Tzu Chi International Medical Association….Tzu Chi’s Great Love

I think it was Lisa who said something like “altruism is the core of our practice as acupuncturists.” (My paraphrase.)

Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi – the Buddhist Compassion Relief Foundation expressed this principle similarly. In explaining to her followers in TIMA – the Tzu Chi International Medicational Association – she said that it is not technical skill nor vast knowledge which is most important, but a kind heart.

Although I often egoistically view myself as a typical overbooked do-gooder, modern day multi tasker, after I received 3 separate requests to attend the Seattle TIMA's bi-monthly meeting – including a visit to a local homeless tent city to assess needs and coordinate care – I knew I could not refuse.

It was inspiring to dialogue, problem solve, and seek common ground on altruistic relief work side by side with surgeons, internal medicine specialists, pulmonary docs, chiropractors, nurses, dentists, and several other acupuncturists.

As community acupuncturists, we are on the edge of the local grassroots heal the world movement – no doubt. Nonetheless, I think it is easy to become insular. Self-centeredness is not the core of our being, but that pattern swims deep in the depths of our mental ocean, making it a slippery fish to catch.

Tzu Chi – of course – is not the only group out there doing good things. Acupuncturists Without Borders is another one I recommend checking out.

And although many of us might say – I don't have time for volunteer work, I'm too busy growing my community clinic – I say, there is always time for altruism. The intention behind your community clinic, thus nourished, will spread roots far, wide, and deep, and doubtless, you will also gain the confidence and respect (and referrals) of a diverse array of professionals as a side effect.

TIMA has offices in about 30 cities around the U.S. and in another 40 or so cities internationally. Although the founder of Tzu Chi is a Buddhist nun, one need not be Buddhist to join. One need not bow to any statues, recite any mantras, etc. The only requirement is to have a kind heart – which I know all of you have.

river Jordan
Author: river Jordan

After graduating from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 1997, I had a hobby practice for a few years before moving to Northern India to study Buddhism. During this time, I volunteered in a local clinic, giving acupuncture to Tibetan refugees and Indian nationals. <p> Returning to the U.S. in 2002, I started a typical insurance based acupuncture practice catering to the upper middle class. In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered with <a href="" target="_blank">Acupuncturists Without Borders</a>, using community style acupuncture to treat trauma victims in a natural disaster setting. </p> Inspired by the power and efficacy of acupuncture in a post-disaster setting, I began to contemplate issues of socioeconomic class. What could be done to make acupuncture accessible to everyone and still provider a livable wage for an acupuncturist? After attending WCA's first conference in October of 2006, I had found the answer to that question. In January 2007, together with my partner Serena Sundaram, we founded <a href="" target="_blank">Communichi</a>, Seattle's first dedicated community acupuncture clinic. <p> As a Buddhist, I believe that healing begins in the mind. As the positive qualities of wisdom and compassion are cultivated in the mind of a practitioner, this...

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  1. Acupuncture Ambassadors

    I am a member of the Gaia/Zaadz community. I am interested in TIMA and thought I would write to see where our organization’s missions parallels. I tried to register for membership but was unable to do so as the website would not accept my application.

    I am an acupuncturist with a practice in New York City. I have founded an organization
    Acupuncture Ambassadors:

    The Acupuncture Ambassadors organization has a threefold mission:

    Share knowledge of Acupuncture with local medical practitioners, doctors, nurses,
    and medical assistants in developing countries, imparting basic theoretical and
    practical training to treat the most common illnesses faced by these medical practitioners.

    In a war-torn world, there are countless victims suffering from PTSD and depression.
    Acupuncture is an effective modality for healing these devastating health issues.
    Acupuncture Ambassadors will use their skills to be of service to those who suffer
    from PTSD and depression.

    In keeping with a time honored Japanese tradition of Acupuncture schools for the
    blind, Acupuncture Ambassadors will also train people afflicted with blindness in
    the theory and practical knowledge of Acupuncture to increase the vocational options
    of these individuals throughout the world.

    To this end our Acupuncture Ambassadors will spread the knowledge and value of Traditional
    Asian Medicine as a powerful, viable and timeless healthcare modality throughout
    developing nations in the 21st century.”

    I have just completed a teaching mission to Vietnam and Cambodia for the January
    11-February 17th. This was a remarkable inaugral mission where a group of Acupuncturists
    and lay volunteers organized and taught the basics of an acupuncture protocol for
    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to 70 blind students as well as 30 sighted students
    in Vietnam and Cambodia. We also had the opportunity to treat many patients in hospitals
    and in the field in a number of places in Vietnam and Cambodia. I have written an
    initial report on my web page.

    If you have interest please view this web page:

    I welcome any comments, suggestions, guidance or opportunities for working together
    to contribute to health care options worldwide.

    Thank you for your time.

    Anthony M. Giovanniello, MS.AC., L.Ac
    Iyashi Acupuncture

    Acupuncture Ambassadors

  2. Good luck with your

    Good luck with your organization Anthony. I am gladdened to see that there are so many acupuncturists working on a diversity of projects sharing the common goal of offering healing service to humanity. 




    Cynicism is a smokescreen for laziness and fear. Clear light mind awaken! Pierce through all layers of doubt and delusion! Inspire me onwards in ceaseless waves of selfless activity.