LJM Mobilizes Globally for Pandemic Relief, Bringing Warm Meals to the Homeless in Canada
The lingering COVID-19 has been tormenting the world and the Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society (LJM) answers back with multiple relief missions joined by followers from all over to help those in need. Cases in point include the donation of 100 oxygen generators for hospital ventilators in Nepal, the set-up of a pandemic fund for Myanmar’s remote area. When a shortage of daily commodities hit Canada in September 2020, LJM followers reached out to provide warm meals on Fridays to the homeless seeking shelters at the London Hotel Sanctuary and ChinaTown. In the spirit of compassion for all sentient beings true of Buddhism, more than 300 people were thus helped over the span of a year.
Devout LJM follower Eric Cheng is in the construction business and a migrant to Vancouver for many years. He mobilized friends and relatives to carry out the outreach program of giving out warm meals to the needy. From early on he identified with the Buddhist spirit of compassion and became a Buddhist soon after he met Dharma Master Hsin Tao and quickly began voluntary work at the LJM Center in Vancouver. All the while he aligned resources to implement charitable tasks to manifest altruism in the spirit of compassion best embodied in the practice of Bodhisattva Guanyin venerated by LJM. Master Hsin Tao once shared with him the importance of practicing compassion all the time and Cheng not only wrote it down behind his ears but put it to work. Whenever he reaches out to support the underprivileged he treats everyone with equality out of compassion and people sense that in appreciation.
For a period of a little over a year, three volunteers began their Fridays at 5 or 6 o’clock by cooking up for some 70 people. Heavy workload did not weigh down on their care for those in need and they tried different recipes every week. They also paid attention to people who requested for non-spicy food and they didn’t mind the extra work because their duty was to make sure that people enjoyed what’s offered in genuine care.
Those disguised with indifference actually need more care
Besides providing warm meals to those in shelters, Cheng also reached out to the homeless in Vancouver’s ChinaTown. Some were psychologically unstable, ill, and even substance abuse, opting out to stay away from the mainstream of society. When it was time to give away the box meals, Cheng would cruise the streets in ChinaTown to see if those in need would take what was being offered to them. From his personal experiences doing just that, Cheng noticed the absence of greed as the needy people hardly ever took more than his/her share.
Cheng sometimes encountered indifference from the homeless as the latter suffered traumas from earlier, but he remains undeterred from his commitment. To the contrary, says Cheng, those homeless people are the ones who need more help. Indifference turns people away, and news on the homeless is associated with negativity most of the time. A vicious circle thus makes it even more demanding for the homeless to get the help they really need amidst the self-inflicted isolation that actually is nobody’s fault or intention. Cheng believed that positive interactions with the homeless are still possible, as long as one retains respect and care, keeping in mind the issues of safety and privacy while doing the good deeds.
Cheng has been a volunteer dedicated to charitable causes for over a decade. Besides the warm meals for the homeless, he also assembled material aid for delivery to remote mountain areas of Vancouver in 2019. The donations were all made under the name of the LJM, as Cheng drew from the motivation he received from Dharma Master Hsin Tao to practice compassion, which has become an integral part of his daily life. ‘As long as it is within my reach, I will gladly do whatever is doable to help,’ says Cheng, who believes that helping others may bring one happiness, while doing good will make the person more optimistic.