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Part 1: Guan Yin, The Compassionate Rebel, and A Class on Kindness

January 3, 2010

Yesterday, while I was in Flagstaff, Holly and I wandered around town, and spent a lot of time (and money!) in a shop called Crystal Magic. On the corner of Route 66 and North San Francisco Streets, Crystal Magic is filled with wonders–calendars, crystals and more all marked down from 25%-75% off.

On the advice of Lucy in the Sky,  I was in search of a selenite wand to put under my pillow. In addition to finding a beautiful slender sliver of selenite, I am now the proud owner of a clear blue highly polished kyanite pendant which hangs with ganesh around my neck, the broad silver jumping on the pendant crowning him in a most amazing way, and a simple cloudy blue kyanite bracelet. Why kyanite? More here and here. Which is also why the selenite. And the myhrr and frankinscence resin incense I bought.

After lunch at Diablo Burger (made from sustainably grown local beef–more on that soon!),we returned to Crystal Magic with the small boy and the Big Monkey. While we didn’t find him a ring to replace his lost titanium wedding ring, I did find Guan Yin.

She was perched regally on a 75% off shelf, and as soon as I spied her, I picked her up and carried her around the store. In her crown, she was possibly “flawed” with a hole in the bronze–a great spot for putting incense I thought, even if that meant she wasn’t as “solid” as she felt.

I didn’t know who the figure was at first, but I wanted to know. The employees thought she was Kwan Yin or Kuan Yin or Quan Kin but weren’t sure who she was so we looked her up, trying various spellings. Eventually, we found out, among other pieces of information, that she is known as “The Compassionate Rebel.”

That was enough for me. I knew she was coming home with us from Arizona to California.

“Compassionate Rebel!” said Holly.

“How perfect,” I said. “That’s what I want to be.”

“That’s the name of your next blog!” she said. I just laughed at that.

On the way home, using my iPhone, I searched for more information about Guan Yin and found this informative page with stories and images. Wikipedia offers this about Guan Yin.

An excerpt from a teaching by Venerable Master Hua on the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association says:

Guan Shih Yin (Avalokiteshvara) Bodhisattva has a great affinity with living beings in the Saha world. There is a saying in China, “Guan Shih Yin in every household, Amitabha in every place.” This shows that everyone knows Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva and Amitabha (the name means “Limitless Light” and “Limitless Life”) Buddha, that their compassion has deeply entered people’s hearts. Guan means “Contemplate”; shi means “world”; yin means “sounds.” Thus the name means “Contemplating the World’s Sounds.”

Within Buddhism, Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva holds a very important position. Some people say that Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva is Chinese and some say he is a Westerner; some say the Bodhisattva is male and some say female. But now I am informing all of you that Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva is neither Chinese nor Western, neither male nor female. Well, then, where does he come from? He fills empty space and pervades the Dharma Realm; he is in every place and yet not in any place. He appears according to what kind of body is needed to save each particular category of beings. He manifests in whatever physical form is appropriate to speak Dharma for beings; thus his identity is flexible. Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva appears in the form of a Buddha to save those who are ready to become Buddhas. He appears as a Bodhisattva to save those who should become Bodhisattvas. He appears as a heavenly king to speak Dharma for beings in the heavens.

Within Buddhism, Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva is one who goes about everywhere teaching and transforming living beings, inspiring them to bring forth the Bodhi mind. He first sees what a particular being likes and then makes them happy with what they like. Once they are happy, they will like to listen to the Dharma he speaks and gradually he will be able to rescue them. That’s why I say that Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva is not necessarily male or female; he could be male or he could be female. In any case those are just transformations. As to Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s own body, he is in a state of unmoving Suchness. He is just like the Buddhas. Anyway, Guan Shih Yin Bodhisattva already became a Buddha a long time ago, by the name of Right Dharma Brightness. He simply appears as a Bodhisattva in order to teach and transform living beings.

And then, back home, I received an email from Danika Dinsmore, the Accidental Novelist, encouraging me to join in a “Class on Kindness” starting tonight. “No way,” I thought to myself. “I don’t want to start anything else new!” But of course I signed up by emailing the teacher, Andy Smallman. What else is a compassionate rebel to do?

Learn more about the Class on Kindness in the next post. And check out the new blog:“Compassionate Rebel.” I just started it so there’s not much there yet. But that’s where you’ll be able to learn about the original Compassionate Rebel, Guan Shih Yin, as well as the Collective of Compassionate Rebels I am forming!

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