Images of the Texas skyline on that final car ride to the airport still resonate in my mind. I'm trying my best to hold on to this feeling, however ephemeral it may be. Every moment is fleeting as soon as it has occurred, so we need to cherish every minute, every second. We cannot live in the past, however beautiful it may have been. We can only cherish the present and await what is to come. Although we only find ourselves in this space and time once, the interpersonal relationships we have formed are lasting. We are forever bonded by this feeling of family and this sense of duty we have to shoulder the mission of Master Cheng Yen. I left the July 2012 Tzu Ching Leadership Conference in Dallas feeling recharged and full of renewed hope for the future of Tzu Ching. We have a bright future ahead of us on this Tzu Chi path, and the touching moments we experienced should serve as a reminder to strive harder.
From the moment I first heard of the camp, I knew I wanted to be on Curriculum Team, so I could help design a curriculum for the attendees that would move them like I had been moved. To my astonishment, I was drafted. I really cherished my opportunity to be a part of Curriculum Team, so much so that I pushed myself to the limit by attending every single meeting, taking on as many responsibilities as I was allowed, and doing all I could to justify my value as a team member to show the Curriculum Team advisor and leader that they had made the right decision. I worked hard, took the initiative, and proved myself to be a reliable asset to the team. Before long, I was promoted to Deputy Team Lead. I was scared to accept the position because I had no idea how to be a good leader, but the alumni soon showed me the way. I followed in their footsteps diligently observing the wisdom they expounded, not just through their words but also through their actions.
Carolyn Chen, a Tzu Ching alumna very dear to me, once observed about me, "You sure have a lot of opinions." Although true, it was quite a shock for me to hear that. I really took those words to heart and pursued self-reflection. I wondered why I was so quick to judge others and why I was unable to be forgiving of past mistakes they had made even though I had once been in the same situation myself. I'm a firm believer in second chances, and surely the least I could do was to look at others with non-discriminating eyes.
Another alumnus once said, "In order to become a good leader, one has to learn how to be led." Following was not something I did well, especially if it was taking orders from someone less experienced than myself. My arrogance made people uneasy, but how can you purify a glass of dirty water without pouring the water out? The answer is to pour clean water into the glass until all the dirt filters out, and that's what every single person I met at camp did for me. Every word of encouragement, every undeserved praise, every expression of gratitude, every warm smile, every loving embrace was a glass of fresh water filling my once-contaminated heart. I'm entirely grateful to my Tzu Chi family for taking the time to get to know me, for standing up for me, for holding my hand while I was feeling selfconscious, and for helping me in my endeavors. They have really encouraged me to cultivate myself to become the best version of myself that I can be. I feel transformed, and all in all this has been a humbling experience.
"In helping others to fulfill their goals, we too become fulfilled.” I lived by this Jing Si Aphorism during the camp. I love standing onstage while others look up at me from the audience with eyes full of excitement. Tzu Ching is a great platform for that. As much as I enjoy being the center of attention, this aphorism taught me to give others a chance to hone their leadership skills. I no longer get jealous when the focus isn't on me. In fact, I want to let more Tzu Chings have the opportunity to stand on stage and feel that rush of passion. I especially want to focus on the ones who are more humble and reserved because, like Master tells us, everyone has unlimited potential.
There are so many people that have moved me during this conference, who have showed me kindness and compassion. One small expression of care was enough to warm my heart. Through this experience, I learned to open my heart and to be considerate of others, and I felt my defensive walls crumbling down. I felt like I have really matured as a person these past few days. I am firm in my convictions, and when I find something I believe in, such as Tzu Chi, or someone worth following, such as Master, then I am loyal to a fault. This camp has only reaffirmed my faith in Tzu Chi and my sense of mission towards Master. A year from now, ten years from now, I know I will still be on this Tzu Chi path following in Tzu Chi commissioners' footsteps, following in Master's footsteps.
In helping others to fulfill their goals, we too become fulfilled.
Jing Si Aphorism by Dharma Master Cheng Yen