Protecting the World With Compassion


To cultivate compassion, attain wisdom, and achieve the goal of helping and leading others, we must begin by bringing harmony to our own body and mind.

We often say that the world is full of suffering; this comes from the many afflictions of the mind. But when we look at the positive side, the world is also beautiful and full of warmth. In Tzu Chi, what we face daily – what we see, hear, or experience – is all love. This love nourishes and brings infinite vitality to the world. 

Everyone has the Buddha nature. Bodhisattvas form their own aspirations. Not only do they relieve people from suffering, they also guide people out of delusion and confusion. We often talk about “recruiting Bodhisattvas.” We need many people to continuously cultivate and guide others to inspire more people to live a life of wisdom and value. When we put this into practice, we influence each other to walk in the right direction. As we take steps forward, we must create blessings and guide people’s wisdom, step by step, without rest. This is stepping forward with the two feet of blessings and wisdom, and this is what it means to be diligent. We must persistently walk on this great Bodhisattva Path.

Tzu Chi has been around for over half a century. Looking back at where we started, it was a tiny path. We advanced step by step, with the support of many people. The circles of Bodhisattvas continue to expand from Taiwan to around the world. In mid-August of this year, in Chicago, USA, the Parliament of the World’s Religions took place, and Tzu Chi served on the board of trustees this term. At the convening, Tzu Chi volunteers gathered with representatives from more than 200 faith traditions worldwide to share and encourage each other, seeking progress. This is what the world needs now. Extreme weather patterns continue to worsen, and this is indeed worrisome. We need all of humankind to work together to reduce our carbon footprint. In Union Square of Manhattan, New York City, there is a Climate Clock that shows a countdown to the time remaining to reverse the climate emergency. We have only six years left. Every day, we see the minutes and seconds ticking by on this countdown. Alas, we cannot stop time. We cannot see time. It just passes by without a sound.

Every day, what I speak and teach is about loving-kindness and compassion, about “unconditional loving-kindness and universal compassion.” We must protect all with compassion in this world, whether other people or animals. In addition to valuing people and protecting animals, we must also cherish the plants, be grateful for the abundant harvest of various grains and crops, and be grateful for the land that nourishes all life. So many things coexist in this large space between the heavens and the earth; the key to life is “love.” This love is selfless and undefiled; it means having “unconditional loving-kindness and universal compassion.” These simple words can encompass all beings.

Religion gives our lives purpose and teaches us how to live. We do not necessarily need to be Buddhists, but we must have a purpose and direction in life. Every religion has its uniqueness, and every religion must respect and bless each other. In the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Tzu Chi was one of the more than 200 faith traditions represented. We must be grateful for being recognized and invited to participate, but we must work harder. The Buddha came for the one great cause of educating Living Bodhisattvas to go among people. We also came to this world for the one great cause of giving ourselves to unconditionally help others, which is the most essential value in life. 

Tzu Chi established its own school of Buddhism, and the teachings of the Tzu Chi School is the Jing Si Dharma Lineage. The Dharma Lineage is our spirit, and the School is our door and path. When we step into this door, we need a path. The sutras say, “Bodhisattvas arise due to suffering sentient beings.” Tzu Chi works for the Buddha’s teachings, as well as for sentient beings. I am grateful for the Tzu Chi volunteers who have opened up and paved this path smoothly. As Tzu Chi serves the world, we do what should be done. We strive to have no conflicts in this world over matters, or with others. If there is criticism, we see it as an assistive condition. We remind ourselves to be vigilant, training ourselves to be like a ship that can withstand the winds and waves. We need people to spread the Way; the Way cannot spread Itself. As we give, we must work with truth, sincerity, steadfastness, kindness, and love. We must be sincere and pure, taking solid steps to make charity work even more prevalent internationally.

Faith in a religion is not about seeking blessings but about creating blessings. This is like how if we go to a bank without any savings deposited, we cannot withdraw anything. We must seize time. Every second, we must speak good words, do good deeds, and be a good person. Let us “open our hearts to encompass the universe”; with a boundless heart, we will be free of afflictions. Let us also “embrace the boundless worlds within the universe” so that we make no distinction between different nationalities or races. If we do not cause harm to others or make mistakes regarding matters, we can maintain an open heart and pure thoughts. In this way, there will be no guilt or shame in our conscience. 

As the Climate Clock keeps counting down, it is a constant reminder for us. Promoting a plant-based diet, environmental protection, and cherishing the life of all material things are critical directions to move in at this moment. To bring purity to people’s hearts and harmony to society, we need Tzu Chi volunteers to work in concert with unity, and we must increase our strength to inspire more people. Then, this energy of love can be passed on from generation to generation, extending wisdom life in this world. Please always be mindful! 

Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings from September 1 to 8, 2023

Master Cheng Yen

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

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