Having been a part of Tzu Chi for more than ten years, I can finally say that I’ve begun to touch the surface of what it really means to be a Tzu Chi member. Although I went to ceremonies, disaster relief, and nursing home visits with the Dayton chapter throughout the majority of my life, I realized that I knew very little about this organization. I feel immensely grateful for the opportunity to attend this year’s Tzu Ching Midwest Retreat because this camp felt to me like the start of filling my paucity of knowledge. The phenomenal speakers showed me the multiple dimensions of Tzu Chi, from bettering society through teaching Jing Si to prisoners to recruiting journalism volunteers to spread awareness of Tzu Chi’s activities. The stories and wisdom of these role models reminded me to maintain a heart of gratitude and to treat everyone as Bodhisattvas. However, I believe the most important message, the lesson that brought to me a sort of epiphany, was that all Tzu Chi members, through the charity work we do, are following the Bodhisattva Path. We practice compassion and grow in wisdom as we participate in disaster reliefs and talk Dharma, striving to eliminate afflictions within ourselves as well as within the fellow beings around us. To me, this purpose is the meaning of being a part of Tzu Chi. I learned a great many things at this retreat, from the Ten Precepts to how to reduce and reuse, and perhaps even caught a glimpse of my goal in this world. I thank everyone who made this experience possible, and I look forward to what the future holds as a uniform Tzu Ching member!
30 March, 2016
I must confess, this being my third time going to the Midwest retreat, at the start of camp I was worried that I fallen into routine. In other words, I was simply going to retreat because I did so every year. I remember on the first day of camp, Trisha XJ asked me why did I choose to spend my spring break here rather than elsewhere. At that time I did not have a concrete answer. Well, regardless, I had a grand old time. Before I knew it, the Tzu Ching retreat had come and gone. Now, my answer to Trisha XJ’s question is that I don’t want to miss any opportunity to be in Tzu Chi (well, that and I actually don’t spend my vacations doing much other than staying at home). Every Tzu Ching retreat has its own unique set of lessons, people, and experiences. I want to treasure all of it. I think Leonard Nimoy put it best, “Life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Live long and prosper.”
At camp I had the strange realization that I was no longer an underclassman. I went to my first retreat when I was a Tzu Shao in high school, so I always thought of myself as the newbie amongst Tzu Ching. But now, I’m an adult! Well, I’m also an upperclassman in college, whereas there were a lot of attendees who were underclassmen. To be honest, I did not feel that much different from my underclassman days, but I’m sure many people did not see me as the inexperienced padawan I once was. For many others at camp, this was their first time at a retreat. I wonder how all the newer students felt at camp? For those who had their first time attending a Tzu Ching retreat, were they as profoundly touched as I was when I was a Tzu Shao? Throughout camp I tried to be more friendly towards all, and in the end I hope I helped to make retreat enjoyable for those first timers. Hopefully there will be chances to meet again at San Jose 2016 and Midwest 2017 retreat and many more years to come!
|2016 Midwest Retreat Group 1|