Kuan Shih Yin

Thousand-Hand Female Guan Yin

Menstuff® has compiled information on the issue of whether or not Kuan Shih Yin was a man or woman. Click on the first picture for a larger version. Click on the second picture and note: Th second picture is a painting called Kuan Yin guiding a soul, T'ang Dynasty - British Museum, London. "This painting was found at Tunhuang and is probably a tenth century copy of an earlier T'ang original. Kuan Yin originated in India as a male god named Avolo Kitesvara and early pictrures show the god wearing a mustache (click on the second picture). In the course of time the Chinese came to think of Kuan Yin as a goddess."

The Breath of Nature: a brief introduction to the shakuhachi
Goddess Kuan Yin : Kuan Mercy Quan
Kuan Yin: Avalokitesvara Boddhisattva
Kuan Yin - the Male

March 13th is the Mahayana Buddhist festival of Bodhisattva Tara/Kuan Yin/Kannon; celebrates Her (His) "birth". She (He) declared women the spiritual equals of men.

Kuan Shih Yin means one who hears the cries of the world - the living expression of loving compassion; the one who will come to y our aid' the one who offers a caring aspect to the otherwise somewhat remote world with its scales of merit and demerit, its hells and rebirths, its retributions and consequences in life and beyond. He will break the cycle of rebirth, of punishment and of retribution.

As early as the fifth century, Kuan Shih Yin was always depicted as a man, albeit one very slight and graceful of form and visage. Many of the forms of Kuan Yin were clearly male, though somewhat androgynous. In all the early translations of the Lotus Sutra, Kuan Shih Yin is indisputably male. While it is recognized within the text that he is capable of taking a female form, this is not considered his main form. His is clearly male in the prodigious records of Hsuan Tsang (c596-664) throughout China and India and in such texts as the Cheng Ming Ching, which dates to the end of the seventh century. He is also clearly male in the Surangama Sutra which was first produced in AD 705 in Chinese. By the mid to late ninth century, Kuan Yin was now usually considered and depicted as female.

So, something happened during that time to turn Kuan Yin from a male into a female figure. The female Kuan Yin's roots lie not in the heartlands of historic China, but on the northwest frontier, on the Silk Road. This is where numerous cultures met and interacted. The male cult of Kuan Yin had already penetrated as a result of the dissemination of the Lotus Sutra, but the distinctive female forms only began to fan out extensively from the northwest in the ninth to tenth centuries.

Our humble guess is that the warrior cults could not deal with the feminine image for any man so man took it upon themselves to change Kuan Yin from a male to female form - probably due to an early case of homophobia. We choose to recognize Kuan Yin in his original form, before men became afraid of holding the feminine aspects of themselves as equal to the masculine aspects. All of the aspects that were within Kuan Yin are aspects every man is born with. Whether they allow those aspects to show depends on the cultural decisions that value or devalue all inherent aspects of an individual, and the individual's determination not to devalue themselves but subscribing to culturally accepted ways of being.

We believe that homophobia has been around for a long, long time, and this is an example from some 15 centuries ago. - Gordon Clay

Kuan Yin - the Male

Known as the Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion, Kuan-yin is one of the most popular Buddhist deities in China. An enlightened being who deferred entrance into Buddhist paradise, Kuan-yin returned to the terrestrial world to help people free themselves from suffering. Originally conceived as asexual or male, Kuan-yin eventually became assigned female gender as indigenous cults began to redefine its identity. The indigenous Chinese "Mother Goddess" brings children to the faithful; hence, the child is an iconographic feature of Kuan-yin. In addition, the virtues of compassion and gentleness are more associated with the female gender.

In this image of Kuan-yin, the sculptor emphasizes the gentle nature of the deity by rendering its features with great delicacy and beauty. Rather than the monumental and blocky style characteristic of Sung period stone sculpture, Kuan-Yin is here depicted with a style characteristic or later periods .in which the Goddess is given a light, celestial feel perhaps influenced by Western Virgin Mary imagery. With long, arched conjoined eyebrows leading into a flattened aquiline nose surmounting a small pursed mouth, Kuan-yin possesses both. the features of a beautiful woman and divine Goddess. Fleshy earlobes symbolizing Buddhist generosity project from the lower cheeks--a distinctive feature of this piece. The hair is neatly swept in combed swirls under a lotus motif headband with central jewel and tied into a tight chignon on the top of the head covering the ushnisha--the Buddhist mark of knowledge. An unadorned, fitting veil drapes over the back of the head. The head, erect and frontal, shows the calm serenity of one who, having overcome the suffering of this world, has found peace in the lotus of the good law.

The feeling of serenity that emanates from this religious figure is sure to touch those who share her presence. Female Kuan-yin are often worshipped by women who give offerings to the goddess in exchange for her protection and guidance in domestic affairs. - (PF.5333)
Source: www.ancient-jewelry.com/store/index.cfm/FuseAction/ItemDetails/cmdPrevItem/10555/ItemID/10555/SubCatID/347/userid/0.htm

The Breath of Nature: a brief introduction to the shakuhachi

'Learn about a pine tree from a pine tree and about a bamboo stalk from a bamboo stalk'

The sound of the Japanese shakuhachi-flute conveys the sense of ' eternal loneliness'. According to the Zen master D. T. Suzuki this state has nothing to do with the need for solitude that most of us need from time to time; rather it is "the solitariness of an absolute being, which comes upon one when the world of particulars moving under the conditions of space, time and causation is left behind, when the spirit soars high up in the sky and moves about... like a floating cloud." (1)

In the Japanese psyche this intense transcendental nostalgia co-exists with a vivid awareness of the sacrality of the natural world. Indeed the shakuhachi could also be said to convey the voice of virgin nature. This aspect derives in part from the material out of which are the flute is made: a thick walled bamboo called 'madake'. The instrument is fashioned from a root section which is cut to a standard length of one Japanese foot (isshake) eight inches

(hassun)(2) ; hence the name shakuhachi. The roots at the base are trimmed so as to leave a knobbled bell that is slightly curved by the maker. He then hollows out a tapered bore, a task requiring great skill and precision. While the natural texture of the bamboo is left untouched on the outside, a coat of red or black lacquer is applied on the inside. As the flute is end-blown , a cutting edge of horn or ivory is inserted into an oblique notch at the top. There are five finger holes, four at the front and one at the back, allowing for a range from the D above middle C up to a high G. In addition to the standard size shakuhachi their are flutes varying in length from 1.3 to 2.5 shaku or more. These long flutes produce a deep resonance in the lower register. (3)

The intricacies of shakuhachi technique are in inverse proportion to the apparent simplicity of the instrument. They were developed by the Komuso, 'priests of emptiness and nothing' who used the flute for meditation purposes.

These are mendicant players, many of them disarmed samurai (ronin), formed the Fuke sect that claimed allegiance to a wild, eccentric Chinese monk of the IXth century called P'u-hua (Fuke in Japanese). In the XIIIth century the monk Kakushin studied under the followers of Fuke and brought the shakuhachi to Japan. (4) By the middle of the Edo period the Komuso were roaming the country, wearing large baskets as headgear to show their detachment from the world, and playing shakuhachi instead of reciting the sutras. One of the Komuso, Kurosawa Kinko (1710-71), travelled throughout Japan collecting Shakuhachi pieces. These now make the thirty-six honkyoku of the Kinko school .

'Honkyoku', literally "original music", refers to the pieces that evolved from the meditative shakuhachi practices of the Komuso. This the genre is distinct from the folk repertoire (minyo) and chamber-music in which the Shakuhachi accompanies the Koto and shamisen (sankyoku). Whereas the honkyoku pieces were intended for the shakuhachi, the sankyoku shakuhachi parts were originally composed for other instruments like the koto

In a honkyoku piece the strict metre of the sankyoku is suspended and the music conveys a sense of numinosity and spatial immensity. Such works exemplify "yugen", one of the key terms of Japanese aesthetics. In this compound word "yu" denotes vagueness, shadowiness, what is insubstantial and "gen" means it dimness, darkness or blackness, the darkness of profundity, of something just on the boundaries of consciousness. An event or object takes on this quality when it loses its empirical solidity and discloses the undifferentiated ground of all phenomena.(5) In a properly performed honkyoku each note assumes a tinge of yugen as it arises out of the eternal silence. Suzuki speaks of a "spiritual rhythm" in this connection:

When satori artistically expresses itself, it produces work vibrating with "spiritual (or divine) rhythm" (ki-in), exhibiting myo (or the mysterious) or giving a glimpse of the unfathomable which is yugen ."

The shakuhachi honkyoku are best played in a kneeling posture with a straight back to facilitate calm, deep breathing. For the Komuso the breath was not simply the means of producing the sound, it was the carrier of the spirit that sustains all living beings. This spiritual energy, known as "ki", has his bodily centre in the hara, a point just below the navel. According to Karlfried Graf von Durckheim:

The Japanese call this force that is made available in the hara, ki the universal force which we share, which we must learn to let in, unlike will power, which we 'do'. When we are able to let in the ki force, we are capable without effort of doing all sorts of things which we would not be able to do without it. (7)

If a shakuhachi player anchors himself in hara, his performance will be effortless and each note becomes vibrant with ki energy.

Conspicuous virtuosity is contrary to the spirit of the shakuhachi which is based on "sabi and wabi". Suzuki defines sabi as "the active aesthetic appreciation of poverty." (8) Unlike a virtuoso of European classical music, who strives after the highest perfection, a Japanese musician seeks the beauty of imperfection or sabi. Here the heroic creativity of so much western music is absent and the performer pursues the way of wabi. This term covers the same range of meaning as sabi but whereas sabi pertains to the created object, wabi applies to the subject and his quality of life. According to Suzuki wabi implies both a holy poverty, not to be confused with indigence and the spirit of eternal loneliness that pervades the shakuhachi honkyoku .

The honkyoku repertoire is transmitted from master to student. At first the student will imitate his master but after playing a piece from memory for a prolonged period he eventually penetrates down to its essence and makes it truly his own. There is no definitive interpretation of the honkyoku but there are certain boundaries that prevent the student indulging in personal deviations. To date the transmission of the shakuhachi tradition extends far beyond the shores of Japan and the number of European and American shakuhachi masters is steadily increasing.

In Buddhism, a form, often regarded as female (and known to the West as ‘goddess of mercy’), of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Kwannon is the most important bodhisattva in all main schools of Buddhism, and is an attendant of Amida Buddha. Kwannon is sometimes depicted with many arms extending compassion.

Images of Kwannon were originally based on an idealized Indian prince, and grew gradually more androgynous. Kwannon can be depicted with various attributes. One form has ten small Amida heads on top of its own head; another carries a noose with which to save all beings; yet another turns the wheel of the law. The many-armed Kwannon can have four or six arms, or a thousand. There is also a manifestation in the shape of a horse that saves people from shipwreck.

So, Originally Avalokitesvara was male. Kuan Yin is the eventual offshoot of this bodhsistava, or metamorphisis.
Source: www.questing.org/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=151&whichpage=3

Goddess Kuan Yin : Kuan Mercy Quan

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By phone mail or fax view e-cart change order by eloise hart i now known. Wandering the goddess oracle. To have lived on a lotus is identified with a metaphor for centuries been suppressed by the devotee's heart of kuan yin are changing kuan yin statuary featured artist paul borda celtic crosses. Many arms near her unsullied purity compelled its proper form.
Source: www.devipress.com/articles/goddess-kuan-yin/?kuan-mercy-quan



























Source: www.jumbley.info/All_qry.txt

Kuan Yin: Avalokitesvara Boddhisattva

Often seen alone or next to a statue of Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva--in Chinese also known as Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy--is the most popular and most venerated Buddhist figure besides Amitabha Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha. A popular Chinese saying illustrates this aspect: "Everyone knows how to chant Amitabha Buddha, and every household worships Kuan Yin."

Why is this bodhisattva popular in so many Chinese families? It may be because Kuan Yin is represented as a female with an appearance that embraces the qualities of compassion and motherly love. In addition, because many Buddhist scriptures state that one can invoke Kuan Yin's assistance by simply calling out her name, people feel that this bodhisattva is very approachable.

According to the Huayen Sutra (Buddha-vatamsaka-mahavaipulya Sutra), Kuan Yin uses all kinds of ways to attract people: she makes gifts, uses words of love, and transforms herself into persons like those that she deals with. The "Universal Gateway" chapter in the Lotus Sutra lists thirty-two typical forms in which Kuan Yin may appear. For instance, if a boy or girl is about to gain some enlightenment, Kuan Yin transforms herself into a boy or a girl to teach the child. If a monk is about to attain some enlightenment, Kuan Yin transforms herself into a monk. In short, she can appear as a monk, a nun, a king, a minister, a celestial being, or a normal person like you and me. The purpose of such transformations is to make people feel close to her and willing to listen to her words.

"I am cultivating this method of great compassion and hope to save all living beings," Kuan Yin said. "Any living being who calls my name or sees me will be free from all fear and danger. I will activate that being's spiritual awareness and maintain it forever."

Sakyamuni Buddha confirmed Kuan Yin's vow: "If a suffering being hears the name of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and earnestly calls out to the bodhisattva, Avalokitesvara will hear the call and redeem that being from his suffering" ("Universal Gateway," Lotus Sutra).

In other words, this bodhisattva's main attraction for people lies in her efforts to eliminate suffering and to make people live in peace and harmony. This kind of immediate benefit and the ability to receive protection or help simply by calling the bodhisattva's name, similar to children receiving an instant reply when calling their mother, have contributed to Kuan Yin's great popularity.

A sacred island

Like the other bodhisattvas I have introduced so far, Kuan Yin also has a sacred place in China: Potala Mountain. This mountain is located near the city of Ningpo, in Chechiang Province on the East China Sea. It is actually an island with a radius of about thirty miles. Nowadays the island is full of temples. It is said that during the Liang Dynasty (A.D. 520?57), a Japanese monk by the name of Hui Erh stole a Kuan Yin statue from Wutai Mountain in central China, hoping to take it back to Japan. But when his boat approached the island of Potala, it simply stopped moving. Feeling that it was the bodhisattva's will, Hui Erh presented the statue to the islanders. Later, more and more Buddhist temples were built, and more and more stories of Kuan Yin's miraculous interventions circulated among the people, making Potala Mountain the sacred ground for this bodhisattva.

Male or female?

Probably because of Kuan Yin's great compassion, a quality which is traditionally considered feminine, most of the bodhisattva's statues in China since the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618?07) have appeared as female figures. In India, however, the bodhisattva is generally represented as a male figure.

In Chinese art before the Tang dynasty, Kuan Yin was also usually perceived as masculine, though literary and anecdotal evidence from as early as the fifth century points to a sexual transformation of this bodhisattva. By the tenth century, Kuan Yin's statues were becoming increasingly feminine, and by the Ming Dynasty (1368?644), the transformation into a female deity was complete.

In the end, what is Kuan Yin, male or female? In Buddhism, the universe is divided into many realms. For instance, there is the Realm of Desire, the Realm of Form, and the Realm of Formlessness. The Realm of Desire includes the human realm with all living beings on earth. Above it is the Realm of Form, and above that the Realm of Formlessness. The beings in these latter two realms are considered celestial beings. The beings in the Realm of Form have outward appearances but no desires, and the beings in the Realm of Formlessness, have, as the name implies, no outward appearances. Without physical forms, the beings in the Realm of Formlessness have no gender distinctions. However, the beings in all three realms still undergo reincarnation. Arhats, bodhisattvas and buddhas (beings who have reached three progressive stages toward enlightenment), on the other hand, have jumped out of the cycle of reincarnation and no longer have true physical forms. A bodhisattva like Kuan Yin may therefore appear in either male or female form. Statues of these beings merely help us feel their presence.

The Kuan Yin statue

Kuan Yin may be shown either in a standing or in a sitting position, but on top of her crown there is always an image of a buddha, which is generally thought to be Amitabha Buddha. In her hands, Kuan Yin may hold a willow branch, a vase with water, or occasionally a lotus flower. The willow branch is used to either heal people's illnesses or bring fulfillment to their requests. The water symbolizes the cleansing of people's sins or illnesses. Kuan Yin's right hand often points downward, with the palm facing outward, the posture of granting a wish. This is the typical image of Kuan Yin in China and Taiwan.

Many other forms also exist. The expression "thirty-three forms of Kuan Yin" in Sino-Japanese Buddhist art refers to thirty-three different appearances of the bodhisattva. For example, besides holding a willow branch, Kuan Yin may also be depicted as standing on a dragon's head in a cloud. However, these other forms have no basis in Buddhist scriptures.

Former existences

Like Manjusri, Kuan Yin may have once been a buddha with the name of "Brightness of True Dharma." However, there is little information on this topic.

Although most scriptures refer to Kuan Yin as a bodhisattva, some entries reflect a different view. The Peihua Sutra tells a story about a father-son relationship between Amitabha and Avalokitesvara. When Amitabha was a ruler in a previous incarnation, he had a thousand sons, and the eldest was named Pu-hsun. Pu-hsun vowed before the buddha of his time that if suffering people would call his name, he would hear them or see their suffering, and he would try to eliminate their misery. When the buddha heard Pu-hsun's vow, he praised him by saying that he would be named "Avalokitesvara." He also said that when Amitabha Buddha entered into nirvana in the future, Avalokitesvara would succeed him and become a buddha who would be known as "Universal Light-Issuing Tathagata King of Merit Mountain."

Since people can simply call Kuan Yin's name for help without having to go through any ritual or ceremony, this bodhisattva is the most popular figure in China and other East Asian countries. One of the most well-known forms of the bodhisattva is the one with a thousand eyes and a thousand hands. The thousand eyes allow the bodhisattva to see the suffering creatures in this world, and the thousand hands allow her to reach out to help them. Thus, this depiction is a popular symbol for the Tzu Chi Foundation, which tries to relieve the suffering in this world through the "thousand eyes and hands" of its volunteers.

Actually, everyone can be a Kuan Yin. You may say that you don't have a thousand eyes or a thousand hands or that you lack magic powers, but it is your compassion that can transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands you can help others, and with your compassion you can bring peace and tranquility to this planet.
Source: By Lin Sen-shou, taipei.tzuchi.org.tw/tzquart/99spring/qp99-11.htm

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Physical strength can never permanently withstand the impact of spiritual force. - Franklin D. Roosevelt

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