this is a photo i took of a Kuan Yin (also Guanyin) statue my mom gave me which sits on my shrine. Kuan Yin is the female embodiment in China of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. she is also known as Kannon in Japan. and in Tibet as a male form named Chenrezig. i’ve found it so inspiring how we yearn for the feminine in our spiritual traditions. perhaps, because they have been so male dominant. i read once that Goddess worship predates worship of a male creator God. perhaps this yearning is a return to an earlier understanding or a yearning to bring balance. whatever the case, i find comfort and strength in the feminine. the wonderful Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, who once said (and i paraphrase) that the incarnation of God as Jesus was as a masculine body and feminine soul. maybe that’s partly why i like Jesus so much. Catholicism puts emphasis on Mother Mary as an embodiment of compassion the faithful can call upon as well.
“she who hears the cries of the world” is one translation of Kuan Yin. poetic, beautiful, needed. and though many may call upon Kuan Yin for comfort in time of need, Buddhism also takes it in a different direction. we too are this embodiment. when her compassion is called upon, we are calling upon compassion within ourselves. in other words, as is often said, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. in the Christian view, one might say that we are the hands and heart of God in the world, embodying the love that is needed. in the Buddhist view, we can take a vow to be Bodhisattvas and embody the compassion of Avalokiteshvara, of Kuan Yin. when we hear the world cry, we can receive them, we can open our hearts, we can answer. rather that just praying for God or calling upon Kuan Yin to end war, to end gun violence, to end a pandemic, we can hear the cries, we can take responsibility and do the work needed, embody the compassion needed, for a world that is suffering.