慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
Words From Dharma Master Cheng Yen--Share Your Love With Others

Each winter, my thoughts turn to those living in colder places. I’m concerned about how the less fortunate are coping: Do they have enough clothes to keep them warm or enough food to eat? Do they even have a roof over their heads? At the same time, I’m grateful for being blessed with everything I need, whether it is food, clothing, or shelter. How much do we need to have before we consider ourselves blessed? Contentment is the greatest blessing.

Those of us who are blessed with a well-provided life mustn’t think only of our own comfort. We should look beyond our own lives and do whatever we can do for the less fortunate. In October 2019, three earthquakes over magnitude 6 rocked the island of Mindanao, southern Philippines, toppling houses and leaving many people homeless. Some families had to cobble together temporary shelters out of bamboo poles and betel nut tree leaves so that they could have a place to stay. The ground was wet, muddy, and uneven. It’s hard to imagine how uncomfortable it was to live under such makeshift conditions. In response, our volunteers jumped into action to help. They distributed rice, blankets, folding beds, and emergency cash to those affected to help them through this rough patch in their lives.

Aid recipients said with emotion that they never dreamed they’d receive so much. Many quickly bought zinc sheets with the money they had received to fortify their damaged houses. The repairs might look crude but at least they were adequate to shield the survivors from the wind and rain. The beds we provided were put to good use, too. By putting several beds together, quake victims had a relatively comfortable space on which to sleep.

I was full of gratitude to see our volunteers using their own time and money to travel repeatedly to the disaster areas to help survivors. Every time I heard them share what they’d done for the needy, my heart went out to the less fortunate for their plight. At the same time, I felt comforted that we were able to reach those in need and do something for them.

Our foundation was also able to complete the work of aiding flood-affected farmers in southern Laos before the end of 2019. In addition to rice, which could be cooked right away, rice seeds were provided to help farming families rebuild their livelihoods. Many villagers thought before our distributions that they would be receiving only a few packages of token aid, so they were surprised when they received enough to last them several months. The givers were full of joy to give and the recipients full of appreciation for their help. It was very heartwarming indeed.

When we look around the world today, we see much evidence of the imbalance of the Four Elements of Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind. We see raging wildfires, severe droughts, and floods. Natural disasters seem to be happening one after another without a break. Our planet is sending out warning signals, and yet many people remain oblivious. It’s time for everyone to awaken to the warnings sent by Mother Earth and each do their part to protect her. Not only should we love the Earth by leading an eco-friendly life—we should also love our fellow human beings by living a more economical life and sharing what we can with those in need. I learned just the other day that a cup of coffee in Taiwan sometimes costs as much as a hundred NT dollars (over three U.S. dollars). I’m not a coffee drinker, but when I learned that piece of information, my thoughts turned to those in need. If everyone could cut down a little on their coffee consumption, how many people would we be able to help?

Time flies by ever so relentlessly. Wise people know how to make the best of their time to do good for the world. They add meaning and value to their lives by putting their love and compassion into action. Since their lives aren’t focused on personal gains, they are free of many worries and afflictions—worries and afflictions often arise from self-centeredness. These people live a fulfilling, peaceful life, and their existence contributes to the harmony of the world.

After spring comes summer, which gives way to autumn before winter is ushered in. In life too, we go through childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age. Our life becomes shorter with each passing second, minute, and day. Now that I’ve entered my old age, I cherish my time even more. I’m determined to do my best to give until I no longer can. Let us all work compassionately for the good of others and create blessings for the benefit of this world. Let us be ever more mindful.

A villager waiting to receive relief goods at a Tzu Chi distribution in Sanasomboun, Champasak Province, Laos, shows her appreciation by giving a thumbs up. In her hand is a claim check for the distribution. The foundation distributed aid, including rice and rice seeds, to flood-affected farmers in Laos in November and December 2019. Wei Guo-lin

 

January 2020