Kuan Yin by Mayumi Oda
Goddesses of Compassion: KUAN YIN & TARA
Illustration (top): Liberated Kuan Yin by Mayumi Oda
Kuan Yin Mantra:
Namo Kuan Shi Yin Pu Sa [Nah-moh Kwahn Shee Yin Poo Sah]
"Salutations to the most compassionate and merciful Bodhisattva Kuan Yin."
In both Taoism and Buddhism Kuan Yin (pronounced Guan Yin) is the goddess of compassion, she is the Japanese Bodhisattva Kannon or Kanzeon, and is identified with the Indian Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, including all of the scriptures which apply to him. Kuan (Shih) Yin means "one who hears/heeds the cries of the world." John Blofeld says:

"Rocks, willows, lotus pools or running water are often indications of her presence. In the chime of bronze or jade, the sigh of wind in the pines, the prattle and tinkle of streams, her voice is heard."
Kuan Yin's earthly name is Miao Shan (Wondrously Kind One): the following story of how it was that Miao Shan came to be the Bodhisattva of Compassion is recounted in John Blofeld's "Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin" (Boston: Shambala Publications, 1977).

    "In the eleventh year of the Chin T'ien epoch (2590 BC), there was a king who, on account of demerits stemming from a former life, was denied the blessing of a son. Accordingly he sought husbands of rare accomplishment and fine presence for his three daughters, hoping to breed outstanding grandsons, the best of whom would be well suited to inherit his kingdom. His youngest daughter, however, rejected all talk of marriage and, on reaching puberty, begged permission to reside at the White Sparrow Convent, there to engage in a life of pious contemplation. 'Agreed!' laughed the king, thinking that this gently nurtured girl would soon long for deliverance from harsh monastic austerities and could then be given the choice of remaining where she was or marrying some well-chosen prince.

    "Alas, the austere life suited her all too well and the king, his patience at an end, embarked upon a series of measures marked by increasing severity to bend her to his will. Rage mounting day by day, he finally had her dragged from the convent and imprisoned in a tower, there to be nourished on unspeakably revolting food. In vain! Drinking to drown his chagrin served only to increase it, until one day he shouted to his henchmen: 'A monstrous child so lost to filial propriety as to deny her father his dearest wish pollutes all under Heaven. The earth must be cleansed of this foul example of disobedience to loving parents, lest the fashion spread and corrupt future generations. See to it this night!'

    "Sorrowfully his attendants led the little princess to a lonely spot where the headsman awaited her, weeping but not to be deflected from his duty. The child was made to kneel and the headsman, grasping with both hands the terrible sword that had drunk the blood of many a brutal criminal, was preparing to strike when a blinding tempest arose. In a moment the stars were blotted out, thunder roared and a dazzling ray from Heaven shone down upon the kneeling victim. Ere the headsman could regain his courage, a gigantic tiger bounded from the darkness and carried the swooning girl into the nearby hills...

    "From a cavern in the hills, whither the deity had borne her, the Princess Miao Shan now descended into hell and there, by the power of her unsullied purity, compelled its ruler to release every one of the shivering wretches delivered to him for punishment...

    "Returning to the dwelling of the tutelary deity, Miao Shan received the signal honor of a visit from Amitabha Buddha in person! Assuming the splendidly shining form known as the Buddha-Body of Reward, he abjured her to seek safety on seagirt Potala, known to mariners as the Island of P'u-t'o...

    "An island diety, summoned from Potala, carried the princess to her new abode, travelling more swiftly than the wind. For nine full years Miao Shan, when not engaged in meditation, performed deeds of compassion which, crowning the merits acquired in previous lives, completed all that remained to enable her to attain the status of Bodhisattvahood. It was at this time that the charming youth Shan Ts'ia (Virtuous Talent) became her acolyte.

    "Thereafter, by virtue of her Bodhisattva's all-seeing eye, she beheld one day a calamity that suddenly befell the third son of the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea. Wandering the ocean joyously in the form of a fish, he had been caught by a fisherman and was being carried to the market in a pail heavy with the living victims of the day's catch. Instantly Shan Ts'ai was dispatched to purchase those unhappy creatures and return them to the sea. His Majesty the Dragon King, apprised by his son of his deliverance, sent Miao Shan a lustrous jewel known as the Night Brilliance Pearl, by the light of which the Bodhisattva would be able to read sacred books to her heart's content, no matter how dark the night. The gift was carried by his own grand-daughter, Lung Nu (Dragon Maiden), who was so entranced by the virtue and loveliness of her uncle's deliverer that she vowed there and then to dedicate her life to the achievement of Bodhisattvahood. To this end, she entered Kuan Yin's service and has every day since been seen in her company.

    "Some years later, the Princess Miao Shan, divesting herself of her Bodhisattva's glory, returned to her own country for a space, and there converted her father and her mother, enrolling them as disciples of the Buddha."  

From Shakti Mantras: Tapping Into The Great Goddess Energy Within
Ballantine Books, p. 194, by Thomas Ashley Farrand:

Namo Kuan Shi Yin Pu Sa [Nah-moh Kwahn Shee Yin Poo Sah]
"Salutations to the most compassionate and merciful Bodhisattva Kuan Yin."

"I have chanted the Kuan Yin mantra and performed Kuan Yin ceremonies since 1985, and the feeling it generates is unique among the mantras I use. It produces a feeling of calm within minutes. Among mantras used in the East, this one has traditionally been used primarily in China and Japan, only becoming popular in the English-speaking world through John Blofeld in the 1970's. It is unique in that it is used as an all-purpose mantra, chanted for any difficulty, problem, or desire."

Goddess of Compassion: TaraWomen Zen Masters