Thursday, Apr 15

Cultivating self to become proactive group member

March 11, 2018 | Jamaica Digo

Tzu Chi volunteers diligently take note of important points from the talks. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

Story Highlights

  • Three volunteers from Tzu Chi Taiwan facilitated a series of lectures on March 11 at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City. The event gathered 202 Tzu Chi volunteers from across the country and was held simultaneously with the Global Volunteers’ Training Seminar in Hualien, Taiwan.

  • The seminar emphasized the importance of self-cultivation to become effective volunteers of Tzu Chi Foundation.


To effectively carry out Tzu Chi Foundation’s missions in the Philippines, volunteers must work together in unity. To achieve unity, every volunteer must learn to diligently walk the Tzu Chi path with faith, respect, and love for each other.

This was the central theme of the whole-day lecture series facilitated by three volunteers from Taiwan on March 11. Held at the Jing Si Hall in Quezon City, the seminar gathered 202 volunteers from Davao City, Cebu City, Angeles City in Pampanga, Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija, and from around Metro Manila. It was conducted simultaneously with the Global Volunteers’ Training Seminar in Hualien, Taiwan.

In his talk, Stephen Huang, the executive director of Tzu Chi’s global volunteers, emphasized that group leaders should set an example in self-cultivation for members to follow. He advised them not to be too attached to their positions because everything is impermanent and can be taken away at any moment, including titles. Instead, leaders should be willing to listen and discuss problems and solutions with their members.

After all, members play an important role in achieving a group’s mission. Discussing this further, Tzu Chi volunteer Monica Sy shared her story.

Born and raised in the Philippines, Sy moved to Taiwan to work at the Tzu Chi Foundation headquarters and serve humanity alongside Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen. Having left her family behind and unable to fluently speak Mandarin, Sy struggled in her first years in Taiwan.

Over time, Sy became part of Tzu Chi’s major international disaster relief works. It was during those times that the challenges she had encountered started to make sense. Looking back, she was grateful that she did not give up or lose her faith when it became too difficult. She called on her fellow volunteers to embrace trials they would meet along the way as they walk the path of service for this too is part of their cultivation

“They are only preparing us for bigger responsibilities in the future,” Sy underscores.

Tzu Chi volunteer Isaac Chiu had also been part of the organization’s many disaster relief activities. Citing their work after the recent earthquake in Hualien as an example, Chiu reflected that the most important thing after a calamity is to provide aid as well as emotional comfort to the survivors quickly, but not in a hurry.

According to Chiu, Tzu Chi’s charity works entail wisdom, which can be gained by diligently learning the Buddha’s teachings through Master Cheng Yen. He encouraged everyone to wake up early and listen to the Master expound on the Buddhist texts through Da Ai TV.

“That way when the volunteers encounter obstacles and difficulties in doing Tzu Chi works, they won’t get affected too much that they will want to stop moving forward. I hope that everyone will take the opportunity and affinity that they have with Tzu Chi to learn more about the Master’s teachings,” he says.

After the seminar, participants reflected on the things that they have to continue improving in themselves.

“Sometimes when people would share with me their problems, I would think that I am so busy already. How can I find the time to listen to them? But I realized that their worries are not really complaints but sorrow that they cannot solve,” shares Shu-Li Wang Co, a volunteer from Quezon City. “If I was not given a chance to sit here and listen to the talks, it might take me years before I can realize these things.”

Lyn Yao, who volunteers for Tzu Chi Manila’s projects, echoed this sentiment. She vowed to listen to the Master’s morning Dharma talk to grow her wisdom. “Master Cheng Yen says we don’t have time anymore. I will be diligent and stay in this path and follow Master Cheng Yen,” she ends.

  • Registration for the seminar begins at 7:00 a.m. Tzu Chi volunteers arrive early in the venue, eager to learn. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Volunteers enter the program venue in an orderly fashion. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • The seminar draws an audience of 202 Tzu Chi volunteers from Davao City, Cebu City, Angeles City in Pampanga. Cabanatuan City in Nueva Ecija and different parts of Metro Manila. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Taiwan-based Isaac Chiu was a Tzu Chi Youth member before he decided to dedicate his life to serving humanity by becoming a full-time staff of the foundation. He advises Tzu Chi volunteers in the Philippines to closely follow Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen's footsteps and listen to her teachings.【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Stephen Huang, the executive director of global Tzu Chi volunteers, reminds everyone to be grateful for every service they render in Tzu Chi as it is an opportunity to create blessings. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • The talks manage to be humorous and insightful at the same time. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Monica Sy reminds fellow Tzu Chi volunteers to embrace challenges in their spiritual cultivation and strive to learn from them. She encourages them to treat these trials as a way to prepare themselves for bigger responsibilities in the future. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Volunteers chant verses from the Lotus Sutra, which contains the teachings of the Buddha. [Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • The Lotus Sutra is a guide for Tzu Chi volunteers in their spiritual cultivation and charity missions. During the seminar, the volunteers hold a bowing service while chanting verses from the sutra. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Tzu Chi volunteers Lyn Yao (rightmost) and Shu-Li Wang Co (second from right) join in the prayer for a peaceful society and a disaster-free world. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Through live video conferencing, the volunteers get to listen to Master Cheng Yen's message. The Master calls everyone to be diligent in learning the Buddha’s teachings. By growing their wisdom, Master Cheng Yen believes the volunteers will be able to inspire more people. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】