Monday, 19 June 2017

Goddess Of Mercy

In Buddhism, mythological beings called Bodhisattvas personify wisdom and compassion. When Buddhism moved to China, a masculine Bodhisattva of compassion was transformed into the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin. Tonight, at the Zen group, we were informed about the significance of Kuan Yin who is represented by a picture on a scroll hanging behind the altar. I was reminded of Poul Anderson's account of the goddess, Nehalennia:

"Hers are the well-being of mortals and peace among them." (See here.)

- as well as the prayer that he wrote to the Virgin Mary. (See here.)

It is unusual to be reminded of a work of science fiction when receiving instruction in spiritual practice.

3 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

This is probably only my ignorance of Buddhism revealing itself, but I had vaguely thought "Bodhisattvas" the Buddhist equivalent of Catholic/Orthodox saints.

Yes, I like very much that beautiful prayer Poul Anderson wrote in honor of the BVM. Texts like that and his "Prayer In War" makes me wonder how much of an agnostic PA was in his later years.

I don't think it was that surprising you were reminded of PA while at that Zen meeting. Anderson treated honest Christians and Buddhists and Jews with respect in his works. And took these religions and philosophies seriously. So, what you were studying at that Zen meeting would, unsurprisingly, remind you of works by PA treating Christian and Buddhist ideas seriously.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
Bodhisattvas are very like the mythological saints, Michael, George and Christopher.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Regretfully, I have to agree St. George and St. Christopher were mythological. But, not St. Michael. The Church accepts that the names Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael belongs to real angels. Because these names are Biblical.

Sean