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Tales and stories of Guan Yin

Legends about Guan Yin first appeared in the Middle Kingdom more than two thousand years ago. Her popularity exploded around the Song Dynasty (960–1279), and she continues to be hailed and worshipped as the “Goddess of Mercy” to this day.

"The body is a temple. You are a projection of love. Love the Earth, love the air, love the water, love the fire. Love the part of self that is of the ethers "- Kuan Yin

"We are the Love of Creation." - Kuan Yin

"There are the waves and there is the wind, seen and unseen forces. Everyone has these same elements in their lives, the seen and unseen: karma and free will. The question is, 'how are you going to handle what you have?' You are riding the karmic wave underneath and the wind can shift. Everyone must take what they see and deal with that which is unseen."
- Kuan Yin

'If with kindly generosity
One merely has the wish to soothe
The aching hearts of other beings,
Such merit has no bounds.'

~ Kuan Yin

"Keep your mind clear and your heart open so that you can hear your truth "- Kuan Yin

"Fall in love with yourself again to bring in the love of your life." - Kuan Yin

Who is Kuan Yin:

Legends of the Mahayana School of Buddhism recount that Kwan Yin was 'born' from a ray of white light which The Amitabha Buddha emitted from his right eye while he was deep in spiritual ecstasy.
Kwan Yin is regarded as an emanation of The Amitabha Buddha and as anembodiment of compassion, the quality which Amitabha himself embodies in the highest sense.
Kuan Yin is the sublime Goddess of Mercy whose beauty, grace and compassion have come to represent the ideal of womanhood in the East.

 

One story from the Precious Scroll of Fragrant Mountain describes an incarnation of Guanyin as the daughter of a cruel king who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. The story is usually ascribed to the research of the Buddhist monk Chiang Chih-ch’i during the 11th century CE. The story is likely to have a Taoist origin. Chiang Chih-ch’i, when he penned the work, believed that the Guanyin we know today was actually a Buddhist princess called Miaoshan (妙善), who had a religious following on Fragrant Mountain. Despite this there are many variants of the story in Chinese mythology.

According to the story, after the king asked his daughter Miao Shan to marry the wealthy man, she told him that she would obey his command, so long as the marriage eased three misfortunes.

The king asked his daughter what were the three misfortunes that the marriage should ease. Miaoshan explained that the first misfortune the marriage should ease was the suffering people endure as they age. The second misfortune it should ease was the suffering people endure when they fall ill. The third misfortune it should ease was the suffering caused by death. If the marriage could not ease any of the above, then she would rather retire to a life of religion forever.

When her father asked who could ease all the above, Miao Shan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all of these.

Her father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. He forced her into hard labor and reduced her food and drink but this did not cause her to yield.

Every day she begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun instead of marrying. Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her the toughest chores in order to discourage her. The monks forced Miao Shan to work all day and all night, while others slept, in order to finish her work. However, she was such a good person that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores. Her father, seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple. Miao Shan put out the fire with her bare hands and suffered no burns. Now struck with fear, her father ordered her to be put to death.

In one version of this legend, when Guanyin was executed, a supernatural tiger took her to one of the more hell-like realms of the dead. However, instead of being punished by demons like the other inmates, Guanyin played music, and flowers blossomed around her. This completely surprised the head demon. The story says that Guanyin, by merely being in that hell, turned it into a paradise.

A variant of the legend says that Miao Shan allowed herself to die at the hand of the executioner. According to this legend, as the executioner tried to carry out her father’s orders, his axe shattered into a thousand pieces. He then tried a sword which likewise shattered. He tried to shoot Miao Shan down with arrows but they all veered off.

Finally in desperation he used his hands. Miao Shan, realising the fate that the executioner would meet at her father’s hand should she fail to let herself die, forgave the executioner for attempting to kill her. It is said that she voluntarily took on the massive karmic guilt the executioner generated for killing her, thus leaving him guiltless. It is because of this that she descended into the Hell-like realms. While there, she witnessed first-hand the suffering and horrors that the beings there must endure, and was overwhelmed with grief. Filled with compassion, she released all the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth. In the process, that Hell-like realm became a paradise. It is said that Yanluo, King of Hell, sent her back to Earth to prevent the utter destruction of his realm, and that upon her return she appeared on Fragrant Mountain.

Another tale says that Miao Shan never died, but was in fact transported by a supernatural tiger, believed to be the Deity of the Place, to Fragrant Mountain.

The Legend of Miao Shan usually ends with Miao Chuang Yen, Miao Shan’s father, falling ill with jaundice. No physician was able to cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the jaundice could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of one without anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain. When asked, Miao Shan willingly offered up her eyes and arms. Miao Chuang Yen was cured of his illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to give thanks to the person. When he discovered that his own daughter had made the sacrifice, he begged for forgiveness. The story concludes with Miaoshan being transformed into the Thousand Armed Guanyin, and the king, queen and her two sisters building a temple on the mountain for her. She began her journey to heaven and was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering from the world below. She turned around and saw the massive suffering endured by the people of the world. Filled with compassion, she returned to Earth, vowing never to leave till such time as all suffering has ended.

After her return to Earth, Guanyin was said to have stayed for a few years on the island of Mount Putuo where she practised meditation and helped the sailors and fishermen who got stranded. Guanyin is frequently worshipped as patron of sailors and fishermen due to this. She is said to frequently becalm the sea when boats are threatened with rocks. After some decades Guanyin returned to Fragrant Mountain to continue her meditation.

 

Saving Villages

Popular stories about Guan Yin involve her transforming into unassuming characters to bring help to troubled people. In some regions, Guan Yin is depicted carrying a wicker basket, and is revered as the patron saint of sailors and fishermen.

One such legend takes place in a riverside village plagued by a gang of notorious bullies. After seeing the people’s suffering, Guan Yin transforms into a beautiful young fisherwoman to pay the village a visit. The gang’s leader falls in love on sight and wishes to marry her. But Guan Yin insists he first memorize Buddhist scriptures, abstain from eating meat, and perform good deeds. As a result, the entire posse relinquishes their weapons and change their ways. Thereafter, the village became a delightful place to live, and people everywhere came to know it as a place of compassion.

Guan Yin is a prominent figure in Journey to the West. One of the four classics of Chinese literature, it tells the tale of a Tang Dynasty monk’s epic pilgrimage with three colorful and magical disciples. Written by Wu Cheng’en in the 16th century, the beloved adventure novel combines action, humor, and spiritual lessons. Shen Yun has presented adaptations of numerous stories from it.

The classic begins when Guan Yin instructs the emperor to call for a quest to retrieve Buddhist scriptures. She then enlists Monkey King, Pigsy, and Sandy as disciples for Tang Monk. Her intention? To have them make amends for causing trouble in the heavens, protect Tang Monk from peril and, most importantly, advance on their spiritual paths.

The whole way, the three disciples drive out evil and safeguard their master. However, sometimes even savvy Monkey is at a loss. But just as he would start tearing out his fur in frustration, Guan Yin would materialize with a solution! No wonder she became so popular!

This goddess of mercy can help solve any problem. But remember: she only helps those who lead a life of kindness, honesty, and mercy.

The above two texts are excerpted from the Shenyun website, very nice place!