Dharma Master Cheng Yen was born in 1937 and survived the ravages of the Second World War. Inspired by the insights of Buddhism, she was convinced that she ought to work for the good of humanity. Her vision found powerful resonance in the direction her teacher, Venerable Dharma Master Yin Shun, gave her: “Work for the good of Buddhism and all living beings.”
To carry out her vision, she founded a charity, which later turned into the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, to address the needs of the poor and suffering around her. Now, after decades of Tzu Chi work, serving as a bodhisattva has been recognized as Tzu Chi’s path of spiritual practice. From the humble beginnings of a few cents’ daily donation from a handful of donors and volunteers, Tzu Chi has grown internationally and responded to the needs of a changing time, expanding its mission from charity for the poor to medical care for the sick, then adding education, culture, international relief, bone marrow donation, community volunteerism, and environmental protection for all living beings.
Today, the Master remains as actively engaged in her lifework of Tzu Chi as she has ever been, and continues to inspire her followers—who come from all religions, age groups, and educational backgrounds—to serve as bodhisattvas worldwide.
This book is compiled by the Jing Si Abode English Editorial Team, which is composed of religious disciples of Dharma Master Cheng Yen who reside at her monastery, the Jing Si Abode. The team compiles the Master’s teachings into English, using the logic and structure of the English language, in hopes that teachings presented in such a way can be more understandable to English readers and provide inspiration.
In this book, Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s spiritual teachings are compiled into relatively short English articles for reflection and contemplation. The collection is an eclectic one, based on talks to different audiences and from different sources. While they are loosely grouped into separate topics, each occupying one part of the book, the articles may stand on their own.
Part I offers basic teachings on Buddhism, which can serve as a foundation for understanding the Master’s wider teachings. Part II is about cultivation, or ways we can put the teachings into practice to become a better person. Part III introduces Tzu Chi, its spirit, and how Tzu Chi volunteers learn to be bodhisattvas through Tzu Chi work. Part IV shares the practice of repentance in a series of articles which teach us to look inward to find solutions to the many problems that we see in our world and encounter in life.
In giving teachings, the Master guides people to see the real truths and principles in life, and these are universal to all human beings no matter what country they are from, what religion they practice, and what language they speak.
The teachings have been compiled with care to reflect the Master's style of using simple, easy-to-understand language to help people to "understand the spiritual teachings, take them to heart, and be inspired to practice them in their daily lives"—for this is the Master's heartfelt wish.