A mind perfected in the four virtues,
A gold body filled with wisdom,
Fringes of dangling pearls and jade,
Scented bracelets set with lustrous treasures,
Dark hair piled smoothly in a coiled-dragon bun,
And elegant sashes lightly fluttering as phoenix quills,
Her green jade buttons
And white silk robe
Bathed in holy light;
Her velvet skirt
And golden cords
Wrapped by hallowed air,
With brows of new moon shape
And eyes like two bright stars,
Her jadelike face beams natural joy,
And her ruddy lips seem a flash of red.
Her immaculate vase overflows with nectar from year to year,
Holding sprigs of weeping willow green from age to age.
She disperses the eight woes;
She redeems the multitude;
She has great compassion;
Thus she rules over the T'ai Mountain,
And lives at the South Sea.
She saves the poor, searching for their voices,
Ever heedful and solicitous,
Ever wise and efficacious.
Her orchid heart delights in green bamboos;
Her chaste nature loves the wisteria.
She is the merciful ruler of Potalaka Mountain,
The Living Kuan-yin from the Cave of Tidal Sound. 1
Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, is a manifestation of the Divine Mother and serves mankind in much the same way as Mother Mary. Many think of her as the Buddhist Madonna and Saviouress of the East. Her names are as numerous as those of Mother Mary and her title and office as a Goddess denotes her level of attainment as a Cosmic Being.
To the people of Japan she is known as Kannon and in China her name is Guanyin. You may have heard of her as Miao Shan, a legendary Chinese Princess known for her great compassion or by her popular Tibetan and Mongolian name of Tara.
Kuan Yin is a bodhisattva, a being of wisdom destined to become a Buddha. She has taken the vow of a bodhisattva to save all beings from suffering by forgoing the final state of Buddhahood. Scholar Robert Thurman explains these celestial saviors saying:
Bodhisattvas are truly messianic figures, spiritual heroes and heroines willing to sacrifice themselves for others life after life. At the same time, they are keen to develop the wisdom that understands reality and the art to be effective in saving beings. 2
Kuan Yin is called the Goddess of Mercy because she embodies the flame of mercy and compassion. We can pray to her not only for comfort, healing, guidance and succor but also for mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. She shows us through the flame of forgiveness how to free ourselves from all hardness of heart and teaches us to have compassion for all. She comes as the Mother to dispel all maya (illusion).
The age of Aquarius is dawning. Mystics and sages say this is the age for the awakening of our understanding of God as Mother. It is the age for the raising of the Mother flame. Kuan Yin teaches us the safest way to accomplish this is through prayer and devotion to God.
There are many legends surrounding this celestial bodhisattva. One particularly beautiful one illustrates how Kuan Yin, more appropriately known as Kuan-shih-yin, came to be known as such. Her name means "one who regards, looks on, or hears the sounds of the world." The legend says Kuan Yin paused on the threshold of heaven as she was about to enter when she heard the anguished cries of the world. Out of compassion for the suffering of others, she turned and vowed to remain and help those in need for however long this may take. The bodhisattva vow is a sacred and holy vow and not one to be taken lightly. Kuan Yin is a nurturing Mother and the love and compassion she has for all is truly great.
The following mantra is associated with her:
OM MANI PADME HUM
OM MAH-NEE PUD-MAY HOOM
OM! Hail to the jewel in the lotus!
What is surprising about this saviouress of the East is that she originally started out in Buddhist tradition as a male known by the name Avalokitesvara. Avalokitesvara and Kuan Yin are examples of the androgynous nature of God focusing in complete harmony and balance the masculine and feminine attributes of the Father-Mother God.
The legend surrounding the birth of Avalokitesvara, sometimes spelled Avalokiteshvara or Avalokita, is quite spectacular. It is said that one day while the greatly compassionate Buddha Amitabha (Infinite Light) was meditating he achieved a moment of supreme bliss and in that moment, Avalokitesvara was "born" from a "ray of white light emitted from Amitabha's right eye."
So great is Avalokitesvara's compassion he is known in Mahayana Buddhism as the "archangel of compassion." 3 He became a "buddha millions of aeons ago" but vowed to "emanate himself as millions of bodhisattvas after his perfect enlightenment" in order to serve and help beings "find their freedom." 4
Avalokitesvara, whose name means "the lord who sees" or "the lord who hears the sounds of the world" is splendidly depicted in art as having multiple heads and hands and his names are as varied as those of Kuan Yin. He may be called the Eleven-Faced, Eight-Armed Avalokitesvara, the Eleven-Faced, Six-Armed Avalokitesvara or the 1000-armed Avalokitesvara. The legend surrounding this type of icon is that within each hand is an eye enabling him to have limitless enlightenment and compassion to assist souls in need. With his many heads he is able to look after beings in all directions. Each face reflects an aspect of the Bodhisattva. Some are peaceful and loving while others are stern and fierce. In each hand he holds a sacred healing object, which he uses to rescue all beings from their suffering.
In SUNRISE Magazine, Eloise Hart explains more about the iconography of the art forms of Avalokitesvara-Kuan Yin.
The statues and paintings of Kuan Yin are as different as
the artists who create them, and as varied as their feelings about her. Some
are of wood, suggesting with simplicity of line the flow of life that nurtures
all beings; others, of jade, emphasize virtue; of marble, permanence and
solidity; of porcelain, innocence and mobility; while those of rock crystal
convey the idea of spirituality. Often she wears a long hooded robe and
ornaments symbolic of her virtues; the most popular figure shows her standing
or floating on a large lotus petal. Her head, haloed with glory, is bent
slightly forward as if looking, listening, to catch any cry for help. The
earliest statues depict Kuan Yin either as a youth with a slight beard or
mustache, or androgynous – embodying the noblest of both masculine and feminine
qualities. Yet, of whatever material or pose, her bearing is always one of
A seventh century Tibetan painting presents the idea of infinite mercy as Avalokitesvara-KuanYin with a thousand arms with which to scatter blessings. Usually, two arms are sufficient, Kuan Yin's beneficence being suggested by the various objects she holds in her hands: in one, a vase of amrita, the dew of immortality; in the other, a spray of willow branches with which to sprinkle her inexhaustible compassion upon her devotees. Sometimes she carries a scroll or book, symbol of truth; or the wish-fulfilling jewel, emblem of the attaining of holy aspirations. When a child plays on her lap, or children at her feet, they symbolize not only newborn and/or spiritual life, but also Mother Nature whose mysterious powers continually produce, sustain, destroy, and renew life throughout the universe. Her hands placed in her lap suggest meditation; when held palm to palm, not quite touching, reverence for all beings; when fingers point downward, the flowing forth of blessings is indicated; and when the right hand rests on the left, palms upward, this signifies control over evil spirits. But regardless of ornamentation, symbolism, or pose, the very presence of her likeness touches the heart. It is for this reason, perhaps, that the Japanese and Koreans place huge statues of Kuan Yin in prominent places so that those going to and from work are reminded of the spiritual worth of unselfish deeds. 5
Kuan Yin is known as the protectress of women, sailors, merchants and children. Many believe you have but to call her name and she will instantly appear. A common saying about this compassionate Saviouress is, "She hears the prayers of the faithful."
Tara, whose name means one who saves, is another manifestation of the Avalokitesvara-Kuan Yin. Author John Blofeld explains how Tara was "born of a tear shed by Avalokita in pity for the sufferings of sentient beings". 6 Thurman describes Tara's extraordinary compassion for all beings saying, "her desire to save them from suffering, is said to be stronger than a mother's love for her children." 7
Tara is also called the White Goddess. She "exemplifies the blue-white fire of purity" says author and spiritual teacher Elizabeth Clare Prophet (Prophet*). She is often depicted in art as sitting on a white lotus and teaches us how to have a long life, good health and to obtain good fortune.
The holiness of the celestial Bodhisattva Kuan Yin in all her forms is meant to be an inspiration for all to realize that we, too, can achieve the supreme state of consciousness of mercy and compassion for all beings by walking the path in a sacred and holy manner. As we develop our heart tie to Kuan Yin, we come to understand the flame of mercy gently blowing in the easterly wind.
Kuan Yin's Crystal Rosary
Devotees give Kuan Yin's Crystal Rosary 8 on the third Saturday of each month. If we are sincere and our prayers are found worthy we not only open our heart to healing but we also have the opportunity to increase the petals of our heart chakra by the flame of mercy. Healing prayers for the entire planet are also given. Through the giving of the rosary we are calling forth the violet transmuting flame. Kuan Yin explains:
"By violet flame and violet flame mantra and by my ancient mantras you recite, I do release to the earth crystal spheres of my rosary, crystal spheres of the yin and yang, the Alpha and the Omega of the violet flame and the Seventh Age." 9
Kuan Yin is working very hard to bring in the golden age of the Seventh Ray of Aquarius and make it a reality. She will work with any one who is sincerely seeking resolution and healing. She shows us how to balance our karma and helps us not only to heal our heart but also to develop the heart of a "Bodhisattva of Compassion." 10
The Temple of Mercy
Kuan Yin is an Ascended Lady Master and "representative of the Seventh Ray" embodying the God qualities of mercy, forgiveness and compassion. This ray is the seventh-ray aspect of the Holy Spirit and is violet in color. It is the ray of the Aquarian Age. Also called the flame of transmutation and freedom, it can transmute the cause, effect, record and memory of negative karma. In her retreat located in the etheric octaves over Beijing (Peking), China, Kuan Yin focuses the flame of the Divine Mother and the flame of infinite mercy for all.
This ancient retreat is called The Temple of Mercy. According to The Masters and Their Retreats, twelve pagodas surround the central golden dome pagoda, "each of which focuses the yin and yang qualities of the twelve hierarchies of the Sun." The main pagoda has an aura of silence and reverence to it. Sitting before a beautifully carved ivory altar is a golden urn that contains the flame of mercy.
The beauty and naturalness found in the gardens surrounding the pagodas also reflect the perfect balance of the yin and yang. As you stroll, you hear the gentle tinkling of the crystal wind chimes hanging in the doorways.
A network of semi-circular bridges crosses over the ancient rocks surrounding the streams and ponds that wander and meander throughout the gardens. Glistening amethyst crystals the color of mercy's stone, sparkle among the trees and flowers creating a soothing landscape of harmony, peace and balance.
The flower lined footpaths lead to various pavilions where you can sit and meditate. As you enter into your inner heart you are saturated in the flame of forgiveness and mercy. Here one feels the "tenderness of the heart of the Mother" and the intense love she has for all her children.
Kuan Yin ascended thousands of years ago. As the Bodhisattva of Mercy, she holds the flame of infinite mercy for all. According to the Ascended Masters, mercy's flame contains the brilliant hues of violet ranging from orchid-pink (God-Love) to the deep-purple flame of blue (God-Will). Kuan Yin's flame resembles the color of orchids with the pink gently softening the blue. Her symbolic flower is the lotus. The center is pink with each unfolding petal reflecting deeper and deeper shades of violet.
Souls in need of "respite and a saturation of the forgiveness flame" come to this retreat between embodiments. On a planetary level, the action of the flame of mercy anchored in this ancient temple radiates to the earth impulses of "gentleness", "devotion to family" as well as the desire to serve one another. 11
THE SACRED FLAME
Let me ever worship
Those Compassionate Guardians
Who unceasingly protect and point out
The pathway leading to the Sacred Flame.
- David R. Kinsley, The Goddess Mirror (New York: State University of New York Press, 1989) 25-26.
- Marylin M. Rhie and Robert A. F. Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet (New York: Tibet House, 2000) 120.
- Rhie and Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet 143.
- Marylin M. Rhie and Robert A. F. Thurman, Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion (New York: Tibet House, 1999) 492.
- Eloise Hart, "Kuan Yin: Goddess of Mercy, Friend of Mankind," Sunrise Magazine, December 1984/January 1985 (Theosophical University Press, 1984).
- John Blofeld, Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1988) 53.
- Rhie and Thurman, Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet 124.
- Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Kuan Yin's Crystal Rosary: Devotions to the Divine Mother East and West (Livingston, Montana: Church Universal and Triumphant, Inc., 1988).
- Prophet 1-2.
- Prophet 8.
- Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Masters and Their Retreats, ed. Annice Booth (Corwin Springs, Montana: Summit University Press, 2003) 480-481, 169.