Goddess of the Week: Guanyin

O needs a goddess for depression. Oh, sister! Don't we all from time to time! I'm giving her the Buddhist goddess Quanyin

Quanyin was a princess. Her father wanted her to marry a wealthy man, but she really wanted to be a Buddhist nun. She tried to talk him out of it; he got really mad at her. She begged him to let her work in the monastery; he got even more mad. He tried to trick her. He said she could work at the monastery, but he told all the monks to make her do the worst, hardest work of all so that she would get tired of such a life and give up. Snow White style, the animals felt so sorry for her, they did her work! Frustrated, her dad finally decided to execute her. When the executioner tried to kill her, however, all his weapons failed! First his sword, then his knife. Finally, he had to strangle her, but then his magical tiger came and whisked her away to the beautiful Fragrant Mountain.

You would think that would be the end, but this is one of those stories that go FOREVER! So, she is at Fragrant Mountain when this guy comes looking for the eyes and arms of someone without anger. Why was he looking for those things? Well! Quanyin's dad had gotten sick and these were the only things that could save him. So Guanyin was all "Take my arms and eyes so that he will live." Eventually, MUCH LATER, the king gets better and realizes that it is all due to his own daughter. He feels super bad, goes to her, and begs forgiveness, and then she finally just ascends to heaven.

But even that is not the END! Right before she enters the gates of heaven, Guanyin turns and sees all the people of the world suffering. She decides to wait outside heaven--like a valet even--until there is no more suffering. So, of course, she waits there still, but no longer is she a princess, now she is a goddess of compassion.

And it is a goddess of compassion that O needs now. Can depression exist without self-blame? Not in my experience. It is when we are depressed that we are most angry and disappointed in ourselves, and so it is in this state that we really need to cut ourselves the most slack. Whatever it is that is pulling you down, O, let it go. You did your best. You know that you did. You did your best, and you are doing the best, under the circumstances. That's really all that matters.

So let it go. Have you heard about the monkey traps they have in parts of Asia? My mediation teacher tells this story: In parts of Asia, monkeys are like pigeons and they are a real nuisance, so there is one every easy and humane trap they have for catching and then relocating them. Here is what they do. They have this little cage that is chained to the ground, and in the cage is a date. The monkeys put their hands in the cage and make a fist around the delicious date. But! the fist is too large to get out of the opening, and so the monkey is trapped. All the monkey has to do to escape is let go of the date, but he won't let go. He clings to that date!

You want to escape your cage? You must let go of the date. Open your hand. Let it go.

Channel this goddess: When you are feeling depressed, when you are being too hard on yourselves and others, when you are clinging, when approaching Fragrant Mountain.

Need a goddess? Post a comment explaining what you need or want a goddess for. Then check back in a few weeks and see what you got. It's fun! It's Free! It's better than giving your arms and eyes to your jerky old man.


Desiree said...

I have to meditate on this one. What metaphorical date am I clinging to?

Margaret said...

Yes, Des: what metaphorical date ARE you clinging to? Tell us when you know.

Petrea Burchard said...

I love these stories, especially the monkey and the date. I hope they're helpful to O. I think we always have to let go, and forgive.

Petrea Burchard said...

Wait. What I mean by that is that I have to do those things, kind of on a constant basis.

Ms M said...

A wonderful and inspirational story. I'll have to meditate on the date I'm holding, too.
Best wishes to O.

altadenahiker said...

I love that metaphor. I think it means when you can't get what you want, be ready to walk away. Or it's a metaphor for self-destructive habits.

Olga said...

That is really wonderful--two stories for the price of one!! It makes me happy. Incidentally, I wanted to marry a wealthy man but my parents thought it would be cool if I became a nun. Neither of got our wish. Deep breaths and letting go--that is what I work on.

Desiree said...

And the date's name is:
Oh, well, I'll just wait til Judgement Day.
What? There is no God?
Okay, the date's name is:
That's harder to let go of than of justice--

Pasadena Adjacent said...

this may be my favorite post of yours

Susan Campisi said...

Very insightful, Margaret. Compassion truly is a healing force. I hope Quanyin helps O to find her way out of depression. And now I too will ponder what date I hold.

Cafe Pasadena said...

I love that pic of the bookcover for your Goddess of the Week.