Every year, one month before the Mid-Autumn Festival, Tzu Chi Texas Chapter volunteers begin planning the program, making moon cakes and inviting members of the local community, as well as Tzu Chi volunteers, to join the celebration at the Jing Si Hall.
On September 22nd of this year, on the eve of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the Tzu Chi Texas Chapter held its Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. Performances during the celebration included Kung Fu fan and pantomime. The Great Love Choir also delivered a wonderful performance.
These performances were the result of the Tzu Chi Texas Chapter’s continuing education classes. The goal of these continuing education classes is to provide students a happy environment in which to expand their horizons. “Enjoy the goodness of life” and “Lifelong learning“ are the main themes. It is a great place for lifelong learning, as well as an important way to invite more people to join Tzu Chi as volunteers.
The Texas Tzu Chi’s Tai Chi classes are taught by Mr. Yung-Shih Wang. Students learn to focus by practicing the 24-posture simplified Tai Chi form, and learn self-cultivation through his teachings. Students also become more connected with their entire body by the technique of controlling their breathing. Tai Chi is a slow and endless way to control the way you breathe. Master Cheng Yen has mentioned that, after every morning’s prayer session, she usually meditates for several minutes in order to regulate her breath. The purpose of offering Tai Chi classes to the local community is to help people cultivate their mind and maintain their breath through exercising.
In addition to the lively performances, activities were held to promote vegetarianism, which is a major focus for Tzu Chi. From elderly volunteers in their eighties and nineties, to two-year-olds and even young babies, everyone was encouraged to “join the team” and become a vegetarian. A multitude of reasons were provided for doing so: personal health, saving energy, carbon reduction, protecting the environment, and protecting animals.
In recent years, Tzu Chi volunteers have combined the concepts of The Four Immeasurables (loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity) with vegetarianism. Participants understood it further by watching the movie “Pig Heaven.” The goal is to cultivate people’s compassion by becoming vegetarian, as well as to convert the thinking of good thoughts into doing good deeds. By promoting vegetarianism and the “80/20 lifestyle,” we hope to protect the Earth's limited resources when it is needed most.
Sister Su-Yen Chen’s family has been a long-time vegetarian family. Two of her four young granddaughters started on vegetarian diets while still inside their mothers’ wombs. Many kinds of colorful fruits and vegetables replace meat at their dining table. Pediatricians have recommended getting necessary nutrients from meat, but these vegetarian kids are not only healthy but also showing great growth in their learning abilities - all of them are both kind and smart. Their innate compassion, present since birth, often surprises adults around them. They never try to kill mosquitos that bite them, and have adopted many abandoned, wild kittens at home.
Following the Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month, U.S. Tzu Chi’s Southern Regional Office, Texas Branch promoted the once/twice/three times a day vegetarian meal campaign. They also promoted the campaign at the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration. Local community people and Tzu Chi volunteers enjoyed participating in the many popular games together. ”Have a vegetarian meal once a day” is a goal that it is relatively easy to reach. We hope that good seeds will be sown in their hearts, and people will be inspired to accept the belief that “Being a vegetarian preserves lives and gradually saves the Earth.”