Dharma Master Cheng Yen was born in 1937 in a small town in Taichung County, Taiwan. When she was twenty-three years old, she left home to become a Buddhist nun, and was instructed by her mentor, Venerable Master Yin Shun, to work “for Buddha’s teachings, for sentient beings.” In 1966, she founded a charity, which later turned into the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, to “help the poor and educate the rich”—to give material aid to the needy and inspire love and humanity in both givers and recipients.
In recent years, Master Cheng Yen’s contributions have been increasingly recognized by the global community. In 2011, she was recognized with the Roosevelt Institute’s FDR Distinguished Public Service Award and was named to the 2011 TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people. In 2014, she was presented with Rotary International’s Award of Honor in recognition of her humanitarian efforts and contributions to world peace.
People are sentient beings with an intrinsic Buddha-nature, but when they are influenced by their environment, inauspicious causes and conditions cause them accumulate complex and negative habitual tendencies, which can cause them to turn away from their Buddha-nature.
In order for them to return to their pure and wholesome nature, they must follow the right method. This means that they must walk the Bodhisattva-path, putting the teachings into practice and trusting in the karmic law of cause and effect.
By liberating themselves from suffering and working to eliminate negative habitual tendencies, the purity of their Buddha-nature can shine forth again.
“The sutras are a path; this path is a road for us to walk on.” Ordinary people traveling on life’s journey do not realize that one ignorant thought can create subtle afflictions. If we do not clearly recognize karma and its nature, habitual tendencies in thoughts and actions can become deeply rooted and give rise to more karma. Going from the worldly path to the path of the Bodhisattva, we abide by the Four Great Vows in our hearts and practice the Four Infinite Minds and the Six Paramitas in our actions. Only then can we penetrate the essence of the sutras and thus return to our pure nature. Only then will we realize that the mind, the Buddha, and sentient beings are no different in their nature. Everyone has Buddha-nature, and everyone is innately capable of attaining the same virtue as the Buddha!”