Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Compassion Has a Thousand Arms

One of my favorite names for the Divine is Kuan Yin, 'She who hears the cries of the world.' A number of Asian nations just had festivals in her honor.  They all have their own take on her name, their own stories, their own religion through which they know her. So many view her as their own special protector. They may all be right.

She is known for her compassion. Often depicted as gentle and mild, her face is an approachable one, reaching beyond Buddhism to various faiths. Women ask her for her aid in conception, in guiding a baby's soul to its mother, then guarding them in birth. She is also said to aid the dead, freeing newly departed souls from the judgment of the underworld.

Yet compassion has not only a gentle face but a thousand arms.

One story of Kuan Yin's origins tells of her willingness to give her eyes and arms to heal a king. When at last the royal family thanked her for her unthinkable sacrifice, the earth trembled, flowers rained down, and her eyes and arms reappeared to them a thousandfold in the clouds.

I like to think we all are those arms. We work our work. We do what is needed simply because it is needed. We reach out and hug, type, hammer, lobby, support, plant, paint, chop, carry, caress, heal, manifest, applaud, and wipe tears away.

And when we can't be there, we ask Kuan Yin to be there and hear those cries.

(I'll talk about her dragon some other time.)

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