Lynn Kuan: What I Learned at Tzu Chi

TIMA  |  April 16, 2019

Author: Chifen Lin
Translator: Qingjun Wei
Editor: Anik Ghose

As Vice President of Taiwan’s Tzu Chi University, the topic of Guo Fang Tseng’s presentation at our 2019 TIMA Global Forum delved into the Silent Mentor Project. It was a deeply moving experience, to be sure, as the audience listened respectfully and attentively to the “silent mentors” lecture.

Dr. Tseng believes the project encourages students to interact closely with the donor’s family, allowing anatomical teaching to go from learning body structure to a new level of importance: of both comforting the family members and cultivating medical professionals’ empathy.

Dr. Tom Mone, President of One Legacy, the organ donation association with which Tzu Chi has been working for 19 years, explained their efforts in organ, eye and tissue donation. Among the many Asian immigrants in Southern California, the acceptance of organ donation is not high. “Master Cheng Yen has made very clear and coherent teachings in this respect,” Dr. Mone said. “It’s part of caring for others. Organ donation can save lives and heal life.” He also expressed how grateful he is to Tzu Chi for promoting organ donation.

Lynn Kuan, a TIMA member from Iowa who also has a heart symbol on her driver’s license, is already a registered organ donor. After viewing the video regarding the Silent Mentor Project, tears sprung to her eyes.

If one day I stopped breathing, part of my body may continue living because of the organ donation. That is real love (Da Ai).

Kuan is an acupuncturist who also helps with medical translation. She assisted a patient from Guangdong in the University of Iowa City who needed to have a kidney transplant. In addition to her experience, she is also highly empathetic with patients.

Six years ago, due to an accident, Lynn suffered a severe burn to her upper body. When she was still lying on the bed in the hospital, the first thing she said to her son after waking up was “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine!”

After 32 autologous skin transplants, scars are still visible on her neck and arms.  “There is no ‘undo’ button in real life. All we have to do is to keep going,” Kuan said.

“I recovered very well because I chose to let go, just like what Master Cheng Yen told us: Let go of all the negativity, then everything will be easy. This is the thing I’m most grateful for learning at Tzu Chi.”

Many people who heard about her story felt angry for her. But she’d instead told them, “Only forgiveness can bring you positive energy.”

The pain experienced through a skin transplant is beyond imagination. But because of her ‘letting go,’ Kuan has gone from takings lots of painkillers to none. “Our mind and spirit play important roles. After training myself, little by little I didn’t need Western medicine to help with my recovery.”

Kuan participated in Tzu Chi’s free clinics and is also a volunteer at the University of Iowa. Every other month, she visits patients in the hospital. “I shared my story with them—the first time when I got off the bed to walk, there were four people holding my arms, then 3 people, 2 people, 1 person. In the end, I could walk by myself. I told myself I must take the first step. Later, one patient told me that her life was changed after hearing my story, and she decided to ask the nurse to help her walk.”

Even though the hospital is two hours away, Kuan believes that it’s worth the time as long as she can encourage the patients.

“Master Cheng Yen taught us to let go. It’s not easy to let go. But when we finally do so, it will bring the best into our lives.”