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Guan Yin, Bodhisattva of Mercy

Guan Yin has been a constant presence in my life since the beginning. Friends from my childhood know that my cousin’s family had a large 4-foot statue of Guan Yin in their yard. In addition, my Grandmother had a 2-feet high statue of Guan Yin in her yard alongside other stone deities. In my youth, we made frequent visits to the Nelson-Atkins Museum to visit their massive 8-foot Guan Yin they have owned since the 30s. (Go visit the Nelson when you can if you haven’t yet.) 

When I asked my dear friend and cousin Candice Wang what deity she wanted to see in the Goddess Collection, she said “Guan Yin of the Southern Sea.” I already knew what she was going to say and I smiled before she even spoke. I gave the project over to Candice and Karen to design. See the blog on the website to learn more about the charity Candice and Karen picked to benefit from this collaboration. Her image was a design by the contributors to this project. Both contributors were inspired by the Guan Yin Bodhisattva Statue of the South China Sea in Sanya, Hainan. Their design takes my breath away. Thank you, ladies, it has been an honor. 

Guan Yin is the Bodhisattva of mercy, peace, wisdom, and luck. She is associated with compassion and known as “The Goddess of Mercy.” Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have decided to hold off transcending in order to help others attain enlightenment. The name of the Goddess literally means “observing sound” or cries. The one who perceives the sounds of the world. Those who are in need. Her hand is of great mercy and comfort. Guan Yin is described as a Bodhisattva that can take on any form. “She can transform into a male, female, adult, child, elder, human, or non-human, in order to teach the Dharma.” Guan Yin has 33 different manifestations according to the Threefold Lotus Sutra. By the 12th century the Bodhisattva was represented mostly as female, but do not forget the transformation abilities possessed by the One Who Perceives Sound. Guan Yin is considered to be the embodiment of kindness, compassion, and nurturing. The “patroness” of mothers, those in need, and sailors. To me, this is just the beginning verse to the song of Guan Yin.