Founded in 1966, Tzu Chi Foundation began with regular donations from 30 housewives who each saved 50 NT cents (S$0.02) a day to fund Tzu Chi's charity mission. As more and more people joined in, the scope of the organization expanded, and now Tzu Chi has 10 million members and offices in 50 countries.
It was 45 years ago on 24 Mar on the lunar calendar that Tzu Chi Foundation was founded at the Pu Ming Temple in Hualien, eastern Taiwan. A prayer service on the Medicine Buddha Sutra was held based on the goal set out by Master Cheng Yen for the volunteers followers to observe the 12 vows of the Medicine Buddha, put them in practice, and bear live out the Buddhist teaching of benefiting humanity. Since then, it became a custom for the Foundation to host prayer service on the 24th of each lunar month together with its monthly relief distribution for the sick and needy.
Before the 588th prayer service on 26 Apr, volunteers in Taiwan made their way by foot to the Jing Si Abode with a Three-Steps-One-Bow pilgrimage starting at 3.30am. The sky was grey and the light of the moon shone over the earth. The volunteers walked and bowed slowly, their hearts full of reflection and praying for a world without disasters. As they approached the Abode, they bowed solemnly, grateful to be close to their spiritual home on this important anniversary.
By means of videoconference, volunteers across 19 countries, including Singapore, were able to chant the Medicine Buddha Sutra simultaneously with the Abode procession to celebrate the Foundation's 45th anniversary and Master Cheng Yen's 75th birthday.
After the chanting session, Master Cheng Yen addressed the volunteers: "Tzu Chi began as a small seed. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the single step. Therefore I hope everyone will take a vow to become a Bodhisattva and help those who are suffering." She also reminded every Tzu Chi member to continued to widen their horizons through serving and promote Buddha's teachings in their daily life.