# bodhisattva of compassion

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Bodhisattva of CompassionThe Mystical Tradirion of l{uan Yirt'' al .. ,

John Blofeid

SHAMBFIALABoulder 1978

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S}JAMBHAI-A PUL]LICATIONS, NC I 3 1 4L ) a r t n r o u t hS t r e e t R o s t o n ,\ l a s s a c h u s e t t s 2 1 ( r 0 I i 1977John Illofelc'l shc'clLrl'arra rrgcnrcn t rr'ith I-'trLrli C e o r g eA l l e n & U r r u , i r L t d . , L o r r d o n . r I S I J N0 - S 7 7 7 3 - 1 2 ( r - E LCC 77-q:3i? D i s t r i l r u t c t li n t h c U r r i t e cS t a t e b v R i r n c l o n l l o u s c . r l s I ' ri r , t c c . l r t h e U n i t , : dS t . i t e o i A . n i c r i c a . ir s

A cknouledgemen ts

.}l r' * 'a r r n*s t r hank s a re c l u e ro s e ' e ra l p e o p l e w , ho w ent t o g r e a r r r o u b l e r c s u p p l v m e r v j t h v a i u a b l e m a r e r i a l si n E n g l i sh an' J Chir : es : a n d rv i rh i l l u s tra ti o n s , e s p e ci al l ythe \''ei:erg: : !{suan Hua andhis disciple at Gold Mountain s r\i l o n a :i c *' , S an F r an c i s c o ; a n d my g o o d fri e n d s shoj un Ba n ',i ', Hir of um i A n d o (rra n s ra ro r o f ttre to ur l i ttl e Ja p a n cs epilgr im s c ng s ), Ge ra l d y o rk c , D a v i d Ki dd and Ga:y Thomson. I am very grateful, also, to the British N l u scu m aur hor it ies a n d to M a j o r w . H . Ed mo nds for allorving me rc reprociuce photographs of paintings and st.i tu e s r n r heir c oll: c ti o n s . F ' i n a l l y , I a c k n o w l edge my d e b r ro r hos e r lv o outs ta n d i n g re fe re n c e rv o rk s , d.rty' s Gods ttf Narrhem Buddhism and, Edmunci s' pointers ind Cl u ;s to S ubjec t sir , Ch i n e s ea n d J a p a n e s eA rt.

Contems

FOREWORD I z 3 :| 5 5 Th e E nigm a Some ilanifestatlons Kuan Yin's Indian and Tibetan Genesis Mi a o S han and O th e r L e g e n d s So me B uddhis t Co n c e p rs o f K u a n Y i n Sa cr ed Rit es

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7 C o n t c m plat iv e Y o g i c M e d rta ti o n I D re am s , Rev er ies a n d Sp e c u l a ti o n s ' I ' he P r inc i p a l Ic o n o g ra p h i c F o rm s ATTp EN DI X of the BodhisattvaGI.OSSARl'

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p b e tw e e n a g e s S e EI r Kuan Yin vo1'aging pon a giant lotus pctal ,author's u : ollec t ic . r t ) z W ooden im ag e o f K u a n Yi n fro m a fi s h eri :ran' s i unk ( c our t t : - ^, ' fK.E. S re z ,a i s ) o: S t a t u et r i K u a n Y i n , h e r r i g h t h a n d r a i s e di n b l e s s i n g 3 ( c our r ; : ^, of B ri r' i s h A4 u s e u n \ ' of 4 G ilded r r , ood e n s ta tu e o f A v a l o k i ta (c o z,rrri -\\' Mr Dauid Kidd anrl ,VIr Yasuvoshi hforimoio) 5 Nepaies e br o n z r- S ts tu c o f T a ra \c o u rte s),o_f B ri ti sh Musewtt) 6 P aint ing of t h e T h o u s a n d -Arme d A v a l o ki ta \courtes), o.f Brirish Museunt) of 7 M ongolian ima g e o f T a ra i n b ro n z e (c o urresT, Mr Wongchindorj) 8 ( a) K uan Y in a s g i v e r o f o ffs p ri n g ( b) S han T s ' a i , K u a n Yi n ' s m a l e a tte n d ant (c) \$7'ooden image of female attendant, Lung Nu (.courtesT' K. E. Stet'ens) of g K uan Y in ho l d i n g th e v a s e o f ' s rv e e t d err' ' anci the wish-fulfilling gem (corffteg) of British Mu-reum) to Amitabha Buddha (courresyof British Museutn) I r AmitEbha Buddha as rhe Guide of Souls (courtesy of British Museutrt) rz K uan Y in bea ri n g th e v a s e o f ' s l l ' e e t d e w' (courtesyof British tlfuseuni; I3 K uan f in in t h e p o s eo f ' l o rd l y e a s e '(c o u rtesy B ri ti sh of Musetunl 14 Kuan Yin bearing a sy'mbol of fecundity (corrrtesyof K. E. Ste'u-ens) I5 S t at ue of K ua n Yi n fro m th e T ' a n g D y n a sq' (courtesy af British lvluseutn) r6 S t at ue of M an j u s ri , e mb o d i m e n t o f V i s d o m (courtesy of Brirish Aluseuni)

F-oreu,ord

Radianee, spotlessand effulgent, Itlighr-dispelling Sun of Wisdom! Lotus S[tra

This is in part the story of a quest, of gradual progress towards the heart of an enigma. Confronted some forty years ago by the charming figure of Kuan Yin, known to many as the Chinese Goddess of Love, I came to wonder whether it was rvholly symb o l i c or whet her K u a n Yi n c o u l d , i n s o me s e nse,be sai d to & e. The adventure started one night when, by the uncertain light of votive candles, I had made my way alone through the shadows to the back of a temple hall. Tbe fitful gleams playing a mi ds t t he dar k ne s sc o n j u re d u p a n a tmo s p h e reof mystery' A s IstoodgazingupatatallbronzeStaIueofKuanYin,odoor seemed to open in my mind and the goddess, so I could have sworn, deignedto addressmet lmagination ? That may well seem to have been so, but who under such romantic circumstances could resist the hope that she had really spoken? Thenceforth I was her devoted follower, which does not mean, however, that I quite believed in her. Drawn by a fascination having nothing to do rvith belief or its .onu..rl, I delved ever more deepll b e y ond t he guis e s h e w e a ri fo r s i mp l e fo l k a nd presentl )' camc to h av e s om e dim a p p re h e n s i o no f h e r s i g n i fi c anceas a cel esti al Bo dhis at t v a) a k in d o f b e i n g l e s sb e i n g re p re s enti ng cne of thc mo s t ex alt ed c onc e p ts o f M a h a y a n a B u d d h i s m . P ercei vi ng hcr to be much more than a graceful myth expressing the yearning o f th e poor and lon e l y fo r c o mp a s s i o n ,I h a d a l l the more reason fcr lov ing her ; y e t th i s n e w v i s i o n ' o f h e r a s the embodi ment of divine love rvas somervhat marred b1' the miraculous po\$'ers descri bi ng them a ttribut ed t o her i n th e s u tra s . T h e p a s s a g e s seemed at first to detract from rather than enhance her sublimity, for they struck me as too fanciful and more becoming to a f olk goddes sth a n a c e l e s ti a l Bo d h i s a ttv a . Thi s, of course) wa s jus t a per s on a l v i e rv .

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r 4 Bodhisattva of Compassion Ye a rs lat er , wit h a n i n s i g h t s te m m i n g fro m the teachi ng of my C h i nes e and T ibe ta n ma s te rs , I c a me to u n d erstand u' har I sti l l think is her t r u e s i g n i fi c a n c e- o r p a rr o f i t. S hc i s rcal - oh, not as Artemis and Aphrodite \vere real in thc e1,esof th e i r w or s hipper s , b u t i n a s e n s e mo re s e c re t a nd profounci . However, in trying ro inake this point, I have nor sought tcr co n ve rt ot her s t o m y w a y o f th i n k i n g . I .s h a l lb c happv i f thci ' co me to lov e her , ev e n i f s h e re ma i n s fo r th e m j ust a beauti f' ul i d e a . To giv e c olour an d l i fe to my p o rtra i t o f h e r, I havc rc-l atctl ma n y chines e and T i tre ta n ta l e s rv h i c h re v e a l h c r at rvhat ma1. ri g h tl y or wr ongly b e c a l l e d th e l o n ' e r a n d m i ddl c l cvcl s oi u n d crstanding. br e id c s s e tti n g d o u ' n s o mc o f h c r mantras and s ap p ro p r iar e ex c er pis f ro m s u tra s a n d m a n u a l s o f contcmi l l ati vc m e d i ta t ion. A ls o I ha v e h a d mu c h to s a 1 'o f Ku a n f i n' i rhrcc p ro g e nit or s - A v alok i te s v a ra(C h e n re s i g s )a n d T a ra, trvo dci ti es wa rml y c her is hed b1' T i b e ra n s , a n d th e C h i n e s e pri ncess Mi ao Sh a n , for K uan Y in i s m1 ' s te ri o u s l ya l l o f th e s e rogethcr I Perhaps the portrait wiit find favour not only with some rvh. are i n te r es t ed in B ud d h i s n r a n d C h i n e s e a n d Ti betan yogi c practice, but also r,r'iththose who have come upon temples and shrines to Kuan Yin r,r'hilesojourning in Asian countries, anci with the many lovers of Chinese arr who have fallen captive to her charms both as a benign mother goddess and as a srveetlv smi l i n g m aide. r deit y. I s h o u l d h a v e l i k e d ro s a y more of hc.r from the viewpoint of Chinese and Japanese art, but research facilities in Bangkok are limited. As it is, the pith of what I have written is mystical rather than aesthetic; I hope it may encourage those who, without necessarilysubscribing to an established faith, have glimpsed the effulgence of what Lao-tzrj called the Na me l es s - t har which o n c e i n s p i re d c e rta i n G reeks to erecr a wayside altar to 'The Unknown God' and led wordsq'orth to perceive a supernatural radiance suft-usingthe rvorld around hi m. The Nam eles s i s a s i i i s a n d q u i te b e y o n d the rearm of c o n ce pt ual t hought ; ye t th e re a re ti me s w h e n o n e neecs to hi nt at i t sym bolic ally . T o my mi n d , K u a n Y i n ' s g e ntl e form i s a worthier symbol than the figure of a rortured being hanging from a cross or of an awesomefather god. Trivial and inaccuratras a l l suc h s y m bols a re i n c o mp a ri s o n w i th th e rcal i ty thel ' clothe, they have their importance and should be chosen rvirir ca re . If r v e ar e t o pr es e rv eo u r s a n i ty a m i d s t th e mi n d-shatteri nq

Foreu'ord

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horrors of the modern lvorid, it is rvell to har-e an intimation of serenel-'* abiding beauty underlying thc grim fagade visible to our s ens es .Co u l d w e b u t c h o o s eo u r o w n symbol of that beauty (and why indeed should 'we not ?), it rr-ould be hard to fi n d a f or m lov eli e r th a n Ku a n y i n ' s I o r, i f r he chi nese conccp tion of t he gc d d e s s s e e ms j u s t a tri fl e to o sedate, \\.e coul d o p t f or her T ibc t a n c o u n re rp a rt a n d rrv i n , th : compassi onate a n d s ly ly play f ul Ta ra !joHN BLOFELD

Chapter r

The EnigmaNo loaer of fair utslons Born of mind and caught By the painter's brttsh Or caraer's hand Can zpell resist Kuan Yin's enchantment. I,,lo follower of the Way Beyond the Hiddert Gate But longs to read the secret Reflected in her eyes,

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