Words From Dharma Master Cheng Yen—Create Blessings, Mitigate Disasters

Translated by Teresa Chang

“The world is impermanent and the land is fragile.” The truth of this statement by the Buddha was borne out on the morning of April 3, when Taiwan was jolted by a sudden tremor—a massive earthquake measuring 7.2 in magnitude—leaving everyone deeply unsettled. As the tectonic plates shifted, the ground surged, mountains split, and rocks cascaded down. Nature demonstrated its formidable might, rendering the earth as fragile as tofu. In this world, no place is truly secure. Compared to the power of nature, humans are truly insignificant. Instead of thinking, “I’m strong and tough. I’m not afraid,” let us hold nature in reverence, stay vigilant, and pray devoutly for a safer world.

According to news reports, furniture in many homes was displaced or fell over as a result of the tremor. Tzu Chi volunteers likely experienced the same impacts as others in their own homes, but they put the welfare of others before themselves, swiftly mobilizing to provide relief and organize distributions. I’ve always been deeply grateful to this group of real-life bodhisattvas. I cherish and hold them in high regard. I hope everyone in Tzu Chi does the same, valuing and supporting one another, particularly as some Tzu Chi volunteers are older and might be living alone or have only their elderly spouses to depend on. Those living nearby should visit their homes to assess post-earthquake conditions and offer assistance if needed. At the same time, don’t forget the disadvantaged families in your community. Visit them more frequently in the aftermath of the quake to provide support and help ensure their peace of mind.

This earthquake is a lesson from heaven and earth, educating us about suffering, emptiness, and impermanence. If we came through it safely, we should feel grateful—not just for our own safety, but also for the opportunity to continue making a difference in the world. At the same time, take to heart the reality of life’s impermanence. Birth, aging, illness, and death are all inevitable parts of life. No matter how close we are to our family or friends, the time will come when we have to part ways. So, let’s cherish every moment we have together and every instance of feeling loved and cared for. Let’s allow gratitude to fill our hearts.

Continuous aftershocks have been felt since the strong earthquake struck. Experts attribute this to the ongoing adjustment of the earth, indicating instability. While we keep a close watch on these aftershocks, it’s crucial to maintain inner calm. Now that this major event has occurred, the priority is to solicit aid and inspire love to help those impacted. It’s not merely about raising funds; it’s about seizing the opportunity to cultivate and ignite compassion. When we all come together in love, we can provide timely assistance to those in need during times of suffering.

We all live together in this world, our thoughts and actions accumulating to shape our collective karma. When negative deeds or thoughts outweigh the positive, goodness weakens. The opposite is also true. Through increased engagement in benevolent acts, the power of goodness will strengthen, creating harmony in the world. Fostering kindness and actively contributing to the world’s well-being is essential. By sowing blessings in this way, we can help turn misfortune around and ensure that peace prevails at all times.

I’ve often talked lately about “learning” and “awakening” (to life’s truths). I encourage everyone to cultivate a heart of purity and learn through the act of giving, thereby deepening their understanding of life’s true principles as taught by the Buddha and helping themselves grow. Have faith in the Buddha’s teachings. The Enlightened One taught us to never do evil and to always do good. When you practice virtue and give with sincerity, you’ll have the power to inspire and change lives.

Tzu Chi will soon enter its sixth decade. From the early days of 30 housewives each saving 50 NT cents (about 1 U.S. cent) daily to help those in need to the present, every step of our journey has been solid and unwavering. This has brought me immense comfort. When I look at the world map, I see Tzu Chi volunteers spread across various countries, always ready to lend a helping hand where it’s needed. Working alongside so many real-life bodhisattvas in serving the needy is the most precious aspect of my life. Natural disasters, conflicts, poverty, and illness—there are countless souls suffering worldwide in need of assistance. One person alone cannot alleviate all suffering, and a few individuals lack the strength. It requires everyone coming together and joining forces. Let’s endeavor to give our best.

Impermanence is a fundamental truth of our world. Master Cheng Yen teaches us to hold this truth in our hearts, cherish those around us, and commit to doing good, offering a pathway to transcend life’s uncertainties.

Huang Xiao-zhe

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