The Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, Kuan Yin is an incarnation of Mary, Sophia, and other feminine icons. They are all the same soul – given the Yin frequency.
For centuries, Kuan Yin has epitomized the great ideal of Mahayana Buddhism in her role as “bodhisattva (Chinese “p’u-sa)–literally “a being of bodhi, or enlightenment,” who is destined to become a Buddha but has foregone the bliss of Nirvana with a vow to save all children of God.
Quan Yin carries the Goddess and Divine Mother aspect of Buddhism. The same Goddess and Divine energy carried by the Virgin Mary in Christianity. In the Egyptian mysteries it is carried by Isis. In Hinduism it is carried by Shakti, wife of Vishnu, by Parvarti, wife of Shiva, by Radha, wife of Krishna, and by Sita, wife of Rama.
Quan Yin’s name is a translation of the Sanskrit name of her chief progenitor which is Avalokitesvara, also known as Avalokita. In its proper form it is Kuanshih Yin, which means “She who harkens to the cries of the world.”
In Korea, Japan, and China she is called Quan Yin. She is a celestial bodhisattva and an ascended master. One of her jobs in the celestial spheres is to sit on the board of the Lord of Karma.
Buddhist mythology tells of Avalokitesvara’s being born from a ray of light that sprang from Amitabha Buddha’s right eye. He immediately said, “Om Mane Padme Hum”. This is one of the mantras by which he can be invoked in Buddhist tradition. Avalokitesvara came to be known by most Tibetans as Buddha’s earthly representation and as chief gusrdian of the dharma (doctrine) until the advent of Maitreya Buddha. Avalokitesvara and Quan Yin are embodiments of compassion.
She is roughly equivalent to Green Tara in Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism Quan Yin is seen in her male form as Avalokitesvara. Some feel that the current dali Lama is an incarnation of Avalokitesvara. It is thought that the female form of Avalokitesvara, Quan Yin, originated in the twelth or thirteenth century in both China and Japan.
The Saddharma Pundarika Sutra affirms that Avalokitesvara had 357 incarnations.
Quan Yin is one of the most universally beloved of deities in the Buddhist tradition. Also known as Kuan Yin, Quan’Am (Vietnam), Kannon (Japan), and Kanin (Bali), She is the embodiment of compassionate loving kindness. As the Bodhisattva of Compassion, She hears the cries of all beings. Quan Yin enjoys a strong resonance with the Christian Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the Tibetan goddess Tara.
In many images She is depicted carrying the pearls of illumination. Often Quan Yin is shown pouring a stream of healing water, the “Water of Life,” from a small vase. With this water devotees and all living things are blessed with physical and spiritual peace. She holds a sheaf of ripe rice or a bowl of rice seed as a metaphor for fertility and sustenance. The dragon, an ancient symbol for high spirituality, wisdom, strength, and divine powers of transformation, is a common motif found in combination with the Goddess of Mercy.
Sometimes Kuan Yin is represented as a many armed figure, with each hand either containing a different cosmic symbol or expressing a specific ritual position, or mudra. This characterizes the Goddess as the source and sustenance of all things. Her cupped hands often form the Yoni Mudra, symbolizing the womb as the door for entry to this world through the universal female principle.
Quan Yin, as a true Enlightened One, or Bodhisattva, vowed to remain in the earthly realms and not enter the heavenly worlds until all other living things have completed their own enlightenment and thus become liberated from the pain-filled cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. There are numerous legends that recount the miracles which Quan Yin performs to help those who call on Her. Like Artemis, She is a virgin Goddess who protects women, offers them a religious life as an alternative to marriage, and grants children to those who desire them.
The Goddess of Mercy is unique among the heavenly hierarchy in that She is so utterly free from pride or vengefulness that She remains reluctant to punish even those to whom a severe lesson might be appropriate. Individuals who could be sentenced to dreadful penance in other systems can attain rebirth and renewal by simply calling upon Her graces with utter and absolute sincerity. It is said that, even for one kneeling beneath the executioner’s sword already raised to strike, a single heartfelt cry to Bodhisattva Quan Yin will cause the blade to fall shattered to the ground.
The many stories and anecdotes featuring this Goddess serve to convey the idea of an enlightened being who embodies the attributes of an all pervasive, all consuming, unwavering loving compassion and who is accessible to everyone. Quan Yin counsels us by Her actions to cultivate within ourselves those particular refined qualities that all beings are said to naturally possess in some vestigial form.
Contemplating the Goddess of Mercy involves little dogma or ritual. The simplicity of this gentle being and Her standards tends to lead Her devotees towards becoming more compassionate and loving themselves. A deep sense of service to all fellow beings naturally follows any devotion to the Goddess.
The name Kuan Shih Yin, as she is often called, means literally “the one who regards, looks on, or hears the sounds of the world.” According to legend, Kuan Yin was about to enter heaven but paused on the threshold as the cries of the world reached her ears. She decided that she would not ascend until there was no more human suffering and remains in the lower realms, coming to those who call her in times of need and sorry to render aid and enlightenment.
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