Some call it “the Abode”, some refer to it as “the spiritual home of all Tzu Chi people”, while some simply refer to it as “the headquarters”. Regardless of what people call it, the Abode of Still Thoughts serves one purpose and that is the spiritual root of the world of Tzu Chi.
The Abode started with a single person named Master Cheng Yen. Master Cheng Yen needed to choose a Buddhist name for herself before officially becoming a nun. She then chose “Still Thoughts” as her name. An abode is properly referred to as a place and residence where a Buddhist nurtures his spirituality. Naturally, this was the dwelling home of Master Cheng Yen.
The land was actually originally bought and donated by the mother of Master Cheng Yen back in 1966. Through Master Cheng Yen’s determination, the support of her mother and help from a bank mortgage, construction began on the abode in 1969. Later on, the abode grew in popularity with more and more Buddhists regularly visiting the spiritual home. Because of the increasing demand for space, Master Cheng Yan decided to expand the foundation to accommodate the needs of her fellow Buddhists. More land was then purchased to add more buildings to the original area with the help of another bank loan.
In addition, the current Abode of Still Thoughts is also the origination of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Merit Association. This association is the predecessor of the current Foundation of Tzu Chi, which is most recognizable by the Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital.
The continuous expansion and reconstruction work did the spiritual home good. Today, the abode possesses a simple and elegant design that is very typical of many Buddhist architectures. Add to that the quiet and peaceful environment of the place; it is then not surprising to know that many Buddhism followers continue to see the adobe as an important place.
Today, the Abode of Still Thoughts has a main hall, the Kuan Yin Hall, several classrooms, a nuns’ dormitory, dormitories for men and women, a dining hall, several offices, a fruit garden and a vegetable garden. Most nuns and people living in the abode adapt a Spartan lifestyle which has not changed since Master Cheng Yen started it for herself and her disciples. This includes a 17-hour work day, not more than five hours of sleep, a strict vegetarian diet and absolutely no holidays to celebrate.
The Buddhist spiritual home is found in Kanglo Village in the Township of Hsincheng in Hualien County. It remains the headquarters of an international enterprise that has nearly 10 million members and 150 nuns that seek peace and enlightenment away of the material world. In fact, the abode is so well-known in the Buddhist community that the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation is a renowned and well-respected organization in the world. It then makes The Abode of Still Thoughts an important destination to visit when in Hualien for both followers of Buddhism and those who are curious about the lifestyle found inside the abode.