Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 29th
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Let's Protect the Earth Together - Cleanse the land and the mind

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Let's Protect the Earth Together
Resource conservation benefits the world; recycling enriches society.
Cleanse the land and the mind
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Cleanse the land and the mind
Environmental protection ultimately starts from within, through the thorough cleansing of the pollutants in your own mind--your worries and desires. By removing these, you can continue heading through life in the right direction. In this way, you will naturally cherish your life, your environment, and other people, and you will consider the effects of your actions more carefully and be more conscious about not creating so much garbage.

In Malaysia, there is a recycling volunteer named Heen Chooi Ping (禤翠萍). When she was young, her husband divorced her. Her confidence and self-respect in tatters, she gambled as a way to temporarily alleviate her suffering. As a single mother, Heen supported her two daughters by working as a caregiver for women who had just given birth. Five years ago she tuned in to Tzu Chi Da Ai TV by chance and first learned about the Buddhist teachings. It was a profound and life-altering experience for Heen as she came to realize that her hardships were due to the Law of Cause and Effect. She began to engage in recycling work. Although nowadays she wears hearing aids, Heen still watches Da Ai TV and reads Tzu Chi magazines to learn more about the Tzu Chi spirit. Besides recycling, she also urges others to donate to Tzu Chi. In March 2008, she became a trainee Tzu Chi commissioner.

Chin Chu Lin (陳秋蓮), another recycling volunteer in Malaysia, visited all of the 600 residents who lived in the three apartment blocks in her neighborhood. She walked from door to door and asked them to allow her to collect their recyclables. No matter what floor the residents lived on or how heavy the bags of recyclable garbage she collected, she never took the elevators. She insisted on climbing the stairs. Because of her dedication, over 60 households have promised to save their recyclables for her.

Tzu Chi volunteers not only discipline themselves to live an environmentally sustainable life, they also encourage others to care for and heal the earth. They try to purify not only the external landscape, but also the inner fields in every personj's mind. Environmental protection starts with the heart and mind. If you have a joyful heart and an enthusiastic mind, you will seize every chance to inspire others to do good.

In the Buddha's time, monks went from door to door to beg for alms and to cultivate good relationships with people. In Taiwan, Tzu Chi volunteers also go from store to store on the streets and invite store owners to put up posters printed with Still Thoughts aphorisms. The volunteers hope to bring some spiritual nourishment to the general public and help nurture the kindness in everyone's heart.

Let us hope that seeds of kindness will thrive and grow into lush forests, so that we can leave a clean and hospitable world for future generations. When we can caress the wounded land with our limitless love, it will begin to get well.

When people are discontent, they always crave more external things, and thus they live a spiritually deprived life. On the other hand, when people are content with what they have and know to appreciate their blessings, they give others their love and so become the richest people in the world.

We are the richest people in the world if we live with contentment and love and cherish what we already have. We are the poorest if we are discontent, when we have one thing but crave nine more. When materially rich people can roll up their sleeves to serve society and help others, their lives surely become invaluable and meaningful. True wealth, both material and spiritual, will then be theirs.

In Zhonghe, Taipei County, there is a recycling volunteer, Xu Qin-lin (許欽琳). Over 70, he is the managing director of a large financial holding company. Despite his tightly packed schedule, seven years ago he took the time to enroll in the Tzu Chi Tzu Cheng Faith Corps training class. During that training period, he never missed a single class or a volunteering opportunity.

Today Xu devotes at least ten days a month to volunteer activities. Of all the volunteer work he performs, his favorite is recycling. He thinks it is the duty of everyone to protect the world because only then can this planet survive. He doesn't mind getting his hands dirty and doing heavy lifting jobs. Through recycling he has learned the invaluable lesson of humility.

The Tzu Chi Foundation was originally called the Tzu Chi Merit Society. How do we define merit? Actually it begins with humility. When a person is humble inside and polite outside, it is the best example of true merit. Xu does not feel that he is any different from others just because of his wealth and status. By dedicating himself to volunteering, he has inspired his family, neighbors, and co-workers to volunteer along with him. People respect him not because of his wealth, but because of his loving actions.

Being truly rich or poor depends on our inner thoughts. When a person is materially poor and his mind is only occupied with thoughts of worry and greed, he is spiritually deficient. A truly wise person will give a part of his wealth, even if he is very poor, to help others. By giving to others, you can lead a more rewarding and happy life. A foolish person spends their entire precious existence always trying to accumulate more and worrying about how much they are gaining or losing. In Tzu Chi, there are people like Xu who are affluent both materially and spiritually. Likewise, there are many more volunteers who are not well-to-do, but who are still willing to donate their time and energy by working hard to help others. No matter how much or how little, each sincere donation has enormous power and strength. Even a little candle can illuminate a room that has been dark for thousands of years. What matters is not how much you can give, but that you nurture the love in your heart and do good deeds whenever possible. When you open your heart and give love, you are on the way to a truly wealthy life.

It is such a blessing that when you are hungry you have food and water available and that your body functions normally so you can eat, drink, be nourished and survive. This is a situation that should not be taken for granted. Indeed, it is something to feel truly grateful for. But most of the time we take our health, food, and water for granted. There are many people in this world who are desperate for a drop of clean water to quench their thirst. Knowing how lucky we are, we should do more and help more people in order to cultivate our blessings.

Life becomes truly valuable when you serve others with gratitude and love. In your everyday life, you should choose to do only the right and good. A good habit, a word of comfort, or even a friendly smile can all create good karma and send out waves of goodness. Do not let the smallest chance to serve others pass you by, because even grains of sand can be gathered together to form a castle. Do not commit even the smallest of bad deeds. When pooled together, insignificant drops of water can form a flood strong enough to capsize a ship. Thank you all!

By Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Teresa Chang