and Practice Diligently,” Joe shared his take on the Lotus Sutra teachings. Thanks to his sharing, everyone joining the class was reminded of how precious the Dharma truly is while gaining a more in-depth understanding. They took the teaching to heart, intending to practice what they had learned.

Chong Hsieh (right), Tzu Chi USA’s Chicago Chinatown Service Center CEO, and his wife Yahmei Hsieh(left), are grateful for the opportunity to learn Dharma together. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.
CEO of Tzu Chi USA’s Southern Region office in Texas, Ji-En Huang (left), attends the teaching and shares: “I am grateful to Brother Joe. This has benefited me so much.” Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.

For Joe, providing the class was also a precious opportunity. Although he grew up in the United States and considers himself American, after finishing his education and gaining several years of professional work experience, he went back to Taiwan to pursue his goal of integrating charity work with his professional activities. Subsequently, he transitioned from being someone who just listens to the Dharma to one who puts the teachings into practice, and now, he’s able to share them with others.

New Jersey volunteers Stephen and Tina Lau join the online teaching along with their daughter Katherine. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.

There were 210 connections with about 220 people joining the online class on July 4, 2020. It was notable for Joe that the online gathering took place on American Independence Day. He wished that everyone in the United States could navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the same courage and determination that underscore this nation’s founding. And, he hoped that the wisdom inherent in Dharma, which he was sharing through the online session, would further support the resilience and clarity we need at this difficult time.

Philadelphia volunteer Gene Huang confides that he gained a deeper understanding of Master Cheng Yen's teachings from Joe Huang's sharing. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.

After the one-hour class was over, all the participants felt a sense of Dharma-joy, which they hoped to share. And so, they turned on the video to greet each other visually, in this simple way, providing mutual moral and spiritual support.

Frank Chen (left) and his wife Sue (right), from Tzu Chi USA’s Greater Washington D.C. area office, are grateful for the special opportunity to be reminded of Master Cheng Yen's teachings. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.

As the pandemic continues, let’s pay attention to offering each other moral support and other forms of aid as necessary. We invite you to join the Tzu Chi family in our efforts to do just that, by contributing to our Tzu Chi USA’s Together While Apart campaign.

All the participants greeted each other online and could not bear to leave at the end of the teaching session. Photos provided by Mid-Atlantic Region.

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