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‘Buddhism in action’ inspires theosophy fellows

September 30, 2018 | Jonas Trinidad

The Tzu Chi School of Buddhism is one of action and social interaction, as Tzu Chi volunteer Peggy Sy explains. She also refers to the words of Venerable Master Yin Shun, Dharma Master Cheng Yen's mentor, who said that enlightenment is achieved in the living realm instead of the afterlife. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • The Theosophical Society of the Philippines, which shares its non-alignment to any single religion or philosophy, invited Tzu Chi Foundation to share its wisdom among its members. The talk was held on September 30 at their national headquarters in Quezon City, inspiring the attendees.


Tzu Chi volunteers on September 30 shared their knowledge with members of the Theosophical Society in the Philippines (TSP), a non-sectarian organization devoted to the study of religions, sciences, and philosophies.

The TSP is the Philippine chapter of the Theosophical Society, first formed in 1875 in New York City. Through its studies, it aims to become the “nucleus” at which humanity can achieve unity regardless of race, sex, or color. Like Tzu Chi, the Society doesn’t align itself with any religion or philosophy, opening its doors to all kinds of wisdom.

At the invitation of the TSP, Tzu Chi volunteers led by Peggy Sy hosted a talk at its main office in Quezon City, a few minutes away from Jing Si Hall. The attendees, members from different walks of life, lent an ear to the knowledge the volunteers had to share.

“This group’s mission is actually to search for truth and the divine wisdom. So I think their goal is to understand other philosophies, much more Tzu Chi’s school of Buddhism and Master [Cheng Yen’s] teachings. We’re very happy to come here and share with their members,” Sy said.

The three-hour talk consists of four parts. Sy shared a brief history and introduction of Tzu Chi. Fellow volunteers Lino Sy talked about environmental protection, Rita Tan about international relief, and Edward So on life at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien, Taiwan. The talk held the theme of “Buddhism in action,” which impressed the attendees.

“I’ve tried various spiritual groups but Tzu Chi seems to be the most practical. It’s not like a very dreamlike idea of spirituality, but it’s like a practical-oriented idea of spirituality, which appeals to me,” remarked Arby Ting, coordinator for the event.

“The work of Tzu Chi, the teachings of Master Cheng Yen are so inspiring that I could feel the Great Love they’re talking about. And I’m very excited to share it with my students, as in our school we’re trying to inculcate into them a spirit of volunteerism,” said Armielyn Matela, an elementary school teacher in Caloocan City.

“[Tzu Chi] is like well-oiled machinery, especially in disaster relief,” remarked lawyer Chally Romero.

Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., former TSP president, is saddened at the reality of the world today. Even with the TSP’s lifelong goal of encouraging the study of all wisdom, many religions have caused so much conflict and suffering in parts of the world. A simple twist of words in teachings gives rise to terrorism and bigotry, among other negativities.

“There must be a reform and transformation in these types of religions into a more inclusive, loving and compassionate religion. And Tzu Chi is one of the best examples,” Chin said.

Having known and worked with Tzu Chi for many years, Chin urged Tzu Chi to build its school in the Philippines. With its philosophy of Great Love, Chin believes, the foundation can nurture the next generation of role models in the country.

“Wherever they go, whether they become a businessman or professional, they’re going to affect people in a very wholesome way,” he added.

  • The three-hour seminar kicks off with a brief history of Tzu Chi's founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen. The attendees are all members of the TSP, hailing from all walks of life. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi Philippines CEO Henry Yuñez briefly shares Tzu Chi's project to build a school for earthquake victims in Iran. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • To introduce the topic on environmental protection, Tzu Chi volunteer Lino Sy sings a song that urges action among living bodhisattvas. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • During the talk, young Teacher Liam (left) explains the 1,000-bottles-of-water story. Of these bottles, only one is safe for drinking, but it makes everyone ponder as to who should drink it. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • In the third segment, Tzu Chi volunteer Rita Tan explains the foundation's global reach by citing the ongoing conflict in Syria as an example. Outside Syria, Tzu Chi has reached out and provided aid to millions of refugees. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • "No Work No Meal" is a basic tenet of Tzu Chi's philosophy. Exactly as it says, Tzu Chi volunteer Edward So explains that everyone at the Jing Si Abode in Taiwan must earn their keep to be able to eat. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Many of the attendees see a lot of similarities between Tzu Chi and their theosophy. Music teacher Frank Enage, a vegan, hails Tzu Chi's advocacy of vegetarianism. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Lawyer Chally Romero (left) lauds Tzu Chi as a "well-oiled machinery" when it comes to its disaster response. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Elementary school teacher Armielyn Matela wishes to share what she has learned in the seminar to her students. She hopes to instill a sense of volunteerism among the youth with Tzu Chi's wisdom. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • For his closing remarks, former TSP president Vicente Hao Chin, Jr. calls upon the foundation to build its school in the Philippines. He sees Tzu Chi as capable of shaping the country's next generation of role models. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】