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Jing Si Candle Factory

Bitterness never revealed
Respectable Tzu Chi volunteers, you are the tearless candles!

Never dripping wax tears
Burning yourself to illuminate others
With supreme dedication to give
You are Tzu Chi’s pillars of strength!

Tiny candlelight lighting present and past
Giving hope and help to others in need
With supreme dedication to give
Giving Tzu Chi the greatest encouragement of all!

Tzu Chi volunteers have named Jing Si Candles the “Tearless Candles.”

The idea of Jing Si Candles originated when Dharma Master Cheng Yen saw candle wax dripping off a lit candle. It was not only untidy to look at, but also a waste of wax. Dharma Master Cheng Yen, an advocate of conserving natural resources by maximizing life and usage of materials, hoped to see a candle that could burn without wasting a single drop of wax. In 1981, Dharma Master Cheng Yen used disposed yogurt containers as molds, incense as wicks, and recycled circular iron plates to hold up the wicks. When the candle solidified and cooled, Jing Si Abode nuns would then peel off the yogurt container and package the candle in cellophane. That became the Jing Si Candle, the tearless candle. In the early days, Jing Si Abode often used the candle as a welcome gift for visitors. Then, in 1982, Jing Si Candle went into mass production to serve as a source of income for the Abode.

Dharma Master Cheng Yen encourages Tzu Chi volunteers to learn the spirit of the Jing Si Candle, the candle of no tears, and courageously face life. Like the candle, only when hearts are ignited can everyone put their talents into action.

After breakfast each day, the entrance of the Jing Si Candle Factory often fills with volunteers wishing to help out or curious onlookers waiting to see the production of the candles. With wonder and excitement, the onlookers are like little kids waiting for their mother to open up a candy jar.

Onlookers watch the nuns take out a long rectangular block of white wax from a box, lift a big hammer, and strike the center of the hard wax. Amazingly, the wax splits into four smaller pieces, which are stacked alongside the rest of the pieces that have been through the same process.

On the side, hot oil boils, waiting to melt the hard wax. “Hammering the wax into smaller pieces requires someone with good muscle strength,” a nun explains as she adds coloring ingredients to the melted wax pot. She slowly stirs the pot of dissolved wax until the mixture is well-blended.

With a quick, smooth motion, she scoops up the hot wax and pours it onto the mold plate until all the holes are filled with the hot wax. After the candles are partially cooled but not yet solidified, she lifts the candle mold plate and flips it over to remove all the candles. She makes sure that all crumbs are removed and collected to be melted again, so as not to waste any part of the candle. The unfinished candles are then processed to add wicks.

As the wicks are added, nuns and volunteers hold up unfinished candles and carefully insert the incense-wicks from the bottom through the top. First-timers, whether harboring self-doubt or overconfidence, are often not mindful, and find their fingers burnt by the unsolidified candle or end up with a crooked candlewick. Only with focused concentration can one successfully produce the candle without tears.

The transformation of a white hard wax block into Jing Si Candles of various colors resembles how a person can cultivate himself by shaping accumulated habits to reach enlightenment.

Blessed to learn from an enlightened Dharma master and good mentors, one can understand the significance of life.

Dharma is very much practiced in life. The broken white wax blocks resemble how one can break through ego and stubbornness. The melted wax reflects the softening of a person’s hardened heart. Patiently waiting for the candle to be completed is like waiting for the right moment after personal cultivation to utilize one’s skills and wisdom to enlighten others.

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