慈濟傳播人文志業基金會
WORDS FROM DHARMA MASTER CHENG YEN—Working for the Common Good of the World

The COVID-19 pandemic started more than a year ago. Many countries have experienced lockdowns, which have in turn taken an economic toll on countless people. Tzu Chi has responded by giving aid to the vulnerable. In the Philippines, for example, our volunteers have extended a helping hand to jeepney and pedicab drivers. They’ve been among those most affected by the pandemic. Many drivers, grateful for our help, pasted stickers on their vehicles to help us promote vegetarianism. They also took Tzu Chi coin banks home to save money to help other needy people.

A profound sense of gratitude rose in my heart when I learned what the drivers had done. I’m thankful to them for spreading messages of goodness and giving what they can. They may not be materially rich, but their hearts are rich with love. They reminded me of how Tzu Chi started 55 years ago—how 30 housewives, each saving a little money in a bamboo coin bank every day to aid the needy, helped launch our foundation. We built our foundation from scratch, and today we have volunteers in over 60 countries and areas serving the needy. Without these living bodhisattvas, Tzu Chi wouldn’t have been able to reach so many people over the years.

Living in this day and age, we have technology right at our fingertips to help us see what is happening around the world. People in rich countries live in abundance. In fact, they live in such abundance that they throw away perfectly edible food and serviceable goods in large quantities. In sharp contrast, people in poor countries don’t even have enough to eat. Food insecurity is an issue they wrestle with day to day.

Even though most of us have technology at our fingertips to see the world, few see the large number of people around the globe struggling to feed themselves day in and day out—or they choose to look away, as though it isn’t any of their concern. Out of the nearly eight billion people in the world, more than 800 million suffer from chronic hunger. What can we do to help? It would only take ten of us eating a little less to save enough to feed one hungry person.

Eating a little less and refraining from wasting food is not difficult for most people, but the benefits are huge. Most of all, it can help prevent people from starving. Don’t underestimate yourself and think that helping the needy is the exclusive province of the rich. Anyone willing to give can help and contribute. Everyone can do good. If we all contribute what we can, our combined strength will make a huge difference.

Impermanence strikes all the time. The pandemic is just one instance. Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, for example. We have seen countless instances of mudslides swallowing lives and homes in the blink of an eye, and of unstoppable forest fires wreaking havoc. Our planet has a large population. To satisfy the needs and wants of this large population, we have caused a lot of damage to the ecosystem. We have done much that is bad for the Earth—much of it purely for the sake of our enjoyment. And yet how long can such enjoyment last? Many people have everything, but they are not content and happy—they still feel lacking and want more.

Every day I keep an eye on what is happening around the world. What I see weighs me down and makes me feel worried and anxious. It’s hard to describe my feelings. These days, with my physical condition, I often have to exert a lot of force just to speak. Yet, even so, I tell myself I must continue giving all I can. I work with the sincerest wish to inspire the pure, undefiled love in everyone’s heart. I work with the sincerest wish to inspire everyone to walk together on the Path of the Bodhisattvas.

Time flies by so quickly. There is no way we can stop it. The only way we can counter the passage of time is to do our best to cultivate ourselves and benefit others. Tap into your inner wellspring of love. Light a lamp for others to brighten their path; give a glass of water or a handful of rice to those in need. When we contribute to the common good of the world, when we help others live in peace, we create a meaningful chapter in our lives.

A jeepney driver poses with food distributed by Tzu Chi. Jeepney and pedicab drivers in the Philippines are among those most affected by the pandemic. The foundation has reached out to this group of people by providing them with rice and other food items. Jamaica Digo

 

November 2021