About Master Cheng Yen
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.
The Footprints of Master Cheng Yen is a quarterly publication. Each issue includes an essay called “Selected Topics on Master Cheng Yen’s Teachings,” written by Master Cheng Yen’s monastic disciples on important topics that Master Cheng Yen discussed during that season. Sometimes, the essays use important events in Tzu Chi as a means of elucidating Master Cheng Yen’s teachings. They sometimes also outline the origin, formation, and development of her ideas. From the spring of 1996 to the summer of 2003, thirty of these essays were written over eight years. These were later revised and compiled into The Principles of Master Cheng Yen’s Teachings for publication.
The Principles of Master Cheng Yen’s Teachings, Volume 1 provides a thorough overview of the development of Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s Tzu Chi teachings from the spring of 1996 to the winter of 1997. Through a description of events from this period of time, the inspiration for her teachings is made clear. These events, ranging from case visits to disaster relief work, provide context to the principles of Master Cheng Yen’s teachings, making them relevant and easily related to the work of present-day Tzu Chi volunteers, both in Taiwan and abroad.