Dharma Q&A

Translated by the Dharma as Water Team


Dharma Master Cheng Yen responds to questions from visitors, volunteers, staff, and disciples.

Give Unconditionally, With Gratitude

Q: “Why do Tzu Chi volunteers give unconditionally while feeling a sense of gratitude to the recipients?”

A: “When we help people in need, we can see with our own eyes the truth of pain and suffering. The suffering that we witness allows us to appreciate the impermanence of life and understand life’s true value. So, those who suffer are our teachers in life, and we should feel gratitude toward them.”

First We Help, Then We Transform

Q: “There is a certain elderly man I know who is ill yet still loves to smoke; why should Tzu Chi help him?”

A: “Smoking is his habit, but right now he has no food to eat and no medication to treat his illness. So, we must help him recover his health first, then assist him with his daily living. After that, we will encourage him to quit smoking. We should not stop helping him because of his bad habit.”

The Security Door of Doing Good Deeds

“Some people do good deeds because they desire rewards. Such greedy thoughts will bring afflictions. When their expectations are not met, negative thoughts arise, and the result can be terrifying.”

Master Cheng Yen remarked, “Tzu Chi volunteers aspire to give unconditionally. This aspiration is like a security door, which prevents greed from entering our minds. Not only should we not expect anything in return, we should have gratitude, respect, and selfless love for those who receive our help. In this way, we create blessings for others without forming attachments based on greed.”


Excerpts from Infinite Teachings, Infinite Meanings compiled by Jing Si Editorial Group (Jing Si Publications, 2015). For more information, please visit Jing Si Books & Cafe (directory on Pg. 64) or jingsi.shop.

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