Quan Yin is rooted in the spiritual traditions and mythology of the Orient, where she is thought to have arisen from the blending of Taoism and tantra with the Hindu diety Avalokiteshvara, or White Tara. In all her many forms, she is the symbol of wisdom and compassion, who showers all with mercy.
The Chinese characters for Quan Yin translate as “She who hears the sound (of the cries of the world),” for she responds to the supplications of all sentient beings and their desire for emancipation. In the Buddhist tradition, she is a great Bodhisattva; one who has realized liberation from this world, yet chooses to remain until all beings are free from ignorance and suffering. As the embodiment of pure love, which unites all opposites, she is androgynous and can appear either male or female.
In folk traditions, women who need assistance in bearing childen call upon her name. She is also known as the protector of seafarers, providing light for ships to safely land in stormy waters.
She stands here amidst the crashing waves of existence, yet her nature remains serene. The lotus at her feet symbolizes the purity of spirit that cannot be soiled by this world, like the untarnished flower that rises from muddy waters. Her vase contains the nectar of wisdom that relieves all afflictions. This nectar is the essence of eternal life, which brings joy and vitality to every being. It also represents the wisdom of love, restoring our vision of wholeness and the indestructible nature of spirit.
Her garland of pearls symbolize the intimate qualities of the ocean and moon; intuitive, nurturing, and reflective. With her mala, or rosary, her thoughts are constantly in a state of prayer for the well being of all creatures. Her message is the practice of loving-kindness and generosity. Through selfless acts of compassion, we awaken the healing power of the Goddess within.