The Legend of Kuan Yin ~ Humanity Healing Network


Many stories and myths have been passed down through time about this compassionate Bodhisattva. In Japan, this celestial being is known as Kannon, in China her name is Kuan Yin, or Guanyin, and has the status of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion and the feminine Savior of the East.

Quan Yin is a shortened form of a name that means One Who Sees and Hears the Cry from the Human World.  In Sanskrit, her name is Padma-pâni, or “Born of the Lotus”.

In the last incarnation of the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin, she was named Miao Shan. She was the third daughter of a royal king, the sovereign of the Chou Dynasty. The legend tells that when she was born, the earth trembled, flower petals invaded the bedroom and a sweet fragrance spread throughout the kingdom.  This was interpreted as a sign that someone of a high spiritual and heavenly nature had been born.

The young Miao Shan was sweet with a very kind heart and did not want to marry. She intended instead to enter the monastery and devote her life to the work of God. Unfortunately, the King and Queen became greedy and when she grew up, tried to get her to marry a very rich suitor. The King insisted so much that she agreed to marry, as long as the King answered her three questions.

“Could he, alleviate suffering among aging?”

 The king said no.

“Could he, relieve the suffering of those who fall ill?”

 The king said no.

“Could he, alleviate suffering caused by death?”

And once again the king said no.

The king, finding absurd the questions his daughter had asked him, inquired if she knew someone who was capable of such feats. She answered positively and pointed out a doctor who was a gifted healer, but humble with his gifts, and proceed to say that he could relieve the suffering of his people, and him, she would definitely marry.

The king was furious with the statement of his daughter and, to teach her a lesson, sent her to the monastery as she initially wished, but ordered the monks to instruct her to perform very hard work.  Nobody was allowed to help her or to encourage her. Afraid of the king, the monks sent her to fetch water, chop wood and other vile heavy work. They had her built a garden in the courtyard of the monastery where the ground was stony dirt, and at the same time to take care of the kitchen. Miao Shan worked hard day in and day out without complaining.  With her gentle spirit, she eventually attracted the animals, which helped her with her tasks. Soon, Miao Shan had created a beautiful garden that began to attract the attention of travelers and passersby, and it flourished even in winter.

Soon the fame of the princess who lived in the monastery reached the ears of the king. Thinking that the monks were helping Miao Shan, he ordered fire to set to the monastery.

When Miao Shan saw the fire spreading, she took one of her hair clips and pierced her tongue. It shed a lot of blood with which she obliterated all the fire of the monastery.

The King, upon learning what had happened, became terrified and ordered the killing of Miao Shan. When the executioner came, she smiled at him, and said beforehand that she would forgive him for what he would do. More than that, Miao Shan vowed to take all his karma for the life of a hangman that he had acquired, so that when he died, he could go directly to Tian[1].

Still, at the moment the executioner brought the ax down on Miao Shan, it broke itself into hundreds of pieces. The same happened with the sword and the sickle. Even the arrows diverted their course; and no matter the distance, they did not touch her body. Desperate, the executioner was forced to take the life of Miao Shan with own hands. And yet, she forgave him.

It just happened that, with all the karma that she took from the executioner, she ended up going down to the last plane of Diyu[2]. As the story goes, on her arrival in Hell, the flames were quenched and flowers burst into bloom. She then began to take the karma of all murderers who were there, freeing of all the negative energy, so they could leave that plane and return to the cycle of reincarnation. Yanluo, the presiding officer, looked on in dismay at what seemed to be the summary abolition of his post, and visibly afraid to see his kingdom destroyed and fearing that she would free all the Diyu, he sent her back to the plane of the living.

Back on the earth, she began traveled as a hermit, finally stopping at a little cave on Mount Fragrance, where she dedicated herself to meditation and helping those in need.

[1] Tian is the Chinese heaven, equivalent to paradise.

[2] Similar to the Dantean inferno of the Divine Comedy, the Chinese hell is divided into 10 levels, where the latter is reserved only for the worst murderers.

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