September 8, 2022
Tzu Chi Volunteers Practice The Venerable Lotus Sutra
By Daniel Lazar
The Tzu Chi 2022 Commissioners and Faith Corps Diligence Training Camp in Sta. Mesa, Manila, was attended by volunteers from throughout the country. Apart from being a refresher, for both old and new volunteers, on Tzu Chi’s core mission, and responsibilities, attendees also practiced daily Buddhist prayers and what it means to walk the Buddhist path.
As part of these activities, volunteers got to participate in one of the most venerated prayer and meditation practices, the Lotus Sutra prayer. This morning prayer session, which Buddhist monks practice as part of their daily cultivation, is done early in the morning so as to start the day right and calm their hearts. One passage in particular, epitomizes the foundation of this prayer’s compassionate path: “Our mind is clear and translucent, and our vows are as vast as the endless void. Our conviction is unwavering for countless eons.”
The Lotus Sutra is significant in Tzu Chi teachings because it is elemental in the philosophy, and understanding of Tzu Chi’s missions and teachings. Since Tzu Chi’s path is one of compassionate action, all disciples and volunteers learn the essential meaning of the sutra while working to relieve human suffering. The blessings and karma that come from virtues such as having a sincere and pure heart, and showing unconditional love towards all living beings, are explained in the Sutra.
It is for this reason that when disaster strikes, Tzu Chi volunteers will usually be the first on site, uninvited, to cultivate the field of blessings. They will give comfort and care unconditionally for victims and their families. Through this spiritual cultivation, “Innumerable dharma paths become clear to us. Great wisdom shall be ours, and we will penetrate the true reality of all things.” The Sutra also explains the workings of walking the Dharma path, and the nature of the Dharma, the universe, and human life. It highlights the fundamental truths such as impermanence, and the law of karmic balance.
The Lotus Sutra is an essential guide on the path of enlightenment, and was initially the guiding principle of Tzu Chi’s earlier days, guiding Master Cheng Yen’s footsteps to walk the Bodhisattva path and awaken the self. All of Tzu Chi’s teachings are based on the essences of the Lotus Sutra and practices of the Sutra of Immeasurable Meanings, which explain the Buddhist path in everyday life, as one where we should strive to awaken our pure Buddha nature for the benefit of all living beings.