Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jun 17th
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Home Our Founder Master's Teachings Seize Every Second

Seize Every Second

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Seize Every Second
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Forty-three years ago, Tzu Chi was founded on the 24th day of the third month of the Chinese calendar. On this day 43 years later (April 19, 2009, on the Gregorian calendar), we at the Jing Si Abode held the monthly Medicine Buddha Dharma Service as usual. With 12 months in a year, plus two intercalary months, this was our 532nd service. As it was Tzu Chi’s anniversary, 25,000 people at 111 Tzu Chi chapters in 16 countries around the world participated together with us at the Abode via teleconferencing.

Our first Medicine Buddha Dharma Service was held the day Tzu Chi was founded. It was to express gratitude to all those who supported our organization and to pray sincerely for all people in suffering. Ever since then, we have held a Medicine Buddha Dharma Service on the 24th of every Chinese month. At the same time, our aid recipients in Hualien come and receive aid supplies, as well as get free medical consultations and free haircuts.

Reflecting on this, we can see how the passing of time has brought changes—the scope of Tzu Chi’s outreach has broadened and the number of people walking this path together has grown. When we first began, there were only 30 housewives who saved a coin each day to help the poor. Today, 43 years later, there are Tzu Chi volunteers in 47 countries, and our footprints of care and aid have been left in 69 countries around the world.

With each day that passes, we have one day less. Time is precious, and while we mustn’t be exacting toward others, we must be very exacting with time. Every day we have 86,400 seconds to use. These seconds add up into days, and days add up into months and years. So with every second, we are “creating” our lives and writing its history.

At any given second, anything may happen to us. We must therefore be grateful for every moment that we are safe and well. But at every second, we must also feel a sense of urgency. We must never think that something can wait till tomorrow. With that mentality, we will waste time and end up having accomplished nothing. We need to seize every second, and at that second do something good for the world.

Helping people through hard times with equal respect and compassion towards all Recently, Tzu Chi volunteers helped a man named Mr. Kwong, who was originally from the Philippines. Mr. Kwong came to Taiwan 16 years ago to work and earn more money to support his family in the Philippines. Every month, he would send his salary home so that his two children could receive a good education.

Unfortunately, the company that employed him closed down recently. Out of work and with no money to return to the Philippines, he was forced to stay in Taiwan illegally. To make matters worse, he fell ill and could only rely on his foreign worker friends for help.

A few months ago, he collapsed after a heart attack and underwent emergency heart surgery at Chang-Hua Hospital. Although the doctors saved his life, he could not even begin to pay the resulting medical bills. The hospital referred him to Tzu Chi, and we worked with the hospital to cover his medical expenses.

In the process, our volunteers learned that his heart’s wish was to go back to the Philippines and reunite with his family, whom he had not seen in seven years. Sympathizing with him, the volunteers resolved to help him by assisting him with all the administrative paperwork required and purchasing a plane ticket for him. On April 10, he was finally able to go home. Tzu Chi volunteers drove him to the airport, and when he arrived at Manila Airport, there were also Tzu Chi volunteers there to pick him up and take him home. This was possible only because there are now Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines as well. Such a relay of love from Taiwan to the Philippines is truly very touching.

It was out of love for his children that Mr. Kwong left his home in the Philippines in the hope of providing a better life for them. Meanwhile, also out of love for her children, a Uruguayan mother, Susana, chose to stay in Taiwan.

Seventeen years ago, Susana met a fisherman from Taiwan in Uruguay. She decided to marry him and move to Taiwan, and soon after the couple had two children. Sadly, her husband deserted her and their children five years after they had moved to Taiwan. She was left to provide for her two children without a husband and in a strange country.

It wasn’t easy for her to overcome the culture and language barriers and find a job in Taiwan. Some people advised her that since her husband had left her, she could simply return to Uruguay. But, for the sake of her children, she decided to stay in Taiwan and work at odd jobs to raise them.

Last year, she accidentally scalded herself and came to the Hualien Tzu Chi Medical Center for treatment. She didn’t have enough money to pay the medical bills herself—lacking Taiwanese citizenship, she was ineligible for Taiwan’s national health insurance. After learning of her situation, Tzu Chi began assisting her and her family, helping not only with her medical costs, but also with her family’s living expenses and her children’s school fees.

After she was discharged from the hospital, she received a referral from the local village office to work at a recycling center. After she began working there, she asked Tzu Chi to stop giving her monetary aid, even though her life was still hard. She wanted to be self-reliant. Nevertheless, volunteers continued to visit her and offer her care and love. Now our volunteers are trying to help her obtain permanent residency in Taiwan.

In life, everything is due to karmic affinities, and karmic affinities can indeed be inconceivable. When we have selfish love, a love that is restricted to only certain people, we have a lot of attachments which cause us much suffering. But Great Love—love that extends to all—can liberate us from suffering and give us true peace and joy. This love is what Tzu Chi volunteers practice as they dedicate themselves to caring for people with compassion. No matter who those people may be, they respect and love them equally and try to help them through their hard times. This is the enlightened love of a bodhisattva.