With Blessings and Affinities, We Dedicate Ourselves to Sentient Beings
Master Cheng Yen’s Teachings
Translated by the Dharma as Water Team
Every day, there is one word that the world cannot escape from—“suffering.” Even the wealthiest people experience suffering. There is no such thing as a perfect, worry-free life, no world without suffering. For instance, the weather is very hot right now, and you and I all experience it. Similarly, suffering is also a universal experience. There is the suffering of aging, illness, and death; ordinary beings are deluded and find them hard to accept. For awakened people, on the other hand, it is not that they do not experience suffering, but instead, they thoroughly comprehend it and accept it as the law of nature, so they are at ease and at peace.
What causes even more suffering are the afflictions and ignorance in people’s hearts; these disrupt peace among people and lead to conflicts between countries. Over the last few months, we have seen how the Russian-Ukraine war has affected so many. People also have excessive greed and desire, resulting in overconsumption and waste. We see how merchandise is overpackaged for beauty, and this leads to more and more waste. In Tzu Chi’s recycling stations, we see piles of new clothing that people donated after holding onto them; so many of them still have their tags on. Not only do people have excessive clothing, but they also waste so much food, while many people are starving.
Even though we all live on the same planet, those in wealthy countries pursue pleasure, while those in poor countries have to deal with underdevelopment and lack of resources. If we all could reduce our desires and learn to be content, we would have enough to spare for those in need. We do not need to be completely full when we eat; we just need to have enough. When we eat until we are 80% full and use the 20% to help others, fewer people will starve.
The International Buddhist Association of Nepal collaborated with Tzu Chi to set up medical facilities in Lumbini, Nepal. Tzu Chi volunteers from Malaysia and Singapore visited in July to check on the progress of the construction work for the free clinic and the operations of the dialysis center, and they also conducted home visits in the rural area. A few months ago, Dr. Chen Jimin from Malaysia walked by a family in a village in Lumbini. He saw a toddler crawling on the ground, trying to drink from a milk bottle on the floor. Dr. Chen was so shocked that he held up the boy’s head and fed the milk to him. The boy’s parents were disabled and worked as laborers on a nearby farm. The boy’s sister is of school age, but they could not afford the monthly tuition—less than 5 US dollars.
This is a vicious cycle in the local village, where children drop out of school and remain illiterate. Then, they grow up to make a very minimal wage—less than 3 US dollars a day. As they cannot make a living, some will just beg, waiting for someone to give them money or food.
In the Buddha’s hometown of Lumbini, there are many tourist spots, but how many people are able to witness suffering and realize their own blessings? When we see suffering how many of us can give rise to empathy? Tzu Chi volunteers found this family and quickly distributed food supplies to help them, and they arranged for the little girl to attend school. There are so many people in this world that every encounter is an extraordinary cause and condition. If people in suffering have the affinities to receive help after bodhisattvas see them with compassion and reach out a helping hand, then they are also blessed. In these cases, I am glad for the people suffering and joyfully give them my well-wishes.
I cannot personally visit the Buddha’s birthplace, Lumbini, but I am grateful that I have a group of disciples whose hearts are so close to mine. They will complete my mission of repaying the Buddha’s grace by doing actual construction work and developing medicine and charity missions there. With these bodhisattvas as my strength, I hope to implement Right Dharma in the Buddha’s hometown and help the Buddha Dharma prosper.
The Buddha came to the world for one great cause, going among people to help sentient beings in suffering. After more than 2,500 years, you must seize the conditions to take your teacher’s mission as your own and the Buddha’s heart as your own. You must take the responsibility to work for Buddha’s teachings and for sentient beings on your own shoulders, expanding your heart to see all sentient beings in the world as your own responsibility.
Though we truly cannot save all beings in the world, we can dedicate our efforts to doing so. When we see and hear about suffering in the world, if we have an affinity with the place, we give of ourselves there. When having one person is insufficient, we spread the word, and good words can guide good people. With everyone’s love gathered, we leverage everyone’s strength so that we can help those in suffering, wherever they are.
Tzu Chi volunteers have aspirations, vows, and strength; they give unconditionally and place their palms together to express gratitude. This is such a beautiful way of life! We also elevate the value of our lives in this way. Every time I see this, I cannot help but express my gratitude and how moved I am! With love in our hearts, we have an abundance of wealth. When we can give love, we are giving ourselves blessings. Creating blessings in the world is creating blessings for ourselves.
We must implement the Buddha Dharma in the world. As we learn the Buddha’s teachings, we must put them into action. If we simply stand in place all the time trying to “throw a stone to find a way,” we will actually end up blocking the path. I keep urging everyone to awaken the power of love. I also ask everyone to help lend some strength to my voice and speak more kind words on my behalf. When everyone is grateful and content, we can extend our connection and spread our love more widely, expanding our arms to embrace all beings. I hope that everyone can form the aspiration so that we can create infinite blessings and allow all beings in poverty, illness, and suffering in the world to be saved!
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings from July 1 to 18, 2022