Continuing The Spirit Of The Bamboo Banks

Translated and Compiled by the Dharma as Water Team


By forming an aspiration, we are seizing the moment. By being persistent, we are sustaining it forever.

In November 2020, we began our annual Year-End Blessings tour. We traveled from Taipei to Taichung, back to Taipei, and finally returned to Hualien on December 6. For over thirty days, I was surrounded by so many loving people every single day. Everywhere I turned, I saw Living Bodhisattvas sharing inspiring and moving sto-ries about the people and events in their volun-teer experiences. What they shared was all about great love, a love that inspires us to give without conditions or expectations.

At the Year-End Blessing ceremony in Taichung, the volunteers from Nantou shared about Cao Meiying, a teacher who had dedicated herself to Tzu Chi for more than twenty years. When she passed away on November 11, 2020, she donated her body to become a Silent Mentor. This fulfilled her wish to “do the work of Tzu Chi until her final breath.” In the end, she said that she never had any regrets in doing Tzu Chi’s work, and she expressed her wish to follow me on the Bodhisattva Path, lifetime after lifetime.

Recently, I have frequently said that I have no regrets in this lifetime. Fifty-five years ago, I saw how impermanence in the world caused so much poverty and suffering. In a very timely series of causes and conditions, my master wanted me to go to Chiayi, but a group of people in Hualien expressed their hope for me to stay. I told them that if they could help me do charity work by caring for the impoverished and suffering people here, my life would be of use if I stayed in Hualien. Thus, everyone began to set aside a bit of their grocery money, putting fifty cents into the bam-boo banks each day. This was how the Buddhist Tzu Chi Merit Association’s relief work began. With everyone contributing a little, each drop came together to form a river and then an ocean, enabling us to accomplish great things. Using this method, people everywhere can do good deeds so that their love may be felt around the world.

Back then, each person saved fifty cents, and even now, after fifty-five years, the spirit of the bamboo banks still lives on wherever there are Tzu Chi volunteers. For example, in Turkey, even the children of refugee families from Syria that we have helped have responded to our fundraising efforts. During the past few years, when disas-ters occurred abroad, such as when earthquakes hit Hualien and Tainan in Taiwan, they eagerly donated money to help with the disaster relief. One child even wrote a rain check, scribbling “one dollar” on a piece of paper. Even though he had no money, he had the aspiration to help others. These Syrian children are very sincere. This is what makes their strength so great; their aspira-tion is most touching!

My single-minded aspiration from more than fifty years ago is the same as the aspiration of those children. I have carried this one thought with me to this day, without deviating in my direc-tion, and I have formed many sincere and positive affinities with people along the way. Whenever I see suffering in the world, my heart feels anxious and heavy. But when I see so many Tzu Chi vol-unteers giving of themselves with one heart, I am once again reminded of the great value of life and that my own life can still be of use. Fifty-five years ago, without that one aspiration, without gath-ering drops of love from everyone, we would not have been able to help so many people. However, what is more important, is not how many resourc-es we have distributed to people, but how we have opened their hearts and inspired their love to help others using their own local resources.

As the day draws to a close, when the sun is at its most gentle and most beautiful, we know that it soon must set. This reflects the impermanence of life. Before long, another year will be over, and with each passing day, we have one day less in this life. But if we can create blessings every day, then we will have more blessings day after day. So, everyone, please always be mindful!

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