Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Oct 20th
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Our Volunteers Stories Rekinding Their Love - A transformation

Rekinding Their Love - A transformation

E-mail Print PDF
Article Index
Rekinding Their Love
A miserable marriage
A transformation
New insights
All Pages
 A transformation
While serving as a Tzu Chi volunteer, Lin came to realize that the simple, pure desire to protect the environment prompts many volunteers to join in and take up recycling. Lin knew that recycling could be done anytime, anywhere, as long as one had the desire to do so. So she began dedicating her time after work to recycling, often spending four or five hours at a time sorting trash.

At first, her neighbors would shake their heads and comment, “Your husband is a military officer! Do you really need to collect trash like a homeless person?” Even policemen who saw her loading recyclables into her nice van would approach and inquire into her “suspicious” activity. Despite such social opposition, Lin persisted in using her spare time to help with the recycling work.

“To change others you have to first change yourself.” At Sister Zhang’s suggestion, Lin began showing concern for her husband and his drinking problem. She placed an English edition of Master Cheng Yen’s Jing Si Aphorisms by her husband’s bedside in the hope that he would flip through the pages and gain some inspiration.

However, it was not until Harper was diagnosed with stage II prostate cancer that he came to understand his wife’s concern and love for him. Suddenly, the luster of his life faded in the face of his own mortality and the impermanence of the world. Harper entered the hospital for treatment, and for more than ten days Lin tended to him and took good care of his daily needs. Gradually, their icy relationship began to thaw.

Under Lin’s encouragement, Harper started watching Da Ai TV. Bit by bit, he came to understand what Tzu Chi was all about. After some time, he told himself, “I must change my ways.”

Harper was already in the habit of collecting recyclables that looked new and were still useable even before he became familiar with Tzu Chi. When Sister Zhang talked with him about Tzu Chi’s recycling efforts and invited him to join in, he happily agreed. However, deep down in his heart he doubted whether the proceeds from selling the recyclables would really go to relieve the poor and the suffering.

His doubt evaporated when he helped to hand out scholarships to students at the Morita Tzu Chi Elementary School in Tijuana, Mexico. It was that trip that convinced him that the income from selling recyclables was put to good use, such as helping children from poor families get an education.

The trip made Harper realize that everyone’s recycling efforts, when pooled together, could have a huge impact. He began dedicating more time to recycling, as much as four hours a day. On his days off, he’d work up to ten hours. He became so occupied with recycling that he no longer felt the need to drink. “I’ve found the right direction in life and no longer need to seek solace in alcohol. Through recycling, I’ve come to understand the joy of giving without asking for anything in return. I hope that my efforts contribute to bringing about a better world.”

After he started serving as a Tzu Chi volunteer, Harper often had the chance to talk to others about the foundation. To learn more, he even attended a training camp held last November at the foundation headquarters in Hualien, Taiwan. With the help of interpreters, he took notes during every lecture. He intended to take in Tzu Chi’s ideals and spirit and spread them locally after returning home.

Harper has discovered the meaning of his life in service to others. “The Tzu Chi path is the correct path on which people should walk. I don’t know how many people I can help to change in my life, but I’m confident that if you can change even one person, you will influence many more people.”


" If we can reduce our desires, there is nothing really worth getting upset about. "
Jing-Si Aphorism