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Peacefulness Is the End of Confusion

November 6th, 2015

Without preconceived notions, one would remain impartial when viewing the worldly affairs. Without biased opinions, one would be able to deal with people and matters with a macro lens and an objective perspective.

I once bumped into a donating member who identifies with Tzu Chi ideals and has supported Tzu Chi financially for a few years.

During our conversation, she mentioned that her husband, a chemical engineer, has disapproved with the selling price of Tzu Chi’s lucite Buddha statue. He felt that the price is unjust as the sculpture is not made of crystal. She then sought my advice.

I explained to her discreetly that there are many identical products sold in departmental stores. However, the price varies due to the different brands and counters the products are being carried. Every product has managed to attract different segment of customers. For products sold at higher prices, the buyers never feel they are being conned.

For customers who highly value a product, they will pay a hefty price when the item is deemed priceless. But to people who lead a frugal life, even if a product is lowly priced, they would not go for it if it is not a basic necessity. Likewise with tea leaves, which may look similar but differ in pricing significantly. Different customers perceive values differently.

I once boarded a low cost carrier bound for Taiwan from Manila, and the in-flight meal was a few mouthfuls of rice with very little dishes that cost an exorbitant TWD300 (about RM40). However, I could not accuse the airline company of cheating its passengers as the purchase of food was not compulsory. This is the modus operandi of all budget airlines. If we feel it is too expensive, we can choose not to eat.

It is the same with perfume. When sold in a soy sauce bottle, it will have a lower sales volume compared to packaging in an elegant bottle, which is many times more expensive. This shows that consumers are letting the price influence how they feel about the products. Just like a piece of swimsuit which uses very little fabric but costs about the same as a winter coat.

Tzu Chi’s lucite Buddha statue, besides its dignified image, is of aesthetic value and exquisite workmanship. Its design also embraces the devotion and wisdom of the sculptor. Unlike any merchandise, this artwork should not be competing on price for sales volume, nor should its value be measured by its price. It should be respectfully acquired and solemnly worshipped at home, inspiring one to see the Buddha and the Dharma.

Tzu Chi is a non-profit organization, which aspires to benefit all living beings at all times. Volunteers worldwide have tirelessly dedicated themselves to helping people, and paid for their own expenses in the process of giving. I believe the husband of the Dharma sister must be a sensible person, judging from his engineering background. If he could appreciate the above reasoning rationally and openly, all his doubts would be cleared.

There was another occasion when I was approached by an audience who enquired if Tzu Chi Foundation is managed like an enterprise in view of its rapid growth day by day.

I explained to her patiently that there are huge differences between an enterprise and Tzu Chi fundamentally. An enterprise goes for size while Tzu Chi stresses on strength. An enterprise is result-oriented whereas Tzu Chi is process-oriented. An enterprise works for commercial objectives whilst Tzu Chi strives for a social cause.

Tzu Chi is a volunteer based organization which fulfils both charitable and spiritual missions, calling for volunteers with a strong sense of commitment and responsibility. As an NGO that relieves suffering, its motivation, spirit and philosophy have emphasized on taking “precepts” to heart and putting “love” into action.

The management style is more of self-discipline and selfless love, a showcase of the supreme teaching on “inner cultivation with outward practice”. It is about adopting the mind of a Bodhisattva and treading the path of a Bodhisattva. Wherever there is sorrow, the volunteers will go and help on their own accord. Indeed, Bodhisattvas arise because of the needs of suffering beings.

An enterprise is market and profit driven, as well as managed by behaviour and KPIs. But these are still about managing others, and although the aim is to unleash staff potentials, earnings was still the goal above all else. This is the business model of an enterprise in a market economy. In contrast, Tzu Chi focuses on spiritual realization. Essentially, the Master points out the direction of the path, but it is up to the disciples to walk the path through self-practice.

We should look at our own mind, and not look outwards at other people and things. We should endeavour to be a role model for others to emulate.

Nonetheless, both the enterprise and Tzu Chi do share some common traits. They are people based and community centred, and both underline the importance of a practical and personal experience. A system is thus necessary to ensure there are “sufficient people for every task, and adequate task for every person”, as well as, “assign the right people with the right skills in the right place”.

To an enterprise, it would then be able to optimize its operational effectiveness thereby driving better business performance.

To Tzu Chi, this will bring about a massive and timely relief when attending to distress calls.

Be it an enterprise or Tzu Chi, a sound system will enable a general consensus, team spirit, mutual understanding and administrative ethics. Following this, come the strength and beauty in unity. In this case, as Tzu Chi is a place for spiritual development, each individual needs to observe the precepts besides abiding by the system when functioning in teams.

Only when one keeps to the precepts can one perfect one’s virtue and earn the respect of others. One is then able to win others through quality wholesomeness, which is also known as the “soft power”.

Therefore in Tzu Chi, both the system and tenets would need to run in parallel and complement each other. Tread the sublime way tactfully with the sublime teaching. In relation to Tzu Chi’s practice of the great Bodhisattva Path, the depth and breadth of spiritual cultivation in the Foundation is not to be compared to an enterprise.

Tzu Chi organization is getting bigger; it all began with an understanding followed by concurrence and confirmation, and subsequently own involvement. Not only do the volunteers do it joyfully and develop maturely, but they also invite relatives and friends to partake in its missions, thereby cultivating their wisdom.

With Da Ai TV broadcasting on these charitable deeds across the world, this stream of purity has circulated around the world, cleansing people’s minds, as well as, promoting a harmonious society. This has eventually led to more and more people joining the ranks.

Tzu Chi is not an enterprise hence it will not be run like an enterprise. It is also not market or profit driven. Tzu Chi is an NGO advocating its charitable missions, with an aim to “pass on the Jing Si essence and advance on the Tzu Chi path”.

Without preconceived notions, one would remain impartial when viewing the worldly affairs. Without biased opinions, one would be able to deal with people and matters with a macro lens and an objective perspective. Let go of all ideas and labels and one would be able to see all things as they truly are.

Master preached that purity is beyond all doubts. To come to the end of all our doubts is to be with the present reality. Be empty of all the thoughts and feelings, we then get the clarity of the mind to see things as they really are, as opposed to seeing things as they seem to be. An enlightened being is free from all delusions.

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