Guest Author - Heather J. Hasan
Imagine a beautiful young woman standing on a lotus, pouring water into the mouth of a dragon, symbolizing the taming of the anger, hatred, and pain in our hearts and minds. This is one of many imagines of Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of mercy.
Kuan Yin is a bodhisattva, an enlightened being who has put off liberation from the world in the Buddhist religion. As Kuan Yin approached enlightenment, she looked back and saw and heard suffering all over the world. She loved humanity to the extent that she could not bear to leave the world in such a bad state. She decided to stay on Earth until every soul attained liberation from pain and suffering.
But who was Kuan Yin on Earth? According to legend, she was a princess named Miao Shan. It was known even at her birth that she was an extraordinary being. The Earth shook as she came into the world. Miao Shan was perfect in every way. She possessed no flaws, mentally or physically. Her heart was full of compassion and love.
As was expected of all young women in Ancient China, Miao Shan was to be married but much to her fatherís dismay, she refused. Miao Shan was punished for her disobedience by being forced to join a monastery and becoming a nun. Because of her nature, this was not difficult nor did she consider it punishment. Miao Shan performed many miracles and completed numerous great works. When word spread to her father of her excellence as a nun, he decided to end to life of his daughter but no matter what method of execution was attempted, the young woman would not parish nor was her body harmed in any way. Suddenly, a white tiger appeared and carried Miao Shan away to the Afterlife but because of her goodness, she was brought back to Earth. She lived and meditated on the island of Mt. Putuo, which is located near Shanghai, for many years.
The meditation Miao Shan envisioned her father on his death bed. The only way to cure her father was if he was given the eyes and the arm of someone free of flaws. Because of her goodness, she gladly gave her father her arms and eyes. Her enlightenment was complete. As she was being carried to the Other Realm, she heard the many cries of suffering on Earth. She decided to stay behind and heal the suffering of all humanity. She became Kuan Yin, the Goddess of compassion and mercy and much more.
This powerful and moving story has touched the heart of billions of people. Shrines dedicated to Kuan Yin are set up all over China. In Japan, Kuan Yin is known as Kannon and she has shrines dedicated to her in numerous parts of Japan as well. In the Western world, the Blessed Virgin Mother of the Catholic religion is quite similar to Kuan Yin and in a few cultures they are believed to be one amd the same.
There is much to know about Kuan Yin and hopefully this information has sparked your interest. There are numerous websites online concerning Kuan Yin as well as many books containing information about Her and Her story. The books listed below are books that I have read and personally recommend.
Kuan Yin's spirit is still alive today as she continues to strives towards healing the world of its pain and suffering.
If you have any questions or want to make any comments concerning Kuan Yin, feel free to join in the Kuan Yin thread on the Chinese Culture forum. Hope to see you there!