The 40th Anniversary of Tzu Chi
Master Cheng Yen: A millennium passes in
the blink of an eye. The brief 40 years since Tzu Chi’s
establishment is but the starting point of Tzu Chi’s work to
come. Let us continue onward into the millennia to come
When Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Tzu Chi’s founder, became a
Buddhist nun, her master said to her, “Work for Buddhism and
for all beings.” With this phrase as a guide, Taiwan Buddhist
Tzu Chi Foundation gradually became an international humanitarian
organization. "A millennium passes in the blink of an eye. The brief 40
years since Tzu Chi’s establishment is but the starting point
of Tzu Chi’s work to come. Let us continue onward into the
millennia to come," said Master Cheng Yen.
Beginning with 30 members in Taiwan in 1966, Tzu Chi now has members
at more than 239 chapters in over 40 countries. Tzu Chi has carried out
its relief work in 61 countries. As of May 2006, in Taiwan alone, Tzu
Chi has helped more than 135,000 people with emergency and medical aid,
and is currently assisting over 30,000 families in poverty on a
Dharma Master Cheng Yen: The world
being one family is indeed very beautiful
This is Tzu Chi's 40th year. Confucius once said, “By age
40, one is clear and unbefuddled (about one's direction in
life).” This is the time when one’s wisdom has
matured and when one is very clear with his direction in life.
In the 40 years since I established Tzu Chi, my vow has remained the
same: to create a harmonious, disaster-free world where everyone has a
pure and good heart. In order for peace to come about in the world,
people’s hearts must be cleansed, be purified. Each year, I
make the same resolutions, asking not for good health, but for wisdom
and acuity; asking not for things to be easier, but for greater
strength; asking not for everything to go as I hope, but for
perseverance and courage. To spread goodness and purify hearts is the
mission of a Buddhist monastic. It is a weighty load to shoulder; yet
we cannot evade this responsibility. We must face obstacles with
courage. It is the only way to achieve this goal.
Forty years ago, when I founded Tzu Chi, life was extremely hard in
Taiwan. We were dependent on the U.S. for assistance with food and
daily necessities. In founding Tzu Chi, I hoped to encourage people to
do good, yet in ways that would not adversely affect their livelihood.
In the beginning, thirty members responded to my call. They deposited
NT$0.50 (or US$.02) of their grocery money into a bamboo coin bank each
day. The message, "Just 50 cents each day can save lives," gradually
spread throughout the market, and then vegetable vendors started to
donate as well. This chain reaction of love was how Tzu Chi unfolded.
In raising donations, the most important is not the funds, but the
inspiring of love. Ordinary people always feel dissatisfied and desire
more. When they gain something, they crave even more and are caught up
in gaining and losing. Those who donate to Tzu Chi, however, are able
to turn this around, giving up a little of what they have to help
others. Doing this, they nurture the spirit of giving, and in giving
they are able to eliminate their greed and worries over gain and loss.
Over the years, a network of volunteers has been woven, stretching
from Taiwan to many other parts of the world. I do not know many of the
volunteers by name; nevertheless all of them are working hard together
with one mind to build a better society---a society based on Truth,
Goodness, and Beauty. Together, they form a global family that is truly
beautiful and touches my heart. Therefore, I am always filled with
contentment and gratitude.
Tzu Chi’s missions started with charity, and then gradually
expanded into medicine, education, and culture. The process has been
arduous and painstaking. But what has sustained me has been
faith---faith that my intentions to help the suffering are selfless,
and faith that everyone has love in their hearts. Therefore for forty
years, regardless of the financial difficulties, the lack of manpower,
or the criticism from others, I have never thought to give up my vow. I
often say, "So long as one has the heart, things will work out, and
with the vow comes strength." Thinking of this, it does feel rather
inconceivable how many of our obstacles and difficulties were overcome
in this way. When I look back over the years, I cannot even begin to
say how grateful I am. To all the people, young and old, who have
supported me over the years, I have deep and eternal gratitude.
Looking back on Tzu Chi's past can be a guidance and inspiration for
the future. We must work hard to further pool together more
people's kindness and love. So, let us:
Let no time pass by emptily
and take solid steps, every step of the way.
Let good thoughts constantly arise from your mind
and do good deeds each and every day.
Let wisdom be applied, moment by moment
and then share with others
the blissful joy.
Every step we take on this path should be steady and solid.
We need everyone to do good. The greater the force of goodness, the
stronger the positive karma, and in turn a greater chance for disasters
to be dissolved. Over the years I've continuously encouraged you to
“recruit” more living bodhisattvas. Not only should
we inspire the fortunate to help others, but we should also inspire
those who are helped to nurture such a giving heart. The little they
can contribute will nevertheless have lasting impact--it is like a drop
of water that merges with the sea and thus will never dry up. If even
the poor can give, how can the wealthy pass up this chance to help
Tzu Chi needs the support of everyone. When every person leads a
life of kindness, every family will know peace. Then it will not be
difficult to transform this world into a pure land.