If a corporation or individual spent NT$1.3 billion (US$41.2 million) on a vast area of land, but could not develop it, the owner would probably have to wait for an opportunity to gain a return on its investment — for example, when the population in the surrounding area increases or the land is turned into a public project — in the meantime leaving the land idle and letting it undergo ecological succession.
The Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation is a humanitarian foundation that has spent NT$1.3 billion on taking possession of a vast green plot of land in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖).
Why not just accept karma for what it is and restore the destroyed habitat?
The land could be used to build ecological ponds and plant trees to create a forest, which could serve as a place to facilitate education about nature and the environment, and as a place for meditation to nurture the body, mind and spirit.
Even though this 16 hectare plot is smaller than Taipei’s Daan Forest Park — which occupies 26 hectares — the land that Tzu Chi purchased is inside a conservation zone, which means that this land holds more advantages than Daan Forest Park.
If Tzu Chi can put together a team of visionary volunteers, academics and experts, they would no doubt be able to build an ecological education park of exquisite beauty that could be used to enrich the body, mind and spirit.
It could be called the Tzu Chi Bodhi Ecological Park.
When the Suao-Hualien Highway Improvement Project was under development, Tzu Chi’s Dharma Master Cheng Yen (證嚴法師) urged the government not to overdevelop the land, saying: “Wherever humans go, destruction follows. Non-stop drilling and digging destroys the environment. Taiwan is not a big place; we should protect it.”
It is true that parts of the Neihu conservation zone have been destroyed, but, through ecological engineering, the site could be rebuilt into a place that is both beautiful and natural.
Ponder this possibility: The site could be turned into an ecological education park for the body, mind and spirit, with volunteers taking visitors to the park’s ponds, ditches and paths.
There, they could be taught about the park and learn to appreciate and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the flowers, fish, insects and birds around them.
Visitors could sit on the lush grass and meditate or share in the wisdom of Master Cheng Yen and the Buddha, while listening to the humming of insects, the singing of the birds and the whispering of the wind.
Would such a place for the enjoyment of the body, mind and spirit not be the Buddhist epitome of a peaceful world?
Would it not be the feast for the mind and spirit that the Tzu Chi people have been seeking?
As Buddhists say: “Compassion has no enemies; wisdom breeds no vexation.”
Many Neihu residents and environmental protection groups are protesting against Tzu Chi’s Neihu development project.
If Master Cheng Yen and the Tzu Chi organization would let go of their karma and restore the conservation zone, building instead a Bodhi ecological park for the body, mind and spirit, they would earn more respect and praise from the public.
Perhaps with Tzu Chi taking the lead in ecological restoration, a new trend would begin.
Would this not be a good deed on a grand scale for Taiwanese ecology?
Yang Ping-shih is a professor at, and former president of, National Taiwan University’s College of Bio-Resources and Agriculture.
Translated by Ethan Zhan
Chinese strongman Xi Jinping (習近平) hasn’t had a very good spring, either economically or politically. Not that long ago, he seemed to be riding high. The PRC economy had been on a long winning streak of more than six percent annual growth, catapulting the world’s most populous nation into the second-largest power, behind only the United States. Hundreds of millions had been brought out of poverty. Beijing’s military too had emerged as the most powerful in Asia, lagging only behind the US, the long-time leader on the global stage. One can attribute much of the recent downturn to the international economic
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement