Cheng Yen

Founder -- Tzu Chi Foundation -- Taiwan

Cheng Yen begins each day at 3:50 a.m., awakening from a floor mat in her monastery outside Taiwan's mountainous coastal city of Hualien. She meditates, does an hour's worth of work, then has a sparse breakfast at 6 a.m. Her daily routine may be that of a simple Buddhist nun, but Master Cheng, as she is known, is one of the most powerful people in Taiwan. She is the founder and leader of the Buddhist charity organization Tzu Chi, or "Mercy, Relief," which boasts 4 million members--one-fifth of Taiwan's population.

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