The Statue of Avalokitesvara

The people of Korea once commissioned an artist in China to carve a life-sized wooden statue of Avalokitesvara. The work was completed and the statue carried to the harbour for shipment, when suddenly it became so heavy that no human effort could move it from the beach. The Chinese and Koreans conferred and decided that the statue must remain in China. Thereafter, the statue returned to normal weight and was enshrined at a temple in Ming Chou. A person paying homage to the statue commented, "In the sutra we read that Avalokitesvara is possessed of miraculous powers and in the whole universe there is no place where he does not manifest himself. Then why did this holy statue refuse to go to Korea?

Avalokitesvara is the symbol of loving kindness and compassion in Buddhism. A Sanskrit word, Avalokitesvara is "Kanin" in Chinese and "Kannon" in Japanese. In English it is often called the "Goddess of Mercy" (though Avalokitesvara has no gender) and depicted as a beautiful female figure radiating loving kindness. Traditionally, artists carved beautiful and aesthetic Avalokitesvaras, and these were enshrined in many places as symbols of boundless compassion. The Kaigenji Temple, referred to in this koan as located in Ming Chou, China, is not necessarily in China. The Kaigenji Temple is everywhere - in China, Korea, and the United States. If one opens the mind of compassion, Avalokitesvara is everywhere - in your mind and in your heart. If one looks for Avalokitesvara in China, he must return empty-handed.


Popular Posts