Kuan-Yin shows up as the antidote to the pure patriarchy of Chines Buddhism. She evolved as a bodhisattva that appealed to women, much as the appearance of the Mother Mary did in Catholicism. Kuan-yin is honoured in almost every home and, as the goddess of compassion, she is the most powerfully worshipped being in the Chinese pantheon.
Kuan-Yin is the patron of women and children. She represents non-violence as a complete way of being, and has sacrificed her own transcendence to remain here on earth until every being attains enlightenment. It is said that to even utter her name is to call for absolute protection from all forms of physical and spiritual harm.
In the Orient, her name is practically synonymous with the concept of human compassion. She is the mother, the maiden, the lover, the virgin, the queen of the most pure forms of love. Everywhere that love, generosity and the banishment of fear is needed, you can find Kuan-Yin.
To ritualize her, we must find that well of compassion within us. And we must find ways to challenge that compassion so that we train ourselves to find ever greater levels of compassion. To honour her, we must become like her, staying present with the suffering souls, the happy souls, the dark souls, the indifferent souls. We must find ways to access the four keys of compassion, so that we can radiate peace throughout the world.
Believe me, this is no easy task. Especially when you really work at it. I think this is because compassion is something that we do not truly understand. It is not sympathy. It isn’t even empathy. It is a true desire for all beings to be happy and free; it is a deep desire to see every creature evolve and ascend into the embrace of a living god. Without exception.
That goes counter to the Hammurabi-style of justice we have lived with for millennia. It also goes counter to the Christian philosophical concept of Hell, which is deeply embedded in our collective consciousness. To understand Kuan-Yin, we must move beyond the idea of punishment for wrong-doing and cultivate a position of compassion at all times. Because, if you think about it, if Kuan-Yin gave up her transcendence until everybody else found enlightenment…..man…. with some of these folks, she will be here forever. And maybe that is the point. She surrenders to the greater good of all humanity—even if they don’t.
I think that we should all take the time to practice a little Kuan-Yin in our evolution. So that is what this ritual embodies; it will ask you to surrender a moral position that you may not even know you have. You may have to challenge your ancestral beliefs in order to truly experience the keys of compassion. Understand that it is a practice. Most of us aren’t enlightened, but we can always try—for even a few moments—to behave that way.
So lets get to it.
Flowers. Tons and tons of flowers; pick then if you can, buy them if you like. But have flowers. Sandalwood incense, a Large bowl, Honey, Water, Salt, White candles—at least 4, Four slips of nice paper, crystals for a circle.
Gayatri Mantra—Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha; Tat Savitur Varenyam; Bhargo Devasya Dimahi; Dhiyo yo na Prachodiya
Lokah Samstha—Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu
Hummee Hum Brahm Hum
New moon will help you find Kuan-Yin in the darkness. Full moon will help you radiate and complete that cycle. This instance is done during the new moon so that we can do some shadow work around our expression (or lack) of compassion.
Gather your supplies and head to your sacred space. Be clean and comfortably attired. Have a glass of water or wine with you. Cast circle as we have taught before, with an altar, table, or moveable altar tray in the middle. Be sure to cleanse the space of unwelcome entities before casting circle and again after circle is closed. It is always extremely important to becertain that you are working only with your true spirit allies.
Breathe long and slow, slipping yourself into the flow state where you can feel every molecule of air coming in and out of your body. Feel amazed. Be joyful in the gift of breath. Sit here for as long as you need until you are ready to begin the work.
Place the bowl of water into the center of the altar, pinch a small amount of salt into it to ground and cleanse. Light the incense and begin to chant the gayatri mantra as you wave the smoke around the bowl. Place the incense to the side and place the candles at the quadrants of the table lighting them as you chant. Place the hands in prayer position and keep chanting to finish the mantra. This invokes the creator spirit and opens the heart to the flow of divine love.
Then move to the mantra Lokah Samistha as you begin to float the flowers in the bowl. Think of each flower as a blessing and gift to Kuan-Yin, an offering to invite her to join us in this work. Lokah Samistha is the mantra that prays and wishes for each individual to be happy and free; there is no better mantra to invoke the essence of the Kuan-Yin spirit. Complete the mantra, floating all of your flowers; if you have a statue of Kuan-Yin, you can bathe her in the water.
Now pause. Invoke her by name and invite the essence of her to join you as you begin the real work. Be here as long as you need. When you feel that you have a handle on it, take a spoonful of honey and get your paper. Do not leave the space of this goddess, do not leave the openness of the feminine, do not allow any bitterness into your work. It will go from easy to hard as we stage through, so be prepared.
On page one, write a large, world concept that you can place compassion around and seed it into. The children of Aleppo, the situation of African wives and mothers, the oppression of Afghani people. Something large and removed from your nitty-gritty, daily experience. Something that exists for you as a concept, but you have never had your feet in.
Begin to chant the Hummee Hum, Brahm Hum –we are we, we are one—and feel compassion. At first you will be imagining, and that is as it should be. Imagine a cloud of compassion, a fog of love surrounding this concept in your mind. Chant for 7 minutes while holding this image, and then place the paper in the water, giving it to Kuan-Yin to finish.
Do not stop chanting; take the second piece of paper and write on it something closer to home—something national that will affect you directly. Political figures, public policy, protestors, anything that you feel will have a direct impact on your life—something that you feel needs to be seeded with love. See compassion going inside this situation/ person and taking root, spreading. Chant for 7 minutes while holding this image, then place the paper in the water, giving it to Kuan-Yin to finish.
Do not stop chanting; take the third piece of paper and write on it an individual in your life that you are disinclined to feel compassion for. Somebody who wronged you. Somebody you don’t like. Somebody you may or may not have forgiven. Get that person’s face into your mind and hold it there. In your mind and from your heart see that you are capable of feeling love and compassion for them. Wish them the best of life, the best of love, the fullness of god, wish them all of the bounty they could ever want. This will be hard. Love them as you chant for 7 minutes, feel compassion for whatever brought them to the place where they could be this person to you. Then place the paper in the water and leave it for Kuan-Yin to finish.
DO NOT STOP CHANTING; you are almost done and this is the hardest part. On that last slip of paper, write your own name. Spend the next 7 minutes forgiving yourself for everything—everything—that you hold against yourself. Wrap yourself in the compassion of the mother and love yourself as the great mother can. Don’t skimp on this part. This is one of the true blessings of this goddess in that she is here for everybody and that includes you. Love you for all that you are and all that you aren’t. This love has no limitations and no conditions, and you deserve it. At the end of the chanting, place the paper in the water and let her have it.
To close ritual, take on tear (if you have it, I know I do) and place it into the water. Dress the altar any way you like, gifting with crystals and candle and coins and beads and anything that strikes your fancy. Leave the altar running as you thank the goddess for her presence and invite her to stay as long as she likes. Bow out and close circle.
Then go have something to eat and drink. Ground and be blessed. Wahe guru!