BBC’s 100 Women of 2022

Features Dharma Master Cheng Yen

Written by Adriana DiBenedetto


On December 6, 2022, the BBC unveiled its annual series highlighting the lives and accomplishments of passionate female artists, innovators, and activists from across the globe. We are humbled and honored that Tzu Chi’s founder, Master Cheng Yen, often called the “Mother Teresa of Asia,” was included as an influential Buddhist philanthropist alongside so many who move hearts and inspire hope. 

Striving to find answers to some of life’s greatest questions, Dharma Master Cheng Yen began to study Buddhism at an early age. And at 25, she decided to leave home to become a nun. 

Deeply affected by the suffering she saw around her, Master Cheng Yen and 30 female spiritual followers vowed to make a difference in the world, undeterred by the obstacles before them. They began making baby shoes and other handmade products for sale and put US 2¢ aside daily from their grocery fund in homemade bamboo banks to help others. Through this spirit of gentle perseverance and steadfast dedication, wonders did abound. 

Today, she inspires the hearts of millions across the globe. The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation was established in 1966, with the Foundation’s footprints of humanitarian relief reaching 128 countries and regions worldwide – and counting. 

Master Cheng Yen’s path reveals how profoundly each loving thought counts, and that indeed, love can change lives. With gratitude in our hearts, we carry forth Tzu Chi’s spirit of compassion in action, recognizing that there’s no end to the good we can do together. 

Do not underestimate yourself, for human beings have unlimited potential.

Read Master Cheng Yen’s profile and discover fellow awardees: the BBC unveiled its annual series


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