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Is Avalokiteśvara embodying, or teaching about, compassion?

by Denis Wallez (@DenisWallez)
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Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. En route between India and China, the male Avalokiteśvara changed gender and became the female Guanyin (Kanzeon or Kannon in Japan).

We might, of course, consider the sex change as a manifestation of traditional patriarchal sexism, allocating ‘compassion’ to women as a narrative useful to make them take care of / serve others (men, children, elders)…

Or, we might consider that, somehow, the Sacred Feminine was re-made visible into Buddhism, as a welcome evolution / next step of Buddhism's challenge to fixed, rigid conventions1.

Even in narratives where Avalokiteśvara remains male, he's connected to the Sacred Feminine, as the illustrious female bodhisattvas, White Tārā and Green Tārā, arise from his tears2.

And if we're to consider the Sacred Feminine in relation to the embodiment of spirituality and to spiritual service, then it's foundational in Buddhism:

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