Pure Heart: A Young Boy’s Spiritual Journey

This is a story about a young boy and his mother’s journey between two worlds: one with conflicting life values and one that fosters compassion and alleviates suffering. Despite their differences, the mother-son pair, through abundant love and respect, finally came to embrace a new vision together.

Born and raised in Northern California, Christopher Yang, nicknamed Xiao Niu(Little Calf), is gentle, kind-hearted, and soft-spoken. His mother, Jessica Su, worried that her son’s innocence would not fare well with the individualistic values of society, and she hoped to shape him into a more well-rounded and “street smart” person.

At the age of four, Christopher attended Tzu Chi Academy in San Jose, California, to begin his Mandarin lessons; in class, he became fascinated by Tzu Chi’s charity missions, and he found his place at the Jing Si Abode, the spiritual home of all Tzu Chi volunteers. Twelve-year-old Christopher, inspired by the teachings of Master Cheng Yen, grew determined to carry out Master’s great vow as his own lifelong mission—to work “for Buddha’s teachings, for sentient beings.”




About the Author

Shu-Yi Chiu holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from National Chengchi University and has worked for many years at the United Evening News. She is currently a freelance writer.


  • A Sincere Hope
  • The Pure Wisdom of a Young Child
  • Words from Christopher’s Teacher

Part 1
A Pure Nature

  • Chapter One
    Christopher’s First Encounter with Tzu Chi
  • Chapter Two
    Forming Karmic Connections
  • Chapter Three
    Mindful Living in Hualien
  • Chapter Four
    A Spiritual Home

Part 2
A Destiny in Conflict

  • Chapter Five
    Jessica’s Emotional Struggle
  • Chapter Six
    The Failed Reform Project
  • Chapter Seven
    A Mother’s Blessings
  • Chapter Eight
    A Mother’s Gratitude

Part 3
Finding Peace from Letting Go

  • Chapter Nine
    A Mother’s Devotion
  • Chapter Ten
    The Art of Social Harmony
  • Chapter Eleven
    Humanistic Education is the Ideal Pedagogy 141

Part 4
A Pure and Innocent Heart

  • Chapter Twelve
    Master Cheng Yen and Xiao Niu
  • Chapter Thirteen
    The Youngest Disciple
  • Chapter Fourteen
    A True Understanding
  • Chapter Fifteen
    An Example of Compassion and Discipline