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Sunday, 08 May 2016 00:00

Tzu Chi’s Great Love for Half a Century

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

On May 8, 2016, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor held the annual Buddha Bathing Ceremony to celebrate the Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi’s Day concurrently. [Photograph by Lim Heng Lai]

Tzu Chi is 50 years old! For half a century, Master Cheng Yen has upheld the principles of “for Buddhism and all beings” in leading her disciples to propagate the missions. Aiming to spread true Buddha’s teachings and to aid the poor and needy, the four major missions on charity, medical, education and humanistic culture are carried out. Through daily savings in bamboo banks, the kindness evoked helps create a sense of love in this self-centred society!


In 1966, Master Cheng Yen founded Tzu Chi in a small wooden hut and slowly expanded the Tzu Chi network across the globe spreading loving-kindness in various relief efforts. In 2016, Tzu Chi entered its 50th year and looking back on the years, Tzu Chi people have paved the path of Great Love sincerely, praying for a harmonious world free from disasters.

On May 8, 2016, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor organized the annual Buddha Bathing Ceremony at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to celebrate the Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi’s Day. In conjunction with the anniversary, the Branch had set up a bamboo bank area and various exhibitions to show the journey from the very challenging beginning until the Tzu Chi world today where footprints of Great Love could be traced globally.

Love permeates everywhere in the world

The morning light penetrated the sea of clouds around the world; and the Great Love transcends borders and time. Tzu Chi volunteers lined up orderly in front of Jing Si Hall, with the sky bearing witness to the historical moment, and the grass nurturing and pooling the loving-kindness from all. The totem formed during the three-in-one ceremony left a mark on Tzu Chi’s history.

At seven in the morning, around 4,000 volunteers from the formation team together with 88 Dharma Masters from the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana schools of Buddhism walked to the Buddha bathing platform to lead the public members. It was an auspicious moment with the orange robes and the chanting that filled the air.

Bhante Seevali, a Ceylonese who migrated to Toronto, Canada, had extended his stay in Malaysia just to participate in this ceremony. Bhante is a university lecturer teaching social science.

Bhante came to KL to visit his fellow Ceylonese monks at the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Brickfields. He made a special trip to Jing Si Hall and spent a couple of hours reading the billboards. He was very pleased seeing the relief efforts carried out around the world by Tzu Chi and hopes to call on the Master when he visits Taiwan on May 25.

When Bhante learnt about the Buddha Bathing Ceremony, he postponed his trip to Penang to make himself available for the event. After the ceremony, he praised Tzu Chi’s detailed planning and thoughtful arrangements. He was touched by the solemn and peaceful atmosphere, and admired the spirit of the bamboo bank initiated by the Master and the idea of starting with small kindness daily in order to inculcate the habit of performing charity to help the needy.

Many grains of rice make a bushel

CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, Echo Chien said during the press conference: “This year is the 50th Anniversary but the Buddha Bathing Ceremony is no different from past years except that the totem formation came with a Tzu Chi 50 design. Participation in the formation by volunteers and public members was overwhelming, and this goes to show that everyone felt joyful to undertake and share their happiness.”

With a turnout of about 12,000 people, the event started with the totem formation (involving about 4,000), followed by the Buddha bathing at three indoor locations and lastly the Buddha bathing by the students of Da Ai Kindergarten. Sister Echo also informed that the collections from the bamboo bank this year will be fully channelled to rebuild hospitals, schools and temples in Nepal following the devastated earthquake last year.

“Fifty years ago, Tzu Chi was founded with bamboo banks as Master trusted that kindness is the true nature of mankind. The ‘Bamboo Bank Era’ is a reflection of humanity, and the origin of loving-kindness. Through small savings, it accumulates and becomes abundant. These collections from many will then be channelled to the needy,” Echo shared on how Tzu Chi was first established and pointed out the power of accumulated efforts.

Great Love knows no religious boundary

Deputy Representative from UNHCR Malaysia, Brian Gorlick was invited to the event and he brought his wife along. He remembered having a good impression when he first attended the ceremony last year not long after he arrived in Malaysia. He shared happily after returning for the second time this year: “It is indeed a great experience to attend the ceremony first thing in the morning!”

Although coming from a different culture and religion, Brian followed through the entire ceremony at ease. He stressed that it was very meaningful reaching out to those who need help regardless of race and religion.

He brought a bamboo bank, which he adopted the previous year, to donate. After one year of saving up the shillings, he deeply realized the profound meaning of doing great thing with small amount of money. “This is the little thing I could do for Tzu Chi. I decided to bring it home again after emptying it today. Hopefully I would be able to contribute my love next year.”

Sincere prayers for a harmonious society

Tzu Chi Performers’ Association was established in 2015 following the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation. About 20 artistes attended the Buddha Bathing Ceremony for the first time and participated in the totem formation. Among them was Chen Jun Quan, who had no idea what Buddha bathing was.

There were many “first” for Jun Quan – his first time joining Tzu Chi Performers’ Association, first time participating in Tzu Chi activity, as well as, first time attending the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. From fumbling to fluency, from feeling lost to feeling touched, Jun Quan felt he had gained so much.

Being part of the offering team, he said shyly: “I was unsure of the positioning at first. I thought I remembered it clearly but when the person next to me got it wrong, I panicked too! We really have to be mindful of getting every move right.”

Although it was his first time, he felt calm when folding his palms to pray for the welfare of all beings. “My mind was peaceful during the prayer. I think it was due to the serene atmosphere. This time, I prayed for a friend who had a stroke when she was travelling to Taiwan. I would like to transfer the merits to her so that she could recover soon.”

Rekindle initial aspiration and safeguard missions

Kang Bee Eng, who has been a Tzu Chi volunteer for 21 years, was on duty at the bamboo bank area. She felt blessed with the high turnout this year and wished for many more 50 years to come.

She said, “It is very rare for people of diverse religions to come together; and it was made possible thanks to society’s recognition and acceptance of Tzu Chi. This is a great motivation for Tzu Chi people to move forward. Thus, it is very important for us to carry on the missions and to grow continuously.”

She also shared that one’s understanding of the Dharma is evident in one’s management of any task. This was exactly Master’s expectations from her disciples. Like the shillings rolling into the big urn, some coins would roll down smoothly while some would get stuck. The same also applies to life where one would face happy and adverse situations, as well as, an ideal outcome versus the harsh reality.

“On the day when we commemorate the three auspicious occasions, we must have gratitude towards the Buddha, our parents and teachers, as well as, all beings. We must not forget those who have helped us along the way or even those who have given us a hard time…” expressed Bee Eng, who believes that many people would want to introduce Tzu Chi to their friends, and more importantly, to influence the people around with loving-kindness, great compassion and humanistic values.



A Great Love that never ceases for 50 years when one walks steadfastly. It is hoped that one would rekindle one’s aspiration, emulate the Buddha’s compassion, and inspire others to tread the Bodhisattva Path heedfully.

 

Volunteers’ neatness in the totem formation has left a mark on Tzu Chi’s history. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]   The public members were led by Dharma Masters in the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]

Volunteers’ neatness in the totem formation has left a mark on Tzu Chi’s history. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
The public members were led by Dharma Masters in the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]
 
Artiste Chen Jun Quan had just joined the Tzu Chi Performers’ Association. Participating in the event for the first time, he was deeply moved. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]   Deputy Representative from UNHCR Malaysia, Brian Gorlick and his wife were invited for the event. [Photograph by Lai Sui Chin]

Artiste Chen Jun Quan had just joined the Tzu Chi Performers’ Association. Participating in the event for the first time, he was deeply moved. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
 
Deputy Representative from UNHCR Malaysia, Brian Gorlick and his wife were invited for the event. [Photograph by Lai Sui Chin]
 
With 21 years’ experience as a volunteer, Kang Bee Eng said, “On this three-in-one celebration, let’s not forget our care recipients, as well as, those who have put us to the test. [Photograph by Derek Goh Chi Lun]   Echo Chien, CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, shared that donations from bamboo banks this year will be channelled to rebuilding hospitals, schools and temples in Nepal. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

With 21 years’ experience as a volunteer, Kang Bee Eng said, “On this three-in-one celebration, let’s not forget our care recipients, as well as, those who have put us to the test. [Photograph by Derek Goh Chi Lun]
 
 
Echo Chien, CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, shared that donations from bamboo banks this year will be channelled to rebuilding hospitals, schools and temples in Nepal. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
If every one of us saves a little each day, with everyone’s contributions, we can spread love to the needy. [Photograph by Soh Woei Jye]  

If every one of us saves a little each day, with everyone’s contributions, we can spread love to the needy. [Photograph by Soh Woei Jye]