Never will I seek nor receive private, individual salvation;
Never will I enter into final peace alone; but forever and everywhere,
Will I live and strive for the redemption of every creature
Kwan Yin’s Pledge
Kwan Yin is the best loved Chinese goddess, known throughout Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand and other countries. She is also known as Kuan Yin, Quan’Am (Vietnam), Kannon (Japan), and Kanin (Bali). It is said that every Chinese household worships Kuan Yin. She is claimed as a patron deity by both the Taoists and the Buddhists and worshipped especially by women. The name Kwan Yin means She Who Hears the Cries and Comes. She is the embodiment of compassionate loving kindness and mercy, who responds to everyone who calls her name in their suffering, but especially women who are trying to conceive.
With the sweet drops she sprinkles from her vase, she relieves the suffering of beings everywhere, blessing them with physical and spiritual peace. Her right hand often points downward, with the palm facing outward, the posture of granting a wish. Her body and garments are both of brilliant, translucent white light. Her feet rest upon a beautiful red lotus flower above a vast ocean. The lotus is a Chinese emblem of summer and fruitfulness, and a Buddhism symbol of purity since it grows out of the mud but is not soiled by it.
In legend, there was a king with three daughters. The youngest was Kwan Yin who exhibited a great compassion for all living things. This meant nothing to her father who planned to marry her off to some rich man in the hope of attaining an heir in the form of a grandson. However, Kwan Yin refused and pleaded with her father to allow her to enter a Buddhist nunnery. He agreed, but grudgingly, determined to undermine her resolve by asking the convent to give her the meanest and most degrading tasks. However, she bore these without complaint, and her determination only grew stronger. This moved her father to such rage that he ordered her to be executed. But when the executioner struck Kwan Yin with his sword, it broke into a thousand pieces. Her father ordered her to be strangled, and it was thus that she met her death. When she reached the underworld, her glorious light lit its gloominess, and changed it to a paradise. King Yama, the ruler of the underworld, didn’t like her cheering up his realm, and returned her to life. She spent nine years on a small island living a holy life and healing the sick.
Then it so happened that her father was struck by a dreadful disease that could only be cured by the hand and eye of the “Never Angry One.” Kwan Yin, on hearing this, allowed her hand to be cut off and her eye gouged out. Reduced to an ointment, these parts immediately effected a cure. When the king discovered what she had done for him, he was repentant.
In Buddhist tradition, Kwan Yin was created the Celestial Bodhisattva of Compassion.
She refuses to enter heaven until all suffering on earth ends. She brings comfort and consolation to the sick and the grieving, offering relief from pain. She offers shelter to the abused and frightened, and forgiveness and redemption for the sinner.
Her lesson is that our hearts must always be open to love and compassion, that we must treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves. We must show tender kindness to all living creatures and do our best to relieve suffering wherever we find it. Kwan Yin offers a peaceful, quiet place within the heart where the spirit finds refuge, and where all is love.
© Anna Franklin