Kuan Yin

From TSL Encyclopedia
Statue of Kuan Yin, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Statue of Kuan Yin, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. She is depicted here seated in her characteristic pose of royal ease.

Kuan Yin is revered in Buddhism as the compassionate Saviouress, the Bodhisattva of Mercy. Beloved as a mother figure and divine mediatrix who is close to the daily affairs of her devotees, Kuan Yin’s role as Buddhist Madonna has been compared to that of Mary the mother of Jesus in the West. Throughout the Far East, devotees seek her guidance and succor in every area of life. Altars dedicated to Kuan Yin can be found in temples, homes and wayside grottoes.

The name Kuan Shih Yin, as she is often called, means “the one who regards, looks on, or hears the sounds of the world.” According to legend, Kuan Yin was about to enter heaven but paused on the threshold as the cries of the world reached her ears.

Kuan Yin is revered as protectress of women, sailors, merchants, craftsmen, those under criminal prosecution and those desiring progeny. There is an implicit trust in Kuan Yin’s saving grace and healing powers. Many believe that even the simple recitation of her name will bring her instantly to the scene. Kuan Yin’s Crystal Rosary contains her mantras and is a powerful means of invoking her intercession.

Old Korean painting of Kuan Yin
Avalokitesvara with Willow Branch, hanging Silk Scroll, c. 1310, Goryeo Dynasty (Korea)

Traditions in the East

For centuries, Kuan Yin has epitomized the great ideal of Mahayana Buddhism in her role as bodhisattva—literally “a being of bodhi, or enlightenment,” who is destined to become a Buddha but has foregone the bliss of nirvana with a vow to save all children of God. Kuan Yin has taken the bodhisattva vow to work with the evolutions of this planet and this solar system to show them the way of the teachings of the ascended masters.

Kuan Yin was worshiped in China before the advent of Buddhism and thereafter adopted by Buddhists as an incarnation of Avalokitesvara (Padmapani). Devotees invoke the bodhisattva’s power and merciful intercession with the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum—“Hail to the jewel in the lotus!” or, as it has also been interpreted, “Hail to Avalokitesvara, who is the jewel in the heart of the lotus of the devotee’s heart!”

According to legend, Avalokitesvara was born from a ray of white light that Amitabha, the Buddha of Boundless Light, emitted from his right eye as he was lost in ecstasy. Thus Avalokitesvara, or Kuan Yin, is regarded as the “reflex” of Amitabha—a further emanation or embodiment of maha karuna (great compassion), the quality that Amitabha embodies. Devotees believe that Kuan Yin, as the merciful redemptress, expresses Amitabha’s compassion in a more direct and personal way and that prayers to her are answered more quickly.

Painting of Kuan Yin in Chinese style, riding a dragon in the midst of a turbulent sea
Kuan Yin riding a dragon. This image also represents Kuan Yin’s mastery of the water element, in the same way that Mother Mary’s mastery of the water element is depicted in images of her with the moon beneath her feet.

In the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, Kuan Yin forms part of a ruling triad that is often depicted in temples and is a popular theme in Buddhist art. In the center is the Buddha of Boundless Light, Amitabha (Chinese, A-mi-t’o Fo; Japanese, Amida). To his right is the bodhisattva of strength or power, Mahasthamaprapta, and to his left is Kuan Yin, personifying his endless mercy.

In Buddhist theology Kuan Yin is sometimes depicted as the captain of the “Bark of Salvation,” guiding souls to Amitabha's Western Paradise, or Pure Land—the land of bliss where souls may be reborn to receive continued instruction toward the goal of enlightenment and perfection. The journey to Pure Land is frequently represented in woodcuts showing boats full of Amitabha’s followers under Kuan Yin’s captainship.

One of Kuan Yin’s principal emblems is the willow branch. According to Buddhist belief, she uses the willow branch to drive away illness and to sprinkle the nectar of wisdom and compassion upon all who invoke her assistance. In some Asian traditions prayers to cure disease were given while stroking the afflicted person with a willow branch.

Kuan Yin is considered to be the bestower of children, and so she is often depicted with an infant. In Taiwan there is also a legend that in one of her embodiments she was a mother and therefore is shown with her own child.

Kuan Yin is also often depicted standing on a dragon. The dragon for the Chinese people represents China and their divine lineage. It is also a symbol of the entire Spirit of the Great White Brotherhood. In its antithesis, the dragon is seen in the Book of Revelation giving power to the beasts. So a dragon is a thoughtform of a great hierarchy—whether embodying the forces of Light or the forces of Darkness.

In Chinese lore the dragon and the phoenix bird together represent the yang and yin of the whirling T’ai Chi. So the image of Kuan Yin riding a dragon shows her having dominion over that dragon in the sense of being the master of it.

Miao Shan

Painting in Chinese style of Miao Shan on the back of a tiger
Miao Shan being carried off by a tiger

It is widely believed that Kuan Yin took embodiment as the third daughter of Miao Chuang Wang, identified with the Chou dynasty, a ruler of a northern Chinese kingdom in the sixth century B.C. The king had seized his throne by force of arms, and he desperately desired a male heir to succeed him. Instead he had three daughters. The youngest, Miao Shan, was a devout child who “scrupulously observed all of the tenets of the Buddhist doctrines. Virtuous living seemed, indeed, to be to her a second nature.”[1]

She recognized the impermanence of riches and glory and desired nothing more than “a peaceful retreat on a lone mountain.” She told her sisters that “If some day I can reach a high degree of goodness.... I will rescue my father and mother, and bring them to Heaven; I will save the miserable and afflicted on earth; I will convert the spirits which do evil, and cause them to do good.”

Miao Shan’s father determined to find a husband for her who would be capable of ruling the kingdom. The king explained his plans and told her that all his hopes rested on her. Miao Shan said that she did not wish to marry because she desired to attain perfection and Buddhahood.

The king was angry. “Has anyone known the daughter of a king to become a nun?” he asked. Then he demanded that she marry an academician or a military man at once. Recognizing that she could not openly disobey her father’s orders, Miao Shan said that she would immediately marry a physician since she could then still become a Buddha. Outraged, the king ordered his officer to take her to the Queen’s garden “and let her perish there of cold.”

Miao Shan retired to the garden glad to exchange the pleasures of the palace for the sweetness of solitude. Her parents, sisters and the ladies of the court tried in vain to dissuade Miao Shan from her purpose. Instead she asked her father’s permission to live at the Nunnery of the White Bird. The king consented but sent strict orders to the nunnery that the nuns should do all in their power to persuade Miao Shan to leave.

The nuns tried but failed. They then decided to put Miao Shan in charge of the kitchen where, if she failed, they could dismiss her. Miao Shan so joyously agreed that she touched the heart of the Master of Heaven who ordered the spirits of heaven to assist her in her duties.

The Superior of the nunnery then asked the King to recall his daughter. The king sent five thousand soldiers to surround the Nunnery of the White Bird and burn it to the ground along with the nuns. The nuns invoked the aid of Heaven but said to Miao Shan: “It is you who have brought upon us this terrible disaster.”

Miao Shan agreed that it was so. She knelt and prayed to Heaven and then pricked the roof of her mouth with her bamboo hairpin and spat the flowing blood toward heaven. Great clouds immediately gathered and showers put out the fire threatening the nunnery. The nuns threw themselves on their knees and thanked Miao Shan for saving their lives.

The king, informed of this miracle, was enraged and ordered the chief of the guard to immediately behead Miao Shan. As the execution was to begin, the sky became overcast, but a bright light surrounded Miao Shan. When the executioner’s sword fell upon her neck, it broke. A spear thrust at her fell to pieces.

The king ordered that she be strangled with a silken cord. But a tiger leaped into the execution grounds, dispersed the executioners, put the inanimate body of Miao Shan on his back and disappeared into the pine forest.

Thirty-three meter statue of Kuan Yin on Mount P’u-t’o, the sacred island-mountain that became a center of devotion to Kuan Yin

Miao Shan’s soul, which was not hurt, was taken to the lower world, hell. She prayed and hell was transformed into a paradise. She was sent back to earth to resume her life there. Carried on a lotus flower to the island of P’u-t’o Shan—the sacred island-mountain in the Chusan Archipelago off the coast of Chekiang—she lived for nine years healing the diseased and saving mariners from shipwreck.

It is said that once, when word was brought to her that her father had fallen ill, she cut the flesh from her arms and used it as a medicine that saved his life. In gratitude, he ordered that a statue be erected in her honor, commissioning the artist to depict her with “completely formed arms and eyes.” The artist misunderstood, however, and to this day Kuan Yin is sometimes shown with a “thousand arms and a thousand eyes,” thereby able to see and assist the masses of her people.

During the twelfth century Buddhist monks settled on P’u-t’o Shan, and devotion to Kuan Yin spread throughout northern China. This picturesque island became the chief center of worship of the compassionate Saviouress; crowds of pilgrims would journey from the remotest places in China and even from Manchuria, Mongolia and Tibet to attend stately services there. At one time there were more than a hundred temples on the island and over one thousand monks. The lore surrounding P’u-t’o island recounts numerous appearances and miracles performed by Kuan Yin, who, it is believed, reveals herself to the faithful in a certain cave on the island.

The bodhisattva ideal

Kuan Yin’s ministration is very real and as ancient as the hills. The vow taken by the bodhisattva to stand with humanity is a sacred calling. However, she cautions us against taking it ourselves unless we thoroughly understand the service of these dedicated ones:

Being one with all life, we are aware of all life in its manifestation from the highest to the lowest. This is part of the bodhisattva ideal, which is a part of those who are standing with humanity. And there are quite a number upon this planet, although few compared to those who go their own way of riotous living. It is a very high and holy order, and I suggest that you think long and hard about this calling before you respond and say, I will do the same!”

For when aeons pass and men are not moved by the flame that you hold, remember that you might wish that you had chosen another easier or more gratifying way. As the centuries pass, the thousands of years and the cycles, and the same individuals whom you have nourished by the power of your heart flame are involved in the same involvements in the world, you find that you cry out to God and say, “O LORD, how long, how long will this wayward generation be in coming to the knowledge of their divinity and of the love of the sacred fire that we have held for so long?”[2]

Kuan Yin, seated
Kuan Yin

The mercy flame

Kuan Yin represents the qualities of mercy and compassion to the evolutions of earth. The mercy flame is the means whereby the Christ intercedes on behalf of those who have erred, who cannot bear the full brunt of the Law that demands swift recompense for each violation. The quality of mercy tempers the return of mankind’s own karma, staying the hand of justice until that time when individuals are able to stand, face and conquer their own human creation. Kuan Yin tells us that

... mercy is the quality of love that smoothens the rough places of life, that heals the sores of the etheric body, that mends the cleavages of mind and feelings, that clears away the debris of sin and the sense of struggle before these manifest in the physical body as disease, decay, disintegration and death.[3]

“Mercy is the strongest power in the universe,” Kuan Yin says, for “it is the power of the will of God.... The power of mercy is the intensity of love that will dissolve all fear, all doubt, all recalcitrance and rebellion within the race.... The mercy of the Law is sometimes very stern, but it is always patient, always tolerant, and it sees the flame within the heart rising, rising, rising to meet the Christ.”[4]

Kuan Yin reminds us, “When you feel the need of greater strength, of illumination, of greater purity and healing, remember that all of these qualities come to you from the heart of God by the power of the flame of mercy itself. For in forgiveness there comes renewed opportunity to fulfill the Law, and without forgiveness little progress can be made.”[5] Therefore, in order to reenter the walk with God, we need forgiveness.

The need for forgiveness

When we invoke it, let us realize that our own Christ Self is our psychiatrist, our psychologist, our minister, our priest, our rabbi, our friend, the one to whom we should go daily to unburden ourselves, as the American Indians did. They made a circle around the camp fire at night and discussed the events of the day. And all that they didn’t like, they threw into the flames. It is the same principle that has been taught in every religion of the world. When we put it into the flame, we can go to bed at night in peace. Much insomnia is caused because we are not releasing our daily karma, our daily burdens; and therefore, we are not at peace with ourselves and with God.

We have a need for confession, a need to tell God what we have done that is not in keeping with his Law. Until we tell him about it and ask for his flame of forgiveness to pass through us, we have that sense of guilt, fear, shame, and above all a separation from him. Today this is manifest in all kinds of mental and emotional diseases, split personalities, hatred of father and mother, hatred of children, and many other problems to which modern society has fallen prey. The path back to the guru, the Inner Christ, is calling upon the law of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is something we need to invoke not only for ourselves; we need to invoke it for every part of life—all who have ever wronged us, all whom we have wronged. Saint Germain teaches us that when we invoke forgiveness, it must be by a very intense love in our heart. We need to let each other know that we forgive and that we are asking for forgiveness. And it’s a point of humility to say, “I’ve done wrong, and I ask you and God to forgive me.”

When we invoke the law of forgiveness, it bursts like fireworks in the aura as violet, purple and pink, dissolving unpleasant conditions in our world. And it begins to intensify until great spheres of energy are going forth from our heart and inundating the world. You may visualize a loved one, a child, a self-styled enemy, a political figure; you may visualize an entire city, the government, the whole nation or the planet within this brilliant sphere of mercy’s flame, becoming the recipient of waves and waves of this wine of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a law, and by this law, our sins are set aside to give us the opportunity to develop the Christ consciousness. “Training in the law of forgiveness is necessary,” Kuan Yin instructs us, “for it is indeed the foundation of the Aquarian age.... Forgiveness is not the balancing of karma; it is the setting aside of karma whereby you are given the freedom in renewed creativity to conquer, to go forth, to make things right without that heavy burden, that weight of sin. And when you come to the place where you have further attainment, then, according to the law of forgiveness, that karma that was set aside is returned to you. And in your heightened state of consciousness in the plane of self-mastery, you are quickly able to place in the flame that substance for transmutation and to pursue your high calling.”[6]

There is a difference between the forgiveness of sins and their transmutation. Someone may steal your purse and later tell you that he is sorry he took it. You may forgive him, but the matter is not closed, karmically speaking, until he returns that purse to you with every penny intact or makes whatever restitution is necessary. Forgiveness is not the balancing of karma; it is the setting aside of karma whereby you are given the freedom to make things right without that heavy burden of sin.

The foundation of the path of the abundant life or of science is forgiveness. It is the resolution of harmony between every part of God. It is an intense love action of the freedom flame. The energies of the violet flame, the energies of God, are always pulsating, always moving, and they are transmuting the records of the subconscious. Forgiveness is the fulfillment of the law in Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”[7]

108-meter (354 ft) statue of Kuan Yin on the island of Hainan, in the South China Sea

The need to forgive

If you expect forgiveness, then you must be ready to forgive seventy times seven, as the Master Jesus taught. “In small ways and in great ways, mankind are tested,” Kuan Yin says, “And the bigotry that remains in the consciousness of some is also a lack of forgiveness. Those who cannot forgive their fellowmen because they do not think or worship as they do—these have the hardness of heart that encases the flame of love and also prevents the flow of wisdom.”[8]

The mercy of the law is like a two-way street. It is the signal that you send to God and the signal that he returns. A two-way street means the give-and-take with God. If you expect mercy from God, then you must give mercy to every part of life. The fulfillment of the law of mercy must be for the ultimate liberation of each and every soul. Thus, as we forgive life, life forgives us.

Time and time again we have all heard the cliché, “Let bygones be bygones. Forgive and forget!” This is so true, because if you can still resurrect the memory of a wrong that has been done to you, then you have not truly forgiven. In order to forgive, the record and the memory must be dissolved from your consciousness. Kuan Yin tells us that if this is not the case, not only have you not truly forgiven, but “you have hardened your heart. You have stored the record as a squirrel with his nuts deep within the subconscious. Deep in the etheric plane, you have stored the record of that wrong. You have not released it into the flame. You have not been willing to let go and let God be free to express in those who have wronged you, in those whom you have wronged.”[9]

One of the best ways to accomplish this complete “forgiving and forgetting” is by the use of the science of the spoken Word, accompanied by visualization, in a mantra for forgiveness written by El Morya in his “Heart, Head and Hand Decrees.”

I AM forgiveness acting here,
Casting out all doubt and fear,
Setting men forever free
With wings of cosmic victory.
I AM calling in full power
For forgiveness every hour;
To all life in every place
I flood forth forgiving grace.

As you give this prayer daily, you may wish to visualize the flames of mercy, which are a lovely pink-violet color, enfolding your being and removing the cause and core of many wrongs of the past. It is possible to experience a great sense of relief from burdens you may have been carrying for centuries as you call for forgiveness for your sins—even those of which you may not be aware in this embodiment—and then truly accept God’s grace and forgiveness that he is extending to you through the gift of his violet transmuting flame.

The color violet has many hues ranging from the orchid-pink of mercy’s flame, containing a greater saturation of the pink ray of God’s love, to the deep-purple flame that embodies more of the blue of the will of God. The purple flame has a greater electronic cleansing action, which, when used alternately with the healing green decrees, will effectively purify and heal the four lower bodies, especially the etheric body (the memory body) of the records of the past that may be buried deep within the subconscious. To invoke this flame, take any violet-flame decree and substitute the word “purple” for “violet.” Oftentimes it is more difficult to penetrate to the etheric body than to any of the other lower bodies, and therefore the repetition of a mantra thirty-six times can be very effective in clearing old records of past momentums.

Painting of Kuan Yin by Ruth Hawkins
Kuan Yin, by Ruth Hawkins

Service on the Karmic Board

Kuan Yin reminds us of another facet of the flame of mercy as she says:

For many of you I have pleaded before the Lords of Karma for the opportunity to embody, to be whole, to not have dealt to you in the physical the great karma of being maimed and blinded at birth that some of you have deserved. I have interceded with the flame of mercy on your behalf so that you could pursue, in the freedom of a sound mind and body, the light of the Law. Some who have been denied that mercy by the Lords of Karma are today in the institutions for the insane; for them it was meted that they should experience the agony of the absence of the presence of the Christ mind, that they might know what it is to defile that mind, that they might return in another life and appreciate the gift of reason, the gift to pursue the Holy Word Incarnate by the power of the Logos.

You do not realize how much has hung in the balance of your own life because mercy’s flame has been available to you. You have called and God has answered, and through my heart and my hands, mercy has flowed. I say this that you might also have the wisdom to understand that when mercy has been accorded for a time, you are expected to deliver the fruits of mercy, following the works of the LORD and the way of wisdom.[10]

The Bodhisattva Kuan Yin is known as the Goddess of Mercy because she ensouls the God-qualities of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. She serves on the Karmic Board as the representative of the seventh ray (violet ray). She also held the office of chohan of the seventh ray for two thousand years until Saint Germain assumed that office in the late 1700s.

Her retreat

Main article: Temple of Mercy

Kuan Yin ascended thousands of years ago and has taken the vow of the bodhisattva to serve planet Earth until all her evolutions are free. From her etheric retreat, the Temple of Mercy, over Peking (Beijing), China, she ministers to the souls of humanity, teaching them to balance their karma and fulfill their divine plan through loving service to life and application of the violet flame.

Kuan Yin’s flame is the color of orchids, the pink of divine love tempering the blue of the will of God. Her flower is a pink and violet lotus; the center, being pink, is as the mercy flame, becoming deeper and deeper violet on the periphery.

See also

Kuan Yin’s Crystal Rosary


Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Masters and Their Retreats, s.v. “Kuan Yin.”

Kuan Yin’s Crystal Rosary booklet, introduction.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, July 1, 1988.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, July 5, 1996.

  1. Edward T. C. Werner, Myths and Legends of China (London: Harrap, 1922), chapter X. The following account is adapted from that source.
  2. Kuan Yin, “The Quality of Mercy for the Regeneration of the Youth of the World,” Pearls of Wisdom, 1982, Book II, pp. 120–21.
  3. Kuan Yin, “A People and a Teaching Whose Time Has Come,” September 18, 1976.
  4. Kuan Yin, “The Sword of Mercy,” October 10, 1969.
  5. Kuan Yin, “Karma, Mercy, and the Law,” Pearls of Wisdom, 1982, Book II, p. 106.
  6. Kuan Yin, “A Mother’s-Eye View of the World,” Pearls of Wisdom, 1982, Book II, p. 87.
  7. Isa. 1:18.
  8. Kuan Yin, “Mercy: The Fire that Tries Every Man’s Works,” Pearls of Wisdom, 1982, Book II, p. 95.
  9. Kuan Yin, “A Mother’s-Eye View of the World,” Pearls of Wisdom, 1982, Book II, p. 87.
  10. Kuan Yin, “Mercy: The Fire that Tries Every Man’s Works,” Pearls of Wisdom, 1982, Book II, p. 96.