Jing Si is Tzu Chi’s Ultimate Support


Context for the Teaching: Master Cheng Yen and her six disciples made an additional six pairs of baby shoes each day to support their charity work.

The Jing Si Abode is self-sufficient. Sometimes, I feel quite sorry when I think of these monastic disciples. They have to rise shortly before 4 a.m., they start to work after the morning recitation, and they work all the way until 10 or 11 p.m. before going to bed. They truly dedicate themselves every second for all the residents of the Abode. That being said, the monastics at Jing Si Abode are Tzu Chi’s ultimate support, working hard to allow every person coming to the Abode to feel as though they’re coming home. There are so many people coming and going. Our dining hall never has an empty seat, and the tables even have to be set up outside of the dining hall sometimes. From this, we can tell how heavy the burden of the Abode is.

Among the many people who work at the Abode, some are monastics supporting the operations as volunteers. We pay for international calls and all kinds of other expenses. The economic burden that the Abode shoulders for Tzu Chi is quite heavy.

The Buddha said that loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are our spiritual goals which lead us along the Bodhisattva Path. If we hope for sentient beings to attain liberation, and if we are to be the ones to lead them to liberation, then we must first liberate ourselves. The only way to liberation is to renounce lay life and become a monastic practitioner. After renouncing the lay life, our hearts will be free from worry, and we can then dedicate ourselves to create blessings for people in society.

Life at the Abode is extremely busy. I am grateful to these people who have formed aspirations to engage in spiritual practice. They follow me and work very hard. Life in the Abode is communal, and no one needs to live on their own, since I did not want my disciples to have to conduct repentance ceremonies to support themselves. This means that we have to be self-sufficient; we must rely on ourselves to make a living. Furthermore, the Abode is not just able to sustain itself, it must also act as Tzu Chi’s ultimate support. When it comes to the donations collected by Tzu Chi, apart from paying the employees’ salary, there are no other miscellaneous expenses, as these are all shouldered by the Abode.

I hope that everyone who comes here feels as though they are coming home. The Abode is like a large family where brothers and sisters can return to the home of their parents. The Abode is every Tzu Chi volunteer’s spiritual home. In summary, it is quite a large family, and it needs those who share the same aspiration, same path, and same resolve as myself to take care of it. What kind of family is this? This is the Tathagata’s family. So, those who follow me truly must work hard.

Those who follow me follow the Buddha’s heart and their master’s mission, which is to work for the sake of sentient beings all over the world. We must temper ourselves, for only then can we uncover our truly pure Buddha-nature.

Context for the Teaching: Verdict made on the lawsuit regarding “a pool of blood.”

In my life, what makes me feel most at ease is that I do not take even one cent of the donations. Every cent belongs to the Merit Association. I often tell my monastic disciples at the Abode, “We are self-sufficient; we must not complain about hardship.” The Jing Si Abode is Tzu Chi’s home, so every Tzu Chi volunteer can return here. In this great family, when the volunteers from other countries or from across Taiwan come back, they all are my disciples. This home must serve as Tzu Chi’s ultimate support; everyone across the world who is engaging in Tzu Chi’s work will return to the Abode, which is their spiritual home. We must earnestly work hard so that people will feel that they are truly returning home.

The resident monastics of the Abode shoulder the burden of all of Tzu Chi’s work within the Abode. Aside from the employees’ salaries being paid by the Foundation, the remainder of the expenditures are shouldered by the Abode.

Forty years ago, when Tzu Chi’s charity work began, we had already established the culture of Tzu Chi. While we were staying at Puming Temple, it was already our culture to be self-sufficient, to not take anything from the donations, and to keep our accounts clearly divided. During that time, we also published the list of our donors.

Those who follow me in spiritual practice will certainly face difficulties. They cannot accept offerings, nor can they benefit in the slightest bit from Tzu Chi’s resources. Still, the Abode must provide Tzu Chi volunteers with a home. When Tzu Chi volunteers around the world return, this is their home.

From the beginning when I made my vow to engage in spiritual practice, I decided not to accept offerings, conduct repentance ceremonies, nor take on disciples. But as it happened, I had already become a teacher; I have had to give so many different Dharma names, group by group, that I have run out of characters for Dharma names. So, I broke this vow, but I have upheld the other two vows of neither conducting repentance ceremonies nor accepting offerings.

Can Jing Si volunteers benefit from Tzu Chi’s resources? My disciples work for my teachings, which are also a kind of provision! They must first nourish their own wisdom life, and then in turn pass it on to others. I feel that this is a kind of skillful means, for they are also helping themselves. They first increase the provisions for their own wisdom life, and then they introduce it to others.

Jing Si Publishing publishes the Dharma, and those who purchase these publications are reverently taking the Dharma home to encourage themselves.
Life at the Abode is truly quite simple. We engage in farming and are self-sufficient. We do not need to spend much money. However, the monastics within the Abode, as well as Jing Si Publishing, must also support the home of all Tzu Chi volunteers around the world.

In order to maintain the entirety of Tzu Chi, the Abode must provide support for Tzu Chi. We need many people to do Tzu Chi’s work. When there are many people, there must be a home for them to return to. This family truly is a large one. So, we need Jing Si Publishing to support the home of the monastics and Tzu Chi volunteers. This is the relationship between Jing Si and Tzu Chi.

If there were no Jing Si Abode, no Dharma masters, how would there be a Tzu Chi? If it came down to me alone, it would be impossible. We need the Abode’s large number of Dharma masters. With so many people, these Dharma masters must work really hard; they need everyone to unite their strength together, working from sunrise to sunset. The Abode and Tzu Chi, or Jing Si and Tzu Chi, are clearly separated from each other. However, we must remember that in spirit, they are one, as the spirit of Tzu Chi is derived from Jing Si, and the Jing Si Abode is the home of Tzu Chi volunteers. This is a Dharma lineage, and Tzu Chi arose from this Dharma-lineage.

If we wish to speak about the Jing Si Dharma Lineage, we must be familiar with the three matters of our frugal beginning, being self-sufficient, and being the support for Tzu Chi’s missions.

In its early period, the Abode mainly worked on farming, but the harvest was insufficient to sustain the basic needs of the Dharma masters. Even when this was the case, on every Medicine Buddha Dharma assembly and distribution day, the Dharma masters would always prepare a lunch of savory porridge for care recipients coming to receive goods and those helping with the distribution.

This spirit of self-sufficiency has persisted to this day. This is our Dharma Lineage. Not only do we work to sustain the needs of the Abode’s Dharma masters, but as the home of Tzu Chi volunteers around the world, those of us at the Abode must also take care of every person’s lodging and meals, and serve as a support for Tzu Chi’s missions.

The Abode acts as a support for Tzu Chi’s missions, and so it must stand firm. Aside from adhering to the rule of self-sufficiency, the Abode must always be ready to provide for the daily needs of Tzu Chi volunteers from around the world who return here, including the medical volunteers. As we have established the Jing Si Dharma Lineage and the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism, we must perpetuate them for millennia to come, and to this end, Jing Si Publishing serves as the source of the Abode’s provisions.

The Abode, this spiritual training ground, is everyone’s home. What is the purpose of this home? To act as a firm spiritual foundation. “The Jing Si Dharma Lineage is a path of diligent practice. The Tzu Chi School of Buddhism is a road of working with people in the world.” Our Dharma-door is always certain. The Jing Si Dharma Lineage is Tzu Chi’s spiritual training ground. Everyone has taken refuge, so every person is my disciple. Our spiritual training ground is pure, and our minds are free from discursive thoughts. With the motto, “A without work is a day without meals,” we adhere to Zen Master Bai Zhang’s spirit of self-sufficiency.

When I practiced alone at the beginning, I was self-sufficient, and this has continued all the way through the present. Although there are many people at the Abode now, the Abode also acts as Tzu Chi’s ultimate support. The red envelopes that we give out every year are sponsored by the Dharma masters of the Abode and the royalties from my publications. My books are my intellectual property, and Jing Si Publishing mindfully promotes them, thus enabling Tzu Chi volunteers to share in the royalties every year.

This spiritual training ground is the spiritual home of all Tzu Chi volunteers. I often say to the Abode’s Dharma masters, “Since you have determined to follow me, you must work earnestly, yet joyfully. We are the home of all Tzu Chi volunteers around the world, just as we are Tzu Chi’s ultimate support. Only if everyone keeps this spirit of a ‘home’ in mind can Tzu Chi’s missions remain stable and spread throughout the world.”

We are all on a path of diligent practice. The monastic disciples engage in spiritual practice by diligently serving others, while the lay disciples also comprise a spiritual community. So, we refer to this as “concentric crystal spheres with a unified core.” This structure is formed from a small sphere, a medium sphere, and a large sphere joined together as one.

What are these three spheres? Monastics make up the innermost sphere. Then, there the current pure practitioners whose practice we must foster. Even though they are not ordained as monastics, they are focused on purity and have no attachment to their families. They can dedicate themselves to Tzu Chi’s missions and spread Tzu Chi’s spirit across the world. They are the middle sphere. Finally, all of Tzu Chi’s volunteers around the world form the outer sphere, and they use local resources and serve local people. They all share the same Tzu Chi ideals, as their hearts belong to Jing Si, while they invest themselves in Tzu Chi’s work. Together, these three spheres form a trichiliocosm, like concentric crystal spheres with a unified core.

The key point in planning should be constructing a place of spiritual practice capable of transmitting the Dharma Lineage for millennia to come. We must not place limitations on the design based on the budget. Tzu Chi’s place of spiritual practice is not a tourist site, nor does it collect a profit. Every service center is a home for Tzu Chi volunteers, providing a spiritual training ground for bodhisattvas.

I hope that the construction of the Jing Si Hall in the USA can preserve the surrounding natural environment, and that it will be designed primarily with its role as a home for Tzu Chi volunteers and a spiritual training ground for bodhisattvas in mind. It must not serve as a place of business, nor function as a tourist destination. It should solely be a place where Tzu Chi’s community of bodhisattva-volunteers can get together and engage in meditative spiritual practice.

Jing Si Halls are spiritual fortresses for Tzu Chi volunteers. The Tzu Chi School of Buddhism takes the Jing Si Dharma Lineage as its original source. This is why we say that the Jing Si Abode is the home of Tzu Chi volunteers. Since the original Jing Si Abode was constructed in 1969, it has undergone several expansions and renovations, and all such projects have been funded directly by the Dharma masters of the Abode. Forty-two years later, the newly constructed main hall was also paid for through the hard work of these Dharma masters. We only allowed volunteers from different locations to come and assist in the construction work to take part in building their spiritual home. I hope that all the money collected by Tzu Chi is used entirely for Tzu Chi’s missions, and that the Abode not only remains self-sufficient, but can also support the living expenses of Tzu Chi volunteers from all over the world when they return.

The self-sufficient Dharma masters take on the burden of life at the Abode for all Tzu Chi volunteers from around the globe who return home. Moreover, they act as a support for Tzu Chi volunteers all over the world. Just like parents raising their children, these Dharma masters give of themselves unconditionally without reservations. As long as their children succeed, they are happy. Tzu Chi volunteers are Living Bodhisattvas who help people in society; this is the greatest repayment of the Abode’s Dharma masters’ support.

Tzu Chi and Jing Si cannot be conflated. Both are one of spirit, but financially, they are distinct entities. Jing Si is Tzu Chi’s ultimate support, for it can supply Tzu Chi, but it cannot benefit in any way from Tzu Chi Foundation. This is the pure stream that spiritual practitioners must insist on.

Purity is purity. I insist so firmly on not doing things in an ambiguous way. Perhaps you all may wonder why I am so stubborn, but it is only to set a clear boundary between our Dharma Lineage and the School of Buddhism for when I am no longer here. Only in this way will we be able to avoid leaving future generations with a confusing situation. It is difficult to predict future circumstances, just like how the Sangha had no way of acting in accord with the Buddha’s ideal, even when the Buddha was still alive. The same situation applies to me. Each person has their own habitual tendencies and their own attachments. I insist very heavily that the Jing Si Abode must remain pure, and the disciples of future generations who pass it on also must maintain this purity!

With an increasing number of people joining Tzu Chi, we had to increase the sleeping quarters in the Abode and expand the kitchen. Because these accommodations are for the large family of the Jing Si Dharma Lineage, they were not funded by the Tzu Chi Foundation. This is why not even a single grain of the foundation’s rice will be cooked in the Abode’s pots. Even when we previously lived in poverty, having to borrow rice and oil from Puming Temple and paying it back when we could, we still remained self-sufficient.

From the time of the Merit Association, we built the Jing Si Abode bit by bit until today. This is the home of Jing Si. We cannot take even the smallest amount of Tzu Chi’s resources; yet, Jing Si must give its all to Tzu Chi. Thus, Jing Si is Tzu Chi’s ultimate support. All of the Abode’s spiritual practitioners must work hard for Tzu Chi’s great family, as well as our own subsistence. Often, when Tzu Chi volunteers return home, we even prepare gifts for them to bring home.

In summary, this is why we have the Xieli Factory. No one among the over 200 practitioners living in the Abode is idle. Every one of them serves with their two hands and a single shared resolve.

Jing Si is Tzu Chi’s Ultimate Support
November 14, 1998
Conversation with Northern Region Honorary Board Members During the Jing Si Lifestyle Camp
March 25, 1999
Ordination Ceremony for Monastics at the Abode
September 1, 2003
Teaching at Zhongli Service Center
February 25, 2006
Conversation with Tzu Chi Malaysia Leadership
February 24, 2007
Teachings to the Resident Monastics at Jing Si Abode
December 21, 2009
Conversation with Taitung Tzu Chi Volunteers
April 22, 2012
Tzu Chi USA Commissioners Operations Report
July 11, 2013
Tzu Chi Staff Operations Report
June 5, 2016
Conversation with Tzu Chi Volunteers from Dongguan, China