Shih Yin - Avalokiteshvara
Bodhisattva of Great Compassion
Sanskrit name "Avalokiteshvara" means "the
lord who looks upon the world with compassion".
into Chinese, the name is "Kuan Shih Yin"or
Shih: the world / the region of sufferers
Yin: all the sounds of the world, in particular, the
crying sounds of beings, verbal or mental, seeking
Bodhisattva is the embodiment of great compassion. He
has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering.
Bodhisattva is has great powers and can help all sentient
beings. His skilful means are limitless and he can appear
in any form in all the six realms of existence to relieve
the suffering of the sentient beings who live there.
He vowed to rescue those who call on him when they are
in suffering, for example, when caught in a fire, shipwrecked
or facing an attack.
the Lotus Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha said that if a suffering
being hears the name of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva
and earnestly calls out to the bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara
will hear the call and relieve that being from his suffering.
to the Huayen Sutra, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms
himself into forms that suit the nature of those to
be helped. His manifestations or transformation bodies
if a boy or girl is about to gain some enlightenment,
Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva transforms himself into
a boy or a girl to teach the child.
If a monk is about to attain some enlightenment, Avalokiteshvara
Bodhisattva transforms himself into a monk.
short, he can appear as a monk, a nun, or a normal person
like you and me. The purpose of such transformations
is to make people feel close to him and willing to listen
to his words.
In China, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is represented
in female form and is known as Kuan Yin. Probably because
of Kuan Yin's great compassion, a quality which is traditionally
considered feminine, most of the bodhisattva's statues
in China since the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 - 907) have
appeared as female figures. In India, however, the bodhisattva
is generally represented as a male figure.
her hands, Kuan Yin may hold a willow branch, a vase
with water or occasionally, a lotus flower.
willow branch is used to heal people's illnesses or
bring fulfillment to their requests.
water ( the dew of compassion) has the quality of removing
suffering, purifying the defilements of our body, speech
and mind, and lengthening life.
Buddhist art, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is sometimes
shown with eleven heads, 1000 hands and eyes on the
palms of each hand (Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva).
The thousand eyes allow the bodhisattva to see the sufferings
of sentient beings, and the thousand hands allow her
to reach out to help them.
he is represented with one head and 4 arms. This is
the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, worshipped by all Tibetans
as "Chenrezig", the Holder of the White Lotus.
It is in the male form which has two hands in the praying
gesture while the other two hands hold his symbols,
the Crystal Rosary and the Lotus Flower.
is a sacred place for the worship of Kuan Yin in China
- the Putuo Mountain. It is actually an island located
near the city of Ningpo, in Zhejiang Province. There
are many stories of Kuan Yin's miraculous appearances
at Putuo Mountain.
anyone can be like Kuan Yin. You may say that you don't
have a thousand eyes or a thousand arms or that you
lack skilful means, but it is your compassion that can
transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands,
you can help others. With your compassion, you can bring
peace and tranquility to this world.
Mani Mantra (The Mantra of Universal Protection)
: OM MANI PADME HUM