Methods and Practices of Guan Yin Bodhisattvas

Avalokitesvara, also known as Guan Yin Pusa, is a Bodhisattva with great affinity to the saha world or the world of suffering. Many people, when confronted with fear and apprehension, recite sutras, verses or the Buddha’s name. However, it is Guan Yin Pusa’s name that orthodox Buddhists as well as those who practice folk religion tend to recite instinctively at the moment of danger, akin to a drowning man grasping for the life-boat. The phrase “Amitabha Buddha lies in the mind of every family; Guan Yin Pusa guards every household” aptly describes the faith and belief in Avalokitesvara that is deeply entrenched in Chinese culture.

Why is that so?

Amongst the numerous bodhisattvas of compassion and wisdom, why does Guan Yin Pusa have such unique and unparalleled eminence?
Firstly, the “Lotus Sutra”, an extremely important sutra in Mahayana Buddhism, is widely read and recited. One of its chapters, “Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Universal Gate” (觀世音菩薩普門品), extols Guan Yin’s great wisdom and merits; this chapter was compiled and widely circulated by devotees, and was later known as the “Guan Yin Sutra”.

Secondly, “The Thousand-Handed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva’s Vast, Perfect, Unimpeded, Great-Compassion Heart Dharani Sutra”, abbreviated as “The Great Compassion Dharani Sutra” (Mahā Karuna Dhāranī), is another important and popular sutra that encourages devotees to cultivate great compassion through recitation of the Dharani. Recitation of this Dharani is synonymous to reciting the holy name of Guan Yin Pusa.

Those who recite Guan Yin Pusa’s name sincerely are relieved from suffering and have their difficulties alleviated; in the face of adversities, request for help is usually granted. The simplicity of this practice makes it very popular and faith in Guan Yin Pusa is thus deeply ingrained.

Guan Yin Pusa is also known as “Mother Guan Yin”, the feminine association representing women’s compassion as well as a mother’s loving kindness, just as the timeless and intimate way an infant calls its mothers.

The earthly mother, on the other hand, is a mortal with many limitations.

Bodhisattva is different. The compassionate Guan Yin Pusa exhibits maternal loving kindness in relieving sentient beings from suffering with her supernatural powers; through recitation of her name, she senses those seeking help and provide deliverance. Hence, most will instinctively recite her name when faced with adversities.

Regardless of the knowledge or understanding of the function of Bodhisattvas, Guan Yin Pusa is considered a guardian bodhisattva by many, a compassionate mother that watches over and protects us at all times.


Methods and Practices of Guan Yin Bodhisattvas, by Master Sheng Yen

Book Store- 聖嚴法師教觀音法門

Translation: Elenda Huang
Editor: Leefah Thong

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