Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chenrezig or Avalokitesvara

This is the bodhisattva of compassion, in Tibetan and Sanskrit.  While usually a male figure who is considered a worldly manifestation of the celestial buddha Amitabha, in China this bodhisattva is the female Kuan Yin.  His name is translated as Lord who looks down, or who hears the cries of those who suffer on earth, and decides to help all overcome suffering.  As a product of the mahayana buddhist movement which seemed to originate somewhere between 100 B.C. and 100 A.D. in India, he is first mentioned in the Lotus Sutra at that time.  Gee, something seemed to happen west of India about the same time, I wonder what it could be.

Here are a few examples of his iconography:
Chenrezig is this case is 4 armed, two arms are folded holding the jewel of enlightenment through the teachings of Amitabha, and the second left hand holds a white lotus and second right a crystal mala or string of beads.  The white lotus is symbolic of many things, such as rising above the muck of impure thoughts and deeds to achieve the sanity and clarity of enlightenment.  Conflicting emotions are transmuted into the expression of sanity through the discipline of sitting meditation.  The mala represents the cycle of reincarnation and the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum which is said to invoke the benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig. 

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