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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 14 August 2017 00:00

Volunteerism and Cultivation

Written by  Ho Wan Chin / KL & Selangor

Dr Her Rey Sheng, Director of Tzu Chi Foundation’s Humanity Development Department, shared on the topic, “Tzu Chi: Igniting the Power of Civilization”. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]

Dr Her Rey Sheng, Director of Tzu Chi Foundation’s Humanity Development Department, a PhD holder in Philosophy & Buddhism (Peking University) and a veteran speaker at top-notch universities including Harvard University, Oxford University and the like, opened his talk entitled, “Tzu Chi: Igniting the Power of Civilization”, to over 900 volunteers and public members at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall on August 14, 2017, by stating that he would share on Tzu Chi stories but not quite the version the audience had already known. Indeed, it was a talk that filled the audience with newer and deeper insights of what they thought they already knew.


Pool of blood incident – retold

Dr Her shared the pool of blood incident with emphasis on its essence. It is a reminder to never neglect any matters or tasks, regardless how small or trivial they may seem. While poverty was rampant back then, Master Cheng Yen recognized the suffering and plight of a pregnant indigenous woman. Through this indigenous woman, the learning from this incident had become the cornerstone to the establishment of Tzu Chi hospitals. No one would have known that the saving of an indigenous woman is to be the raison d’être for Tzu Chi’s medical mission that is now recognized globally.

Dr Her further expanded his point by sharing the “expanding strength to minimize weakness” technique. When kindness in a society is expanded, negativity will lose its grip and be eliminated. Dr Her then reminded the audience: positive force always welds far more power than negativity.

Tzu Chi principles – connecting the dots

The story of Taiwanese volunteer Su Zhu was a story that left many of the audience awestruck with respect and wonder. It was a story of a woman having to deal with an unfaithful husband, and who eventually attempted to end her life. Her encounter with the Master led her to become a hospital volunteer, and eventually her popularity with her newfound contacts had her made a new discovery, a realization that she is someone so full of love (to give others) and there really is no more need to seek out love.

Dr Her also shared a snippet of the conversation between the Master and the Indonesian volunteers during the anti-Chinese riot. As the volunteers wavered during the turmoil’s peak, the Master unfalteringly reminded them that when chaos peak, that is also the most critical time to transform minds. Hence, the team mustered their courage and increased their aid relief distribution’s frequencies and amount at the peak of the riots. Dr Her further shared the words of Tzu Chi South Africa’s very first volunteer, Gladys: “Through Tzu Chi, we are even closer to God.”

These are testimonials that through actions, positive energy was created and lives were transformed. Dr Her rounded up this topic with a question: “Which comes first – ideals or actions?” The many stories shared, especially of Su Zhu, is a solid testimony that actions determine one’s ideals/perception.

Dr Her then added another paradigm to this new realization. For actions to ensue, it is trust that prompts one to follow another. To build trust, affinity plays a pivotal role. Dr Her then connected the dots by underlining that joyfulness must precede rules and regulations. It is always joyfulness that makes one come back. What inspires others is always the people and their energy, not the know-hows or SOPs. Through Dr Her’s wise application of examples and illustrations, the Master’s wisdom becomes even more evident and clear to the audience.

Benefitting others, transforming self

A person’s realization has the potential and power to influence and change others, as what we learnt of the “one to infinite, and infinite from one” principle. Dr Her then brought in Tzu Chi’s concept of “helping others towards realization”. He shared how volunteer Denise Tsai in Mozambique, from being a single Tzu Chi seed in South Africa, had influenced communities around her and eventually brought in local volunteers across multiple countries in the African continent.

Almost effortlessly, he explained the concept of “interdependent arising” as the coming together of many conditions, and are all inter-dependent. Given so, it cannot be divided and there is really no difference between one from another. Hence, when we benefit others, we are in fact, benefitting ourselves. Whether we are in the comprehension or contemplative mode, the audience was already overflowing with joyfulness for seeing the Dharma so clearly.

Dr Her carried on to share how one can attain peacefulness amidst the masses. Peacefulness simply means not being in conflict, but being at ease with anyone and anything. We only respond to negativity because we have negativity in us. Conversely, we will not receive it when negativity has been removed from us. When we successfully attain joyfulness or peacefulness among the masses, we are, very much in the Samadhi state.

Here, he applied the famous simile of the boatman who ferried his passengers across the shore. As the passengers reached the shore, so would be the boatman himself. By the same virtue, Tzu Chi volunteers are imperfect but through benefitting others, we too will benefit ourselves.

The bonus track

Just when the audience thought this could not get any better, Dr Her then spoke on “emptiness” in Buddhism. Emptiness does not mean “nothingness”. Instead, it is so empty that it is all-encompassing and thus can contain just about anything and everything. That is the essence of “emptiness”.

To the volunteers, Dr Her reminded the importance of principles in Tzu Chi. The fine line between guidance and instruction is the underlying principle. Without clarity in principles, it would all be instructions and not guidance. As an organization grows larger, the risk of becoming more instructional and less guiding is prevalent. He then used the analogy of the missing fragrance of a withered flower. Similarly, without the fragrance of the Dharma, all will purely be instructions. He reminded the volunteers to let love be the driving force.

Dr Her summarized his talk in the context of Tzu Chi mission, which he termed as scientific and logical. In Charity Mission, one will realize that through giving, greed can be removed. Having witnessed sicknesses (in Medical Mission), we understand impermanence and recognize our ignorance. Through Education Mission, we learnt that everyone has unlimited potentials and not to undermine the lesser educated ones (arrogance), and Environmental Protection Mission promotes humility and combats arrogance. He then added briefly yet concisely that true charity work will result in joyfulness at three levels – joy of doing, joy of guiding others and joy of passing on the baton. Observing precepts will bring about peacefulness, given desires and cravings would be transformed into flow of love; and entering into the masses will give us liberation, as we find love in teamwork, and in love, freedom finds us.

Being a Tzu Chi volunteer in Malaysia, we are very blessed to have Dr Her’s very presence here. Through his deep and thorough understanding, he had brought Tzu Chi and Buddhadharma closer and closer to us here in Malaysia.

 

 

Dr Her Rey Sheng underscored that positive force always welds far more power than negativity. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]   The sharing session held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall attracted the attendance of over 900 volunteers and public members. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]

Dr Her Rey Sheng underscored that positive force always welds far more power than negativity. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]
 
The sharing session held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall attracted the attendance of over 900 volunteers and public members. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]
 
The audience members were seen listening intently and taking down notes diligently. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]   The audience was captivated by the sharing, which brought them newer and deeper insights into Tzu Chi’s ideals. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]

The audience members were seen listening intently and taking down notes diligently. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]
 
 
The audience was captivated by the sharing, which brought them newer and deeper insights into Tzu Chi’s ideals. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]