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Buddhist Charity and Community Work

2009年05月15日 13:19:00 佛教在线 点击:0

One of the Buddhist teaching is to be“merciful”. 《Da Zhi Du Lun》Chapter 27 explained :“Great mercy gives everybody happiness, whereas the great sympathy aims to take away their pain.”This compassionate and sympathetic behavior should be offered to everybody in need, irrespective of whether you know him or not. Everybody is treated equally, their pain looked upon as if your own with no discrimination. Eventually it is extended to all creatures with feeling, so that you always treat them with pity and love. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss with you my title“Buddhist Charity and Community Work”.

1.Compassionate Buddhism and community charity

To be merciful is a very basic Buddhist concept. It means doing something good for others and can simply be regarded as community charity work. In this sense, our Buddha sets the best example. He was the most benevolent person in the universe. We can read from various Buddhist Sutras how our Master, using his tender compassion, to protect lives and save people in distress. Once our Master abandoned his life to feed a hungry tiger and in another instance, cut his muscles to feed a hawk. In order to completely relieve all living beings from the misery of birth, getting old, sickness and death, he left the palace to become a monk and attained enlightenment by personal experience. He proclaimed widely the Buddhist truth in the ten directions of space. All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas did the same: Amitabha and his forty-eight vows is to bring all living beings to his Paradise; The Buddha of Medicine vows to treat all diseases and in return give them perfect health of the body and mind; Avalokitesvara, also known as Kuan-yin, the Goddess of Mercy, is the protector of all in distress; Ksitigarbha, Bodhisattva Ti-tsang, rescues suffering beings from hell. The compassionate vows of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas deeply influenced the Buddhist charity and community work.

In the recent thousand and hundreds of years, most of the Chinese Buddhist organizations, temples, monks, nuns and the laity, follow strictly the teaching of our Master, to save people from bitterness and hardship so that they can be dragged out from their sufferings. They dedicated a lot of their time to the community; made enormous contribution in the field of Buddhist charity work which was received with great appraisal. Over the years, eminent monks had contributed a lot towards community charity work, too many for me to quote. Starting from the Bei-Wei Dynasty, all these community work had become more systematic. The Tang Dynasty established the Wu-Jin-Jang System. Relief facilities were extended to the lay public so that the sick had places to stay. Inside the temples there were sick-bays for those who could not afford to pay.

In the Song Dynasty, Buddhist organizations were very enthusiastic in community charity work, may it be the repair of bridges and roads, waterworks, offerings to the poor, the starved and the upbringing of infants and children without parents. For the poor, they built schools, orphanages, old people homes, hospitals and public cemeteries. The monks in the temple were not afraid of hardship, took up as leaders to guide devotees to donate money and offer body strength. Some temples set up pharmacies; those monks who had medical knowledge took up work as doctors.

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