The Origin of “Jing Si”
Prior to being ordained as a nun, Master Cheng Yen gave herself the Dharma name, “静思” (Jing Si), which means “silent contemplation”. She kept the name as a reminder for herself to constantly reflect on life’s direction. It subsequently nurtured the philosophy of Tzu Chi and set the tone for the establishment of the organisation’s first publishing house, “Still Thoughts Cultural Mission”. The character, “静” (Jing), is made up of two characters, “青” (green) and “争” (fight), which, according to the Master, convey the message, “strive to be like the stately green mountains, never fighting over anything in life”. And the character, “思” (Si), which consists of two characters, “田” (field) and “心” (heart), can be taken to mean “mindfully cultivating the field of our heart”. The Master hopes that everyone will keep a simple, pure, and sincere heart that bears Right Faith, and diligently till the soil of their own hearts as well as cultivate fields of blessings in society.
In 1966, Master Cheng Yen and 30 local housewives (her lay disciples) began their humble work of helping the poor. To raise funds for their charity work, the Master asked them to save NT$0.50 each day in a bamboo coin bank. However, at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien, Taiwan, the Master and her monastic disciples make an effort to maintain self-sufficiency, without drawing a cent from Tzu Chi’s charity funds. They have always abided by the strict rule of “No Work, No Meal”, sustaining their livelihood by making various handicrafts, farm work, etc. Later, Tzu Chi’s own publishing house, “Still Thoughts Cultural Mission” (later renamed as “Jing Si Publications”), was established, publishing various books and audio-visual products, with the aim of passing on the Jing Si Dharma Lineage and bringing love, purity, and joy to hearts and minds. The income generated by the sale of Jing Si’s products supports the living expenses within the Abode.
The Goal of Jing Si
The goal of Jing Si’s publications is to inspire people towards goodness, and they cover various topics, such as Dharma, spiritual development, education, medicine, social care, and other subject matters that promote holistic living. In addition, books on spiritual development from other publishers are carefully curated and displayed within the Jing Si bookstores for sale.
The most popular publications are the books of Jing Si Aphorisms, which are wise and inspiring sayings excerpted from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings. Nuggets of life’s wisdom are encapsulated in the sayings, which are written in easy-to-read language. The book of Jing Si Aphorisms published in 1989 was the first Tzu Chi book circulated in the public. 25 years after the first book of Jing Si Aphorisms was published, the sayings have been translated into 14 languages with more than 4.5 million copies sold worldwide.
Apart from publications, Jing Si also offers a wide range of food and lifestyle products that are developed along the lines of environmental conservation and sustainability. They include hand-made candles and soap, grain/bean powdered drink mix, reusable utensils, etc., which are all safe and healthy for both people and the environment.
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