A Spirit of Gratitude, Respect, and Love

The attitude we bring to our interactions with others can make a world of difference. Discover the spirit of Tzu Chi.

Accomplishing the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation’s humanitarian mission depends on the work of millions of volunteers and commissioners around the world, each offering their service with sincerity of heart and dedication.

Whatever personal differences may exist between them – whether of gender, age, where they come from, or what profession, career success, or educational background they may have – fade when they don their Tzu Chi uniform. And, actually, this visual homogeneity is just the surface, as at a deeper level, it is further underpinned by a unity of view and spirit:

The Tzu Chi spirit is founded on “Gratitude, Respect, and Love.”

This spirit can initially ignite through heartfelt gratitude – for one’s life and its blessings, especially the capacity to be of service to others – then blossom into genuine respect and love for each and every person encountered on the path.

In fact, an approach infused with these principles can lead to harmony within any group working together towards a common goal, and it’s imperative given the scope of Tzu Chi’s activities globally.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen often gives this advice to Tzu Chi members and supporters:

Beware that the path of service is no bed of roses. Once you have decided to serve mankind, you will encounter problems. Be well-rounded in character, be well-rounded when dealing with things, and be well-rounded in principles. In order to be well rounded, you must be able to get along well with others.

Master Cheng Yen counsels how when confronted with interpersonal conflicts while engaging in mundane activities, one should strive to transcend them by taking a spiritual view, recognizing the inherent blessing and opportunity in such challenges:

We should treat interpersonal conflicts and difficult situations as opportunities that benefit our spiritual development. If a task is not difficult, we do not handle it; let others take over. What we want to handle are problems that others find too difficult, are unwilling to take on, or unable to resolve. Therefore, we should bravely take on challenges and face difficult tasks.

In a way, it is the last of Tzu Chi’s three guiding principles of gratitude, respect, and love, that is the most important, since with love in our heart, respect for others will naturally arise alongside gratitude for the ability to help relieve their suffering, if need be.

Within the world of Tzu Chi, such love is understood as being “great love” or “universal love.”

This love is like water: clear and untainted. When you embrace Tzu Chi’s Great Love, you will give without expecting anything in return. Only then will you be able to love people equally, without discrimination.

Master Cheng Yen’s message to all of us is that we should do our best to awaken our innate goodness, or Buddha Nature. And then, just imagine the infinite amount of good we could accomplish, together.