Kwan Yin and Compassion
Article ID: 12683
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,967
Times Read: 2,443
RSS Views: 37,764
Author: David Salisbury
Posted: November 30th. 2008
Times Viewed: 2,443
Eastern Chinese Buddhist tales always depict the great Goddess Kwan Yin as perhaps the most revered of them all. For obvious reasons, she's been one of my favorite Goddess images for years, as she is widely known as "Mother of Compassion" or "Bringer of Mercy". She's known for coming to the aid of all those who suffer and she never turns a blind eye to the pain of any sentient being no matter what form they take.
One tale describes her love so fierce that upon trying to hear the voices of so many suffering souls, her head split into pieces. When she tried to reach out her arms to save them all, she realized she didn't have enough so her two arms split into one thousand. She was granted the ability to ease the hurts and pains of the world because her compassion showed no limits.
Sometimes as an activist, I see so many horrible things that it makes my head feel like it can split into pieces as well. With all the hurt and all the pain in every corner of the Earth, it's a wonder that any compassionate being could allow such things to happen. From this, I remember that Kwan Yin is also about personal responsibility. She didn't rely on others to save the world to ease the cries of the voices she heard. She did something about it even though it meant turning herself into a completely different person. She became a savior.
Once we learn to stop being victims, we can begin to realize how much power we really have and how much our compassion can guide us and give us the strength to do unimaginable things. Legend tells of a crippled boy named Shan Tsai who traveled to the island of Putuo to learn the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma. Upon arriving he discovered Kwan Yin. She tested the boy’s compassion by conjuring three pirates to chase after her. Shan Tsai chased after the pirates who ran near the edge of a high cliff in an effort to throw Kwan Yin off. In the boys haste to save his teacher, he fell off the cliff. To his relief, Kwan Yin halted him in mid-air. After that, Shan Tsai realized he could walk again, enabling him to walk the earth in the good service of the world.
Think about that for just a moment. How often have you been reluctant to take a leap of faith and give something up that you love even though you know that it could make someone else’s life better. As a follower of Goddess teachings, I believe it’s within all of us to make kind decisions that benefit others in positive ways.
Simple choices like watching what we say or think about others, making informed choices about the resources we use, and considering where the food we eat comes from. Kwan Yin is often depicted in Chinese vegetarian restaurants for that same reason. She's here to tell us that simple choices have powerful effects. The lotus she sits upon blooms from the water creating ripples all around it.
We are the lotus and the changes we make during our time on Earth are the ripples. We can all lead normal lives and show our compassion with no limits all at the same time. The thousand arms of Kwan Yin remind us of this limitless compassion.
Compassion isn't like a bowl of soup that you can take a few spoonfuls from at a time. It's a waterfall of ever flowing grace that is within us to let flow. The world thirsts for the water of compassion so don't just give out sips.
The original Sanskrit work for compassion was Karuna. There we see the root word "ru" or "to weep". The standard dictionary describes compassion as pity for those less fortunate. I believe this to be an empty definition.
Followers of Kwan Yin and all eastern spirituality knew Karuna as an undeniable sense of oneness with everything around you. It's the sense of knowing that when one injustice is done to someone, it is indeed done to all.
One might say this is even the pure definition of modern Wiccan belief- being one with nature and your own personal universe. Yet how can we ascribe to oneness when we go around flaunting a gross lack of compassion in everything we do?
While many of us chant at our altars for a better life while wearing our sweat shop clothing and eating our paper-wrapped hamburgers, our prayers quickly gain a hollow ring. If there has been one thing that my Paganism has taught me in nearly a decade, it’s that The Goddess only believes in us if we believe in ourselves.
In most of the ancient heroic mythos we see heroes as ordinary citizens who stood up for something and were later immortalized for their bravery and personal strength. From our earlier story, Shan Tsai certainly wasn't given the upper hand when chasing after his teacher's attackers. He let his compassion guide him to (quite literally) the end of the Earth.
I call upon anyone who truly believes in the inner wisdom of The Goddess to really let your compassion guide you to the ends of the Earth. No, it won't require you to split your head or mutate your arms into a thousand pieces. Start by taking little steps in your life to honor your own Karuna. This could be incorporating more vegetarian meals into your diet, making a commitment to recycle, using more public transportation, or volunteering at your favorite nonprofit.
Just because we might not be able to stop all suffering doesn't mean that we shouldn't stop any. If anything, open your ears to the suffering voices around you. Lend a hand to the voices that have been silenced.
Kwan Yin is always listening, and we should be too.
Magick of the Godes and Goddesses by D.J. Conway
The Goddess Companion by Patricia Monaghan
Copyright: David Salisbury
Location: Washington, Washington DC
Author's Profile: To learn more about David Salisbury - Click HERE
Other Articles: David Salisbury has posted 2 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email David Salisbury... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).