Amazing Grace (電子書)


you never know what will happen next.
I don’t know what challenges I will face in the future,
but I do know that whatever comes
will make me a better and wiser person.

──Grace Yi Ying Chen (Dharma name: Tzu Shun)

Author – Josephine Lee Chen
eISBN:978-626-7205-12-9 ( EPUB )
978-626-7205-11-2 ( PDF )



In memory of Grace Chen – When a touch of your smile rises
Professor Phil Hsieh

When a touch of your smile rises
Among the “blue sky and white clouds”
It blossoms into dimples
Taking the pose
Of sublime lotuses.
Your life’s energies diffuse
Like the fragrance of a flower.
Always cheerful
With an enormous heart,
You talked and sang
To spread the seeds of
Love at every
Corner of the world,
Bright and dark alike.
Your thirty-six
Years of shortened
But brilliant life
Turned into touching
Memories in our minds,
Episode after episode
And time after time.
The impermanence of sufferings
Made marks on your body
And yet you still
Faced it with smiles.
O you the flying Apsara
Please, as you wished, come back soon,

While humming the tunes of Love.


The story of Josephine and Grace, mother and daughter, has inspired many people. Through their example and their strong faith, they have answered many people’s questions about life and comforted people as they face fear of death, transforming their pain and sorrow to achieve great love.

-Stanley Yan, Chair of The Alliance Cultural Foundation 

Grace was not only my patient, she also brightened up my life with her radiance, becoming an unforgettable person in my life. Through its description of Grace’s extraordinary life, I hope this book will help readers rethink the purpose of life and find the true meaning and value of their own lives.

-Dr.Yen Yun, Taipei Cancer Center Convener at Taipei Medical University

After Grace received her Juris Doctor Diploma from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, CA, she immediately passed the bar examination in California and became a lawyer. She decided to work for Ernst & Young Global Limited, one of the largest consultant companies in the world. As a law consultant, she helped other large companies establish and regulate rules and regulations for employee benefits at their companies. In addition, she volunteered at the Tzu Chi Foundation, USA, as a law consultant. Growing up in a kind and humble family, Grace followed principles calling for a life free of conflict and competition and to be loving, giving, and selfless.

-Dr.Rey Sheng Her, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi Foundation; Associate Professor of Tzu Chi University; Associate Scholar of Harvard University, FAS, CAMLab.

About the Author

Josephine Lee Chen

Josephine Lee Chen was born in 1953, and graduated from Taiwan National Chengchi University with a major in economics. She was certified as a Tzu Chi Commissioner in 1989 and given the Dharma name Tzu Rong. She initiated the Friends of Tzu Chi Association, the Tzu Chi Foreign Language Team, and the Jing Si Lifestyle Camp. Currently, she is a senior public relations member for the Unity team in Tzu Chi’s Northern Taiwan Region.


Upholding Hope while Facing the Darkness of Life / Stanley Yen
A Positive and Optimistic Nature / Dr. Yen Yun
Grace’s Blessings / Rey Sheng Her

Dancing Like a Butterfly

Part 1 “Solo” Love in the World
The Green Grass Beside the River
A Student’s Song
The Attraction of Kindness
College Life

Part 2 “Concerto” Give Love
The Rise and Cessation of Affinities
The Ones Most Dear
An Unexpected Meeting
Perseverance and Love
Spreading Great Love

Part 3 “Ensemble” Meet in the Sixth Pair
Tragedy Strikes
Spiritual Provisions
The Bone Marrow Transplant
Cultivate While Resting

Part 4 “Lullaby” Beautiful dreamer
The Relapse Nightmare
The Last Night
The Breadth and Depth of Life
Beautiful Memories
Make a Vow to Return
Amazing Grace

What Are the Turning Points in Your Life? / Grace Chen
Life Is Limited but Love Is Boundless / Johan Alwall, Grace Chen
Praise & Gratitude


Upholding Hope while Facing the Darkness of Life
By Stanley Yen

Everyone who knows Josephine Chen is aware that she began following Dharma Master Cheng Yen at an early age, carrying out Tzu Chi’s Missions. For over thirty years, she has been involved in all kinds of charity activities benefiting society, and has influenced many business entrepreneurs to join her in giving and doing good deeds. Her daughter Grace also joined Tzu Chi when she was in college and became involved in international disaster relief. Even when facing personal difficulties, Grace went to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina, distributing supplies to the survivors and giving them love and warmth.

But life is impossible to predict, and at age thirty-five, Grace died of cancer.

Given Josephine’s significant contributions to Tzu Chi’s missions, why on earth did she have to suffer the pain of losing her beloved daughter? Grace was such a kind and exceptional person, and we cannot help but feel it is unfair for her to have faced the pain of illness and an early death. Why must a good person suffer for so many years? All of these questions lead us to contemplate more deeply. The fact is that, in life, no one can avoid impermanence, nor will we be exempt from suffering because we do good deeds. Moreover, we cannot avoid hardships more than others. In fact, we may encounter even more challenges than others do.

When we are sick, we often ask ourselves, “Why me?” By the same token, we can also change our mindset and ask ourselves, “Why not me?” Most importantly, what method do we use to contemplate these things?

Grace never complained when she was sick. Instead, she wrote this in her diary: “From now on, every day I will make good use of my life to help others.” Even in her illness, she realized that, “If not for cancer, I would not be working at this wonderful organization full- time and devoting my life to a very good cause… Whatever comes will make me a better and wiser person.”

I have often thought that, in life, we must do our best to contribute to society. Even if there is no God watching over us and no promise of a future life, if it is the right thing to do. We should just do it, without worrying about gain or loss. Apart from this, religion is a motivating force and a strong reason for us to give of ourselves selflessly to help others. Many people have been inspired by Josephine to join Tzu Chi, in this way adding their positive energy to bring about the betterment of society.

Although Josephine had spiritual support from her faith, as a mother, she was deeply saddened by seeing her daughter’s suffering. After Grace’s passing, Dharma Master Cheng Yen came to the front of the room where everyone was chanting for Grace, turned around and said to Josephine: “She has already been reborn!” This brought a great sense of relief to Josephine. She now deeply believes that her beloved daughter is free of worries and suffering, and that she has followed Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s encouragement to “Leave quickly, and come back quickly,” that she has already returned to this beautiful world.

I believe that religion can help people understand life, and help them face death without fear. Additionally, it can transform sorrow into great love. While she was alive, Grace decided that she would donate her body for medical research. During the autopsy, Josephine was chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha outside the dissection room in support of Grace’s decision. She said that she hoped her chanting would help make Grace even more at ease and resolute in her decision.

Josephine and Grace, mother and daughter, have influenced many people, including Grace’s Swedish husband. After mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he has devoted himself to doing Tzu Chi’s work.

In life, it is inevitable for us to face birth, aging, illness and death. If we live a life without hope, we will suffer immeasurably. I think the common denominator of all religions is to give us hope to embrace life in the world, and to give us the strength to live on.

After Grace’s passing, Josephine liked to wear a pair of socks she had bought for Grace. Before putting on the socks, Josephine would think, “It will give my daughter an opportunity to keep my feet warm, so she can still be a filial daughter and accumulate good karma.” This was also a way for her to remind herself to maintain positive thoughts and replace her sadness with thoughts of giving her blessings to her daughter.

This book is written in memory of a brave and compassionate person who passed away at a very young age. However, we should not be sad—based on her faith, she has already started a new, beautiful, and magnificent journey in her new life.

(Stanley Yen is president of The Alliance Cultural Foundation and chairman of Junyi Private High School in Taitung County)

A Positive and Optimistic Nature
By Dr. Yen Yun

Grace was the last bone marrow transplant patient of my medical practice in the USA, and she left a very deep impression on me.

In early 2011, I accepted the position of principal at Taipei Medical University. When I was about to move back to Taiwan, Josephine Chen’s daughter Grace suddenly developed purpura (a reddish-purple rash) all over her body, a high fever, and bleeding gums. To a doctor in hematology and oncology, there was no doubt that these were typical symptoms of leukemia.

Immediately, Grace took the necessary tests. It was confirmed that she had leukemia, and she began chemotherapy straight away. Due to the type of leukemia, she also needed a bone marrow transplant, and the search for a donor match was started right away.

In 1993, Dharma Master Cheng Yen initiated and established the Tzu Chi Stem Cells Center, which has benefited countless people throughout the world. Not only did Grace and her parents actively participate in Tzu Chi activities, they also enthusiastically solicited people to donate bone marrow. Through their involvement, the whole family gained a good understanding of the bone marrow transplant process. Instead of being a bone marrow donor, Grace was to be a recipient. Although this was a heavy blow to her, she nonetheless turned it into a positive motivation.

Just two years before her leukemia diagnosis, Grace had recovered from parotid cancer. Even after suffering one illness after another, she upheld a completely positive attitude in facing life and death, and in doing so, achieved several miracles.

After Grace graduated from the University of California in San Diego, she went on to study law and became a lawyer. But she was not happy to just be a lawyer, she also dedicated herself to Tzu Chi, a non-profit charity organization, and worked as an unpaid employee, assisting Tzu Chi in handling any legal matters. She also established a Tzu Chi e-newsletter, serving as editor-in-chief, and devoted herself to translation. She furthermore organized a young professionals’ choir group. In a nutshell, Grace was dynamic, versatile, and full of energy.

Who could have expected that several years later Grace would become a leukemia patient in need of a bone marrow transplant? Yet, even under such conditions, Grace was openminded and optimistic. As her doctor, I believe that this was her nature.

Grace responded quite well to chemotherapy. We began the bone marrow match process by using stem cells from Tzu Chi’s Stem Cells Center. At the same time, we conducted the match process within her family. We were surprised to find that both her younger brothers were suitable donors.

After this discovery, we had an open and candid discussion with the brothers.

Without no hesitation, both agreed to donate their bone marrow. But she only needed one donor; who would be the right one?

One brother was a smoker and one wasn’t, so the decision seemed to have been made by God. We felt that a healthier donor was the better choice, and the matter of smoking was the key to our decision.

Besides this, both potential donors were male, well-suited to donate to a female. We prefer that the donor’s gender be different from that of the recipient.

It is quite unusual to find a match in a family of three children, let alone for two members in Grace’s family to have bone marrow that was a complete match to hers. When she was in urgent need of bone marrow, I think that heaven kindly blessed her.

While the medical team was treating Grace, they quickly noticed Grace’s perseverance and courage in fighting this illness.

In general, leukemia patients suffer greatly when undergoing chemotherapy and generally cannot bear it, especially if they have multiple infections and side effects during treatment. Yet Grace always demonstrated her incredible strength and perseverance in fighting the cancer.

Most importantly, her parents and brothers all upheld the same positive attitude and determination. This is a truly rare and remarkable family.

When Grace’s treatment encountered a new challenge that her doctors had great difficulty treating, she decided to go back to Taiwan.

We made appropriate arrangements for her safe return and for the bone marrow transplant to take place in Taiwan. As a result, Grace’s transplant was very smooth. At that time, I also moved from the US to Taiwan.

Unfortunately, after successfully completing her bone marrow transplant, Grace relapsed one year later and her leukemia could not be treated.

We treated her with the latest medical technology and the newest medicine, but failed to prevent repeated infections. Although we did our best in hopes of saving her life, the medical team had no choice in the end but to let her go.

It is worth mentioning that prior to contracting leukemia, Grace fully dedicated herself to Tzu Chi. She and her Swedish boyfriend, Johan, attended Tzu Chi activities together, and later Johan proposed. They were married in a simple ceremony.

When Grace was in the intensive care unit, we all sincerely hoped she would get well one day, even though we knew her chances of survival were slim. Johan seized every moment to be with Grace. When Grace was approaching her death, the medical team all mentally prepared for it. Her entire family also faced it with peace of mind. This truly is an extraordinary family!

There is an old saying, “If we do not understand the purpose of life, how can we understand death?” Life and death are a pair, closely related to each other. Only people who are unafraid of death will cherish their lives, since they know that it is rare to be born a human, and life only lasts a few decades. They cultivate themselves, do good deeds, and do meaningful things to benefit the world and help sentient beings in need.

Grace was different from most people; she gave up her high-paying job and joined the ranks of Tzu Chi Foundation with the mission to help people in need. She calmly faced illness, medical treatments, and death. Her positive attitude toward life and her family’s unconditional love and giving are good examples for us to cherish our lives and live with purpose. Unfortunately, this is lacking in most people.

Grace was not only my patient, but was also a brilliant person whom I will never forget. I sincerely hope that this book about Grace’s extraordinary life will inspire readers to reflect and seek out the true meaning and value of life.

 (Dr. Yen Yun is convener at Taipei Cancer Center and visiting professor at Taipei Medical University. He is also president of the Taiwan Oncology Society, City of Hope National Medical Center Honor Faculty, an academician of the American National Academy of Inventors, and an academician of the Russia Academy of Engineering.)

Grace’s Blessings
By Rey Sheng Her

The first time I saw Grace was when her mother, Sister Josephine, showed me her photo and proudly talked about her.

At the time Grace was a middle school student at the Taipei American School. From the photo, I could tell that she was a simple and pretty girl. The second time I saw Grace, she was already an elegant young lady studying at the University of California, San Diego.

In my mind, Grace was always a well-educated, unpretentious, calm, and graceful girl.

Yet, behind her calm appearance, she possessed a very strong personality. She was just like her mother, carrying out tasks with passion, enthusiasm, and vigor. Her quiet and steady personality was inherited from her father, Brother Kuan-Po. Her combination of energy and calm earned her much admiration and respect from those who worked with her.

However, most people who knew Grace would only remember her as gentle and quiet. They did not know the passionate undercurrent of her inner self. With her gentle manner, she never had conflicts with anyone. This is why the divorce of her first marriage came as a shock to all of her friends.

I met that young man several times and could see that he was an entrepreneur with a strong ambition.

Grace was loving, friendly, yet opinionated, the total opposite of himself. It was possible that they were attracted to each other because of their differences, but their opposite personalities also presented a huge challenge in their relationship.

Could that have been why these two precious souls gradually grew apart?

Grace, who already had everything necessary in the material world, only wanted to offer herself to help others.

Grace’s attitude in life was always to be free of conflict and competition. After attaining her Doctor of Law degree from Loyola Law School in California, she passed the bar examination right away. But she did not want to become a lawyer who defended interest groups; instead, she chose to work in the law department for one of the biggest consultant firms in the world, Ernst & Young, focusing on employee welfare regulations. At the same time, she volunteered as a legal advisor for Tzu Chi USA Headquarters.

Grace was born into a wealthy family, yet her gentle and humble upbringing cultivated her qualities of selflessness and devotion.

A failed marriage cast its shadow over Grace, but she bravely chose to continue offering her love and help.

We cannot catch the gentle moonlight with our hands; we can only turn toward the moon and feel her glory. That the moonlight does not stay in our hands is not a flaw; the moonlight is meant to stay as it is, in its original beauty.

Later, Grace met Johan, who is also quiet, honest, and steady, yet assertive. He is a physicist from Sweden, born into a physician’s family. He was looking for the beauty in the sky, he finally found the gentlest moonlight.

Johan and Grace have similar characteristics: simple and loving, and they both wanted to serve living beings.

They shared a period of enviable happiness and a sweet life. For Grace, this was coming home. Home was not to return to a particular person, but to return to the arms of “simplicity and giving love to others.”

“Simplicity” and “giving love to others” are main themes of life that cannot be changed or taken away by anyone.

After Grace got sick, her parents did everything in their power to save her. Grace also calmly cooperated with the medical treatments until they had exhausted all medical alternatives. Then, in her quiet manner, she exited this world.

Grace’s passing created a very deep ripple among people who were close to her and throughout the world of Tzu Chi. It was like a shock wave from deep in the ocean, inconspicuous, yet having a far-reaching impact.

It is inevitable that people will ask why such a kind, graceful, and wise woman had to leave this world so soon. Why did she have to experience divorce and a final farewell that came too early?

We never know how life starts, nor do we know how it will end.

Just as Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Tzu Chi, has said, “We cannot control the length of our life, but we can strive to extend its depth and scope.”

Indeed, who can be spared from death? We always feel that longevity is a blessing, but this is actually a kind of misguided attachment. The true meaning of life lies in what we accomplish. What do we leave behind? What is our legacy? If we live the most boring life just to achieve longevity, we are unable to fulfill the true meaning of life.

Wang Bi, a famous philosopher in ancient China, annotated the book Laozi. His annotation still affects the development of Taoism today. Wang Bi infused Confucianism into Taoism, initiating the merging of these two philosophies in Chinese culture. However, Wang Bi passed away when he was only twenty-three years old.

The true meaning of life is not defined by its length, but rather, by its value.

This value can be the dedication to humanity by great leaders, philosophers, artists, and scientists, etc. Yet, there some lives intrinsically embody the right values and beliefs. Whether their contributions are great or small, and whether they are well-known to the public or only among their friends and relatives, doesn’t matter.

Embodying the right values is the real accomplishment in life.

Grace, in her thirty-five years of life, always embodied a sense of passionate simplicity and the giving of love to others.

People love life and fear death, but most do not understand the true meaning of death. When we find its meaning, death may be weightier than Mount Tai. When we cannot find death’s meaning, its meaning is lighter than a feather.

When I was about fifty years old, I was involved in two major car accidents, but I came out with hardly a scratch. At the time, my fear of death guided me to search for the true meaning of life. As a Buddhist, I felt rather ashamed that I did not fully believe in the idea of reincarnation.

After reading Krishnamurti’s views on death and pondering the subject myself for a long time, I gradually opened my mind and no longer fear death.

When I was fifty-four, I finished my doctoral dissertation, Through Altruism to Ultimate Enlightenment—Dharma Master’s Thoughts of Altruism and Practice. In the thesis, I quoted some words from the Essence of Practicing the Bodhi Mind by Venerable Yin Shun, “Bodhisattvas’ transformation of sentient beings always happens within life and death—it is always within life and death that Bodhisattvas transform sentient beings.” These words have brought me great realizations, and have given me insights into life.

When I read these words, I felt infinite joy. Suddenly, I realized that my life should be devoted to the world, just as Dharma Master Cheng Yen constantly encourages Tzu Chi volunteers to return to this world journeying on their vows, continually benefitting and transforming others.

At that moment, I let go of my fear of death. That realization was not a rational one, but rather, an emotional one. I understand now that life is not about the existence of that moment, but rather it is a desire to continue to contribute to a long-flowing current that we call “history.” When we have the mindset of helping sentient beings life after life, reincarnation is not forced upon us, but instead, we return to this world journeying on our own vows. Because of this vow, in my heart, I am completely liberated from my fear of death.

Confucius said, “Having learned the truth in the morning, we may die in the evening without regret.” Dharma Master Cheng Yen also said, “One may die in search of Dharma.” In order to seek and practice the Dharma, as well as use this Dharma to transform and benefit others, we return to this world lifetime after lifetime.

Zhuangzi said, “The Morning Mushroom knows nothing of dawn and twilight. The Summer Cicada knows nothing of spring and fall.” From the perspective of the lifespan of the universe, human life is as short as that of the Morning Mushroom. Our existence is insignificant, yet this temporary existence encompasses eternal value and meaning.

This value and meaning refer to the selfless love of transforming ourselves “from the small self to the greater self.” Grace’s story is an embodiment of this greater love.

Why are we so sad to see her leave? It is because, despite growing up in such a well-off family, she understood the importance of giving of herself selflessly, and even more so, knew to view all things with great love.

So, what most people think of as misfortune is actually an opportunity. If we see Grace through the lens of great love, we will realize just how interesting and rich her life was!

Different people will have different feelings regarding Grace’s passing, depending on what lens they use to look at what happened. But no matter what kind of feelings they have, she will always be deeply missed. That is the kind of impact Grace had on people.

To her parents, Brother Kuan-Po and Sister Josephine, and her younger brothers, Willy and Waylon, Grace’s life was full of love. In fact, she was the center of their family.

Grace was also the center of her circle of friends, because she represented “pure, selfless, and altruistic great love.” Let us have this kind of sentiment as we remember and bless Grace.

I believe Grace is already living her new life, and that she will maintain this selflessness, compassion, and great love in her heart. She will continue Tzu Chi’s missions and devote herself to benefiting the sentient beings who are suffering in the world.

Our love and yearning for Grace will continue, but we need to let go of our thoughts of holding onto the moonlight. Naturally, we can never grasp the moonlight; her journey of love is moving to another place, where she will continue to bring light to those who are living in the dark.

 (Dr. Rey Sheng Her, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi Foundation; associate professor of Tzu Chi University; associate scholar of Harvard University, FAS, CAMLab.)



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