The Affinities of Bodhisattvas Are with Suffering Sentient Beings


The Buddha Dharma is not impenetrably profound; everyone can learn it. In fact, we cannot do without learning the Buddha Dharma.

The Buddha Dharma is full of teachings that we can use every day, so integrating the Buddha Dharma in daily life is not difficult at all, and it can make our lives more wonderful.

The Buddha Dharma is not impenetrably profound. In learning the Buddha Dharma, we must aspire toward a certain goal. However, aspiration alone is not enough. We must open up a path and apply the bodhisattva spirit in our daily living. We must integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.

Context for the teaching: Director Wang asked Master, “How do we guide novice Buddhist practitioners?”

The worst thing that can happen to a novice is hearing mistaken ideas that cause them to form mental obstructions toward what they have yet to learn. Therefore, we must be very careful.

It is best to start by cultivating ourselves among people. We must integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life. Then, we must focus on transforming our minds to attain physical and mental purity. The next step is to become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.

For novice practitioners, the most effective way to practice the Buddha Dharma is to give to others with love.

We need the Buddha Dharma in our lives. We should integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.

If we utilize the Buddha Dharma in our daily living, our lives will be peaceful and at ease. The Buddha Dharma nurtures our spirit. When we understand the need to serve others, we will live every day joyfully.
Our society needs courageous people to teach and guide sentient beings with enthusiasm. Therefore, we need to nurture Living Bodhisattvas.

The Buddha Dharma gives us methods we can use to put our minds at ease; these are wondrous teachings. We must never become overly attached to our understanding of the teachings and lose ourselves in mundane affairs, for this will lead us to form biases and attachments. Everything in the world is a lesson from the Buddha Dharma. Therefore, we should integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world. We must put the Buddha Dharma into practice in everyday life.

Tzu Chi promotes the Dharma that we can apply in our daily living. We need to integrate the Buddha’s teachings in daily life. Instead of focusing on appearances, we must focus on putting the Dharma into action in our lives. In learning the Buddha’s teachings, we must emulate the Buddha’s mindset and bring it to life. The Buddha left the world over 2,500 years ago, and the common understanding is that the Buddha is no longer here. However, the Buddha’s Dharma-body continues to live on in our hearts. Therefore, we need to bring the Buddha’s mindset to life.

If we can live out the Buddha’s mindset, then in every moment of our lives, our every word and action will be focused on benefiting sentient beings.

Before we say anything, we should contemplate whether our words will hurt anyone. Before we do anything, we should evaluate whether our actions will benefit others.

This is how we exercise the altruistic potential of the Buddha’s heart within us in every moment. This is the Tzu Chi spirit of the Buddha’s teachings.

Context for the teaching: Mr. Wang Xiajun from Tittot, an art glass company, designed a statue of the Buddha for Jing Si Hall. After experimenting with various glass designs, he brought a statue of a standing Buddha for Master Cheng Yen to inspect.

My hope for the Buddha statue in the Jing Si Hall is for it to match the proportions of the human body. Tzu Chi’s philosophy is to “integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.” Therefore, the statue of the Buddha should look realistic, like a real human being. The same goes for our architectural design. It should reflect current technological advancements instead of imitating the architectural styles from the Tang or Han dynasties, which would project a sense of departure from modern times. I hope that hundreds of generations from now, when people see this statue of the Buddha in the distant future, they will know which time it is from.

The reason I became a monastic was because every word of the Buddhist sutras touched my heart, filling me with the Buddha’s great loving-kindness and compassion. The Buddha Dharma is not only a matter of religious belief; it is also brimming with philosophy, science, and literature. It is a wonderful form of education.

I have always thought to myself, why is it that people do not bring these teachings of truth, goodness, and beauty into their lives?

In a convergence of karmic conditions, I witnessed a pool of blood on the ground, which inspired me to action. I thought of the saying, “There is a Guanyin Bodhisattva in every family, and Amitabha Buddha lives in every household.” Every Chinese person knows this saying, and everyone knows these two noble beings. This saying means that every household has faith in the Buddha, bows to Guanyin Bodhisattva, and recites the name of Amitabha Buddha.

I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be better if everyone were Guanyin Bodhisattva or Amitabha Buddha? What is the benefit of merely worshiping a statue on the table day and night?
Why don’t we instead transform these statues of the Buddha into living human beings who eat, talk, and actually accomplish things? Why don’t we keep the spirit of Guanyin Bodhisattva in our hearts and bring Guanyin Bodhisattva’s love into our daily living.

Once I started considering these ideas, I realized that there is nothing we cannot accomplish in this world.

Tzu Chi volunteers need to utilize the Buddha’s Right Dharma in their daily living. We must do more than express the Dharma through speech and text; we must implement it in our lives. We should integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.

We cannot wait until others are present to demonstrate joy and courtesy. We should be accommodating, loving, and grateful to our families as well. When working as part of an organization, we must constantly create good affinities and be more mindful. Everyone must love and respect each other. Then, we can gather our strength together to serve all sentient beings throughout the world.

The Buddha Dharma is inseparable from worldly Dharma, and we must apply it to everyday life. There is no need to go far to seek bodhisattvas. We do not need to worship them in temples or in our homes, for bodhisattvas live within our own hearts.

In order to truly serve the world, we need to respect ourselves and believe that we are capable of everything that bodhisattvas are capable of.

If you wish to follow me, you must learn my Dharma-essence. I do not explain the sutras in the same “Thus I have heard” fashion as over 2,000 years ago. I apply the Buddha Dharma to the reality of the world we live in. This is “integrating the Buddha Dharma in daily life and becoming Living Bodhisattvas in this world.” We should work hard to open up a path so that people can walk upon it and experience the same beautiful state of mind.

If all I did was focus on delving into the ancient sutras from over 2,000 years ago, Tzu Chi would not exist today.

Instead, I grasped the essence of the Buddha Dharma and carried out the Buddha’s original intent. I put my heart into paving the path of Tzu Chi, inch by inch.

This all happened step by step; had it not, we would not have the Four Missions and Eight Footprints.
If we merely study the sutras without ever actualizing them, or listen to the teachings without ever putting them into action, then no matter how much Dharma we learn, we will never feel a sense of accomplishment. What benefit do we get if we only read the sutras without practicing them?
We must put them into action. Then, we will feel accomplished and grounded!

The true principles are found where people and worldly matters converge. Focusing on the right things will lead us to the true principles, whereas focusing on the wrong things will not.

Looking back on the past forty years, every step I took was focused in the right direction. Therefore, no matter how difficult this path was, I never saw it as suffering. Of course, there were ups and downs, but at the end of the day, I see them as blessings. Had I not seen them as blessings, I would not have persevered to this day.

Venerable Yin Shun promoted humanistic Buddhism in this world because he felt that there was no point in waiting until we are in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss to enjoy ourselves. I feel the same way. There is not much to do in a place like that. “The affinities of bodhisattvas are with suffering sentient beings.” There is suffering in this world, so we need Living Bodhisattvas to help, teach, and transform sentient beings.

We need to have patients for there to be a need to build hospitals, since the hospital is a place to treat illnesses.

The greatest suffering in life is illness. Hospitals and doctors can help rid sentient beings of the suffering of illness.

Master Cheng Yen met with around thirty Dharma Masters at the Abode who joined her in monastic practice in the early days. She listened to everyone’s reasons for becoming monastics as well as their insights. Then, Master encouraged everyone to cultivate their faith and uphold a pure state of mind as they mobilized Tzu Chi volunteers worldwide to actualize the mission of “integrating the Buddha Dharma in daily life and becoming Living Bodhisattvas in this world.” In doing so, the Tzu Chi Dharma lineage will last forever.

“In Chinese, the word for ‘school’ in ‘Tzu Chi School of Buddhism’ also denotes ‘mission.’ Those who renounce lay life to join the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism need to uphold the mission of Tzu Chi.
In the past, great masters and sages established schools focused on meditation and recitation. However, my practice is not meditating or reciting the Buddha’s name. So, what is the mission of Tzu Chi? It is to live out the Bodhisattva Path in the world. We implement the Buddha Dharma in the world and teach people how to put the Buddha’s teachings into practice. This is the mission of Living Bodhisattvas.”

Over the course of volunteer training, we teach the Four Demeanors of walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, as well as other rules for how we conduct ourselves within this organization. We teach them to everyone, and everyone learns them.

Teaching is about passing down the Dharma, and learning is about cultivating oneself. Therefore, when someone teaches the Dharma, we must absorb it and implement it in daily living. This is what it means to take the Dharma to heart.

When we practice the Dharma in our lives, we are doing what I always talk about; we “integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.”

Learning the Buddha Dharma is learning how to be a Living Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas not only help others, they also help themselves.

In order to help ourselves, we need to have the Buddha Dharma and discipline in our lives. We must not only practice this individually; we also need to apply this to our family life.

Instead of praying to bodhisattvas for blessings, we should become bodhisattvas ourselves. Instead of seeking inspiration from outside sources, we should find inspiration within ourselves.

Buddha nature is intrinsic to us all. In order to return to our intrinsic buddha nature, we need to walk the Bodhisattva Path. Before we walk the Bodhisattva Path, we need to first cultivate our character as a human being.

I hope everyone will take the Dharma to heart. We can attain buddhahood only when we have perfected our character. We need to be a good person and pave a good path in our lives. When we pave this path smoothly, it will lead us to Bodhi.

“Integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.” This is the ideal world of bodhisattvas that the Buddha envisioned after attaining enlightenment.

In our world today, Tzu Chi volunteers are not only Living Bodhisattvas in name, but in reality as well.
The primary objective of Da Ai TV is to bring purity to people’s hearts and mindfully spread truth, goodness, and beauty. Then, people will be able to implement the true Buddha Dharma in their lives. In this way, their minds may be free of hindrances and deluded thoughts. This will allow people to help themselves as well as others.

In the past, the Buddha Dharma was limited to the monastic community. However, I hope the Buddha Dharma can extend beyond the temple and into people’s hearts. Therefore, after establishing Tzu Chi, I instructed everyone to “integrate the Buddha Dharma in daily life and become Living Bodhisattvas in this world.”

Tzu Chi volunteers do not focus on hosting Dharma assemblies or religious rituals. Instead, they focus on taking the Buddha Dharma to heart and implementing it in their lives.

We come to Tzu Chi to learn the Buddha Dharma, not to pray for the Buddha’s blessings. When we worship the Buddha and bodhisattvas, we are simply paying them our respects. Because we respect the Buddha, we need to respect ourselves. This is because everyone can attain buddhahood and become a bodhisattva who helps others and serves society.

Believing in the Buddha Dharma is a way to cultivate ourselves. When we take the Buddha’s teachings to heart and implement them in our lives, this is integrating the Buddha Dharma in daily life.
When we take the Dharma to heart, we share in the compassion of buddhas and bodhisattvas. We experience the suffering of sentient beings as our own suffering. As we all live together in this world, whenever disaster strikes in any part of the world, it affects us as well. Therefore, everyone should be willing to serve others. These are the ideals of Tzu Chi.

October 24, 1985
Morning Dharma Talk
July 12, 1989
Morning Dharma Talk
July 7, 1991
Meeting with the Teachers from Yuan Zhi College of Engineering
December 15, 1991
Morning Dharma Talk
November 29, 1992
Meeting with Tzu Ching
June 19, 1994
Meeting with Members of Torch of Wisdom Magazine
September 29, 1995
Meeting with Mr. Wang Xiajun
June 20, 1999
Teaching to Taiwan Northern Region Commissioners in Training
April 17, 2000
Morning Volunteer Assembly
October 25, 2004
Teaching to the Dharma Masters of the Abode
June 12, 2005
Teaching at the Xinzhu Service Center
April 17, 2006
Meeting with Dharma Masters of the Abode
October 10, 2013
Tainan Certified Volunteers Leadership Training and Spiritual Retreat
January 1, 2014
Meeting with the Department of Drama from Da Ai TV
August 29, 2014
Meeting with Volunteer Chen Chaohai and Others from Tzu Chi Thailand