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Bodhisattva of CompassionThe Mystical Tradirion of l{uan Yirt'' al .. ,

John Blofeid

SHAMBFIALABoulder 1978

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S}JAMBHAI-A PUL]LICATIONS, NC I 3 1 4L ) a r t n r o u t hS t r e e t R o s t o n ,\ l a s s a c h u s e t t s 2 1 ( r 0 I i 1977John Illofelc'l shc'clLrl'arra rrgcnrcn t rr'ith I-'trLrli C e o r g eA l l e n & U r r u , i r L t d . , L o r r d o n . r I S I J N0 - S 7 7 7 3 - 1 2 ( r - E LCC 77-q:3i? D i s t r i l r u t c t li n t h c U r r i t e cS t a t e b v R i r n c l o n l l o u s c . r l s I ' ri r , t c c . l r t h e U n i t , : dS t . i t e o i A . n i c r i c a . ir s

A cknouledgemen ts

.}l r' * 'a r r n*s t r hank s a re c l u e ro s e ' e ra l p e o p l e w , ho w ent t o g r e a r r r o u b l e r c s u p p l v m e r v j t h v a i u a b l e m a r e r i a l si n E n g l i sh an' J Chir : es : a n d rv i rh i l l u s tra ti o n s , e s p e ci al l ythe \''ei:erg: : !{suan Hua andhis disciple at Gold Mountain s r\i l o n a :i c *' , S an F r an c i s c o ; a n d my g o o d fri e n d s shoj un Ba n ',i ', Hir of um i A n d o (rra n s ra ro r o f ttre to ur l i ttl e Ja p a n cs epilgr im s c ng s ), Ge ra l d y o rk c , D a v i d Ki dd and Ga:y Thomson. I am very grateful, also, to the British N l u scu m aur hor it ies a n d to M a j o r w . H . Ed mo nds for allorving me rc reprociuce photographs of paintings and st.i tu e s r n r heir c oll: c ti o n s . F ' i n a l l y , I a c k n o w l edge my d e b r ro r hos e r lv o outs ta n d i n g re fe re n c e rv o rk s , d.rty' s Gods ttf Narrhem Buddhism and, Edmunci s' pointers ind Cl u ;s to S ubjec t sir , Ch i n e s ea n d J a p a n e s eA rt.

Contems

FOREWORD I z 3 :| 5 5 Th e E nigm a Some ilanifestatlons Kuan Yin's Indian and Tibetan Genesis Mi a o S han and O th e r L e g e n d s So me B uddhis t Co n c e p rs o f K u a n Y i n Sa cr ed Rit es

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r7 25 38 65 8z 98 rr8rJ+Y ^ /

7 C o n t c m plat iv e Y o g i c M e d rta ti o n I D re am s , Rev er ies a n d Sp e c u l a ti o n s ' I ' he P r inc i p a l Ic o n o g ra p h i c F o rm s ATTp EN DI X of the BodhisattvaGI.OSSARl'

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I llustratiotts

p b e tw e e n a g e s S e EI r Kuan Yin vo1'aging pon a giant lotus pctal ,author's u : ollec t ic . r t ) z W ooden im ag e o f K u a n Yi n fro m a fi s h eri :ran' s i unk ( c our t t : - ^, ' fK.E. S re z ,a i s ) o: S t a t u et r i K u a n Y i n , h e r r i g h t h a n d r a i s e di n b l e s s i n g 3 ( c our r ; : ^, of B ri r' i s h A4 u s e u n \ ' of 4 G ilded r r , ood e n s ta tu e o f A v a l o k i ta (c o z,rrri -\\' Mr Dauid Kidd anrl ,VIr Yasuvoshi hforimoio) 5 Nepaies e br o n z r- S ts tu c o f T a ra \c o u rte s),o_f B ri ti sh Musewtt) 6 P aint ing of t h e T h o u s a n d -Arme d A v a l o ki ta \courtes), o.f Brirish Museunt) of 7 M ongolian ima g e o f T a ra i n b ro n z e (c o urresT, Mr Wongchindorj) 8 ( a) K uan Y in a s g i v e r o f o ffs p ri n g ( b) S han T s ' a i , K u a n Yi n ' s m a l e a tte n d ant (c) $7'ooden image of female attendant, Lung Nu (.courtesT' K. E. Stet'ens) of g K uan Y in ho l d i n g th e v a s e o f ' s rv e e t d err' ' anci the wish-fulfilling gem (corffteg) of British Mu-reum) to Amitabha Buddha (courresyof British Museutn) I r AmitEbha Buddha as rhe Guide of Souls (courtesy of British Museutrt) rz K uan Y in bea ri n g th e v a s e o f ' s l l ' e e t d e w' (courtesyof British tlfuseuni; I3 K uan f in in t h e p o s eo f ' l o rd l y e a s e '(c o u rtesy B ri ti sh of Musetunl 14 Kuan Yin bearing a sy'mbol of fecundity (corrrtesyof K. E. Ste'u-ens) I5 S t at ue of K ua n Yi n fro m th e T ' a n g D y n a sq' (courtesy af British lvluseutn) r6 S t at ue of M an j u s ri , e mb o d i m e n t o f V i s d o m (courtesy of Brirish Aluseuni)

F-oreu,ord

Radianee, spotlessand effulgent, Itlighr-dispelling Sun of Wisdom! Lotus S[tra

This is in part the story of a quest, of gradual progress towards the heart of an enigma. Confronted some forty years ago by the charming figure of Kuan Yin, known to many as the Chinese Goddess of Love, I came to wonder whether it was rvholly symb o l i c or whet her K u a n Yi n c o u l d , i n s o me s e nse,be sai d to & e. The adventure started one night when, by the uncertain light of votive candles, I had made my way alone through the shadows to the back of a temple hall. Tbe fitful gleams playing a mi ds t t he dar k ne s sc o n j u re d u p a n a tmo s p h e reof mystery' A s IstoodgazingupatatallbronzeStaIueofKuanYin,odoor seemed to open in my mind and the goddess, so I could have sworn, deignedto addressmet lmagination ? That may well seem to have been so, but who under such romantic circumstances could resist the hope that she had really spoken? Thenceforth I was her devoted follower, which does not mean, however, that I quite believed in her. Drawn by a fascination having nothing to do rvith belief or its .onu..rl, I delved ever more deepll b e y ond t he guis e s h e w e a ri fo r s i mp l e fo l k a nd presentl )' camc to h av e s om e dim a p p re h e n s i o no f h e r s i g n i fi c anceas a cel esti al Bo dhis at t v a) a k in d o f b e i n g l e s sb e i n g re p re s enti ng cne of thc mo s t ex alt ed c onc e p ts o f M a h a y a n a B u d d h i s m . P ercei vi ng hcr to be much more than a graceful myth expressing the yearning o f th e poor and lon e l y fo r c o mp a s s i o n ,I h a d a l l the more reason fcr lov ing her ; y e t th i s n e w v i s i o n ' o f h e r a s the embodi ment of divine love rvas somervhat marred b1' the miraculous po$'ers descri bi ng them a ttribut ed t o her i n th e s u tra s . T h e p a s s a g e s seemed at first to detract from rather than enhance her sublimity, for they struck me as too fanciful and more becoming to a f olk goddes sth a n a c e l e s ti a l Bo d h i s a ttv a . Thi s, of course) wa s jus t a per s on a l v i e rv .

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r 4 Bodhisattva of Compassion Ye a rs lat er , wit h a n i n s i g h t s te m m i n g fro m the teachi ng of my C h i nes e and T ibe ta n ma s te rs , I c a me to u n d erstand u' har I sti l l think is her t r u e s i g n i fi c a n c e- o r p a rr o f i t. S hc i s rcal - oh, not as Artemis and Aphrodite \vere real in thc e1,esof th e i r w or s hipper s , b u t i n a s e n s e mo re s e c re t a nd profounci . However, in trying ro inake this point, I have nor sought tcr co n ve rt ot her s t o m y w a y o f th i n k i n g . I .s h a l lb c happv i f thci ' co me to lov e her , ev e n i f s h e re ma i n s fo r th e m j ust a beauti f' ul i d e a . To giv e c olour an d l i fe to my p o rtra i t o f h e r, I havc rc-l atctl ma n y chines e and T i tre ta n ta l e s rv h i c h re v e a l h c r at rvhat ma1. ri g h tl y or wr ongly b e c a l l e d th e l o n ' e r a n d m i ddl c l cvcl s oi u n d crstanding. br e id c s s e tti n g d o u ' n s o mc o f h c r mantras and s ap p ro p r iar e ex c er pis f ro m s u tra s a n d m a n u a l s o f contcmi l l ati vc m e d i ta t ion. A ls o I ha v e h a d mu c h to s a 1 'o f Ku a n f i n' i rhrcc p ro g e nit or s - A v alok i te s v a ra(C h e n re s i g s )a n d T a ra, trvo dci ti es wa rml y c her is hed b1' T i b e ra n s , a n d th e C h i n e s e pri ncess Mi ao Sh a n , for K uan Y in i s m1 ' s te ri o u s l ya l l o f th e s e rogethcr I Perhaps the portrait wiit find favour not only with some rvh. are i n te r es t ed in B ud d h i s n r a n d C h i n e s e a n d Ti betan yogi c practice, but also r,r'iththose who have come upon temples and shrines to Kuan Yin r,r'hilesojourning in Asian countries, anci with the many lovers of Chinese arr who have fallen captive to her charms both as a benign mother goddess and as a srveetlv smi l i n g m aide. r deit y. I s h o u l d h a v e l i k e d ro s a y more of hc.r from the viewpoint of Chinese and Japanese art, but research facilities in Bangkok are limited. As it is, the pith of what I have written is mystical rather than aesthetic; I hope it may encourage those who, without necessarilysubscribing to an established faith, have glimpsed the effulgence of what Lao-tzrj called the Na me l es s - t har which o n c e i n s p i re d c e rta i n G reeks to erecr a wayside altar to 'The Unknown God' and led wordsq'orth to perceive a supernatural radiance suft-usingthe rvorld around hi m. The Nam eles s i s a s i i i s a n d q u i te b e y o n d the rearm of c o n ce pt ual t hought ; ye t th e re a re ti me s w h e n o n e neecs to hi nt at i t sym bolic ally . T o my mi n d , K u a n Y i n ' s g e ntl e form i s a worthier symbol than the figure of a rortured being hanging from a cross or of an awesomefather god. Trivial and inaccuratras a l l suc h s y m bols a re i n c o mp a ri s o n w i th th e rcal i ty thel ' clothe, they have their importance and should be chosen rvirir ca re . If r v e ar e t o pr es e rv eo u r s a n i ty a m i d s t th e mi n d-shatteri nq

Foreu'ord

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horrors of the modern lvorid, it is rvell to har-e an intimation of serenel-'* abiding beauty underlying thc grim fagade visible to our s ens es .Co u l d w e b u t c h o o s eo u r o w n symbol of that beauty (and why indeed should 'we not ?), it rr-ould be hard to fi n d a f or m lov eli e r th a n Ku a n y i n ' s I o r, i f r he chi nese conccp tion of t he gc d d e s s s e e ms j u s t a tri fl e to o sedate, \\.e coul d o p t f or her T ibc t a n c o u n re rp a rt a n d rrv i n , th : compassi onate a n d s ly ly play f ul Ta ra !joHN BLOFELD

Chapter r

The EnigmaNo loaer of fair utslons Born of mind and caught By the painter's brttsh Or caraer's hand Can zpell resist Kuan Yin's enchantment. I,,lo follower of the Way Beyond the Hiddert Gate But longs to read the secret Reflected in her eyes, To know zuhat lies behind Her enigmatic smile.

Whencerosethat shiningbeing, Diaine embodiment . Of pure compassion? Whencecamesuchfaith In Kuan Yin's power To ferry sentientbeings Acrosssatnsara's ocean? Where did shefirst appear And hoz:tacquire Her mellifluousname - Kuan Shih Yin, Hearer-of-Cries?

Amo n g t hes e ques t i o n s ,th e l a s t i s s o o n e s ta n s w ered. K uan Y i n (or Kuan Shih Yin, to give the name its proper form) means Sh e -Vho- Hear k ens-to -th e -C ri e s -o f-th e -Wo rl d , and i s a transl a ti o n of t he S ans k ri t n a m e o f h c r c h i e f p rc g e n i tor, A val oki tesv a r a ( o r A v a l o k i t a ) . I n K o r e a a n d J a p a n a n d , a b o v ea l l , i n C h i n a b e fo re t he Red f lood e n g u l fe d h i --rtc mp i c s th e re , K uan Y i n has b e e n p opular ly r ev e re d a s a g o d d e s s fo r a th o usand years or mo re , t hough in t r uth s h e i s n o t a g o d d e s s b u t a cel esti alB odhi Sa ttvaanc lr v ast br m e rl y ' e m b o d i c d i n m a l e f,-rrrt,as i s someti rrres th e ca s e t c l t his day . B y th e l e a rn e d i t i s k n o i v tr that she i s not to b e f ound am ong t h e d e i ti c s o f m o u n ta i n s , g ro v es and streams, o r to b e num ber ed a mo n g th e h i g h d i v i n i ti e s o f heaven. That ' peopl e, sh e h a s lo^r gbeen v e n e ra te da s a g o d d e s s b y a l l ki nds of ranging from iisher-folk to Taoist sagesin their rnountain hermi ta ges , as well as b y Bu d d h i s t l a y me n g e l e ral i y, i s because

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Bodhisatnta of Compassion

of the irresistible appeal made by so compassionate a deity to a race intimately acquainted with poverry and oppression throughout its long history. Until recently, shrines to Kuan Yin stood in all kinds of places throughout the length and breadth of China and in sev e ra ln e ighbour ing c ou n tri e s a s rr' e l ll w h e re v e r p o ssi bl e,these shri n e s wer e plac c d nea r ru n n i n g w a te r o r o v e rl o oki ng a l akc or sea)and she is often depicted by' painters as seated on a rock gazi n g o u t ac r os s t hc wa te r, o r s ta n d i n g u p o i r a fl oati ng l otus p e t a l . H c r d r v c l l i n g s t a n d so n a s e a - g i r ti s l a n d a n d m a n y S s h e r f alk a n d boat - people ha v e c o me to i d e n ti fl ' h e r w i th thei r ori ' n patro n g o ddt s s , s o t l- t atc ' a c hd e i tf i s s o m e ti me s c re di ted rvi th charaeteristies of the othcr. I think it bcst to introduce hcr as a g o d d e ssof f is hc r r nen, fo r th a t i s th e g u i s e i n w h i c h I mysel f f ir st sa w h er in a t em pl e o f h e r o \r' n . Oftcn during a journey in South China, having halted at a torvnlet about an hour before sunset and arranged for a night's I odg i n g a t an inn, if I s t r o l l e d b e s i d ea ri v e r o r a l o n g th e seashore I would come to some pleasant spot in the outskirts where stood a t e mp l e t o K uan Y in. Se t a m i d s t c l u mp s o f tre e s or near the top of some rocky crag would be a Eateway where, suspended beneath the curving eaves, would hang a lacquered board inscribed in gold calligraphy with characters bearing some allusion to her narne. Beyond 'x'ould lie a courtyard, so narro\l, in some casesas to be called a 'sky-rvell' and then a fantasticalll' roofed temple with walls of grey brick and doors of lacquered wood. The first time this happened, the temple proved to be scarcely more than a shrine-room about the size of the chapel in so me m odes t old Cath o l i c h o u s e i n En g l a n d , o r s mal l er. The goddess was represented by a crumbling plaster statue from which the colours had long faded. A clumsily built table daubed vrith flaking scarlet lacquer did duty as an altar. The place, though redolent of poverty, had an air ot' being much frequented. I had barely had time to take in the ancient beams, the faded calligraphic inscriptions, tattered banners and coarse china furnishings of the altar when I heard the sound of man-"footsteps in the ccurtyard. I.lot rvishing to be in the way, I would have left, had not the caretaker, an old man clad in shabbl' trrluse'rsof blaek cotton and a singlet grey rvith long use, given Rrc a n u n der s t anding s mi l e a n d g e s tu re d fo r me to stay.

Th; Enigna

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A group of boat-rvomen came hurr'i.g in. Dressed in p.vjama-suits f cheap, black clorh. some had broad-brimmed o b a mb oo hat s s t r appe d to th e i r b a c k s . rv h i l e o th e rs .-arri ccithei r b a b i e st h e r e c o m f o r t a b l v s e a t e di n c o c o o n so f c r i m s . . n c l o t h t i e d t o t h e i r m o t h e r s ' j a c k e t s .l e g s r v i d e a p a r r a n c i , J a n g l i n g .G l a n c i n g so m eq' hat as k anc ea t rh e ta i l fo rc i g n d c r-i l from :hc-\\restern o c e a n . t h e l ' s a : k t o t h c i r k n e e sa n d k o r i ' r o r v e d h r . - e r i m e s r r ' i t h t ? g r? cc'I had nor exp ec rc -dfro m p e o p l e o f s u c h C C ,trS r-. appeara n c e ' c o a r s e ' i sp c r h a p s r o o s t r o n g a u . ' o r dt o b c -3 F : l c r C h i n e s c p c a s a n t s ,b u t : h e v c e r t a i n i r ' l o o k c - di i k e p c o p l c r i ' h e ' re d h a r c l l livc:', Soon ti::r'rose tiom thcir knces,el:cc.pr o: one \,oung t c i r l i r . a R a d v n l c c d s t a t a o 1 ' p r e e r . a n c lr' v i r o r e m a i : : e d r v i t h h c r f a c e r . t h e f l o c r - c u s h i o n . I - i g h r i n g i n c c n s e - s ' L i c ka n d c a n d l e s s ta kcn fr om a r ablc n c a r th e d o o r. th e v c h a n tc c l a rri ef and far: fro m tunef ul r - = lodr ' , th c n rc p e a tc (l th e i r L s 1 1 ;[ q)\' and hurri ec ,' S a \ 1 ' a 1 ' l eb v t h e p r e g n a n t s i r l . T h r =u ' h o l e p e r f o r r n a n c et o o k p e r d i r o p st h r e c o r l o u r m i n u t c s . '\{:har r 1' as t hat ab o u r? ' I a s k e d th e c a re ta k e r i n ml . sti l l rudi m e n t e r y c h i n e s e , t h o u g h I s c a r c e l yn e e d e d t o b e t o l d . 'The young o n e h a s h a p p i n e s si n h e r . D i d y o u n o r s e e ? T h e o th e rs ar e her r elat iv e s . T h e t' c a me to p ra -v th a .t the chi l d r.,,i l l tre d b o y . ' ' A n d s h eu ' i i l s u r e l yg er a s o nT ' I s a i d ,s m i l i n g .

'Kuan Yin is kind.' 'I s e e .A n d r v h a rm u s r t h e m o t h e r d o t o e a r n K u a n Y i n ' s

favour ?' 'D o ? wlhen her so n i s b o rn , s h e r.v i l l c o me to gi ' e thank.s,' It rr - asas s im ple a s th a r. L a re r. a c h i n e s e fri end expl ai ned th a t i t \ \ : asnot c us t om a rl ' fo r s u p p l i a n ts to b a rg a i n rr.i rh the godd e ss.No need f or t he m o th e r ro p ro mi s c to b e g o od or uncertake th a t h er s on r l- ould r e q u i te rh e fa v o u r i n a n r- \r' a]-, K uan yi n, L re i n ge om pas s ionare ,r' o u l d n a tu ra l l y b e h a p p v ro grant such a n ' i s h . ' E u t s u p p o s t rt - e g i r l h a s a d a u g h r e r ? ' I i n s i s t e d . h 'Then t h e g i r i - b a b v r v i l l b c d e s t i n e dt o a s i n g u l a r l v f o r t u n a t e c x i s t e n c e " h e q o d d e s sr v o r . : l d o t d c n v s o h a r m l e s s a r e q u e s t T n u 'i th o ut good r - as on .t Pe rh aps m 1' f r iend rv a s b c i n g i ro n i c a l . b u r w har he sai d certa i n l l ' ac c or dei r v ith rr' h a r th e b o a t-rv o m e n bel i eved. The o I r l ? n s a n t s< - o n c = p t i o n f K u a n f i n \ \ ' a s u n c o m p l i c a t e d . S h e ' s n r - r l d e r C l i c Ci.i n ( r n I ' r rh , . h r r ' . -l i [ g a f ' o n d l r - i n d u l s e n t D a r e n l . b

20

Bodhisam,rj. _. Cornpassion

p r o v i d e d o n l y r l - . = :o n e ' s * ' i s h $ , a s not evil in itself. No spccial de g re e .o^f y ' c : . : r ic t c o n c i u c t \\,a s piet re q u i re d o f th e peti ti o.crs Lre yo n dfir m beii= : . ' n K u a n Yi n ' s p o r.,.i to a i d . s uch fai ry god_ m o th e rs, I r ef le: : ; d s a d ry ,,c a n s u re ry n o t e x i s t outsi de srory bo o ksi but it u' ei . : ic e ,o -i i -,,n k o f ,rr. l o v " " i ,ra c o* fort fi sher_ f * l k a n d f ar m er : : er iv e d fro m rh c -i * i * p t. u e ri e f. A s a prep_ s ch o o l kid of er c ' . ' : : ror s o , fe a r th a t Go d w o u rd g et back at me by so me s uc h m ; ; : ls a s e n s u ri n g th a t my s c h o o r r eport w oul ci be bad enough. r - .ingcr rny' fat*rer had ;;J. me a good dear mo r.-= rtllous t h: : : I *' a s b 1 :n a tu re , vi c a u s i n g me to tei l the truth ar h i g h l ;- inc onr ' . : : ic nr rn o m e n rs a n c r b e s u re ro empry my bowe l s-euer y da1'. = = rt h e a fh rm a ti v e ti c k s l p .n c i l l .d i n a certai n book should not :-Jrrecrmy actuar performa.ce. t was graci tcr -*r.h know that Kuan \-in ,r,r, Ieis .*r.iir.,g. : J'o rrly everlas::::g regrer, I did not whiri in china visit p,u T 'o sh a n ( or p' u- : ' u- t o ]t' a l ,Io u n ta i n ), a n i s ra n d off the che_ k ian g co as r whic h : ak es i ts n a m e fro m ,i r. s * rk ri t rvord potara, m e a , r i n gK u a n \ ' : : : ' s P a r a c l i s c ' . For that is,t. rroti.st pracein rhevrorld to de'or:i:s of the goddess. o n e o r t h e s t o r i e sr e r a t i n g r o i t te l l s of an I : : . : , ian w h o , a l ri u i r-,g -th e reduri ng the " the T',ang Dy'asty, :':itfedr..,]. sacred ch,aolyin cave (cavc,1vf1 re -rne- v oic e- : : - t he -T i d c -i s -H e a rd ) a n d b u rn t off al r hi s r ngcrs a s an of f r - r : : : ! :r o Ku a n y i n I H o w s i n g u l a rry rr.upp* p.i _ tte! of all the de:::ls of rhis universc)th.J.-i, none so averse . ' b n rn t of f er ings = s r h e G o ,-l c re s s c f M e rc y . It i s p reasanterto I cce p .t n ot her pr r ; jlar a c c o u n r a o f th e i s l a n c l ' se a rli est cl ai m rcr ; a n c t i t y ,f r o m r v h : : i * ' e r e a r n rhat Kuan yin vlsitedit in pers'n - an evcnt of w'hi;: p i c r u r L ' s q u ec - v i d e n c e c m a i n s i n r the forrn r f he r fo ot pr int c : : - : c dc i c d i n rh c rc c k c a i l e d Ku a n yi n,s Leap, t s d c p t h b e i n g d - : r t - rt h c m . m c n r u m of hcr jump from thc rcighbouring isla:.-ttrl'I o Ciria Shan. l n a n o r h e rs e n s ; . r i c o u r s c . K u a n Y i n p e r r n a n c n t l vi n h d b i t s )'u T'o Isla.d (u:.;s: s h c h a s r c c c n r l r . r l t i r t o a v o i c ib c i n g r sub_ ':ctcdto the thou-:---i: )f \lao Tsc-rung)- -rn... r arc innumcr_ ble storic-of her l:'.'ing manifr.srctr s h t - - r s , : r 'f p i r g r i m s , u s u a r r r i : r th c Ch 'a o- \ ' ir : , _: . , . c : i .r.I u c h s ti rn c s , h o rr..i .... ,h. ;;;;;;, . i v i s i b l et o a n y o t ' - : - - r ' i s i t o r s r r - h o h a ' c s c - r i o u s i yr a n s g r c s s c d t ga i n st th e dic t ar es : ' . c o rn p a s s i o n . At h i g h ti c i e ti re cave i s fi i l cd r it h rva te rss o t ur b. : r ent i l ra t, f rc rm ti m e to ti me , a g e _y-ser entv tw : et h i g h s por r s t i. r n a h o l c i . rh e ro o f ; ,;;i l ;r" i * ;' i ;' ,,;j ' ;;

7-heIirttignru 2r 'n"'ait until the tide is lorv if they desire to be received in audience. It is said that the compassionate arnong them behold rhe sands mvsteriously transformed into a carpet of v,'hite lotus. rvhence a pink lotus oI enormous size arises to form a throne for the ;1 o d d e s sI.t is c as y t o b e s c o rn fu l o f s u c h s ro ri e s ,b ut I am srl re the atmosphere in the cave has a haunting quality g'hich disposes one to expect every kind of marvel. I know from my own rsp e ri e nc es in s im ila r p l a c e s h o w e a s i l y n o rm al scepti ci sm Lreeermes suspended. That Kuan Yin is actually seen rvith the e1'esin one's head I doubt, but with the inner eye ? Some who clainr to have had this vision are people whose truthtulness is beyond question. If one feels compelled to doubt rhern, the most that can be said is that pilgrims keyed up by high expectation and worked upon by the place's curiously eerie atmosphgre may have thought they perceived what they ardently desired to see.Personally I think there was rarher more to it than that, but there is a whole range of experience that would be difficult to classify as pur-el! objective or subjective, so each of us has to interpret such phenomena in the way that seems best ro him. I was to live in China for some time before conring to under-. stand correctly what my more learned Buddhist friends meant bf insisting that Kuan Yin is nor a goddessbut a celes'cial Bodhisattva. This was first explained ro me by a Mr P'en, rvho knew something of Sanskrit and was quite an authority on Chinese Buddhism. One day, hearing me refer to Kuan Yin as a goddess, he sa i d r epr ov ingly : ' D o n ' t s p e a k o f Ku a n Y i n l i ke that, A h Jon. You sound as though you supposed rhat, if thcl' happen to b e Buddhis t s ) ev en s c h o l a rs - " b o o k -p e rfu me mcn" as w e ca l l th em - s har e t he s i mp l e b e l i e fs y o u fi n d ru n ong peasants.' H a vi n g but t he v a g u e s t i d e a o f h i s me a n i n g , I ansrvered, s m i l i n g : ' I s h a l l b e d e l i g h t e d t o c a l l h e r a c e l e s t i a lR o d h i s a t t v a , bu t i sn ' t t hat jus t an o th e r n a me fo r w h a t m i g h t i rrevercntl y L rc ca l l ed a s uper - god d e s s ,th a t i s s o me o n e n e a rer the top of t h t- ce l es t ial hier ar c hy ? I re a l l y d o n ' r s e e rh a r i t makcs much di fl e re nc e. ' He co uld not help l a u g h i n g ; b u r, p re s c n tl y , speaki ng seri o u sl y, he went on t o g i v e m e a m e ta p h y s i c a l e x pl anati on that t o o k so me gr as ping. H i s E n g l i s h , th o u g h v e ry g o od i ndeed, w as not quite up to the task and, at one stage, he ran upstairs for a d i cti o nar y . T hat pr o v e d to b e s c a rc e l ya n y h e l p a t al l ro some-

22

Bodhisatna

of Compassion

one trying to render from one language to another the terminology of Mahayana Buddhism. Here I have set down his discourse (with the help of a fair degree of hind-knowledge) not as it was given, but as I think he intended to give it. 'You must realise first of all that cur minds are not sep3rate from'lvi:,nd, which, if you have read any Ch'an (Zen) works, you will know to be the sole reality. Knou'n in its quiescent state as the Great Voici or what you English people call Ultimate Reality, it is sirnaltaneouslythe realm of form, "the matrix of t he myri ad objec t s " , a s L a o -T z rj p u ts i t. 8 1 ' n o means must they be thought of as separate. The Great Void and the realm of form are not rzlo.'Therc is no going from the one to the other, only a transrnutation of your mode of perception. Mind is like a boundless oeean of Iight, or infinite space, from which streams forth Bodhi, a man'ellous errergy that produces in us an urge towards Enlightenrnent. But to attain Enlightenment, you need vast stores of wisdom and compassion in perfect union. Wisdom ineludes full and direct perception of your own egolessness and of the non-existence of anything like "own-self in any object. Compassion is the prime means of destroying all clinging to delusory selfhood. From Bodhi emanate particularised streams of liberating energy - the energies of wisdom, compassion, of the pure activity needed to combine them, and so forth. These, in turn, subdivide and thus become more tangible to minds deluded by the false notion of self-existing egos and self-existin g o b j e c t s . I n s om e m a rv e l l o u s w a y , th e s e s tre a ms' and substreams become embodied in forms like those which divinities are thought to have, the primary streams as what've call celestial Buddhas, the secondary streams as what are called celestial Bodhisattvas. 'Amitabha Buddha embodies the primary liberating energy of co mp a s s ion; A v alok i ta Bo d h i s a trv a e mb o d i e s i ts secondarv ema n a ti on. T his doc t ri n e i s d e ri v e d fi o m a 1 ' o gi c tradi ti trn t arrg h t a t Nalanda Univ e rs i ty i n In d i a a l mo s t tw o m i l l eni a ago. As to Kuan Y iu, our p e c u l i a rl y C h i n e s e e mb o d i m ent of compassi o n , s he was or igin a l l y i d e n ti c a l rv i th Av a l o k i ta and theref ore vi su alis ed as pDs s e s s i n g l e c h a ra c te ri s ti c s .Some peopl c ma s u p p o se t hat t he c han g e i n s e x a ttri b u te d to th e B odhi sattva occurred only after a lcgendary Chinese princess called Miao S h a n b e c am e int egr at e d rv i th th a t b e i n g th ro u g h the pow erful

7 -i tt E ni gma

23

influence of our native folklore. That is certainlv nonsense. Educated people do not seriousl-"* accepr the Miao Shan legends. Besides, you can hardly suppose rhar rr'e chinese Buddhists, after scrupulously preselving rhe doctrines, practices and symbols carried back fi:om India by monks rvho hac made fearful journeys through burning deserts and icy mountain \\'asres, would have permitted such a change in sex ro come about through mere carelessnessThe key to the mystery- \\'as taught ! me by my teacher's teacher during a visit to Ntc.,ngolia.There he came across images of Tara rvhom Mongols and Tiberans r e ve rea s a f em ale em an a ri o no f A v a l o k i ta . L a te r o n . my teacher, wh o l o ved t o v ier . vc oll e c ti o n s o f a n ti q u e p a i n ti n g :i ) came upon severalyery old ones in which Kuan Yin rvas porrraved as being al mo st i dent ieal wit h Ta ra . In o th e r w o rd s , fo r rv h atever reason. we Ch i n e s e deeided t o c o mb i n e Av a l o k i ta a n d T a r a i nto a sort of fe ma l e A v alok it a, w h o m rv e c a l l K u a n Y i n .' Well, whether or nor Mr P'an lvas exactl-r-righr about the origin of Kuan Yin's portrayal in female form, the Bodhisattva is far from being a figure of poetic whimsl'. Yogically she corresponds to an actual energy permanently latent in the mind. though it may be that the forms in whic-h she is envisag.a "rJ deliberate human creations. Still, I think that the artists rvho have best succeededin capturing the magic of those forms must have beheld them in their meditations, for onlf in the stillness of one-pointed contemplaticn is such perfecricn.often revealed. T he 're a lit y ' of t he B od h i s a ttv a i s n o t h a rd to a c c e pt, once one recognises that even such solid-seeming objects as eiephants and mountains are all creations of Mind and therefore on a par r,r'ithdreams, imaginings, visions - like everything else in existence. A mental image of Kuan Yin does not differ in an ultimate sensefrom the floor and ceiling of the room v,'hereone sits medr'Ihis t ati n g . is a m y s t i c ' s v i e rr' , b u t o n e th a t n r;\- come to be r Vi d s-l Y c c ept ednt - r r v h ;.tt[..-[h i ri l i l l r5 p i ' ' Ic rs u 1 .i ;.]r]' si ci stS l rc a t l v e e ri n g in t he dir ec t ion c rt b c l i e v i n g rh a t th c w ' h trl c uni verse i s a mental creation. Th i s br ief ex planat io n o f th e n a tu re o f c e l e s ti a l B odhi sattvas f f id y, a l a s , be f ar f r om l u c i d . In d e a l i n g rv i th ' ,r' h at pertai n5 to m ysti ca l per c ept ion, e x p l a n a ti o n s a re ' s e l d o m s a ii sfactory, sc gre a tl y do wor ds dis t or t a n d d i mi n i s h th e re a l i ti ' rhey are used t T e o n vey . W e *ny , f o r th e mo mc i l t) p u t a s i c i cti re questi on of

24

Bodhsarna

o_fCompossion

Ku a n Y in' s r ealit y ; th e s h e e r b e a u ty o f th e c o ncept of an exqui si te l y lov ell- being u ' h o s e c h i e f a ttri b u te i s pure, unw averi ng compassion is in itself appealing enough io claim our admiration. Even r','hen brought dow'n to the level of a goddess - and it is thus that painters and sculptors often portray her - Kuan Yin is unique anlong the heavenly hierarchy in being utterly free from pride or vengefulness and reluctant to punish even those to whom a severe lesson rvould be salutary. The cursing of the withered fig-tree and the rvhipping of the temple moneychangers u-hich so rlisfigure the otherwise beautiful gospel stories are *-ithout counrerparrs among the exploits at:ributed to Kuan f in.

Chapter z

SomeManifestations?

To hear her name and seeher form Deliaers beingsfrom eaery ri)oe, Lotus Sfrtra

The embassy of the boat-women to Kuan Yin's temple rveil exemplifies how peasantsin China and neighbouring countries conceive of her. Seeing her as a benevolent goddess into whose nature it would be discourteous to enquire, they rejoice because she is lovely in herself and generous in heeding supplications. This uncomplicated attitude is not limited to illiterate followers of ancient folk-religions, for even among the general run of Buddhists in China and Japan, the distinction betrveen deities and celestial Bodhisattvas is blurred. Horvever) more erudite Buddhists see her otherwise. The following account of an experience significant to me personally prefaces two other stories that will serve as a previerv of some of the ways in rvhich Kuan Yi n is c onc ept u a l i s e d . On e , th o u g h i t d o es i ust touch upon the M ind O nly d o c tri n e l f i n g a t th e ro o t o f the cel esti alB odhi Sa t t v a c onc ept ) re v e a l s h e r i n a g u i s e v e ry si mi l ar to that of a g o ' Cdes swher ea s th e o th e r c a rri e s u S to a hi gh metaphysi cal , level. O ne of t he t hre e m a i n a n n u a l fe s ti v a l so f K uan Y i n, H earerof-Cries, falls on the nineteenth day of the sixth lunar month (a bout J uly ) . F o r c e n tu ri e s i t.h a s b e e n c e l e b ratedby gatheri ngs in her honour,' some of which assemble on the twelfth of the month and spend no less than seven days on rites and contemplative meditation centred on Kuan Yir^. Alas, in recent years ihe ranks of her followers have been thinned. For all I kno'w,

26

Bodhisatna of Compassion

su ch fe s t iv als s t ill t a k e p l a c e i n J a p a n , K o re a a nd S i ngapore, b u t h ar dly in China o r V i e t-N a m . Quite soon after my arrival in China, while sraying ar a mo n a s t er y nes t ling a m o n g c l u mp s o f l y c h e e -rre eson the sunny si d e o f a m inor s acre d mo u n ta i n , I h e a rd th a t ' K uan Y i n' s Bi rth d ay ' was going to b e c e l e b ra te d th a t e v e n i ng at a nei ghb o u i i n g t em ple ov erw h i c h s h e p re s i d e d , s o a t sunset I set off i n th a t dir ec t ion. B y th e ti m e I a rri v e d , n i g h t h a d fal l en. S cudd i n g c louds obs c ur e d th e mo o n , b u t p e a c h -s haped l anterns su sp e nded f r om t he te :n p l e g a te rv a y ' s e l e g a n tl y curvi ng roof ca st a pool of c r im s on l i g h t th a t c o u l d b e s e e n from a di stance. Beyond iay a courtyard thronged rvith u'orshippers r.r,hose faccs were illumined b,v thc rirys of perhaps a hundred candles stre a m ing t hr ough th e s h ri n e -h a l l ' s rv i d e .fl u n g doors. Most we re l ay - people, but a s p ri n k l i n g o f b a l d p a te s shorved that some monks and nuns from neighbouring monasteries \\'ere among them. All were craning their heads rowards the shrine wh e re K uan Y in' s s ta tu e ro s e b e l i i n d a l a v i s hl y carved and g i l d e d alt ar wher e sto o d i n n u me ra b l e c a n d l e - sti cks, a great bronze incense tripod and an array of porceiain vessels piled with offerings of fruit and florvers. No animal flesh or cups of wine yvere to be seen, for even the peasants had some inkling of the difference between Kuan Yin and the more gluttonous local deities; besides, rhe keepers of the shrine would have reiected such offerings as impure and displeasing ro the Bodhisattva - though not monks, they would hardly have accepted them even for themselves. The night air, drenched with the mingled perfumes of burning sandalwood anf,of jasmine and champak flowers, quivered as the mallet thudded upon a large hollowed block known as the wooden-fish drum; its throb was puncruated by the clang and tinkle of bronze and silver instruments used to mark the rhythm of the chant. Though rhe same few word s, Namu tarzil ta-pei Kuan Shih Yin P'u-Sa (Homage ro the greatly compassionate' greatly mercifui Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva) ! were intoned repeatedly, the ardour of.those taking part and frequent subtle changes in rhe rh;'thm dispelled monotorryr so that the music lifted me inro a realm of beauty and enchanrment. Taller than the rvirl southerners pressing all about me, I had an unobstructed view, Thc tsodhisattva was depicted as a

Some t\Ianifesradons

27

gracious young lady with smoorhlv rounded cheeks and chin, sitting very informally upon a rock-like throne, one knee raised so h i g h t hat t he eleg a n t l i ttl e s l i p p e r p e e p i n g fro m beneath her ro b e w as on a lev el wi th th e o th e r k n e e . On e s l e n der hand tcyed wi th a r v illow s pr ig, th e o th e r h e l d a v a s e o f ' s n' eet dew ' s-vmb o l i si ng t he nec t ar of c o mp a s s i o n . T o e i th e r s i d e , s' rought on a sma l l e r s c aie,s t ood h e r a tre n d a n ts- S h a n T s ' a i , a smi l i ng bo!' , a n d L ung Nt , t he Dr a g o n M a i d e n . rv h o w a s h o l di ng oul a gi ant p e a rl . T hes e s t at uesc a n h a rd l -vh a v e b e e n th e i ,r' o:kof l ocai arti s t s ; t h e - v\ v e r e f , n e l y s c u l p t e d a n d h a d a p l e a s i n g l i v e l i n e s s , th o u g h I c ouid, hav e w i s h e d th e m l e s s o rn a te . IJut tor her di stinctive posture and the nature of the s!'mbols in her hands, th c sp l' : ndidly r obc d a n d b e j e w e l l e d fi g u re c o u i ci ' a)ni ost have Lreenmistaken for that of N{ary arrayed as Queen of Fleaven i n ttre n lenner of S ou th Eu ro p e . S u p e rfi c i a i l l ' a t leasr, her robes a n d o rnam ent s r es em b l e d a rti fa c ts fro rn B v z a n tium. S truck bl ' th i s l a v is h eos r um e, I s ' o n d e re d h o w th i s e mp ress-l i ke bei ng csu l d b e m ade t o f it i n rv i th th e g e n ti y a u s re re teachi ng c,f the Bu d d h a; f or I had sti l l to l e a rn th a t th e e x te rnal forms taken b y Bu d dhis m in dif fe re n t c o u n rri e s , th o u g h s tri ki ngl y vari ed, entail no real departures from its doctrines. Fre s ent ly a gus t o f w i n d s e n r i n c e n s e * s m oke bi l l ow i ng upwards in heavy clouds that momenrarilv blurred the Bodhisa ttva ' s f eat ur es , c r e a ti n g th e i l l u s i o n o f a l i v i n g bei ng q' hose expression no\l' altered and took orr unimaginable beauty. As though chiding my churlishness in the :narrer of her costume, she seemecito fix me u'irh her e-n-es and gentiy shake her head. Awar e t hat t his wa s n o mi ra c l e . I rv a sn e v e rth el essentranced and tried hard to believe that the goddess had taken norice of me . What is m or e, t h e re s e e me dto h o v e r j u s t b e yond the thresh o l d o f m y m ind a t ea s i n g re c o l l e c ti o n o f s o me th i rl g or someone once greatly loved but long faded from m!' memory'. The effecr was so poignant that I u^anted both to laugh and to cry" I am e o n vi need t hat it wa s th i s e i u s i v e re c o l l e c ti o n rather than the triek wrought by the incense smoke that produceci u'hat seems in rctrqspeet a magical effect; in thar moment I conceived a rcverence for the Compassionate One rvhich, far from fading rvi ti r the y ear s , was d e s ti n e d to i n te n s i fy , a i th o ugh for a l ong ti me i t r em ained no rn o re th a n a p i e a s a n trv h i ms v. In those davs

BoChisatr:.aaf Compassion I had not the ri'isdornto reconcire deepdevotionro a deity ,"vith the knorvledgerhat deities are not ! I was roo mo'ed ro pay artentionto what iolrowed. No doubt the long period_of invocationgaveplaceto recitationof the p,u Yd" chaprerof the I-otus sfitra or of Kuan yin,s Dharanr of Great compassion.The rite must haveended with an inspiring crescendo c1'mbals of and drums succeecled an eeriesilence by as the officianrsprostrated rhemselves; U"t UV then I had slipped arvay to b_egin m' rvalk thro.rjt ir,* arrtness ro rrre monasrerywhere I lodged. To this dry I recall my pleasrr..l' the eool night arr so free from croying,..rr,r, rh* cr..k of bamFoqr srvayingin ihe wind and the r."rrrving of smail crearures in the u-ndergroi'rh-Throughout the *"ik I indurgcdthe poeric fancy that the goddesshad wished to remind *. of somirhing immenselyimporrant to my happiness. Sucha mood is not diffieult ro susrainrvhire stroiling by *oorrii;h;;" the slopesof a mountain where immortar biings have bien worshipped since beforerhe dawn of history; rhe very atmosphere is vibranr with intimations of their presence. rb"rr ro mind which told me I was being absurd, I put up strenuous "iliv resistance, being loath to rerurn an ugly world which, .u.rrl those days, was Io fast comi'g under the ,Obmination monste* of airgrised as in_ ventorsand te.hnicians. Having disposed of cavilling logic, rny rtrind snared,ieading me to a statebordering on ecstasy. had I a foretaste the rvisdomborn of full realisatTon of that only mind is real; the dernons.of duarity were remporarilyvanquished so thatit became possibre .ni..,ain simultaneousry to two opposing facetsof truth. Back at the monasrerv,*'hile_rvaiting for the sreepyporrer to admit me, I becamea\\'areof a dericLus fragrancewhich I supposed ha'c- a supernaturar to origin untii, looking up, I saw that the gatewa!'\r'aso'erhung uy irre uo"st, of a tree called irr chineseyeh-lai-hsiang (nigh-tfiagranc.) irti.r, pours out its perfume during rhe firsr t"ut.h., oflne nijnr. rhe great courryard was in darkness,rhe monks bging J,ili ,*ry cerebrating the festivalor elseretired ro their cettsi3 ,r;;;;, meditateunrir summoned for rh-emorning rite an ho,r before dawn. Noticirrg that lamps still glimmer.o i.t the deserted shrine-hall,I felt a ydfgn impulse ro enrer and make my *rv lo""d behind the Buddha statuesto where it was customary in chinese monas_

28

SorneManifestatiotts z.g teriesto housea statueof Kuan Yin. There she was, standing upon a shelf at about the Jevelof my chest. It was an image of fine bronze some three feet high, with the right hand raised in benediction,the elongated eyeshalf closedin contemplative bliss. The itumps of votive candlesstill guttercd at her feer, rvhereas the incensesrickslit in her honour had burnt *lown to the stubs leavingbehind a sour staleness. seemssad that It deitieshave to enrlurethis odour when their worshippershave retired for the night. Perhapsthe truth is that it is the worshippers themselves who enjoy tenrpleofferings.Lighting fresh ineense) stoodbeforeher in silence I until, suddenlycarriedaway by exaltation,I whispered:'Compassionate One, be pleasedto speakand convinceme of your reality'! How foolish this must sound and how ashamed I should be to write of it, were it not for the sequel.Even with the words upon my lips I reflected that a saneman should know better than to attempt holding conversewith a statue! Yet perhaps I had some excuse;for, apart from being then in a specialstate of mind, I had recently spent much time in the company of certain ChineseBuddhistswho, despitebeing men of obvious goodsense and erudition,would havefound nothing surpriiing in such conduct.As it turned out, no justificationwas needed, for the plain truth is that the statueanswered at once,saying: me 'Look not for my reality in the realm of appearances in the or Void. Seek it in your own mind. There only it resides.' I wish I could make the story even more extraordinary by affirming that the bronze lips moved, that the beautifully moulded throat gaveforth melodioussounds.It was not so. No sound or movement stirred th.esilence.The enigmatic words entered my consciousness thought-forms, but so palpably as that not even sound itself could have made the effect more electrifyingor their sequence more precise.It is hard to b:lieve that, at a time when my knowledgeof MahayanaBtrddhismwas so slight, I cculd have summoned such a pronouncement from within myself.I did not really.kno'v then what the first sentence meant. I felt sure I had receivedan intimation thar Kuan Yin exists to the extent that 'exists' is a fitting descriptionof her subtlc nature. Using thd word thus is perhaps ro overstarethe just asto saythat shedoesnot exist would be to understate case, it. My experience not imaginary.Such intuitive perceprions was

J.I

30

Bodhisanz;a of Compassirm

are too direct, too penetrating to be mistaken for ordinary imaginings. Yet for years I hesitated to speak of it, excepr to mv Chinese friends, who understood its nature; bu.t now I havc come to recognise that no good purpose is served by concealing ma rve l s m er ely bec au s ep e o p l e n o w a d a y s a re a p t to di sbel i evc them. In truth, such a man'el is not magical to those who re co g n i s e m ind' s s ov e re i g n p o w e r o v e r p h e n o rnena of even' kind whatsoever. Chr y s a n th e m u m s a re g o l d T o t hos e w h o s e e th e m s o . Red go L J i s j u s r a me ta l T ill t ho u g h t-fo rms g i v e i t rv o rth . Th e re is a m oder n s h o rr s to ry a b o u t a ti mi d kni ght s' ho, armed with a magic rvord te make him invulnerable, slelr' fift1' dragons as easily as cockroaches. Unfortunately, rvhile c'ngagcci in sl a ying t he f if t iet h, h e s u d d e n l y re a l i s e d th a t he had been t ri cke d by his t eac heri n to p u tti n g fa i th i n a ma d e -up nonsenseword. Needless to say, his fifty-first dragon gobbled him up in no time at all ! Yet can one say rhar the magic rvrought by his faith in that nonsense-word was nor real ? It stood him in far b e tte r s t ead t han his ' re a l ' a rm o u r a n d ' o b j e c ti vel y exi sti ng' sword ! A British-educated Chinese friend of mine once told me a story that fully bears out this view of reality. 'As you know, though my mother was a Buddhist, I received all my'pre-university education at Catholic schools, was baptised at sixteen and later took a Catholic wife. For years I was as devout a convert as could reasonably be expecteci of a man like me, a geologist. Then came the war which sent so man), of us fleeing westward before the Japaneseadvance. My narivc city suffered cruelly from indiscriminate rape and slaughter. I could not think of my old home rvithour rears. My work for a goveinment prospecting enterprise took me to some rvild and lonely places in Kweichow province and oncc I was sent to look for wolfram in a mountainous region six or seven da.ys walk from the nearest motor-road. One day, an hour before our usual stop for midday rice, I mistook a mule-track for the path we were following and wandered far away from the men- carrying mv

S d rr:.'A4 a rti -f ati orrs 3 I ::t lug g a g e and equipm en t. Kn c n ' i n g I w a s l o s t, b u t hungry and co n vi n ced by oc c as ion a lfre s h p i l e s o f m u l e d u n g rhat the track mu st l e a d t o hum an h a b i ta ti o n s , I p re s s e d fo n va:d. LJprvard a n d u p war d I \ \ ' ent un ti l c l o u d s \\' e re s rr-i rl i n g atout me anC I co u l d h ear w' hat s oun d e d l i k e th e w e i rd c ri e s o f gi bborrs hi gh u p i n the t r ees . A t ev e ry tu rn I h o p e d i n v a i n tL 1come upon a t l e a sta wc c ds m an' s h o v e l , b u t I h a d n ' a n d e re d tc s far by' then t o fe e l i t wis e t o t ur n b a c k . I n e e d e d fo o .l a n d s c:re l ocal man t o g u i d c m e t o u' her e my p o rte rs \\re re l i k e l y tu r3 found. 'An i cy u' ind c am e tc a ri n g d o * ' n fro m th e h i g -r pcaks anci d u sk was c los ing in. E e ri : s o u n d s \\' e re a l i a b tr' .:i me) some re co g n i s ableas t he v oi c e s o f u ' i n d a n d s t^ -e a m o ' i ;::rs i nexpl i c, ableand mournful as the criesof wanderrng ghos:s. With each step I grew more afraid and the mists srtiiling &rr.u-::g the rocks g rc\\'d e ns er and r nore o p a q u e . F e a rs t-rf * ' i l d b:asts rose to h a u n t m e; as f or band i ts , o f w ' h o m th e l o c a l Ertfl e had tol d mc si n i s t er t ales , I long e d to me e t a fe l l o n ' -h u ma n l ei ng, bandi t o r n o t. A t las t t er r or b ro u g n t m e to mv k n e e s b e si de the path a n d , te et h c hat t er ing, I p o u re d o u t a p ra !' er tc fm v l atron sai nt, St Be rn adet t e, beggin g th a t s rv e e t c h i l d .a s I th t ught of her) t o a p p e ar and lead m e to a p l a c e o f s a fe ty . Bv rvhat l i ght remained, ffiy eyes sought for her among the rocks. I believed t h a t i f s he did not c o m e , I s h o u l d l o s e my s a n i n' . i f not my life ! 'Then she u'as there, standing on a small flat rock, her flimsy blue robe hardly ruffied by the fierce and bitterli- cold wind. She was smiling, as I could see well, for arounc her glowed a nimbus of soft light. Gradually'I took in that thc're was something unexpected about her face. Then I realised g'hat it rvasRer n a d e tte! H e r h i g h -s * ' e p t h a i r. rhe j ew el l ed sh e w a s' aChines e o rn a me nt s c las ped ab o u t h e r th ro a t, th e w h i te si l k trousers pe cp i n g t hr ough a blu e ro b e s l i t to th c th i g h ,.r ' e:: those of a no b l e C hines e m aic le n m a n y c e n tu ri e s a g o . ' "Co me, E lder B r oth e rr" s h e s a i d , s p e a k i n g n i e l ' ,rdi ousMari * d a ri n i n a c hildis h v oi c e to o v o u n g to i ra ' ,' eb e l o riqed to B ernade ttc qven at the tirr:e of her first meeting rvith the Holy Virgin, "I shall shsw you a place where vou can rest safel'.' ancl tomorro w a l l will be v er y w e l l ." 'Sh c i c d' m e a s hor t d i s ta n c e to a s h a l i o \\' c a v e , .' .' :l lprotected frc;m rh e wind. I t s f lo o r w a s a s s o ft a S th c - s o fte s: of beds and

32

Bodhisarn,a of Compassion

I a rn n e ar ly s ur e I c a ' rg h t s i g h t o f a s i l k e n p e i -z u o (qui l t) sruffed n ,: d o ubt wit h war m s i l k -fl o s s , i u s t a s I fe tt a s l eep i n the very a ct o f ly ing down at h e r c o m m a n d . 'The next day I ar.voke,after a long, deep sreep, to find the sun high in the sk,"-. There was no sign of bedding-and thc floor of the cave, far from being soft, wis 'ugged and strewn with p e b b l e s , bur I had s l e p t a s rv e l l a n d * u i i -tty a s i n the room I o n e e sh ar ed r ' ir h m y m o th e r i n m y b e l o v e d n rtive pl ace, now a ttrousand li a*'ay. while I rvas washing in a nearby stream, a train of mules L:amedown the rrack, driven by three mounted lo-fu- I easi15persuaded one of these mule-drivers ro sell me some eold steamed bread-he would have given it without payment, I arn sure - and, with his help, I wis able to rejoin my parry by noon the following day. 'For more rhan a year I believed I had been saved by St Bernadette, though I could nor account for her extreme youthfulness and chinese appearance. Then, one day, I hajpened to take shelter from rhe rain in a disused temple not far from chengtu and rhere, in a small chapel, I came.rio., a faded fresco shorving Kuan Yin clad in a simple robe of blue corton without her usual ornaments. Seated bv the ocean, she was attended as usua! by Shan Ts'ai and Lung Nii. In great astonishmenr I recognised in Lung Ni: my "Bernadette" ! Even the blue ar.sl and rvhite trousers were the same, but now there were no jewels clasped abour her throat. -fhinking about those jewels roused a me mo r y of a s im ilar p i c tu re th a t u s e d to h a n g i n my mother' s bedroom, sho*'ing both Kuan yin and Lung irli.i .dorned with splendid ornairrents. so rhar u,as it I you .orrld say that the lady who_saved m)' iife on rhar frcczing nighr rv?s neither Bernadette no r L 'n g Nir . ius r a c h i l d h o o d m e m o i v l i g h ti n g u p a fear-crazed rn i n d . A nd y ou r v ould b e ri g h t - p a rtl y l s i i tt, .i ri tai rr, memori es do n o t g uide people r o u n k n o w n c a v e s ,m a k e ro c ks and pebbl es bccome fine rnatircsscs. conjure pei-?.L,os from the air or drive aw a y d e adly ' c oid. '}'e s, in a r ' av y ou \l ' o u l d b e ri g h t, It a ,c s th a t memory. It wa s a l so Lung \ u her s e l f, s e n t o u t o f p i ty b y K u a n yi n. H avi ng s i n ce rh en s r udied t h e p ro fo u n d N l a h a y a n a d o c tri ne of Mi nd onl-v*,I accepr no contradiction bet*een those two. Driven to t h e e 'd geof r eas on, I s o u g h t d i v i n e a i d , a n d d i vi ne ai d came insta n tl y - in a t br m t h a t a c c o rd e c r i th th e c o n te n rsof mv mi nd. w

SomeManifesratiorts 33 It was as a mental apparition that Lung Ni1 appeared and brought from my mind the warmth and comfort that made me physicallyableto withstandgreatcold.Would you dare saythat wrought by the BodhisattvaI had worshipped iur* .tn, a-rniracle as a child? All miraclesare so-working through mind' True, did the Bodhisattva not comeherself.Having too much delicacy she sent callingon a foreigngoddess, to appearbeforesomeone I was expecting. l-ung Nii who could be takenfor the child'saint Attributing my good fortune to the marvellousworkings of my owo F.tiridlnd aeceptingit as the intervention of the Bodhisattva are two ways of expressingthe same truth" I haveoften ponderedon the mineralogist'swisdom-opening expcrience.Hi; penetratingunderstandingof it explains many similar occurrences,bridging the gap between magical and psychological. Yeers later, I chancedto hear-at secondhandanlther *ory, different in purport' but also illustrating the identity of miraculousintervention from'within' and'without' the minC. To understandwhat the narrator tells us' one must know that, whereas Kuan Yin, though often depicted as a member of a triniry with the celestialBuddha Amitabha in the centre and Kuan Yin and Ta Shih-Chih'Bodhisattvasstanding oneitherhand,isalsoworshippedindependentlybymillions, this is not the casewith Ta Shih-Chih. The latter seemsto have being rarely invoked in his faded from human consciousness' own right. I am told the narratorwas a very old gentlemancalled Mr Cli'tn, who had spent the last forty years of his life as a recluse. ,In my young cays, preparing for the imperial civil service was, for cultivated youths, the most important examinaiions thirrg in life. Everything dependedon success*not iust rank and wealth, trut the honour brought to one's family and the You cannotimaginehow hard power to servesocietyeffectively. we used to work at the ancient classics,straining our eyes through reading late into the night by the pitiful glimmer of a wicf floating in a saucerof rril. No wonder so many of us becamestoopedearly in life with all that poring over books! bad. My father, For me and my four brcrhersit was especially the Buddhist Sutraseven more than the Confucian who loved classics, made us spendmuch time on those as well ! I do not know whether we grudgedthe extra trurden more or less than

t, i

34

Bodhisatwa

of Cornpassion

we came to love the splendour, vastness and depth of their philosophy. "You must", my father often said, "pursue these studies until the neaning of the four characters FEI K'UNG CHIH K ' UNG ( v oid n e s s o f th e n o n -r' o i d ) i s a s cl car to you as the orh of the sun blazing down from a cloudless autumn sky." 'On some rrights rvhen I n'as especially wear)/, I liked to irrraginethat the compassionate Kuan Yin appeared before mg in th e l i b r a: y in a blaze o f l i g h t. T h i s n e v e r fa i l e d to w i pe a\r/av my fa ti gue, m ak ing r xtl a s a l e rt a s i n th e mo rn i n g s . A fterrvards I co u l d r ead t he s ut r a s q u i c k i l ' , e a s i l v a n d rv i th g reater undcrsta n d i n g . I do not s a] ' th a t I tru l y ' s a rr.h e r. u n l e ss di ml l ' rvi th my mind's eye, but I kn.:u' u'hen .trd [s-ru'su'ceti1'she smiled o r w h e n s he r v asdis pl e a s e dw ' i th a fe e l i n g I s o m e times had that re a d i n g s o m any s ut r a s w a s a n i n to l c -ra n l ec h o re. My fourth b ro th e r, r v ho was s ic k l y a n d th e o n l v o n e o f u s to fai l the examinations, was extremely fond of me. \\'hen \\'e were alonc, we p u t as ide t he f or m a l i ty th a t h a d to b e s h o n ' n i n publ i c by ju n i o rs to s enior s , ev e n b ro th e rs a l m o s t o f a n a g e. Once w ' hen I h a d b een des c r ibin g w h a t I l i k e d to c a l l th e Bodhi sattva' s p e rso n a l m anif es t at io n s to m e ) h e s a i d . l a u g h i n g : " H ow you flatter yourselfl Second Brother. Such things don't happen, If th e y do, why is it a l w a y s Ku a n Y i n a n d n e v er Ta S hi hCh i h who appear s? Th e p i c tu re i n o u r s h ri n e -roorl coni ai ns both of them; rhey get the same amount of incense, bowing and the rest. Why doesn't Ta Shih-Chih do his share of healing you? It is because -vou forget him that he plays no part in .your imagination - for it is imagination, whatever you say." 'His words set me thinking. I did not agree with his main point, but he had made me feel guilty towards Ta Shih-Chih Bodhisattva, to whom none of us paid reverence except as one of three. I began offering him special prayers. For several months I never went to sleep at night without first sitting crosslegged on my bed and visualising Ta Shih-Chih. But when I invoked him instead of Kuan Yin, there was no result. Never any result at all. At last I spoke of this to my father. Unable to explain, he sent me orT to a monasterl' lying a few /i beyond the city wall and overlo