Friends from Afar

About Author

Dharma Master Cheng Yen was born in 1937 in a small town in Taichung County, Taiwan. When she was twenty-three years old, she left home to become a Buddhist nun, and was instructed by her mentor, Venerable Master Yin Shun, to work “for Buddha’s teachings, for sentient beings.” In 1966, she founded a charity, which later turned into the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, to “help the poor and educate the rich”—to give material aid to the needy and inspire love and humanity in both givers and recipients.

In recent years, Master Cheng Yen’s contributions have been increasingly recognized by the global community. In 2011, she was recognized with the Roosevelt Institute’s FDR Distinguished Public Service Award and was named to the 2011 TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people. In 2014, she was presented with Rotary International’s Award of Honor in recognition of her humanitarian efforts and contributions to world peace. [2016.04.11上架]


Master Cheng Yen does not differentiate visitors by their social status or occupations. To Master, every person who visits, whether coming from near or far, is an honored guest and a friend who cares about Tzu Chi. These people come from many different fields of professions, including mass communication, religion, medicine, environmental protection, academia, politics, business, and so on. Among these myriad visitors, some are renowned.

The purpose of this book is to pass on the wisdom gathered from these conversations between Master Cheng Yen and her visitors and to help readers understand Tzu Chi’s mission. This book also strives to convey Master’s broad views, which has remained unaffected despite changing times: Always uphold the principles “for the Buddha’s teachings, for sentient beings,” and “respect life.” 

Even though she is asked a multitude of questions, Master’s ultimate focus is always on training the mind. As Master says, “It is better to lead a simple life. The simpler, the better. If a person’s mind is directed toward virtue, he will be able to make a difference for himself and build a happy family. When families are healthy, society will be harmonious.”

To “seize the moment and maintain the resolve forever” by wisely utilizing life’s every instant, and to comfort sentient beings in every dark corner of the word with pure wisdom and love—these are Master’s resolutions, faithful path of practice, and unwavering vows of compassion.