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Goddess of Mercy
观世音菩萨,观世音是鸠摩罗什的旧译,玄奘新译为观自在,中国每略称为观音。观世 音菩萨是佛教中慈悲和智慧的象征,无论在大乘佛教还是在民间信仰,都具有极其重要 的地位。以观世音菩萨为主导的大慈悲精神,被视为大乘佛教的根本。佛经上说,观世 音是过去的正法明如来所现化,他在无量国土中,以菩萨之身到处寻声救苦。观世音与 阿弥陀佛有着特殊的关系。他是西方三圣中的一尊,也是一生补处的法身大士,是继承 阿弥陀佛位的菩萨,而且还有说观世音就是阿弥陀佛的化身。 观世音菩萨具有平等无私的广大悲愿,当众生遇到任何的困难和苦痛, 如能至诚称念观 世音菩萨,就会得到菩萨的救护。而且,观世音菩萨最能适应众生的要求,对不同的众 生,便现化不同的身相,说不同的法门。在佛教的众多菩萨中,观世音菩萨也最为民间 所熟知和信仰。
One   Buddhist   legend   from   the   Complete   Tale   of   Guanyin   and   the   Southern   Seas   presents Guanyin   as   vowing   to   never   rest   until   she   had   freed   all   sentient   beings   from   samsāra   or cycle   of   rebirth.   Despite   strenuous   effort,   she   realized   that   there   were   still   many   unhappy beings   yet   to   be   saved.   After   struggling   to   comprehend   the   needs   of   so   many,   her   head split   into   eleven   pieces.   The   buddha   Amitābha,   upon   seeing   her   plight,   gave   her   eleven heads   to   help   her   hear   the   cries   of   those   who   are   suffering.   Upon   hearing   these   cries   and comprehending   them,   Avalokiteśvara   attempted   to   reach   out   to   all   those   who   needed   aid, but   found   that   her   two   arms   shattered   into   pieces.   Once   more,   Amitābha   came   to   her   aid and appointed her a thousand arms to let her reach out to those in need. In   Chinese   culture,   the   popular   belief   and   worship   of   Guanyin   as   a   goddess   by   the   populace is   generally   not   viewed   to   be   in   conflict   with   the   bodhisattva   Avalokitesvara's   nature.   In fact   the   widespread   worship   of   Guanyin   as   a   "Goddess   of   Mercy   and   Compassion"   is   seen by   Buddhists   as   the   boundless   salvific   nature   of   bodhisattva   Avalokiteśvara   at   work   (in Buddhism,   this   is   referred   to   as   Guanyin's   "skillful   means",   or   upaya).   The   Buddhist   canon states   that   bodhisattvas   can   assume   whatsoever   gender   and   form   is   needed   to   liberate beings   from   ignorance   and   dukkha.   With   specific   reference   to   Avalokitesvara,   he   is   stated both   in   the   Lotus   Sutra   ,   and   the   Śūrangama   Sūtra   to   have   appeared   before   as   a   woman   or a   goddess   to   save   beings   from   suffering   and   ignorance.   Some   Buddhist   schools   refer   to Guanyin both as male and female interchangeably.