Chapter eight: Engaging in social charity, serving living being

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Shi Huikong     Time:2015-04-01 21:53:18
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Master Xuecheng points out that monks and nuns of the new century should engage in "protecting the spiritual environment", taking on responsibilities of glorifying the country, benefiting sentient beings, and building a "Pure Land in the Human Realm".

Master receives wide appreciation as he has made such achievement at so young an age. But he is not intoxicated by it. He said, "Monks should not be too secular. The past achievement is the enemy, the present achievement is the friend and achievement yet to be obtained is the teacher." Master holds a high position, yet he never forgets to study and practice. He is a devout Buddhist, and never forgets to serve his country. For many years he has given fervent support to the Party and the government for implementing religious policies. Meanwhile, at the Dharma assemblies held in monasteries, he has taken initiative in introducing the Party's religious policies, guiding believers to be patriotic to the nation and faithful to Buddhism, observe laws and regulations and to be socially responsible.

Master points out that monks and nuns of the new century should engage in "protecting the spiritual environment", taking on responsibilities of glorifying the country, benefiting sentient beings, and building a "Pure Land in the Human Realm". As a member of CPPCC, Master actively participates in the deliberation and administration of state affairs and takes initiative in reporting social conditions and public opinions. He drafts proposals, puts forward advice and suggestions, studies current affairs and politics, ponders over the future and destiny of Chinese Buddhism and gives timely reports to the Party and government departments at various levels on the new trends and issues in the field of religious affairs. At the same time, Master enthusiastically responds to the call of the Party and the government by taking initiative to lead and organize Buddhists to donate money and materials to relieve poverty and disaster, aid students and those in need and supporting and participating in various social charity efforts.

In his article entitled "The Buddhist Public Welfare Cause and the Building of Its System", Master wrote, "Putting on an ascetic appearance with greed remaining in the heart should not be emulated. Buddhism should revaluate the value of economy. Gains of pure wealth reflects good conduct and a positive livelihood, therefore the more the better. Buddhists should engage in jobs at farms, factories, companies, banks, and so on as long as they are beneficial to the national interest, people's livelihood and happiness."

In 1998, when floods broke out in the Yangtze River and a raging typhoon wreaked havoc in Fujian Province, Master not only organized a Sutra Chanting Prayer Dharma Assembly at Putian Guanghua Monastery for the disaster-stricken areas, but also took the lead in donating money and called on monks and followers to donate money and materials to support the disaster-stricken areas and pass on their love to the people there.

In July 2004, Fufeng County in Shaanxi Province suffered flood damage, at a level unprecedented in the past 60 years. Though far in Beijing, when Master Xuecheng heard about the disaster, he phoned immediately for the details, and asked Ven. Zhichao, the Deputy Manager of Famen Monastery, to donate 100,000 RMB to the disaster-stricken areas.

On January 1st, 2005, BAC organized a Cross-Strait Dharma Assembly with a Thousand Monks from a Hundred Monasteries to donate for the relief of the 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean. The Tsunami took place on December 26th, 2004 and struck eight countries including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. Master Xuecheng presided over the Dharma Assembly and delivered a touching speech with deep and loving concern. "This disaster shocked the whole world. The death toll has reached more than 100,000 people and there are still hundreds of thousands of victims. Moreover, millions of people are unable to get necessary survival supplies. They have neither access to drinking water nor basic sanitation. Food supply is an even bigger problem. We have seen many houses swept away and so many precious lives swallowed up in an instant. How heavy our hearts are at this very moment!" In the Dharma Assembly, Master took the lead in donating money, contributing 10,000 RMB in his own name and 100,000 RMB on behalf of Famen Monastery.  

In the period of Chinese New Year Holiday 2005, under the auspices of Master, Famen Monastery organized large poverty relief charity activities, giving 147 homeless elderly citizens at 13 nursing homes rice, flour, oil, calendars, cash and other materials.

In the golden autumn of October 2006, under Master's guidance, a group of lay Buddhists who were committed to charity initiated the establishment of Beijing Ren Ai Charity Foundation. Without abundant fund and existing models, the Foundation started from nothing. Attracted by Master's compassion and vows, many enthusiastic lay Buddhists and warm-hearted people have devoted themselves to Buddhist charity. After its establishment, the Foundation now has charity programs including the Ren Ai Student Project, the Ren Ai Yi+Yi Clothing Donation Project, the Ren Ai Charity Stand Project, the Ren Ai Disaster Relief Project, the Ren Ai Filial Piety Award, the Voice of Longquan Hotline Project and the Care for the Aged Project etc. All of these programs have already directly or indirectly helped many living beings. They have opened a new chapter for Master's endeavors in promoting Dharma and benefiting living beings. 

In March 2007, the Ren Ai Student Project provided financial aid for orphaned students above Grade One in junior high school. In addition, long-term spiritual care has also been given. "Financial aid is the beginning while spiritual care is the focus; financial aid is limited but spiritual care is infinite." This is the ethos of this project. In March 2008, Ren Ai Foundation, in cooperation with the team of EMBA Blue Ribbon Project of Shanghai Transportation University, donated 450,000 RMB to subsidize nearly 200 students in Anhui Province. Apart from Anhui Province, the Ren Ai Student Project has also worked well in Beijing and Hebei Province.

In July 2007, from the very beginning, the Ren Ai Yi+Yi Clothing Donation Project established the sorting and allocation principle to be "one to one, extending care down to the individual", given high expectations for ordinary project of clothing donation. The Foundation allocated and packed clothing for four seasons in accordance with gender, age, height and other traits of the receivers. In October 2008, after five months of elaborate preparation, the Foundation organized a large campaign "Ren Ai Clothing Donation Warms a Myriad of Families" at Dabei Town, Shunping County in Hebei Province, a national level poverty-stricken county and 120,000 articles of clothes were delivered to nearly 6,000 households, benefiting over 20,000 people in 44 villages. In 2008 alone, the Ren Ai Yi+Yi Clothing Donation Project donated more than 420,000 pieces of clothing to earthquake-stricken areas in Sichuan and depressed areas in Hebei, Anhui, Qinghai and Gansu. More than 100,000 people benefited from the project. It is also noteworthy that in 2008 the number of people who participated in the clothing donation and sorting exceeded 50,000 and they were from all different circles of society and different age groups.

In January 2008, the first Ren Ai Charity Stand was set up at the Honglian Zhongli Community in Xuanwu District, Beijing. Every morning, as part of their community service, the Charity Stand serves "love porridge" for free to the "busy people in the city" who have no time for breakfast and lonely elderly citizens, showing care through providing warm porridge. 

Volunteers have been serving warm porridge in the bustling streets, sharing their best wishes to those they meet. Rain or shine, workdays or holidays, "love porridge" has been served uninterruptedly for 365 days a year. Serving porridge has been widely publicized by the media in Beijing and enthusiastically appreciated by the people of the city. A host of Beijing Television commented, "In the past, porridge was given to relieve famine, but now it is served to deliver warmth." 

Although serving porridge is a traditional charity act, the philanthropic connotation it contains has been enduring and is now glowing with vigorous vitality. The Charity Stand has truly become a base for local residents and office workers to practice caring for others and doing good. Two more Ren Ai Charity Stands have been established later in Tsinghua Science Park and Chaowai SOHO. By January 26th, 2012, a total of 1.26 million cups of porridge have been served, about 60 thousand volunteers have taken part in the project if counted by participation times, and more than 1.2 million people have been benefited. At the 2009 Capital Charity Public Welfare Evening Party, the Ren Ai Charity Stand Project was awarded as an Excellent Charity Project. 

In 2008, the Ren Ai Disaster Relief Project started as situation required. In late March, the Dabie Mountain and Tianmu Mountain in southern Anhui Province suffered a serious frost and snow disaster. The volunteers of the Foundation went up and down the hill, visiting to pay condolence to nearly 7,000 households in six districts of Jixi County and Taihu County. They handed out 190,000 kg of rice, more than 50,000 articles of clothes to the household and donated 450,000 RMB to fund education.  

On May 12th, Wenchuan suffered heavy loss from a catastrophic magnitude 8 earthquake, which claimed countless lives and left a large number of survivors homeless. Under Master's guidance, Ren Ai Foundation donated more than 5 million RMB worth of relief supplies to disaster-stricken areas at the earliest time possible and opened three temporary schools. On the afternoon of May 28th, Master flew to the earthquake-stricken area in Sichuan Province and with Ven. Master Yicheng, co-chaired the Grand Dharma Assembly of the Chinese Buddhist Community for Praying and Disaster Relief. It was held on the morning of May 29th at Baoguang Monastery in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. They prayed for bliss, deliverance of the dead and relief for the earthquake stricken area. On May 30th and 31st, Master visited and condoled the severely damaged Luohan Monastery, Puzhao Monastery, Erwang Temple, and Ziping Health Clinic in Dujiangyan, as well as schools and other places. Confronted with such a national disaster, Chinese Buddhist society, including those of lay believers, donated more than 300 million RMB. 


Ren Ai Charity Standserving porridge

On July 7th, xinhuanet.com reported "A donation ceremony for the construction of the biggest teaching facilities in Mianzhu City". For this donation, the Foundation contributed more than 3 million RMB to build schoolhouses for 8 nine - year schools and 7 kindergartens. The net area of the school houses exceeded 8,500 square meters, helping more than 10,000 students and teachers come back into classrooms. The Foundation was honored by the local governments of Sichuan Province as an Advanced Group of Earthquake Relief. It was the only non-governmental charity organization that was awarded such an honor.

Beichuan County was again hit heavily by the earthquake and suffered from debris flow on September 24th, 2008. In the middle of November, the Foundation organized a disaster relief delivery named "Love in Beichuan" in Leigu Town and provided 68 tons of rice, over 40,000 articles of winter clothes and quilts, more than 7,000 pairs of rubber shoes, and more than 1 million RMB worth of medicines for the 2,317 households of the single elderly, the homeless, the disabled, orphaned children and the poor in the 21 villages of Leigu Town. The donation value totaled 2 million RMB and benefited more than 7,800 people.
On April 14th, 2010, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit Yushu County in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province and caused severe casualties and property losses. On that very day, Master instructed the Foundation to prepare some necessities for the disaster-stricken area immediately. At the same time, a Tibetan lay Buddhist Qiusong, a local Ren Ai volunteer had already engaged himself in emergency rescue and disaster relief by going to rescue people at the prayer tower located in the center of Yushu Park. One and a half months later, on June 2nd, Master went to Yushu in person to attend the handover ceremony for the completion and founding of the 3,500 square-meter prefabricated schoolhouses, contributed by the Foundation for the Third Primary School of Yushu.


Master at the disaster-stricken area of Yushu

Since its operation, the Ren Ai Disaster Relief Project has helped people in Anhui, Sichuan, Hebei, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Tibet, Gansu and other places.

On May 24th, 2009, the Ren Ai Filial Piety Award Project was launched. It started in Taihu County, Anhui Province, with the participation of 4,806 students from 7 middle schools. After five months of appraisal and selection, 161 students were issued the Ren Ai Filial Piety Award and 21 students were issued the Ren Ai Filial Piety Star Award by the Foundation. At the end of 2009, this project was awarded as an Excellent Charity Project at the Capital Charity Public Welfare Evening Party.

On July 20th, 2009, under Master's guidance, the Voice of Longquan Hotline was officially launched by the Foundation. Through listening and encouragement, callers were guided to relieve their pressure and recover their self-confidence and happiness. By January 26th, 2012, the Hotline has received 1,935 calls, totaling 1,290 hours, and 206 volunteers have participated in the project successively.

Under Master Xuecheng's guidance, the number of Ren Ai Charity Foundation volunteers, having dedicated their time and enthusiasm selflessly to charity has risen from 4 to over 10,000. The Foundation's charitable projects have benefited several hundred thousand people each year in Beijing alone.


Master spending the Double-Ninth Festival for theElderlywith the seniors at Beijing Longquan Monastery. October 5th, 2011

Today the Foundation has been widely recognized by the public. CCTV (China Central Television), BTV (Beijing Television), xinhuanet.com, CNR (China National Radio), Reference News, and other mass media networks have given a lot of publicity to the Foundation's charity work. In order to care, understand and help solve the spiritual problems of the public, Master said, "Buddhist charity is not just material, but rather spiritual. Beneficiaries may receive material assistance, as well as a purifying effect in the mind."

During mid-January of 2008, most parts of Southern China and Northwestern China experienced continuous, extreme weather conditions such as large-scale low temperatures, heavy rain, snow and frost. These conditions have been rare since the founding of the PRC. The biggest snowstorm in the past 50 years swept through 14 provinces and municipalities in China, bringing about slippery roads, traffic jams, freezing and splitting of water pipes, power failures, transportation breakdowns and shortage of supplies. Master speedily reported on this and coordinated a Dharma Assembly of Praying for Snow Disaster Alleviation and National Peace at Guangji Monastery, the seat of the Buddhist Association of China. There he also organized a disaster relief donation from Buddhist communities. At the Dharma Assembly, Master said, "The snow disaster has touched all ethnic people's hearts of our country and the hearts of the fourfold assembly of Buddhist disciples. When the Buddhist Association of China learned about the disaster, it immediately notified local Buddhist associations, requested them to take action quickly and contribute themselves to disaster relief in a variety of ways."


Giving a speech at the Dharma Assembly for South

On February 8th, Master went to Guizhou to donate 1.71 million RMB to the disaster area on behalf of the Buddhist community. He also donated 10,000 RMB in his own name. At the donation ceremony Master said, "The amount of our donations is insignificant, but the fourfold assembly of Buddhist disciples are doing what we can to help people who live in the disaster-stricken areas. We are deeply concerned with and are paying close attention to the situation, which, in Buddhist terms, is arousing aspiration. In conclusion, we pray with our most pious and pure hearts that the compassionate light of the Three Jewels—the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha—embraces all people of Guizhou Province."

In the early morning of August 22nd, 2009, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake occurred in the offshore areas of South Taiwan. It was the second strongest earthquake since Typhoon Morak inflicted massive devastation upon South Taiwan. Innumerable lives died and there were heavy losses suffered. Master actively engaged himself in organizing donations amongst Buddhist communities. Over 10 million RMB was contributed by the Buddhist community in Mainland China and many Dharma assemblies were organized across the country to pray for the disaster-stricken people in Taiwan and help them get through the disaster. He said, "The donation made by the mainland Buddhist community is a profound expression of the flesh and blood relationship between the mainland Buddhist communities and the people of Taiwan. We share the same roots, the same ancestry, the same vein and the same origins." 

One evening in 2008, Master told his attendant, "I am thinking of how the nearly 100 kinds of Buddhist books that we print can benefit the whole public and not only those lay Buddhists who come to the Monastery to study. We can set up a foundation to share these books with the public through means such as major websites…"

Two years later, under Master's guidance, Beijing Great Sinology Foundation was set up on January 26th, 2010, with the approval of the government. The aim of the Foundation is to promote Chinese culture and build a common spiritual homeland for the Chinese nation. The major task of the Foundation is to offer free publications of traditional Chinese cultural classics distributed by leading domestic publishers, especially books on Buddhism, and to carry out domestic and international cultural exchanges.

At present, Beijing Great Sinology Foundation cooperates with Amazon.cn, the world's largest Chinese shopping website, and dangdang.com to provide readers with discounted and free books. Many pages on amazon.cn show discount-related information and link to resources about Beijing Great Sinology Foundation. The books discounted by the Foundation, such as The Diamond Sutra, rank around No. 30 on the sales list of the million books sold at amazon.cn. They are the best sellers on traditional Chinese culture and religions available there. According to the statistics of amazon.cn, every day more than 10,000 people visit related columns and only in two months, more than 1 million people have browsed relevant columns. This has been a new and modern shortcut to the large-scale promotion of Buddhism and traditional Chinese culture.

The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation requires a great rejuvenation of Chinese culture. Under Master's guidance, Beijing Great Sinology Foundation will play an important role in exploring Chinese cultural resources, developing a brand name of Chinese culture, building a bridge for Chinese culture and promoting the international influence of Chinese culture.

Editor:Catherine
Tags:engaging social charity, serving living being

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