Nurturing Compassion and Self-Love through Bodhisattva Kuan Yin

‘Her mind is virtue, perfected.

Her body is wisdom, perfected.

Her face is bathed in holy light.

She is compassion itself.

Her orchid heart delights in mercy.

No matter what evils we face,

no matter what beasts or demons,

no matter what ill fortune or disease,

no matter even if we face death.

Kuan-Yin destroys them all

with her compassionate glance,

with her perfected soul.

She is infinitely blessed.’

Enlightenment is liberation from the ego. In Buddhism, this journey begins with practice of loving-kindness and compassion. Kuan Yin is the Goddess of Mercy, an emanation of the Divine Mother and serves the world through her compassion and desire for all beings to be free of suffering. Kuan Yin is revered as a bodhisattva and a goddess and worshipped in many cultures and religions as Kwan Yin, Quan Yin and Guanyin.

A bodhisattva is a being who has attained Buddha hood, but decided to stay with the human race in order to bring enlightenment to every human being.

Kuan Yin is a divine being, present in spirit on earth, here for us, she is a messenger of self-love and love for all of man kind.  You can call on her when you want to awaken compassion, deepen self-love or love for others… she is always ready to assist. More compassion and love naturally  bring more grace and ease into your everyday life. Creating an altar and listening to and singing mantras is the perfect place to start or to deepen your practice 🙂

I. An Altar Ritual for Compassion and Self-Love with Kuan Yin

No matter how much you plan to meditate and stay connected to the spirit of compassion and self-love, life can pull you easily in different directions.  Altars are sacred places that you create within your everyday environment (your home or office) with the intention of bringing spirit into your everyday life and can bring immense depth into your daily spiritual practice and connection to the divine.

  1. To create an altar choose a place in your home or on your desk at work that will be undisturbed, it may be a corner, or a place that previously held clutter. First clear this space completely.
  2. With the empty space in front of you, close your eyes and say a silent prayer, asking that this space be infused with only the highest energy.  If you are home you may want to light a candle or clear the space by burning some sage. Here is the prayer I use for clearing my space. Read the prayer three times silently before you begin your ritual.
  3. After you have invoked and cleared your space, bring together several special, sacred items to place on your altar. Kuan Yin is often depicted emerging from the lotus flower. The lotus flower is a symbol of purity; it is one of the most beautiful flowers in the world that grows from the muddy swamps, symbolizing our own journey from ordinary reality into divine purity and grace. She is also always depicted near a body of water. Draw, paint or print a picture of Kuan Yin and place it in a frame.
  4. Tend to your altar daily in order to honor your divine space properly. make sure to freshen any water, place any crystals in the sunlight to clear them for at least 24 hours, refresh the altar with new candles and keep it free of dust and any other debris or clutter. Every time you walk into the room that the altar is in, say a short prayer of gratitude to Kuan Yin for her compassionate guidance and protection. It can be as simple as, “Thank you Kuan Yin for bringing a deeper awareness of compassion and self-love into my home”.

II. Harmonizing with the Divine: Mantras of Bodhisattva Kuan Yin

The use of sound to invoke the spirit of Kuan Yin is the traditional method of connecting to her. Choose some music to place on your altar, or to have on hand near your altar.

A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or collection of sounds, syllables or words that is capable of creating transformation in your mind, body and spirit. The original scriptures and sutras were composed of verses and mantras that were sung.

“Through mantra, we no longer cling to the reality of the speech and sound encountered in life, but experience it as essentially empty. Then confusion of the speech aspect of our being is transformed into enlightened awareness.” Kalu Rinpoche

This mantra is in Sanskrit, the original language of the Buddhist sutras. Through the sacred vibrations of the original language of the sutras we can invoke the presence and blessings awaken the sacred qualities of the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin.

Because this mantra has been repeated by millions all over the globe for centuries, the words themselves contain a very powerful and magical energy to them.  Write them out and speak them slowly, concentrating on the sounds that emanate from within yourself as a physical connection to divine energy that has been utilized for centuries.  Many have experienced the presence of Kuan Yin enter their physical space or their thoughts and third eye chakra after such an invocation.

Om Mani Padme Hum

Om Mani Padme Hum is widely honored as Avalokiteshvara’s mantra and Kuan Yin’s mantra.

“There is not a single aspect of the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha’s teachings which is not contained in Avalokiteshvara’s six syllable mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”, and as such the qualities of the “mani” are praised again and again in the Sutras and Tantras…. Whether happy or sad, if we take the “mani” as our refuge… spontaneous devotion will arise in our minds and the Great Vehicle will effortlessly be realized.” – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Here is my favorite version of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum by Deva Premal.

Om

Helps you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity

Ma

Helps perfect the practice of pure ethics

Ni

Helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance & patience

Päd

Helps to achieve perfection of perseverance

Me

Helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration

Hum

Helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom

– Gen Rinpoche

The Great Vehicle is a state of mind that is realized by practicing of compassion for all sentient beings. It’s described as a vast boat that carries all beings in the universe across the sea of suffering. The practice of this mantra brings you into the state of mind of The Great Vehicle, an awakened, open and loving state of mind. It is the most powerful and accessible way to link ones own mind with the mind of a Buddha. I play this mantra often all day for days on end when I am in great need of compassion in my life. It is both comforting and inspires the highest qualities within myself to move me with grace through trying times.

Want to Learn More?

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References

Kuan Yin Statue in Daien-in Temple, Mt. Koya, Japan .
Buddhist China. Reginald Johnson. Soul Care Publishing.
The Mythology of Love. Joseph Campbell. Myths to Live By.
Buddha in the Crown. J.C. Holt. Oxford.
Discovering Kwan Yin, Buddhist Goddess of Compassion: A Path Toward Clarity … Sandy Boucher. Beacon Press.

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