Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Mar 05th
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Home Our Volunteers Stories The Art of Helping Others - Treating the needy with respect and sincerity

The Art of Helping Others - Treating the needy with respect and sincerity

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The Art of Helping Others
Giving people what they need the most
Treating the needy with respect and sincerity
Helping Others Is an Art
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Treating the needy with respect and sincerity
It was not until Lai was in her 40s that she learned how to paint. “I didn’t have even the most basic understanding of colors. I had no idea that mixing yellow and blue produced green. My teacher said that I learned to paint through sheer effort. Learning to paint was very hard for me, but I eventually began to enjoy it. The greatest joy that painting brings me is to make me feel more confident in myself.” Learning to paint not only helped strengthen her aesthetic sense, but her willpower as well.

While painting and traveling give her joy, volunteering is something from which others can benefit. It makes an everlasting impact on others as well as filling her own life with meaning and contentment. Lai views paying home visits and interacting with others as an art form that needs to be learned, just like painting.

She likens the skills she uses when she visits care recipients to those of a painter. The artist has to develop a sense of how to apply the paint when creating a work of art. To create a good painting, certain parts need more brushwork while other parts require less. It takes a good eye, a steady hand, and an artist’s heart to produce quality paintings.

This is a perfect analogy of the skills that Lai uses when she interacts with those she visits. When making house calls, she needs to show respect for the needy but at the same time refrain from pampering or indulging them. She needs to know the proper things to say and how best to say them. She doesn’t barge into people’s lives and make them ashamed of their situation. She has an artist’s finesse when dealing with the people she helps.

Lai has always kept in mind the Master’s teaching that the best place for self-cultivation is among people. Serving others helps one grow in wisdom. She believes that helping one person creates a beneficial ripple effect that extends far and wide. Helping one person to stand on his or her own feet helps that person’s entire family, and it also helps society in the long run as that person is again enabled to make positive contributions to society. By taking up Tzu Chi’s work of paying home visits to people in need, Lai has found her meaning in life and has gained spiritual joy. Like painting, helping the needy is a beautiful experience. However, she enjoys helping others even more as she deeply appreciates the meaning and value behind the action.

Most women Lai’s age lead a leisurely, retired life. But despite being in her seventies, she is always busy with volunteer work. Her schedule is always full—volunteering has become a major part of her everyday life. Everyone in her family supports her dedication to charity work, caring for the poor and the sick.

“Mom likes beautiful things, and that makes her more easily drawn to the beauty and goodness in human nature,” said Lai’s daughter. “That can perhaps explain her devotion to volunteer work.” Lai’s mindfulness and dedication to caring for those in need has made quite an impact on her youngest son: “Mom is a very sincere person, and she always does solid work. Such an attitude has greatly influenced me.”

“Paying home visits to the needy seems to have opened a new window for Mom,” Lai’s oldest son added. “All that she encounters while volunteering makes her life more colorful and fuller. She gains so much joy from her volunteer work.”

Lawyer Chen Wen-song (陳文松), Lai’s husband, is proud that his wife can make the best use of her abilities to help others. “She works tirelessly, and she’s fully dedicated to her charity work. Through her volunteering, she’s turning her life into a most beautiful painting.”

Viewing her work with the needy as an art that needs to be learned, Lai takes each step firmly, just as she did when learning to paint. In this way, she demonstrates to everyone around her a life of beauty, goodness, and wisdom.


" Be careful and mindful when dealing with others, but do not be narrow-minded. "
Jing-Si Aphorism