Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tzu Chi 慈济

There are four schools (or brands, really) of Buddhism in Taiwan and one of them is based here in Hualien. This school is known as Tzu Chi (慈济). We visited their headquarters, which included the majestic prayer hall, Jingsi Hall (静思堂)...

... and their very own university, Tzu Chi University:

Allie led us into the prayer hall and spoke to some volunteers who happened to be there. When they found out that we were overseas visitors, they very generously offered to give us a tour of the place.

I think we were most impressed by the floor in their underground meditation hall - hand-painted tiles to form a mosaic of a giant lotus-pond. I don't remember how many tiles but it took quite a few years to complete.

The walkways that led up to the prayer hall were long, properly-shined and lined with posters of the humanitarian efforts by their teams around the world.

In all honesty, I have not been into a Buddhist prayer hall of this grandeur. Erm, don't take into account the ancient Chinese halls in China that are thousands of years old. I am talking about modern day ones, like this one. Just look at all the wood material, the wood carving, the columnless hall. Funny how the first place that crept into my mind was St. Mary's Cathedral, maybe because of how open the centre of the hall was.

There were more seats in the upper levels, too, a little like an auditorium. Even the sides of the upper levels had wooden carvings.

We ended the tour by taking a group photo with the Tzu Chi volunteer in front of the map that showed all the Tzu Chi centres around the world.

We adjourned to their shop selling the things they made from recycled plastic bottles. We bought t-shirts, hats, shopping bags and a lot of other things in support of their good work and also because we were pretty impressed at how plastic could turn into wearable apparel!

Personally, I feel that it does not matter what religious leaning you have. It is the heart for doing good that matters.

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