Quan Yin is one of the major deities in Buddhism and one of the most popular deities used in feng shui.
Known as the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, Kwan Yin is a well-known deity not only in China, but also in Korea, Japan, Malaysia, as well as with numerous Buddhism followers around the world.
Quan Yin is portrayed in many ways. You can find images of Quan Yin holding the pearls of illumination or a bundle of ripe rice, pouring the nectar of wisdom and compassion from a sacred vase or meditating and holding her hands in sacredmudras.
You can also find Quan Yin holding children or giving food - all being expressions of her divine loving energy.
The One with a Motherly Compassion, She who Hears the Cries of the People are the Quan Yin's attributes. A great protector and benefactor, her heart is full of deep compassion and unconditional love; her energy is God-like. As such, Quan Yin is welcomed in many feng shui applications and is one of the most popular (and sacred) feng shui cures.
Because of her commitment to help humans, she is approached with any concerns, troubles or worries. Be it family, career, health or relationships, no trouble is too big to be brought to the motherly and all-powerful energy of Quan Yin.
The terms "compassion and mercy" are not the best interpretation of Quan Yin's energy. The energy Quan Yin expresses is akin to what a mother feels for her child - it is fiercely loving and protective, a much stronger energy than what we usually associate with compassion.
As the legend goes, even though Quan Yin attained enlightenment, just as she was about to enter heaven she paused at the doorway and, hearing the cries of the world, decided to return and help humankind find the right path.
She took the vow to help humans, thus Quan Yin is known as the female Bodhisattva.
Here are the basic feng shui guidelines:
The name Guan Yin also spelt Guan Yim, Kuan Yim, Kwan Im, or Kuan Yin, is a short form for Kuan-shi Yin, meaning "Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the (human) World". Highly respected in Asian cultures, Guan Yim bears different names as follows:
Hong Kong: Kwun Yum
Japan: Kannon or more formally Kanzeon; the spelling Kwannon, based on a pre-modern pronunciation, is sometimes seen
Korea: Gwan-eum or Gwanse-eum
Thailand: Kuan Eim (กวนอิม) or Prah Mae Kuan Eim Vietnam: Quan Âm
In Chinese Buddhism, Guan Yin is synonymous with the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the pinnacle of mercy, compassion, kindness and love. (Bodhisattva- being of bodhi or enlightenment, one who has earned to leave the world of suffering and is destined to become a Buddha, but has forgone the bliss of nirvana with a vow to save all children of god. Avalojkitesvara (Sanskrit: अवलोकितेश्वर): The word ‘avalokita’ means "seeing or gazing down" and ‘Êvara’ means "lord" in Sanskrit).
Among the Chinese, Avalokitesvara is almost exclusively called Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa. The Chinese translation of many Buddhist sutras has in fact replaced the Chinese transliteration of Avalokitesvara with Guan Shi Yin. Some Taoistscriptures give her the title of Guan Yin Da Shi, and sometimes informally as Guan Yin Fo Zu.
Along with Buddhism, Guan Yin's veneration was introduced into China as early as the 1st century AD, and reached Japan by way of Korea soon after Buddhism was first introduced into the country from the mid-7th century. Representations of the Bodhisattva in China prior to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD, Northern - and Southern Song Dynasty) were masculine in appearance.
It is generally accepted that Guan Yin originated as the Sanskrit Avalokitesvara, which is her male form, since all representations of Bodhisattva were masculine. Later images might show female and male attributes, since a Bodhisattva, in accordance with the Lotus Sutra, has the magical power to transform the body in any form required to relieve suffering, so that Guan Yin is neither woman nor man. In Mahayana Buddhism, to which Chinese Buddhism belongs, gender is no obstacle to Enlightenment. As the Lotus Sutra relates, the Bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin, "by resort to a variety of shapes, travels in the world, conveying the beings to salvation."
The representation in China was further interpreted in an all-female form around the 12th century, during the Ming Dynasty (1368- 1644 AD).
The twelfth-century legend of the Buddhist saint Miao Shan (see below), the Chinese princess who lived in about 700 B.C., is widely believed to have been Kuan Yin, reinforced the image of the Bodhisattva as a female.
In the modern period, Guan Yin is most often represented as a beautiful, white-robed woman, a depiction which derives from the earlier Pandaravasini form.
In Sanskrit she's known as Padma pani - "Born of the Lotus", the lotussymbolizing purity, peace and harmony.
Commonly known in the West as the Goddess of Mercy, Guan Yin is also revered by both the Taoists and Buddhists.
Guan Yin is usually shown in a white flowing robe - white being the symbol of purity -, and usually wearing necklaces of Indian/Chinese royalty. In the right hand is a water jar (as the Sacred Vase the water jar also one of the Eight Buddhist Symbols of good Fortune) containing pure water, the divine nectar of life, compassion and wisdom, and in the left, a willow branch to sprinkle the divine nectar of life upon the devotees as to bless them with physical and spiritual peace. The willow branch is also a symbol of being able to bend (or adapt) but not break. The willow is also used in shamanistic rituals and has had medicinal purposes as well. The crown usually depicts the image of Amitabha Buddha (Fully Conscious Infinite Light), Guan Yin's spiritual teacher before she became a Bodhisattva. A bird, mostly a dove, representing fecundity is flying toward her.
A necklace or rosary is associated with her calls upon Buddha for succor, each bead of it representing all living beings and the turning of the beads symbolizes that Guan Yin is leading them out of their state of misery and repeated rounds of rebirth into nirvana, hence the beads represent enlightenment. Should a book or scroll of papers be within the portrayal, it is representing the Dharma, the teaching of Buddha or the sutra, the Buddhist text, Guan Yin is said to have constantly recited from.
Guan Yin is often depicted either alone, standing atop a dragon, accompanied by a bird, flanked by two children, or flanked by two warriors. The two children are called Long Nue and Shan Tsai (see below). The two warriors are the historical character Guan Yu who comes from the ‘Three Kingdoms’ period and the mythological character Wei Tuo who features in the Chinese classic 'Canonisation of the Gods'. The Buddhist tradition also displays Guan Yin, or other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, flanked with the two said warriors, but as Bodhisattvas who protect the temple and the faith itself. Guan Yin sitting on a pink lotus is a sign for peace and harmony.
One Buddhist legend presents Guan Yin as vowing to never rest until she had freed all sentient beings from samsara, reincarnation. Despite strenuous effort, she realized that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, her head split into eleven pieces. Amitabha Buddha, seeing her plight, gave her eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Guan Yin attempted to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that her two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Amitabha came to her aid and appointed her a thousand arms with which to aid the many.
Many Himalayan versions of the tale include eight arms with which Avalokitesvara skillfully upholds the Dharma, each possessing its own particular implement, while more Chinese-specific versions give varying accounts of this number.
Like Avalokitesvara, Guan Yin is also depicted with a thousand arms and varying numbers of eyes, hands and heads, sometimes with an eye in the palm of each hand, and is commonly called "the thousand-arms, thousand-eyes" Bodhisattva. In this form she represents the omnipresent mother, looking in all directions simultaneously, sensing the afflictions of humanity and extending her many arms to alleviate them with infinite expressions of her mercy, while the thousand eyes help her see anyone who may be in need.
In other portrayals Guan Yin is shown with a peacock. The peacock is another manifestation of the heavenly Phoenix on earth. It has a hundred eyes on its tail feathers, symbolizing Kuan Yim’s thousand eyes.
Guan Yin's presence is widespread through her images as "bestowing children" which are found in homes and temples. A great white veil covers her entire form and she may be seated on a lotus, the sign for purity. She is often portrayed with a child in her arms, near her feet, or on her knees, or with several children about her. In this role, she is also referred to as the "white-robed honoured one." Sometimes to her right and left are her two attendants, a girl called Lung-wang Nu, the daughter of the Dragon-king and a boy, Shan-ts’ai Tung-tsi, the "young man of excellent capacities" (see: Jade One and the Golden Child). The two children are her acolytes who came to her when she was meditating at Mount Putuo.
Guan Yin is also known as patron Bodhisattva of Putuo Shan (Mount Putuo), mistress of the Southern Sea and patroness of fishermen. As such she is shown crossing the sea seated or standing on a lotus or on the head of a dragon. The dragon being an ancient symbol for high spirituality, wisdom, strength, and divine powers of transformation.