News (2006-2016) News 2010 News Earnest Production of the 'Blessing and Wisdom Red Envelopes'

Earnest Production of the 'Blessing and Wisdom Red Envelopes'

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In early December, Tzu Chi Singapore Branch began making 5200 red envelopes of Blessings and Wisdom red envelopes to be given out to guests during the Christmas Day Year-End Blessing ceremonies. Volunteers from East district gathered at Jing Si Hall on 12 Dec after the monthly recycling activity to fill the red envelopes with their wishes and blessings.

Raventh Reddy from India was delighted to be part of the production because "the red envelopes represent Buddha's blessings to all". (Photo: Lim Chee Wah)

Volunteers from East district gathered at Jing Si Hall after the monthly recycling activity to make the 'Fu-hui' red envelopes. (Photo: Lim Chee Wah)
Everyone immersed themselves in the soft background music while busy pasting the coins and rice grains on the red envelopes. (Photo: Chan Wai Hoe)
Elena Lee and her husband brought along their 18-month-old son to Jing Si Hall; the trio's wishes and sincerity add up to a moving sentiment that the red envelope recipients could relate to. (Photo: Chan Wai Hoe)
Volunteers also invited the public to make the red envelopes in their community. Picture shows a volunteer explaining the origin of the red envelopes and the meanings of Tzu Chi's Year-End Blessing ceremony. (Photo: Lai Tong Heng)
Volunteers of South 1 zone, Tzu Chi youths and medical members busy making red envelopes in Tzu Chi Free Clinic at Redhill. (Photo: Er Chern Han)

What is a 'Fu-Hui' red envelope? Is there money in it?"

This was the frequently asked question by most Tzu Chi volunteers and donating members when they first learned about the Blessing and Wisdom red envelope.

In the early days, Tzu Chi's founder, Master Cheng Yen would give presents to Tzu Chi's commissioners and members during their birth months to thank them for their past contribution and support. Eventually, it became Tzu Chi's yearly commissioner certification and Year-End Blessing ceremony.

Today, Master Cheng Yen gives her blessings to all her disciples in Taiwan every year by personally pinning the "Buddha's Spirit and Master's Mission" brooch on each newly certified commissioner's suit, and putting the rosary beads on their wrist and 'Fu-Hui' red envelope in their hands.

To Tzu Chi followers living outside Taiwan, the 'Fu-Hui' red envelopes carry the blessings from Master Cheng Yen and the resident nuns in Jing Si Abode in Hualien, Taiwan. Although they could not receive the red envelopes directly from Master Cheng Yen, they treasure her blessings that travelled across thousands or even millions miles from Hualien.

On each red envelope, there are three rice grains that symbolize "Precepts, Contemplation and Wisdom" glued on the inside. The rice grains were grown in the rice paddy in Taiwan's Dalin Tzu Chi Hospital by the doctors, nurses and staff. From sowing, transplanting seedlings, harvesting to selecting rice grains and finally gluing on the red envelopes, this relay of love involves scores of volunteers to deliver the blessing of Master Cheng Yen into the hands of the recipients every year.

This year, the Singapore Tzu Chi volunteers were going to make a total of 5200 red envelopes that would be given out in the Year-End Blessing ceremony on Christmas Day at Kreta Ayer People's Theatre, of which 500 envelopes would be sent to Sri Lanka for the local Tzu Chi Year-End Blessing.

Pure hearts and endless love

On the second Sunday of December 2010, volunteers and residents living in East district gathered at Jing Si Hall in the afternoon after the monthly recycling activity to help make the 'Fu-Hui' red envelopes. Before everyone starts work, the volunteer in charge first took the opportunity to share the origin of the red envelopes and the meanings behind it.

One thing to be mentioned was that a day before the activity, the participants went on vegetarian diets and practiced abstinence to ensure the blessings wrapped in the envelopes come from the purest mind and sincerest heart.

In the multipurpose room, participants were divided into three different teams with around 20 people and two team leaders in each team to ensure efficiency and quality of the products.

The first team of people carefully pasted the specially designed collectible commemorative coins on the red envelopes while the second team glued on the rice grains. Finally, the red envelopes would be transferred to the third team for quality check before being strapped with thin gold strings.

Everyone was immersed in the soft music playing in the background while meticulously pasting and wrapping the blessings of the Master and the love from volunteers around the world into the red envelopes.

The 2010 design

This year, the front of the 'Fu-Hui' red envelope is imprinted with the inscription taken from The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings: "May our mind be still and clear; our vows as vast as the endless void; upholding them unwaveringly for countless eons of time", and a Bodhi leaf as well as a bamboo bank on the right.

The Bodhi leaf denotes the everlasting effort of Tzu Chi people walking into the multitude to purify people's minds, whilst the bamboo bank symbolizes the renewal of the spirit of Tzu Chi's Bamboo Bank Era, which also serves as a reminder to all to cultivate loving-kindness each day.

Flip open the envelope, the three-dimensional Buddha portrait symbolizes the Buddha nature in everyone – Master Cheng Yen wishes all her followers to practice Buddhism and awaken the Buddha Nature within, not forgetting to stay humble and embrace Great Love for all beings.

Underneath the Buddha portrait are the three rice grains which also signify the phrase "One begets infinity, and infinity originates from one” from The Sutra of Innumerable Meanings, while the Tzu Chi commemorative coin reminds one to form good karmic affinities with others.

Coming together and putting in heart and soul

At the first and second team, the participants listened attentively to their team leaders' instructions and carefully observed the completed red envelopes before pasting the coins and rice grains.

An Indian gentleman sitting at a corner caught the attention of many in the room. Sitting on the chair that looked relatively small to his stout build, Raventh Reddy bent his body to take a closer look at the envelope before carefully pasting the commemorative coin onto it.

The gentleman from India is currently a Biomedical Science graduate student in the National University of Singapore (NUS). Thanks to the introduction of fellow Tzu Chi volunteer, Alex Tan, who is doing his PhD in NUS, Raventh was impressed with Tzu Chi after participating in the home visit under the Foundation's local "Seeds of Hope" bursary programme.

He commented, "I'm delighted to be part of this meaningful activity today because the red envelopes represent the blessings from the Buddha."

Raventh is going to further his study in Australia in January 2011, and has already obtained the contact details of Tzu Chi Australia as he wishes to become a grey-uniform volunteer in Australia. He also said he would invite friends to join Tzu Chi there.

Elena Lee, the volunteer leader of East 2 Zone Group 2, and her husband Tan See Chok brought their son to do recycling in the morning before coming to Jing Si Hall.

The couple took turns to take care of their 18-month-old son while getting their hands busy with the pasting task. Fortunately the toddler was quite obedient and did not make a noise; the young mother placed him on her lap, holding an envelope on one hand and putting on some glue and pasting on the grains through her other hand. Although her speed was relatively slow, the sincere wishes from the Tan family will certainly touch the recipient who'll receive the red envelope.

"I'm really happy our whole family could be part of the production as we have been receiving the red envelopes for many years," said Elena. "This is the first time the three of us participate in the making of the red envelopes. It means a lot to us and it makes me appreciate the red envelope even more."

75-year-old volunteer Chua Siew Ngoh woke up around five in the morning to do housework and join in the recycling sorting at her community. After a busy morning, Granny Chua rushed to Jing Si Hall to participate in the making of the red envelopes. Although she had been working for more than ten hours, the senior was all smiles during the whole process.

Granny Chua left her spectacles at home when rushing to the recycling point in the morning, so she had to lift the red envelopes close to her face and squint her eyes to ensure the coins and rice grains are properly positioned. On the next minute, she was seen straightening her hands to get a different angle of the envelope to ensure every component is in their right positions.

"I never get tired when I volunteer with Tzu Chi. In fact, I am happy, always happy," said Granny Chua.

A total of 81 volunteers and 11 members of the public produced 1073 'Fu-Hui' red envelopes within four hours that day. The remaining envelopes will be taken up by volunteers of other zones.

The participants wished that the guest who receives the red envelope in the coming Year-End Blessing could feel the blessings from Master Cheng Yen and the sincerity of all volunteers who made the envelopes.

Brother Xie believed that one needs to deal with the pressure right at the beginning to prevent it from growing like a seed in our hearts and eventually hinder us from seeking enlightenment. He also pointed out the scene of Venerable Jian Zhen's disciples giving excuses not to travel to Japan, of which he felt that people tend to think of only themselves and forget about others.

"We are Tzu Chi volunteers," said the young volunteer, "when we are doing good deeds, we must put the people who need our help in the first place, and not only ourselves."

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