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Inspiring Kindness in the Neighbourhood

“When countless others benefit, so too will one’s blessings be limitless.” Master Cheng Yen’s words made an indelible imprint on Tzu Chi volunteer Tang Pei Ling’s heart when she was at the June 2014 volunteer leaders’ retreat organized in Taiwan; these words were further cemented into her consciousness when she participated in the training and sharing camp held in July while back in Singapore. When volunteers from the central zone embarked on a campaign to recruit 2,500 new members within three months, Tang too, vowed to recruit 100 kind-hearted souls out of her own efforts.


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When volunteers from the central zone embarked on a campaign to recruit 2,500 new members within three months, Tang too, vowed to recruit 100 kind-hearted souls out of her own efforts. Photo by Zeng Mei Zhen

“Aunty, are you interested to be the kind soul that benefits others with whatever small amount that can be spared? Just like that aunty in the next stall, whom I visit to collect regular monthly donations, just two or three dollars (from you) is okay too!” 

Eyeing Tang, the “char kway teow” fried noodle stallholder wanted her to clarify if this meant that she had to make a donation every single month.

“I’ll come by to collect it from you every month, this is a cycle of love!” was Tang’s unruffled rejoinder. The busy hawker centre, a food heaven for the locals, was Tang’s choice of a recruitment venue in search of those who would like to make a monetary contribution for charity.

Rejoice in the Joy of Dharma be it Success or Rejection

Ever since Tang had become a Tzu Chi volunteer, she had been active in recruiting monthly donating members. However what really inspired her to aim for 100 new members were the words of Master Cheng Yen when she was attending the June 2014 volunteer leader’s retreat organized in Taiwan.

Her resolve was further strengthened when she participated in the training and sharing camp held in July while back in Singapore, where she was inspired by Malaysian volunteers who had pledged to recruit a million new members. When volunteers from the central zone embarked on a campaign to recruit 2,500 new members within three months, Tang too, vowed to recruit 100 kind-hearted souls with her own efforts.

Tang makes use of her weekend rest days, either taking a bus or walking to the nearby hawker centres or markets; once there, she would start looking out for kind souls to recruit as new donating members of Tzu Chi.

“It’s okay that today you refused me. Perhaps the next time I approach you, you may agree.” Whether or not her efforts yielded results, Tang would be equally joyful as she went about her task. If she was successful, her spirits would be lifted for the whole day. Yet a failure to recruit a new member also gave her cause for happiness as she had had the opportunity to introduce the topic of Tzu Chi to others.

Tang would observe the expressions of her potential targets, only venturing to approach when they smiled. Upon starting up a casual conversation, she would then find an opportune time to broach her intention. Tang brightly explains how as she spoke on and on and such joy, her target would likely respond to her invitation to be a donating member. If those she approached were in a hurry, she would let them go while thinking: the next time when the opportunity comes up again, I’ll be sure to grab it!

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Bamboo coin banks, Jing Si Aphorisms and Tzu Chi publications are the tools that Tang uses to share with others what Tzu Chi is all about. Photo by Zeng Mei Zhen

Skillful Means Achieves One’s Aim

Bai Fu Shan who runs a pork stall at the market, is testimony to Tang’s determination and patience. The first time Bai was approached, he declined politely by saying he had no time to spare. Busy with his business, Bai would neither spare time nor effort to bother with what Tang had to say. However this did not put Tang off and her resolve to treat every person she saw at the market as a potential donating member never wavered.

Ever since Tang had joined Tzu Chi, she had wanted to introduce the organization to Bai; yet she never got the chance to do so for three and a half years. Bai, now a donating member, recalls: “She had been wanting to talk to me for quite some time. Whenever I was busy, it would be impossible to talk.”

However, one day it happened that Bai was free and had the thought that he would not refuse the opportunity to donate if he was approached, thus paving the way for Tang’s success. Sharing his thoughts, Bai speaks of how he values sincerity and patience, saying that he has no problems extending a helping hand if it is within his ability.

Whenever Tang hands over the receipt to donating members, she will pause to share a Jing Si Aphorism with them in the hopes of influencing their thoughts in a subtle manner. Because her intention is to inspire the good in others, she is never bothered by the amount donated. When members share their family problems with her, Tang will encourage them to bring home a bamboo coin bank in which they can practice making a good aspiration every day while contributing a daily amount.

After finding out that egg seller Yang Ya Mei suffered from poor sales, Tang suggested that she make a small donation into the bamboo coin bank every day with a good thought. Not long after, Yang’s business slowly picked up and her mindset too, changed. She found herself lightening up and now even if she were to encounter something unpleasant, she would think to herself: “Forget it! It’s nothing worth getting angry over.”  Yang appreciates how she has become happier when she does not dwell unduly over the complexities of life.

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Bai Fu Shan who runs a pork stall at the market, finally became a donating member after the three and a half years in which Tang had not given up trying to persuade him. Photo by Zeng Mei Zhen

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When members share their family problems with her, Tang will encourage them to bring home a bamboo coin bank in which they can practice making a good aspiration every day while contributing a daily amount. Photo by Zeng Mei Zhen

Kindness Radiates Outwards from Within the Dharma Circle

Tang is from Malaysia and there was once that she was unable to return at short notice after receiving news that her brother was ill. With just a phone call, Malaysian volunteers immediately made the trip down. They rostered themselves every two hours to take care of her family, and delivered food and drink.  

Touched by their tireless care over the two days, she vowed to help others just as she had benefitted from the help from volunteers. Wanting more people to be able to see the beauty in Tzu Chi and to inspire more kind souls to step forward, Tang views the recruitment of new members as a simple matter-- it is just a disciple putting into action what the Master wants. 

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Whenever Tang hands over the receipt to donating members, she will pause to share a Jing Si Aphorism with them in the hopes of influencing their thoughts in a subtle manner. Egg seller Yang Ya Mei is one of those who have since changed their old mindset for the better. Photo by Zeng Mei Zhen

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As Tang’s intention is to inspire the good in others, she is never bothered by the amount donated by her members. Photo by Zeng Mei Zhen

Explanatory note:

Inspired by the sharing of Malaysian volunteers during a sharing retreat in July 2014, Tzu Chi Singapore volunteers from the central zone made aspirations to recruit 2,500 new donating volunteers within 3 months and this goal was achieved in September 2014.

Encouraged by this, volunteers from other zones started to do the same, making use of the opportunity afforded by Tzu Chi events such as tea sessions, friendship meet ups, and also during exhibitions of Tzu Chi products. By the close of 2014, some 9,004 new members had joined, a figure that was 3 times the average recruitment rate of the previous year. 


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