Kuan Yin

April 12, 2010

I was looking at a thread on some fora I frequent, asking about experiences with patron and matron gods and goddesses. I really like this thread, because people typically just post about whoever/whatever they are feeling pulled to, and it is a good resource on how people venerate and what they offer and so on. Today I came upon a post from someone saying they feel a very strong connection to Kuan Yin. She posted, along with her words, a link to this article: Kuan Yin: My Buddhist Patron Saint.

Kuan Yin is depicted in art, or approached by an individual worshipper, as either male or female. She can appear in many different forms, depending on the worshipper’s needs. The vast majority visualize her as female. So Kuan Yin is female by popular demand.

Her name means “Hearer Of The Cries Of The World.”

Hearer Of The Cries Of The World. This resonates with me, as well, particularly due to my own huge need to serve the world via healthcare and humanitarian aid. I am also interested in the gender flexibility! Apparently Kuan Yin is both male and female, or, she is sometimes seen as a female representation of a male being, or she is sometimes male, or… two halves of one coin. According to Wikipedia, Avalokiteśvara/Kuan Yin was originally depicted as the Buddha when he was still a prince, and therefore wears chest-revealing clothing and may even sport a moustache. However in China, Guanyin is usually depicted as a woman. Additionally, some people believe that Guanyin is both man and woman (or perhaps neither). It’s a very interesting concept.

The author of this article also writes:

You make offerings to the statue – a cup of water daily, fresh flowers every week or so, and fruit, particularly oranges and bananas. You leave a light burning near her at night — you don’t let her sit in the dark. You can meditate on her by reciting her mantras before the statue, and pray to her in your own words. Even if you don’t literally believe in her, the prayers tend to be answered, often very quickly.

along with that I find these mantras very… well, I don’t want to say nice, so I’ll say useful, but I’m feeling a little deeper word than that:

Kuan Yin is worshipped with the following mantras:

Namo Kuan Shi Yin P’u Sa (pronounced Nah-moh Kwahn Shee Yeen Poo Sah):
All Hail To Kuan Yin Bodhisattva!

This mantra is used to salute Kuan Yin at the beginning of a period of worship, and to say goodbye to her at the end (for this purpose, vibrate it slowly, three times). It may also be chanted rapidly over and over for a period of time — like fifteen minutes — while focusing mentally on a goal or desire you wish Kuan Yin to help you achieve.

~

Hri (pronounced “Hree”)

This is Kuan Yin’s “Bija” mantra, and is considered untranslatable. It is a syllable to be vibrated as long as the breath allows, and is supposed to capture in sound the pure essence of Kuan Yin. You use it to identify yourself with her, in hopes of gradually becoming more like her. You chant it and think of nothing, purely focusing on making the sound itself without intellectualizing about it. Try it for five or ten minutes, gently bringing your mind back to the sound itself whenever thought arises.

There is an online Kuan Yin Oracle that provides translations of poems and so on.

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