Recently, during a conversation with one of my international students, they informed me that part of their daily meditation practice was to Quan Yin. I thought I was not familiar with this Divine being, so I asked them to share a photo with me. When I received the image, I immediately remembered that I too had meditated and performed disciplines to an aspect of Quan Yin when I was a young man. In the 80’s, I had spent time with a Korean monk who was visiting India, together we visited many high energy spiritual places and he introduced me to the energy of Quan Yin. Seeing this image again, I could feel the energy of grace that flowed through her.
Quan Yin, is the Bodhisattva of Compassion, revered by Buddhists and Taoists across China, India, Tibet, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. She is loved for her qualities of mercy and compassion and in this way she reminds me very much of Mother Mary of the Christian faith. Her name means: “She who hears the cries of the world.” In Sanskrit her name is Padma-pani, which translates to “Born of the lotus.”
She is the female manifestation of the Indian Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara. They are the same being. The Lotus Sutra describes Avalokiteshvara as a Boddhisattva who can take the form of any God, including Indra, any type of Buddha, any king, male or female, adult or child in order to spread the teachings of the Buddha, known as the Dharma. Unlike the Buddha, who attained enlightenment and transcended the human realm, the Bodhisattvas put that transcendence on hold, so they can stay on the earth to help other sentient beings. Quan Yin committed to helping all sentient beings be free of suffering, before she entered the bliss of Buddhahood. She made a vow: “Should I ever become disheartened in saving sentient beings, may my body shatter into a thousand pieces.” One time, having thought she must have emptied hell by now, she took a look, only to see countless beings still suffering, and was momentarily disheartened. Immediately her body shattered into a thousand pieces. In despair she called to the Buddha, who in his mercy gave her a new form- one with a thousand hands of compassion with the eyes of wisdom in each palm. This image can be found in many Buddhist temples.
Many believe that when her devotees depart from the world, she places them in the heart of a lotus and sends them to the Western Paradise, known as Sukhavati.
The Lotus Sutra details 10 salvations that can be granted by Quan Yin:
· Protection from the dangers of fire.
· Deliverance from the dangers of water.
· Deliverance from the dangers of falling.
· Deliverance from the dangers of politics.
· Deliverance from prison.
· Deliverance from curses or poisons.
· Deliverance from demons.
· Deliverance from evil beasts.
· Protection during disputes & wars.
· Bestowing children of good fortune.
Quan Yin is regarded as the protector of farmers and traveller. She is also known as the Goddess of the Indian Archipelago. The Buddhist teachings refer to her as one of the San Ta Shih, or the Three Great Beings, famous for their power over the forces of nature. Devotees invoke her during post-burial rituals to free the soul of the deceased from turmoil. Today, her devotees call on her with all their troubles, and there are countless stories of the miracles she has performed, one of which I will share. This story is from China and happened in 1953.
A fifteen-year-old boy, Ching, was standing outside his front door, when a freight truck suddenly veered to avoid hitting three children playing on the street, hitting him instead. Caught under the truck he was dragged along until the truck could manage to stop. He shouted out three times: My mother believes in the Buddha. Quan Yin, please come quickly to save me.” He was taken to hospital with a badly mangled left arm, which over the next four days became black and badly infected. The doctors advised his mother amputation of the arm was needed to save his life. She convinced them to first cut away only the flesh that was infected. She prayed to Quan Yin throughout the surgery. When her son woke in the recovery room, he told her: “Just now a white robed doctor carried me to heaven and made heavenly maidens dance for me. I was very happy.” Three times during his recovery he dreamt that Quan Yin sprinkled pure water with a willow branch onto his damaged arm, which took away the pain. His arm healed. What he saw in his dream is another well-known representation of this Bodhisattva — where she holds a water vase and a willow branch. Her vase is one of the eight Buddhist symbols of good fortune and contains the nectar of life. The willow branch symbolises flexible but unbreakable strength.
The greatest energy of all is the energy of Mother. She will do anything for her children. Whichever aspect of the Divine Mother calls to you, Quan Yin, Mother Mary, Durga, or any other, give them your love and devotion, and it will be returned in abundance. I finish today with a prayer I came across to Mother Quan Yin:
May the peace of Quan Yin be upon this household.
May the light of Quan Yin be in my Soul.
May the wisdom of Quan Yin be in my mind.
May the virtue and purity of Quan Yin be among the members of my household.
May the health and well-being of Quan Yin manifest throughout my body and radiate through the garments I wear.
May the grace of Quan Yin be in my worship.
May the talents and genius of Quan Yin be manifest through my senses.
May the peace of Quan Yin be upon me.