The world of Tzu Chi Augusts 2021 (Vol.136)

01 TZU CHI 136 By Dharma Master Cheng Yen Translated by Lee You Ning aster’s Teaching Widespread suffering in the world is brought about by collective ignorance. In the face of disasters, we must quickly awaken. Vegetarianism for a Peaceful World T he world is characterized by suffering and impermanence. Frequent natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, wildfires and typhoons, as well as the prevalent Covid-19 pandemic, are severely impacting countless countries worldwide. Taiwan is also not spared in this global health emergency, which serves as a wake-up call for us all to change our lifestyle and to practise self-restraint—stop large gatherings, refrain from visiting non-essential places, reduce our desires, and discern our wants from our needs. We must also learn to care not only for ourselves, but also for others. Only when everyone is safe and healthy can we be free from the threat of the disease and regain our freedom to live life normally again. The situation is critical in India. Since early May, there have been more than 350,000 new Covid-19 cases daily, averaging four persons tested positive each second. In the capital city of New Delhi, one person succumbs every five minutes. With hospitals overflowing with Covid-19 patients, coupled with shortage of medical personnel, medications and beds, long queues outside hospitals have become a daily scene. Oxygen supplies are also dwindling rapidly. It is a situation where even the rich cannot access medical oxygen even though they can afford it. The poor can only wait in despair in the shadow of death. It is an indescribable anguish for family members to watch their loved ones struggling to catch their breath and succumb to the disease helplessly. The Buddha once asked his disciples if anyone knew how long one’s life is. Someone said “less than a day” while another said “between meals”. The Buddha shook his head and said that they still did not understand the meaning of life. Finally, one of the disciples responded, “Life exists in between breaths.” The Buddha then nodded and said that everything in the world is impermanent, and life lasts for the duration of one breath. Even shorter than the duration of one breath is a split second. Life ends at the split second, before one can inhale after exhaling. This is the case in India. The people do not know whether or not their breathing will cease the next moment. Even if they are able to keep safe at this present moment, they cannot be sure that they can live through the day. They are engulfed in the fear of the unknown, which takes a huge physical and emotional toll.