By Jason Lee
The Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital (台中慈濟醫院) was built starting in 2007 and opened in 2011. Located in Taichung’s Tanzi District, the hospital site was in large part selected due to the surrounding areas’ lack of medical resources (Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation 2016). Physicians and volunteers at the Taichung hospital have long been involved in various community outreach initiatives. These have entailed conducting community and home visits as well as providing health counseling services to underserved communities in Tanzi District as well as its surrounding Dongshi, Shengang, and Daya districts (Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation 2016). The hospital has particular strengths in oncology, neurology, preventative medicine, bone marrow transplantation, and long-term care nursing and hospice care (Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital 2017).
Following the opening of the Taichung hospital, the Tzu Chi Taichung Jingsi Hall (靜思堂) opened in 2018. Situated in Taichung’s Nantun District, the hall was designed as a multi-purpose space for large-scale events as well as housing facilities for personal spiritual cultivation, elderly care, and social engagement. To increase access to elderly care in Taiwan, the Ministry of Health and Welfare launched the Long-term Care 2.0 (LTC 2.0) initiative in 2016 to increase the number of community-based facilities that catered to the social and healthcare needs of elderly people (Ministry of Health and Welfare 2019). As the first Tzu Chi facility to be certified under the new LTC initiative, Taichung Jingsi Hall has held various events for elderly visitors to socialize as well as recreational classes for elders to acquire new skills. (Tzu Chi Foundation 2018).
2020 Year-end Blessing Ceremony
The Taichung hospital’s 2020 year-end blessing ceremony was also held at Taichung Jingsi Hall. With healthcare professionals as well as patients and their families in attendance, one of its main purposes was to certify 62 health professionals as Tzu Chi commissioners who would serve as renjian pusa (人間菩薩) or living bodhisattvas (Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital 2020). At the beginning of the event, a year-in-review video referred to as Dazang Jing (大藏經) highlighted the various initiatives that Tzu Chi physicians and volunteers have done during the past year around the world as well as within the Taichung Hospital. While the term Dazang Jing is normally used to refer to the Buddhist canon, in the context of Tzu Chi, Dazang Jing is specifically regarded as a “living version” of scripture (Huang 2017, 77). Following the video, a group of physicians and nurses began leading a series of performances that used music and sign language to present Buddhist sutras.
After the sutra performances, Master Cheng Yen gave a speech expressing her most recent insights, such as those on the pandemic, as well as how grateful she was of the Tzu Chi community. Referring to Buddha as Dayi Wang (大醫王) in her speech, Master Cheng Yen has emphasized how the Buddha is also a healer. Also referring to physicians as Dayi Wang, Master Cheng Yen has also underscored how physicians should serve as not just healers of the body but also healers of the spirit (Yao 2012, 90). In a similar fashion, by referring to nurses as Baiyi Dashi (白衣大士), a term synonymous with Guanyin bodhisattva, Master Cheng Yen has also emphasized how nurses should also serve with the compassion that Guanyin represents (Huang 2017, 77).
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- Huang, C. Julia. 2009. Charisma and Compassion: Cheng Yen and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Movement. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Huang, C. Julia. 2017. “Scientific and Sacramental: Engaged Buddhism and the Sacralization of Medical Science in Tzu Chi (Ciji).” Journal of Global Buddhism 18, 72–90.
- Yao, Yu-Shuang. 2012. Taiwan’s Tzu Chi as Engaged Buddhism: Origins, Organization, Appeal and Social impact. Leiden: Global Oriental.
- Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital. “Jingsi Hall Year-end Blessing Ceremony: Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital Vulture Peak Dharma-assembly [靜思堂歲末祝福 臺中慈院靈山法會大因緣],” November 21, 2020. https://taichung.tzuchi.com.tw/news/4/1870.
- Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. “Principles of The Jing Si Dharma Lineage & Tzu Chi School of Buddhism, Practice.” Accessed January 6, 2021. https://tzuchidharma.org/practice.