Our Commitment for Gratitude, Respect, and Love
Translated by Lin Hsiuhsu (林修旭)

2017 Annual TIMA Convention, Oct. 3--6, is now being held at the Jing Si Hall in Hualien, Taiwan. The convention is the largest of its kind for the TIMA, Tzu Chi International Medical Association and is assembled annually around Moon Festival season. After a brief opening ceremony by welcoming the more than 400 participants of 21 countries from all over the world, and an adaption performance of Medicine Sutra, Dr. Chin-Lon Lin (林俊龍), CEO of Tzu Chi Buddhist Medical Foundation struck the keynote for this year’s convention, The Oath from 2500 Five Years Ago with his speech, “Our Commitment for 2500 Years,” a commitment guided by gratitude, respect and love.

Dr. Lin began his speech with the Hippocratic Oath historically taken by physician written by Hippocrates of Cos from the 5th century BC in Greece. He recapitulated the oath in ten points that included ‘medicine is an art’, ‘honor the teacher, ‘treat the patient like a family’, ‘do no harm’ and ‘profess with respect.” He then boiled down them into the ethics of ABCDE: Autonomy, Beneficence, Confidentiality, Do no harm, and Equality(/Justice), before moving on to compare Hippocrates’ oath with the teachings of his contemporaries, Buddha and Confucius, and Jesus Christ. He emphasized that there’s something that remained unchanged over the past 2500 years, viz. gratitude, respect and love.

CEO Lin shared pictures and videos throughout his presentation, among which was a picture from his relief mission to Jordan in December 2016 that sent the lecture hall into a thunderous rejoicing applause. The picture of a stuck bus in sand pushed by the TIMA professionals to the Jordan mission from one side was put to the left of a picture taken more than 50 years ago when Master Cheng Yen was coming to the relief of a flood in Hualien. The two pictures looked like exact replica to each other, symbolizing the consistent Tzu Chi spirits to relieve distress against all odds.

Dr. Lin briefed Tzu Chi’s mission of medicine, which originated from the mission of charity. Tzu Chi has always been a group that comes the first aid and leaves the last to come back home and plans for future relief before coming back to offer continual and constant care.

During the presentation, Dr. Lin highlighted the idea of a hospital that is being built around the idea of humanism to provide the patients and their family with a bright, delightful, hi-tech sustainable modern hospital.

He reiterated that the mission of medicine of Tzu Chi is to promote health rather than to merely treat the diseases. He congratulated the participants, and the many more who kept on coming back to the annual Convention, wished them to learn the most from this year’s meeting before going home, practicing and coming back next year with more to share.

Treat Diseases, Cure the Humanity, and Settle the Mind

Resonating CEO Lin’s keynote was the second keynote speech, which was made right after the first keynote. The second speech was presented by Madame Su-Chen Hung(洪素貞), or Jing-Yuan (靜原), Director of Department of Editing and Compilation of Tzu Chi Foundation.

Madame Hung’s speech, citing poems from the Book of Songs (詩經) and the folklore from the Han Dynasty, reassured that the commitment for love is an ancient exercise and heritage that can be traced back to thousands of years ago. The inspiring teaching of Dharma Master Yin-Sun (印順導師) to Master Jeng Yen, “For Buddhism; For Sentient Beings” is the commitment that dictates Tzu Chi’s 4 Missions; “Buddha’s heart is our heart; Master’s mission is our mission” (以佛心為己心,以師志為己志), is the commitment that motivates Master’s disciples and the many volunteers of Tzu Chi. Tzu Chi’s commitment to love for the past more than 50 years, is a lineage of commitment that is inherited and can be traced back to the age of Buddha.

Since the established of Tzu Chi Foundation in 1966, through numerous relief missions, Master had come to the realization that poverty and illness were like father and son to each other. Poverty brings illness, and illness induces poverty. Master, therefore, realized that charity was never enough to eradicate them; illness had to be cured. The Ren-Ai free clinic, a precursor to TIMA, thus was established in 1972. The medical mission of TIMA is based on love for the humanity, and is patient-centered. The TIMA professionals base their practice on humanism, and progress through learning from their patients. Upon getting rid of the affliction of illness from their patients, the TIMA doctors and professionals, turn themselves into preachers of Dharma. They are an enlightening ‘humane’ doctor that treats diseases, cure the patients, and settle the patients’ mind so that they will respect natural law, and never be worried about the affliction of life and death. Madame Hung expected and encouraged the TIMA professionals to join in the relay of the ‘Four Universal Vows’ (四弘誓願) made by Buddha 2500 years ago, in the hope that the Vows can be passed down for another 2500 years.

Respect and Love

Dr. Wu Yu-Qiong (吳玉瓊), a dentist from Chia, shared her experience after the presentations. According to her, the doctor-patient relationship is far from being satisfactory, and many a doctor leaves the profession because of it. She, too, was about to leave the profession. The speeches by Dr. Lin and Madame Hung have provide a firm cause for her to stay in practice.

Mr. Fang Chao-Jun (方超君) also shared his remarks from the floor. He was touched by the footage from the Jordan mission. “In the past, I was not accustomed to the dealing of patients from different religions. Tzu Chi was doing a very good job regarding this. Tzu Chi respects people of all religions. This, I think, is great love.”

Through CEO Lin’s expounding of the commitment for gratitude, respect and love, and Madame Hung’s explicating of the ancient commitment for love that has been inherited by Tzu Chi, the convention participants felt proud of being part of Tzu Chi’s mission of medicine. CEO Lin gave his presentation in Chinese, yet prepared English slides for the participants, a testimony of a humane doctor’s respect and love in tending the need of his patients (in this case, the TIMA participants from abroad).