Kuan Yin

Kwan Yin and the Swallows

“Kwan Yin is one of the most universally beloved of deities in the Buddhist tradition. Also known as Kuan Yin, Quan Yin, Quan’Am (Vietnam), Kannon (Japan), and Kanin (Bali), She is the embodiment of compassionate loving kindness. As the Bodhisattva of Compassion, She hears the cries of all beings.”

Kwan Yin and the Swallows
by Dharmadasa Karuna

The cloud blue crests of Jianshan Mountain leaned into the morning light. Flaxen rays reached into the window of a young woman sleeping on a bed of straw. Her hair was the color of the night sky, and lapped over her belly and hips. Her skin was the color of the sun. She awoke and walked outside. The nest of swallows on her windowsill was empty. It was the end of summer.

Her bare feet pressed into the fallen leaves on the ground. She entered the woods in search of a cluster of white flowers with purple stems. Mother seemed unsure of herself this week, and Dong Quai would calm her nerves. She closed her eyes and let the forest guide her. She found the flowers in the silence.

“Kwan Yin, where are you? Talking to your birds again?”

“Coming mother.” The young woman emerged from the woods. “I was gathering a tonic for our tea.”

“I have to go wash clothes at the river for Mrs. Lim. Save the tea for lunch. We’re having visitors.”

“Who mother?”

“Madam Hong and her son.”

“Why are they coming? We don’t need visitors.”

“The fortune teller said you were a good match for Madam Hong’s son.”

“Mother, you know I don’t want to marry.”

“You are a woman now, and while your hair still falls down your back and your breath is sweet, you must take a husband.”

“I’m going to enter the nunnery.”

“That is a child’s dream, Kwan Yin.”

Kwan Yin looked down and did not answer.

“We are poor Kwan Yin, and the Hongs are wealthy. They are an honorable family. Do you understand?”

“Mother, I…”

“You have never been with a man and….”

“I know it is my duty to care for you.”

“They are not all as kind as your father was. After you clean the house and cook the meals, they will make you cut wood, carry water, and milk the goat. Then you must lay with them every night. Your work is only done when you sleep.”

“Mother, I know. I know what I must do.”

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The Powers of Kuan Yin

World-Honored One!
May I ask once more
The reason that this holy Bodhisat
Is named as Kuan Yin?
The World-Honored One replied
By uttering this song:

engle-i-tusindvis

She responds well to all places in all directions!.
The echoes of her holy deeds
Resound throughout the world.
Her broad vows as deep as the ocean.
When, after countless aeons
Of serving countless Buddhas,
She pledged great and pure vows
To liberate afflicted beings.

Now listen carefully to the results.
To hear her name or see her image
Or sincerely and mindfully recite her name,
She delivers beings from every woe.

If someone is malicious
Pushing you into a pit of fire,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would turn the pit of fire into a pool!

Were you adrift upon the sea
With dragon-fish and demons around you,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would spare you from the hungry waves.

Suppose from Mount Sumeru’s peak
Some enemy should cast you down,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And sun-like you would float in space.

Were you pursued by evil men
And crushed against the Iron Mountain,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And not a hair would come to harm.

Were you chased by a band of thieves,
Their cruel knives now raised to slay,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And their minds would immediately develop compassion.

Suppose the King was extremely anger at you,
The headsman’s sword upraised to strike,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would dash the sword to pieces.

Were you in jail by prison walls,
Your wrists and ankles bound with chains,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would instantly obtain release.

Were you cursed or poisoned,
And lay now in the danger,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would send the spells back & nullify its poison.

Were you surrounded by demons
Or harmful dragons and ghosts,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
And none would dare to do any harm.

Did savage beasts press all around
With fearful fangs, ferocious claws,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would make them run off quickly.

From: The Lotus Sutra and Spring Liao

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