Let's cherish time
Excerpts from a lecture delivered by Master
on September 21, 1997
Translated by Norman
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased to see so many Tzu Chi members coming
from every part of Taiwan. Although Taiwan is not a big place and
transportation is very convenient, it is not easy for all of you to
get together at one place, especially when all of us are making
concerted efforts to carry out the Tzu Chi missions.
has entered its thirty-second year. Beginning with the mission of
charity, we have developed other missions such as medicine,
education and culture, etc. By accumulating the strength of loving
people bit by bit, Tzu Chi has achieved what it is
Just when I came in, many little bodhisattvas
presented their piggy banks to me. Some said they wanted to donate
the money for the construction of the new hospital. Others said they
wanted to help the needy. Their purity and loveliness make me feel
so wonderful. Whether their money is for the construction of a
hospital or for helping people, it comes from their innocent loving
hearts. Their merits are really immeasurable.
"Like a school
kid out on a hike."
A few minutes ago, we gave awards to
outstanding Tzu Chi Hospital volunteers. When the master of
ceremonies called the name Su Ching-lien, I felt an ache in my
heart. She was a volunteer in the Tzu Chi Hospital for more than
five years. She would have come to the meeting today to accept the
award personally, but...
A week ago, on the eve of the Moon
Festival, Ms. Su and other volunteers
performed an aboriginal
dance to entertain patients at the hospital. At a party in the Abode
of Still Thoughts the next evening, they performed for guests and
Tzu Chi members from all over Taiwan. The participants all formed a
circle in the square in front of the main sanctuary of the Abode. It
was really very delightful, even though we couldn't see the full
moon that evening.
The next morning at a volunteers meeting,
I praised those who had danced at the party. Although they were
grandmothers, when they danced in their aboriginal costumes, they
really showed the simple, happy nature of the aborigines. They were
delighted to hear what I said about them. After the gathering, they
all went to the hospital to do their volunteer work. When they
returned to the Abode of Still Thoughts that evening, they shared
their experiences with excitement.
Before they went to bed,
someone asked Ms. Su how she danced so well. She said that in order
to bring happiness to the patients, she had especially gone to a
dancing school to learn. The others asked her to teach them. She was
delighted and immediately stood up to demonstrate.
had danced the last step, she said to them, "Follow me." As she was
bending forward, she fell down. At first people thought it was a
part of the dance, but then they realized that something was wrong.
She was unconscious. They immediately called an ambulance to take
her to the hospital. Dr. Lin Chin-lon, a cardiologist and the deputy
director of the hospital, went with some other physicians to see
her. At that time, she opened her eyes and said she was all right.
The volunteers replied, "It's good that you are all right - you
scared us." She said, "No swear, but please don't tell my husband!"
After that, she closed her eyes. But she never opened them
I rushed to the ICU to see her early next morning. The
chief of the neurosurgery department told me that an artery in her
head had broken. I asked him how she was. He shook his head and said
he feared the worst. When her husband arrived at the hospital, the
chief asked him whether his wife had ever complained about
headaches. He said she had. The chief said this usually happened in
people between forty and sixty. At that age, if the blood vessels in
the head were not strong, they would become thin and
There is a saying in Buddhism: "At the terminal
stage of one's life, there is no infatuation and the mind is very
clear." The purpose of our spiritual formation is to reach that
state. One second before Ms. Su fell down, she was very happy. When
she was sent to the hospital, she opened her eyes and said she was
all right. She didn't have the slightest fear. How tranquil she was!
To her it was a very blessed relief.
Her husband said to me
that he understood she had no pain and no struggle, but things had
happened too quickly and he needed time to adjust. I told him that
my heart also ached, but all we could do was to bless
Then he said to me: "Master, do you know? My wife's
happy life started only after she joined Tzu Chi. Each time she came
to Tzu Chi to do volunteer work, she was as excited as a school kid
out on a hike. She was really happy doing Tzu Chi work."
said that the day before, she had phoned him saying she would go
back home on Saturday, but she would return to Hualian to accept the
Master's award on Sunday.
Just a few minutes ago, I heard the
master of ceremonies call her name. She will never show up to accept
the award. The sad pain will be in my heart forever. On the other
hand, though, I also envy her because she closed her eyes in a
pleasant atmosphere and with peace of mind. How blessed she
Ladies and gentlemen! Right now I am standing here
without any problem. But what will happen to me in a few seconds, I
don't know. It is the same with everyone. Life is really
impermanent. That is why I have to hurry to do good for all
In their companies, they are presidents and
chauffeurs; in Tzu Chi, they call each other brothers.
Chi's primary mission is to purify people's minds. I always say
Taiwan is a Treasure Island: the climate is good and the soil is
rich. If we have harmony in society, Taiwan will be a really nice
Everyone has the Buddha-nature, which is the pure,
intrinsic nature. The reason why there are so many problems in
society is that people's minds are polluted. This pollution obscures
the pure, intrinsic nature. If we want to purify our minds, we have
to activate our love and give ourselves for others.
Just as I
was coming out from the Abode of Still Thoughts, I met a Tzu Cheng
Faith Corps member at the parking lot. He said he was on duty that
day. One of my disciples asked him whether Brother Chen was there.
He replied that Brother Chen had been there the day before. Do you
know who Brother Chen is? He is that Faith Corps member's boss. In
the company they are the president and the chauffeur, but in Tzu Chi
they call each other brothers. When they are on duty or when they
direct traffic, they work together without any discrimination. That
is equality, and that is also the purification of minds.
chauffeur once told me that he was really grateful to me. I asked
him why. He said that his boss had become a lot better since he
joined Tzu Chi. The chauffeur's days were much easier!
asked how bad his days had been before. He said that his boss used
to drink until midnight every day. When he was drunk, he would vomit
in the car. Sometimes, he shouted and screamed. After he joined Tzu
Chi, he came to work on time and he quit drinking. The chauffeur
could also work on a regular schedule. His days were really much
easier. What made him happier was that when they were both on duty
at Tzu Chi, they were on the same level, just like
His boss used to drink a forty-foot container of
imported wine each year. You can imagine how many bottles he drank
every day! He has really made a big change. That is purification of
Life is impermanent. Who knows whether I will have
another thirty years?
That is why I have to move much
The basement of the Tzu Chi Talin Hospital has
already been finished. About five years ago, the director of the
Department of Health of the Executive Yuan came to see me. She
mentioned that there was a shortage of medical resources in Tainan,
Chiayi and Yunlin counties. At that time, I made up my mind to build
hospitals in places short of medical resources, and, above all,
provide conscientious doctors. The Tzu Chi Hospital in Talin will be
larger than the one in Hualien. I expect that this hospital, when
finished, will provide the best services to its
Some people may question whether Tzu Chi has such
tremendous funds available. Otherwise, how can we engage in such big
construction projects? I always say that the money is in the local
people's pockets. I am only worried that I cannot do my work well
enough. As long as I do my work well, I can win people's trust, and
I can then accumulate every drop of love to do something significant
Life is impermanent. Who knows if I will have
another thirty years? That is why I have to move much faster to
build the Tzu Chi medical network in Taiwan within the shortest
As to the mission of education, we will set up a
complete education system from kindergarten and grade school right
through to graduate school.
I hear about family problems
almost every day. For instance, many parents are afraid of the
pressure put on their children in their schools, so they send their
children abroad. The families are often divided over this question
which, of course, causes problems. Actually, we can build a good
education system in Taiwan and give our children a complete
education with love.
Several days ago, a group of scholars
visited the Tzu Chi College of Medicine and the Tzu Chi Junior
College of Nursing. They said the environments of those two schools
were very good and the students were really blessed to be able to
study there. They even asked me whether I had given too much to the
students. I said I had never thought about that. I only wanted to
accumulate people's love and give it to the students. In other
words, I wanted to carry out education with love.
Dr. Su, chief of the neurosurgery department, brought a group
medical college students and their parents to the Abode of
Still Thoughts. They stayed there overnight. This morning, the
parents took their children to see me together with Yi Teh Mothers.
The parents thanked me for giving their children such a good
environment for study. They said that Dr. Su and the Yi Teh Mothers
looked after their children very well. Since the students had come
to the medical college, they had become much more mature. I said
that we give without asking for anything in return. My only hope is
that they will study hard and understand the meaning of gratitude
and love. When they feel grateful to their parents and teachers,
they will study hard. In the future they will treat the patients
I hope I can finish the construction of the
medical network and the implementation of the education system
within five years. Because life is impermanent, I have to grasp
every moment. When one breathes, that means he is alive. Once he no
longer breathes, his life is ended.
In addition to time, we
have to grasp the opportunity. For thirty-two years, Tzu Chi has won
the trust of society and international affirmation. That is an
excellent opportunity. Our society needs Tzu Chi to accumulate love
for construction. I hope all of you will stay together in the Tzu
Chi world. If you do, you will feel stable, happy and at ease. It
will be good for your lives, your families and society.
very grateful to the Tzu Chi commissioners for their continuous
giving. I am also grateful to all of you. Beyond gratitude, I feel
even more grateful to all of you.
The Tzu Chi world is a
world of great love and gratitude. So many people's love bound
together becomes great love, and gratitude to each other is the most
beautiful culture of Tzu Chi.
May you cultivate good fortune