Bodhisattva. . .
Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have put off entering paradise in order to help others attain enlightenment.
A bodhisattva is a Buddhist deity who has attained the highest level of enlightenment, but who delays their entry into Paradise in order to help the earthbound. The bodhisattva, known in Sanskrit as Avalokiteśvara, takes both male and female form and is associated with the qualities of mercy and compassion; its Chinese incarnation, Guanyin – who is always represented as female – translates as the ‘perceiver of sounds’. Guanyin, Buddhists believe, can recognise the cries of all those who suffer on earth and guide them towards salvation.
The earliest source for the doctrines of Avalokiteśvara is in the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, one of the foundation texts of Mahayana Buddhism, which originated in India around the beginning of the first century AD. Other sources claim that the sun and the moon were born of this bodhisattva’s eyes.
In many Buddhist traditions, three bodhisattvas emerge as personifications of Buddhist ideals. Manjushri, who cuts through ignorance and personifies correct knowledge; Avalokiteshvera, a compassionate protector of the devout that helps reveal the true nature of reality; and Vajrapani as the embodiment of the energy of enlightenment. Focusing on dramatic images, a worshipper could first evoke the subtle knowledge that Manjushri personifies, then with Avalokiteshvara’s aid, it is possible to proceed in a way free from self-imposed delusions, while Vajrapani’s transcendent power aids in destroying jealousy and hatred that stand in the way of enlightenment. Venerating these three bodhisattvas together has a long history, and they play an essential role in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet.
Peace and Love, Jim