Tzu Chi’s Recycling Program – more than just recycling.


Many may wonder what is so unusual in a simple act of recycling. It is just a mere act of collecting waste from the environment, sorting it and then exchanging it for money. Tzu Chi’s own catch-phrase –  ‘turning waste into gold’ – seems to confirm this view.

On the surface, Tzu Chi Recycling program, at best, appears just to be an effort to create a pollution-free environment. Though many benefits can be identified they all seem to be of the mundane nature –  like helping to create a clean environment, educating the general public in caring for the earth, saving government spending on cleaning up the waste, helping prevent floods through the clearance tons and tons of debris.

Though these are all ordinary benefits they are still very beneficial and by themselves should be appreciated by all.

But I believe Tzu Chi’s Master has more than such shallow reasons in picking such an activity for her organization. Looking deeper into her choice, it is now discernible that by embarking on this move, she has created a master stroke. She has opened a golden opportunity for personal change for all of us. She has laid in front of each of us a blank canvas on which she provides everything that is necessary for us to draw our own ultimate masterpieces.

By just setting the stage and being able to make some of us to agree to bend down to pick up waste wherever it is found, she has achieved something concrete and substantial. This is no mean feat. This simple act of bending down and picking up the waste gives catalyst to us for self-transformation.

The common act  bending down and the equally-common act of picking up the waste is nothing out of the ordinary by itself. But the hidden significance should not be lost or gone unnoticed, as it is too precious to be wasted.

This simple and ordinary act is a very clear indication of our readiness to humble ourselves. Performing this act we signify we are now  prepared to fore-go the position, power and status that we have clinged on thus far in life.. A monumental departure for most of us from our usual prideful selves.

Participating in the recycling work may appear that we are cleansing the environment of waste, but the act is allowing us opportunities to cleanse the dirt within us.

Through our doing the work, we are indicating to ourselves that we are drawing focus away from our strong egos  to focus on helping the environment, the world and others. This is a significant declaration and the start of change in ourselves.

When we are prepared to bend down and pick up waste – – we are showing we are learning to decrease the sense of pride, envy and jealousy that we have been harboring within us, and that we no longer would place undue emphasis on such negative afflictions.

The willingness to walk this path shows we are no longer want to be the grasping and clinging individuals, that we are ready to let go of the unnecessary baggage that has been holding us down.

Through the simple act of bending down and picking up, we are declaring that we are no more the stupid and quarrelsome persons that we once were, that we now choose peaceful co-existence with our fellow-beings and are desirous of wisdom.

We are full of greed and covetousness, by bending down and picking up the waste, we are giving up on such negative attributes. A big move for self-transformation.

Our motivations may not have been always virtuous, but, at least now ,  we  are indicating we have only pure motivation, and are no longer wishing to harm others.

Master Cheng Yen has painted the ultimate picture, Master has created the path and Master has provided the necessary coaching and encouragement. She can do no more than this. The choice is in our hands. Recycling Work is more than just preserving the world for our future generation, important though it may be. Master Cheng Yen has more than this in her mind, she wants us to attain our own ultimate.

It is indeed a masterful stroke by a true Master.

Now we understand the simple recycling work is packed with tons and tons of possibilities for men and women to change for the better and to reach their potential.

I thank you for having read this. Do not take too long to visit again.

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