There are many, many spiritual paths. I urge my students to honor the path that is right for them, to be respectful of other paths and to look for the common connections of love and kindness within and between all.
When people visit my yoga and meditation room or my home, they often ask questions about the female Asian figures I obviously collect. I always explain that it is personal for me - a reminder to come from a place of compassion and caring in everything I do. It is not about religion - rather an honoring of the essence of this figure called Kuan Yin.
I then get questions about who she is and why she is signficant. I decided to put together an article to share with those curious.
Throughout Asia, Kuan Yin is greatly revered as the goddess of mercy and compassion.
The name Kuan Yin translates from Chinese to mean "She Who Hears all the Cries of the World."
She is believed to be the embodiment of pure love, compassion and mercy and that she shows up for anyone who calls her name when they experience suffering.
Stories tell of her appearing at the bedside of the seriously ill and sprinkling nectar from her jar with healing to follow.
The legend of Kuan Yin tells stories of how she lived a life of such incredible acts of compassion and love for others, even when she was treated with cruelty, that when she died her spirit chose to remain on earth and bring enlightenment to all rather than travel on to Nirvana (heaven).
Statues of her stand in many Buddhist temples.
It is said that often appears to those eabout to attain enlightenment, transforming herself into the form of whomever the person most connects with relating to their spiritual path.
Many believe Kuan Yin provides protection from danger but she shields with love, never violence or hatred.
She brings comfort to people who are sick, hurt and grieving. For those steeped in fear, she brings relief.
I am always struck by the similarities of the teachings of Kuan Yin and the teachings of Jesus Christ. See if you see similarities.
Kuan Yin teaches that our hearts must always be open to extend love and compassion, that we should treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.
Her message is that we should demonstrate caring and kindness to all living creatures and do our best to help those who are suffering wherever we can.
Kuan Yin teaches that when people hurt others it is because they are hurting. Her lesson is that we should aim to respond with compassion rather than anger and believe that all will benefit from that compassion.
Kuan Yin embodies peace. She encourages us to release all grudges, forgive others and not beat ourselves up for our mistakes.
The healing that comes from this belief and practice is healing of the spirit even when the physical body may remain ill or injured - accepting that we are here to learn and grow spiritually.
As a child, I used to have mysterious visions of what I believed to be the Holy Mother Mary standing at the foot of my bed. I would hear her in my own mind and feel her in my heart telling me I was loved and encouraging me to believe in myself when I was going through difficult times. I was raised as protestant where God was personified as male and there was no mention of the feminine Divine. So, these experiences were very strange but beautiful for me.
As an adult I found the same comfort in this Bodhisatva. It's not about religion for me. It's a beautiful reminder that I choose to walk a path of loving kindness and when I fall away from my commitment and falter, seeing an image of her reminds me.