慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
WORDS FROM MASTER CHENG YEN - Let Your Every Second Count

I set off from the Jing Si Abode in Hualien, eastern Taiwan, on November 12, 2018, to confer certifications on new volunteers from 24 countries and to preside over the first round of our year-end blessing ceremonies in various places in Taiwan. I returned to Hualien on December 9. During those 28 days, I also met with many senior volunteers. Though some were healthy and fit despite their age, some were showing signs of old age and were afflicted with aches and ailments. Looking at them, I felt a mix of joy and sorrow. Such is life. We can’t defy the changes time may bring. It is all the more reason we must endeavor not to let our time slip by in vain while we’re still able to give. That’s why I urged everyone during the blessing ceremonies to make the most of every second and create a meaningful life. As long as we’re still able to move or talk, we must put those abilities to good use and not leave the pages of our lives blank.

I also met many recycling volunteers during my trip. Many of them are also advanced in years. Some have to wear back braces when they work, but they are determined not to let their aches and pains get in the way of their volunteering. They told me that they were now just 20, 30, or 40 years old, after depositing 50 years of their age in my age treasury. [An “age treasury” is an idea developed by the Master, in which older people can deposit 50 years of their age, leaving them that much younger at heart.] These older volunteers have such implicit faith in me. They believe in my teachings and dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to caring for the Earth by reclaiming reusable resources. They feel fulfilled knowing that the plastic bottles they have helped sort and recycle have been made into blankets and distributed to needy people around the world. Contributing to a good cause makes them feel that their lives have great value.

The fruits of our recycling volunteers’ efforts have been showcased internationally. Recently, a group of Tzu Chi representatives attended the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland. Lin Ming-nan (林名男), vice superintendent of Da Lin Tzu Chi Hospital, southern Taiwan, was a member of the Tzu Chi delegation. While in Katowice, he shared with people from different organizations that what he was wearing, from top to bottom, was made entirely from recycled plastic bottles. He explained that over the years, materials recycled by our volunteers have been developed into many kinds of products.

Besides our recycling efforts, Lin also shared with people how eating vegetarian can help mitigate climate change. According to statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, over 2,000 animals are killed every second for human consumption. This means that more than 180 million animals are slaughtered every day for food. It’s hard to conceptualize the amount of land, water, and feed needed to raise such an enormous number of animals, not to mention all the pollution resulting from the process. It is no wonder experts have recommended a vegetarian diet as the easiest way to protect the Earth.

All creatures want to live, just like people. And just like people, animals feel fear and hatred when they are killed. Arguably the most intelligent of all animals, we humans should protect all lives, instead of killing and eating defenseless animals for our gastronomic satisfaction. Life is precious and ought to be respected. I urge everyone to respect all lives and not cause lives to be lost just to satisfy our cravings for meat.

Evidence presented in United Nations-related conferences and from the scientific community has clearly shown that if we don’t make eco-friendly changes in our lifestyles, we’ll witness even more severe and extreme climate events. Irregular climate conditions have already caused a lot of suffering in the world. We must awaken to their alarming messages and change our mindsets and lifestyles accordingly before we plunge the entire Earth into crisis.

I sincerely hope that people around the world recognize the need to improve global environmental conditions and, even more importantly, take action to make those changes happen. Besides making lifestyle changes such as switching to a vegetarian diet, we must love and respect all people and creatures and harbor gratitude toward everyone and everything. When we can form good affinities with others and encourage one another to do good and sow blessings for humankind, we will together create a peaceful world.

Xiao Jia-ming

 

January 2019