back to article The Tzu Chi Foundation – the world’s largest Buddhist charity

Taiwan might be best known to Reg readers as the home of the major DRAM manufacturers and other computer component makers but it is also home to the world's largest Buddhist charitable foundation. The Tzu Chi Foundation was founded in 1966 by a 30 year-old female monk called Dharma Master Cheng Yen. It runs international …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
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    This article reflects my experience with Tzu Chi

    I live in a small town in California which also has a Tzu Chi center. They offer Mandarin language classes for children. They also do a fair bit of charity work, all under the radar. The last time I was there they had stacks of boxes of clothes awaiting donation. They have always been unfailingly kind to my son and I (he used to take the language classes).

  2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    True Buddhist Compassion -

    to use PowerPoint but not to inflict the results on others.

    We can all learn from that (and the other stuff too I hasten to add).

  3. blue
    Dead Vulture

    Body Donations

    It's touching to see the humanization of the body-donatees' cadavers.

    Here in the UK, I would never sanction the use of my own or any relatives body (if I had a say). Too many stories of medical students throwing body parts about, or leaving severed parts on buses for the lolz; too many stories of medical establishments stealing organs from deceased babies and the like, etc: a serious lack of respect.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very interesting

    Thankyou for writing this; it's fascinating to see how other countries deal with the issues that affect all of us!

  5. Max
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    More articles like this please!

    See title.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge
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    The most interesting article I've ever seen on El Reg.

  7. Andrew
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    Factual Corrections to good article on the Tzu Chi Foundation

    Great article, though factually a little inaccurate.

    I used to live in Hualien, so let me correct you on a couple points. To quote:

    "Hualien on Taiwan’s east coast.... home to what is left of the country’s aboriginal population. The grey-granite city used to suffer from poor medical services"

    In fact,

    1. the country's aboriginal population is spread all around the central mountains

    and down the east coast of Taiwan. My wife belongs to the largest tribe.

    2. As to poor medical services, that depends on your definition of "poor." Hualien

    is a small city, so expecting it to meet the standards found in a major urban center

    would be silly. The government has run a hospital in Hualien since 1909. As for

    faith-based works, Tzu Chi was actually late to the game. About 100

    years before Tzu Chi, various Christian missions (mostly Presbyterian) began

    establishing medical clinics and hospitals around Taiwan. In the 1950s, the

    Mennonites established a hospital in Hualien, which grew into a large teaching

    hospital. You can check out their website at:

    Finally, the article says the Taiwanese are not very religious. Wow! You obviously

    never spent much time, here. I've lived in Taiwan for 17 years. The people may not

    be fanatics with towels around their heads and bombs on their waists, but they are

    definitely very religious. Everywhere you go are huge temples filled with idols and

    people going in to burn "spirit money" and incense sticks.

    Anyway, still a nice article on this foundation.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Into the mysticism are you?

    "The machine behind him can be used to zap the needles with a bit of electricity to increase the flow of chi - the fundamental energy within all living things."

    Really? I would have thought it would be closer to the truth to say that the electricity is thought to increase the flow of "chi" - the fundamental "energy" which Buddhists believe to be within all living things.

    Anyway round our way we call it "the force".

    Great article in any case. Fascinating to see Buddhists treating non-Buddhists with respect by not shoving their beliefs down their throats. The Americans could try that someday.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Body Donations

    Thats your choice, but once I'm dead I din't care what happens to my rotting corpse.

    My better half is under strict instructions that life support stays on until all remaining working parts are farmed out for transplant and the rest can go for fertilizer.

    Paris as I have a donation for her....

  10. Grant
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    Good article

    It is nice to see Reg's desire to publish irreverent articles does not stop it from publishing non-irreverent stuff also.

  11. Nebulo
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    Possibly the most uplifting thing I've read all year. Make this item number one in your new Good News section, and keep 'em coming.

  12. John Watts

    Re: Into the mysticism are you?

    There's no need for the quotation marks around chi, nor to qualify it as a belief.

    Take some Tai Chi and Chi Kung lessons from someone who understands chi and you'll see for yourself.

    Then you can also decide whether it's actually just suggestion that makes people believe in it.

    Take the idea of chi, wrap it in a little yin and yang with a layer of the five agents of change and you can see the patterns and processes in the things that go on around you. When you can see them you can make you life a whole lot less stressful.

    Leaving the chi part aside though there doesn't have to be anything mystical about the other two; you can just look at them as concepts or models that in some respect can be applied to almost everything in some way.

    I seem to remember a Reg article (searched, couldn't find it ...) where some scientists were saying they've discovered that walking was a combination of standing up and falling over (it was about robots, probably DARPA ones).

    They should have asked me; I'd already figured that out trying to think of examples to explain how the yin yang thing works. It was nice to know I was right though.

    If you want mysticism, give the I Ching a try. It's mind blowing it really is.

    It might just make you wonder.

  13. Louise Cowan
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    Great Story

    Loved this story - really interesting to read about such a different and diverse culture. Will add it to my list of places to visit.

  14. Trevor Pott Gold badge

    @Into the mysticism are you?

    " I would have thought it would be closer to the truth to say that the electricity is thought to increase the flow of "chi" - the fundamental "energy" which Buddhists believe to be within all living things."

    "Fascinating to see Buddhists treating non-Buddhists with respect by not shoving their beliefs down their throats. The Americans could try that someday."

    Now if only we could get the Athiests to do the same. I respect people of any belief (or lack thereof) far mroe when they do not push thier beliefs, (or lack thereof) upon others.

    Please remember that often a lack of faith looks as silly to those with faith as faith does to those without.

    Thank you.

  15. tina
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    Great Love

    Thanks for this great article.

    I've been a volunteer with Tzu Chi since 1994. What impressed me the most about this organization is the grass-root approach in mobilizing everyone to make this Earth a better place - one person at a time. Master Cheng Yen does not only expound Buddhist text, but also leads the volunteers ACTING out Buddhist text in our daily live.

    Share with you my favorite saying from Dharma Master Cheng Yen:

    "Let us not ask for good health, only clarity of mind.

    Let us not seek for everything to go our way, only the courage and strength to persevere.

    Let us not wish for lesser responsibilities, only the ability to shoulder more."

    BTW, "Da Ai", Tzu Chi's TV station's name, means "Great Love" in Chinese.

    Great love transcends religions, boundaries, ethnicities. Great love conquers all.

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