Guanyin is an East Asian goddess of mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists.
The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “Observing the Sounds – or Cries – of the World”. She is also sometimes referred to as Guanyin Pusa , which literally means “Bodhisattva Guanyin”.
Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western pure land of Sukhāvatī.
Commonly known in English as the Mercy Goddess or Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin is also revered by Chinese Taoists as an immortal.
In some Buddhist temples and monasteries, Guanyin’s image is occasionally that of a young man dressed in Northern Song Dynasty Buddhist robes and seated gracefully. He is usually depicted looking or glancing down, symbolizing that Guanyin continues to watch over the world.
In China, Guanyin is generally portrayed as a young woman clad in a white flowing robe and usually wearing necklaces of royalty. In her left hand is a jar containing pure water, and in her right hand, she holds a willow branch. The crown usually depicts the image of Amitabha Buddha.
(1) In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is an enlightenment (bodhi) being (sattva). Traditionally, a bodhisattva is anyone who – motivated by great compassion – has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.
(2) Taoism (or Daoism) is a philosophical, ethical and religious tradition of Chinese origin, which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (Dao). The term Tao means “way”, “path” or “principle”, and can also be found in Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism. In Taoism, however, Tao denotes something that is both the source and the driving force behind everything that exists.
Also known as Quan Yin and Kwan Yin.
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