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fFinding Beauty: The Tzu Chi Foundation
by Ginnie
March 1, 2016


Beauty is something that can touch the bottom of our heart. Although I was not at the spot where this beautiful event occurred, I was still strongly inspired by just watching it presented in a film.

I am a volunteer at a charity organization, named the Tzu Chi Foundation, founded by Venerable Master Cheng Yen (a Buddhist nun) in Taiwan about fifty years ago, and committed to helping those people in need, not only local citizens but also around the world. It started with the support of only 30 house wives, who put aside 50 cents Taiwan dollars (about two Canada cents) of their grocery money each day in a bamboo container named a “Bamboo bank,” to establish a charity fund. Until now, the foundation has volunteers in 50 countries (including Canada), over 400 offices worldwide and has assisted more than 70 countries.

Shown at occasional volunteer gatherings to welcome new volunteers, the film promotes the importance of accumulating daily, tiny, kind deeds – while eating, 80 percent full is enough and use the remaining 20-percent to help people – was presented. After the volunteers provided material assistance and spiritual comfort to those people suffering from natural disasters or poverty, they also teach them how to help other people in need in the hope that, as their lives return to what they usually have, they can contribute themselves to the communities, so that the seeds of kindness, compassion and joy can be spread, planted and cultivated.   

In 2008, Myanmar was devastated by a severe storm, causing people (mostly poor farmers) much pain. The volunteers of Tzu Chi foundation arrived in the affected areas and provided material aid and helped local residents rebuild lives. A farmer, who received help, turned his gratitude to action and began to practice the idea of accumulating daily kindness to help others.

While preparing meals for his family every day, this farmer grabbed a handful of rice from the required amount and put it aside into a plastic jar (called a “rice bank”) to donate to those people in need in his village when the jar was full. He said that, although he could not donate money, he could donate rice; the rice put aside every day could help those people who were worse off in the village, and their lives would not be affected by the given away rice.

While watching this farmer, I was so touched that I could sense the beauty of kindness and compassion of human beings, warm and powerful enough to penetrate my heart. I saw the joy of giving illuminate the face of this farmer. He is not poor. He is rich in love.

Practicing kindness and helping people is not the privilege of certain number of specific people, depending on whether we are willing to bring it in our lives. In fact, kindness, compassion and love are parts of human nature, the beauty of the bright side of humans, existing originally in human beings and differentiating us from other species; the farmer of Myanmar living in hard conditions is a vivid example of demonstrating beauty as a person. It is not difficult, is it?

By putting aside a small part of our belongings every day, not interfering with our daily life and with things we don’t even pay attention to, we cultivate and nourish the seed of beauty there, in our soul. We learn to reduce our desires, exceeding what we actually need, and to eliminate the other part of our characteristics—greed and craving. I obtained a “coin bank” (made of paper), and started to cultivate the seed of kindness, the beauty of a human being in me primarily by putting aside daily leftover grocery money, making myself more used to giving things away, and decreasing my attachment to material goods.

When the bank is full, it will be brought to those people in need to warm their hearts and cheer them up. As we grow beauty, the fruits we harvest are joy, happiness and full satisfaction of our surroundings, without pain and suffering in spirit. Being global citizens, I believe, we all have the responsibility to advocate and practice the beauty of human beings to make earth a better place to live, filled with kindness, compassion, love and joy.

I hope when the last moment of my life is approaching, I would not have fear; I hope when this moment is coming, I would be satisfied with my life since the seed of beauty I grow would have been harvested, and I would carry the fruit to my next life journey.  

-- 750 words