慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
Words From Dharma Master Cheng Yen--Cultivating the Heart of a Bodhisattva

This world we live in is full of suffering. There is suffering caused by natural and man-made disasters, suffering from old age and illness, and suffering of other kinds too manifold to enumerate. However, everyone has it within themselves to help relieve that suffering. The Buddha encouraged us to feel others’ pain as our own and cultivate the compassion of a bodhisattva to alleviate the suffering in the world. He taught us there are three ways of giving through which we can ease the afflictions of others.

The first kind of giving is the giving of material aid. When we learn about people in need, we can give them the things they need, such as daily necessities. We can also donate money to them. Wealthier people can donate more; those who are of modest means can donate less. Even if we make just enough to get by, we can live more frugally to save money to give to others. When everyone gives what they can, many needy people will be able to get help.

The second kind of giving is the giving of fearlessness. When others feel anxious or panicked, we can soothe them to help them regain peace. Some people are so trapped in negative thinking they become very depressed. If we happen to cross paths with them, we can reach out to them with love. I often see our volunteers open their arms to embrace people in distress and provide them with longstanding support until their smiles once again return. They even guide care recipients to help others themselves, thus thoroughly transforming their lives. This is an ultimate form of giving.

The third kind of giving is the giving of the Dharma, that is, the Buddha’s teachings. When we’ve internalized the Dharma and applied it to our daily dealings with people and things, we can share what we have learned and benefited from to guide people out of their problems and help them open their hearts. Despite everything that we have to go through in life, despite the sorrow and afflictions that seem an inevitable part of life, as long as we have a good understanding of the Dharma, we will be able to approach suffering with equanimity and rise above it.

The Buddha taught us to purify our hearts and put our love into action. Seeing how Tzu Chi volunteers are living out his teachings brings me joy. Just the other day, some members of the Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA) came to the Jing Si Abode to report on the free clinic events they had just carried out in Laos. They witnessed the lack of medical resources in the country, and they all hoped that Tzu Chi could do more for the underserved people there.

These TIMA members, as is typical with our volunteers, used their own time and money to travel to Laos for this medical mission. During the trip, they donated hospital beds and IV drip stands to a local hospital, and they treated people afflicted with illness. When they encountered anxious or worried patients, they gently comforted them to allay their fears. Appreciative of their help, local people gave them sincere, heartfelt thanks. It was very heart-warming indeed.

Our volunteers in Mozambique give of themselves with the same loving spirit. Since Cyclone Idai devastated the country in March this year, they have held many aid distributions to help those affected. They have truly taken to heart the Buddha’s teachings to reach out to the needy. Their work after the cyclone inspired many young people to join their ranks. These young people have, for example, helped build straw houses for older, disadvantaged people with building materials distributed by Tzu Chi. They said that in the past they did not know what love is but now they do and so they cheerfully and willingly do what they can to help others.

Guided by the Buddha’s wisdom, our volunteers practice the three kinds of giving: They donate money and material aid, offer emotional support, and share the Dharma with those who are troubled and afflicted. By giving of themselves like this, they are lighting candles in the dark. From one lit candle, many more will come to be lit. Thousands of candles can be lit from that first candle and yet the flame of that first candle is not diminished. With more candles lit, more darkness will be dispelled. I thank everyone who gives their love, and I hope all underserved people in the world have homes to live in and have their educational and medical needs served by a caring society.

A group of young volunteers built a straw house for a 79-year-old man in the town of Nhamatanda, Nhamatanda District, Mozambique. Chen Bo-xuan

 

November 2019