Author Topic: Who is Avalokiteshvara?  (Read 18696 times)

Big Uncle

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Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« on: March 16, 2011, 03:06:48 AM »
Does anybody know who is Avalokiteshvara? Is he a Buddha emanating as a Bodhisattva like Manjushri? I read that he was one of the 8 great Bodhisattva students of Buddha Shakyamuni... Did he emanate as the student or he became a Bodhisattva because of Buddha's teachings. In the Heart Sutra, he was invoked upon like some sort of supernatural being by the power of the Buddha. Does that mean, he is a called from a higher realm? All this is confusing me... So who... is he?


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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011, 07:37:46 AM »
Avalokiteshvara is an emanation of Buddha in compassionate aspect just like Manjushri is the wisdom aspect. The emanation can be a student or bodhisattva or both simultaneously (eg. we are parents to our children, husband/wife to our spouse, students to our teachers etc. simultaneously )

Avalokiteshvara had attained buddhahood. At Vultures' Peak , he  appeared as a bodhisattva and student to transmit Buddha’s teaching on the two truths. Through the power of Buddha the Q & A manifested between Shariputra and Avalokiteshvara for the benefit of all those that were present there.

This is consistent with the supramundane powers of an enlightened being   – a Buddha can manifest all forms simultaneously.


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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 03:52:17 PM »
Apart from HH The Dalai Lama, are there other emanations of Avalokiteshvara whom we heard or know?

hope rainbow

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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2011, 07:37:40 AM »
I once heard the story that Avalokiteshvara cried over the suffering of all sentient beings, and that Green Tara and White Tara come to existence from Avalokiteshvara's tears.

Does that mean that Green Tara and White Tara are emanations of Avalokiteshvara?
And what about the other 19 Taras?


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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #4 on: February 29, 2012, 08:21:18 AM »
He is the Buddha of compassion.In Tibetan Buddhism,Avalokitesvara is an important diety and regarded as a Buddha in the Vajrayana teachings.Tara came  into existence from a singe tear shed by Avalokitesvara.When the tear fell to the ground it created a lake revealing Tara.
Avalokiteshvara has an extraordinary large number of manisfestation in different forms including wisdom godesses directly associated with him in images and text.
We will improve our realizations of stages of the path if we sincerely recite his mantra.


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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2012, 03:06:34 AM »
Avalokiteshvara means "the lord who sees the sufferings of sentient beings". "Avalokita" means "one who looks down", "ishvara", which is changed to "eshvara" due to sound combination, means "lord or master".

According to Ven. Samdhong Rinpoche, (Sarnath, August 1990), Avalokiteshvara is a Bodhisattva who adopted the Bodhicitta of the third kind. The third kind of Bodhicitta is called "shepherd-like Bodhicitta". "The sheperd will always take care that no sheep remains behind and each reaches safe shelter". This means that the Bodhisattva promises to guide all sentient beings to Buddhahood and only thereafter will he achieve his own Buddhahood. Up to this time he will practice the bodhisattvacarya (the activities of a Bodhisattva).

Samdhong Rinpoche says that this is actually symbolic. Avalokiteshvara has already achieved Buddhahood countless aeons ago, but pretends to be still a Bodhisattva so that he can come closer to sentient beings. There are many sentient beings who do not have enough merits to see a Buddha or the manifestation of a Buddha but they have the merits to see a Bodhisattva or the manifestation of a Bodhisattva. For that reason Avalokiteshvara always remains a Bodhisattva.

Being a Bodhisattva he is receiving teachings from various Buddhas such as Gautama Buddha who is the 4th Buddha in this aeon. Avalokiteshvara became one of the eight chief Bodhisattva disciples of the Buddha(the others are Manjushri, Vajrapani, Maitreya, Samanthabadra, Kshitigarbha, Sarvanikaranaviskambini and Akashagarbha). In fact he is the most important of the eight chief Bodhisattvas. He received complete Mahayana teachings, especially the prajnaparamita or higher wisdom teachings. Therefore the tradition of the paramitayanasadhana (training and meditation in the 6 perfections) has been started by Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.

There are many sutras in which Avalokiteshvara participate as a main disciple or questioner starting an argument or discussion. As a Bodhisattva he participated a great deal to receive, promote and to spread the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni.

Avalokiteshvara embodies compassion, which along with wisdom, is one of the two main characteristics of the awakened mind of a Buddha.

Until the 10th century, Avalokiteshvara has been portrayed as male but in East Asia, during the Sung Dynasty, the image of a female in white robe (Pai-i Kuan Yin) became popular.  To help beings, the Buddha manifests in any suitable form. In old China, plaqued by too many princely warriors, the image of a young prince would not have been as effective as  the motherly caring pure being of Kuan Yin.

Avalokiteshvara is regarded as an emanation of Amitabha Buddha  and helps his teacher to propagate the Dharma in the Pure Land. One of his aspirational prayers is that "whoever hears or recites his name and whosoever recites his mantra must attain the awakening of Bodhicitta and must attain great benefit from it."

Tibetans regard Avalokiteshvara as their patron deity because he took that region as his own personal field for his bodhisattvacarya, his activities. And one of his physical emanations is the line of Dalai Lamas.

Who are the other emanations of Avalokiteshvara? It is said that just as the Great Compassion of Buddha emanates as Avalokiteshvara, anyone who develops that Great Compassion becomes automatically an emanation of Avalokiteshvara. Therefore there are many emanations of Avalokiteshvara in the history of Buddhism.


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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2012, 07:34:33 AM »
Here's some information I found re Tara.. quiet interesting.

Tara is probably the oldest goddess who is still worshipped extensively in modern times. Tara originated as a Hindu goddess, a Great Goddess -- the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life.

There are many embodiments of Tara, but the best known are the White Tara and the Green Tara.

The peaceful, compassionate White Tara gently protects and brings long life and peace. The more dynamic goddess, Green Tara is the "Mother Earth", and a fierce goddess who overcomes obstacles, and saves us from physical and spiritual danger.

In Sanskrit, the name Tara means Star, but she was also called She Who Brings Forth Life, The Great Compassionate Mother, and The Embodiment of Wisdom, and the Great Protectress.

Adopted by Buddhism, she become the most widely revered deity in the Tibetan pantheon.   In Buddhist tradition, Tara is actually much greater than a goddess -- she is a female Buddha, an enlightened one was has attained the highest wisdom, capability and compassion. . . one who can take human form and who remains in oneness with the every living thing.

The oldest reference to the goddess Tara, perhaps, is found in an ancient saga of Finland thought to be 5 thousand years old. The saga speaks of a group known as Tar, the Women of Wisdom.

A version of the Goddess Tara exists in virtually every culture. Indeed, it is said that the Goddess Tara will assume as many forms on earth as there are needs for by the people.

The Celts called their Great Goddess Tara. Her name is thought to be the root of the word Tor, which is a mound of earth or hillock imbued with spiritual energy or connection to the other worlds.

We also hear the echo of her name in the Latin word for earth, Terra, a connection between Tara and the concept of "Mother Earth".

The Goddess Tara is also associated with Kuan Yin, the great Chinese goddess of compassion. In South America she was known as the ancient mother goddess Tarahumara.

The Cheyenne people revere the Star Woman who fell  from the heavens and whose body became the earth that provided them with food.

The ancient Egyptian Goddess Ishtar who, in her myths, came to earth from the heavens and instructed her people to co-mingle and intermarry with the earthlings to give them the benefits of their learning and wisdom was yet another incarnation of the Goddess Tara.

In the legends of Tibet where the worship of the Goddess Tara is still practiced  in the Buddhist tradition, it is told that the goddess Tara is the feminine counterpart of the Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva who is reincarnated as the Dalai Lama.

Bodhisattvas are beings who have reached enlightenment and are 'eligible' for Budda-hood but have postponed their own nirvana, choosing instead to be remain in the cycle of birth and rebirth in order to serve humanity and assist every being on Earth in achieving nirvana themselves.

It is told that Tara first appeared rising from a lotus blossom in the lake that had formed from Avalokitesvara's tears of compassion, tears that fell when he first beheld the scope of suffering in the world.

Because of her essential goodness, she was granted the right to assume her human form as a man.  But Tara elected instead to remain in her womanly form.
The Goddess Tara vowed:

"There are many who wish to gain enlightenment
in a man's form,
And there are few who wish to work
for the welfare of living beings
in a female form. 

Therefore may I, in a female body,
work for the welfare of all beings,
until such time as all humanity has found its fullness."

One of the myths of the goddess Tara demonstrates her compassionate and loving nature and tells how she got the name "Tara of the Turned Face".

An elderly woman who was a sculptor worked in a city where there was a large Buddhist temple called the Mahabodhi (Great Wisdom). She sculpted a statue of the goddess Tara and built a shrine to house it. Upon completing the project she was filled with regret when she realized that she had not considered the placement of the shrine. "Oh no," she thought, "Tara has her back to the Mahabodhi and that isn't right!"

Then she heard the sculpture speak to her, saying "If you are unhappy, I will look toward the Mahabodhi." As the woman watched in amazement, the door of the shrine and the image of the goddess Tara both turned to face the Temple.

Such is the love and compassion of the goddess Tara.

The ancient goddess Tara in her many incarnations has many gifts to share with contemporary women. Tara embodies the feminine strengths of great caring and compassion, the ability to endure stressful and even terrifying moments, the acts of creation, and the source of sustenance and protection.

Demonstrating the psychological flexibility that is granted to the female spirit,  the goddess Tara,  in some of her human forms, could be quite fierce and wild.

Refugees fleeing the horrors of the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese armies recounted numerous stories of the Green Tara that protected them during their torture and guided their flight to freedom. 

In other of her forms, such as the White Tara, she embodied inner peace and spiritual acceptance. She symbolizes purity and is thought to be part of every good and virtuous woman.

Tara is an archetype of our own inner wisdom. She guides and protects us as we navigate the depths of our unconscious minds, helping us to transform consciousness, our own personal journeys of freedom.

It is the goddess Tara who helps us to remain "centered". The myths of the Goddess Tara remind us of our "oneness" with all of creation and the importance of nurturing the spirit within.

The above is a rather general information re Tara, I do hope someone will share more detailed explanation from Tibetan Buddhism's point of view. More so, Tara's connection with Dorje Shugden... ;)
Down with the BAN!!!


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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2012, 10:29:40 AM »
Apart from HH The Dalai Lama, are there other emanations of Avalokiteshvara whom we heard or know?
"Every person whose heart is moved by love and compassion, who deeply and sincerely acts for the benefit of others without concern for fame, profit, social position, or recognition expresses the activity of Chenrezig."
Bokar Rinpoche
-- Chenrezig: Lord of Love

It is also said that the beloved king Songtsen Gampo was believed to be an emanation of Chenrezig. 

Whenever we are compassionate, or feel love for anyone, or for an animal or some part of the natural world, we experience a taste of our own natural connection with Chenrezig. Although we may not be as consistently compassionate as some of the great meditation masters, it is believe that we all share, in our basic nature, unconditional compassion and wisdom that is no different from what we see in Chenrezig and in high lamas.

We might have trouble believing that we are no different than Chenrezig -- but learning about the nature of compassion, and learning about Chenrezig, repeating his mantra Om Mani Padme Hum and imagining that we would like to be like Chenrezig, pretending that we really are just like Chenrezig, we actually can become aware of increasing compassion in our lives, and ultimately, awaken as completely wise and compassionate buddhas.


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Re: Who is Avalokiteshvara?
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2016, 05:33:51 PM »
Yes! I have heard that White Tara and Green Tara are the emanations from Avalokiteshvara's tears. I always find it very fascinating since the time i heard about this story.

I have heard that H.H. Dalai Lama is the emanation of Avalokiteshvara as well. I think that it is true due to the kind of compassionate actions that H.H. exudes shows that he is. The only thing that still puzzles me is that why does H.H. enforce the unethical ban on Dorje Shugden then?

I will also like to thank Tammy on the detailed write up about Tara. The story is really interesting and have increased my knowledge about Tara tremendously. Thank you!