using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
buddhadharma| 63 |fall 2007 as “great love, great compassion.” The bodhisat- tva of compassion is a profound iconic presence in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Buddhism and, not surprisingly, provides the context for this phrase in the Morning Bell Chant. The bodhisat- tva of compassion is called Avalokiteshvara in Indian Mahayana Buddhism; Kwan Se Um Bosal in Korean; Kuan Yin in Chinese; and Kannon in Japanese. In the Korean usage Kwan means per- ceive; Se means world; Um means sound; and Bosal means bodhisattva; hence, “the bodhisat- tva who perceives (hears) the sounds (cries) of the world.” The Sanskrit term Avalokiteshvara, while literally meaning “The Lord Who Looks Down,” is traditionally understood in Mahayana Bud- dhism as “He Who Hears the Sounds (Outcries) of the World.” The bodhisattva of compassion transformed from a male figure in Indian Buddhism to a female figure in China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet; this trans- formation remains one of the great myst eries of the Mahayana Buddhism that developed in North and East Asia. In traditional patriarchal societies, male archetypes were associated with the roles of priest, warrior, and merchant, and religious and social hierarchies flowed from this role-playing. These same societies associated compassion and caring with feminine qualities and assigned them to female deities in the religious pantheon. It is likely that as Buddhism evolved in early medieval China, the Taoist model of harmonizing the two polar energies of yin and yang (yin as the feminine, compassionate, soft, nurturing, yielding, recep- tive, and yang as masculine, energetic, proactive, hard, unyielding) may have played a pivotal role in providing a complementary background for the Mahayana’s balance of wisdom and compassion. Why was this balance needed? The early Mahayana practitioners in India may have felt that the extraordinary emphasis on wisdom in the earlier Pali Nikaya tradition caused or could cause one-sidedness in understanding the Buddha’s teachings. Although compassion is present in the Pali Nikayas as a quality to be cultivated, its role in these texts is secondary to the cultivation of wisdom. The innovation in Mahayana Buddhism was to raise compassion to equal standing, to somehow balance the shocking intensity of the wisdom of emptiness with a leavening of healing and helping through compassion. A deeper consideration of the phrase dae ja, dae bi offers a stimulating perspective for understand- ing the subtle nuances of “great love” and “great compassion” beyond the conventional meanings of these terms. Dae means “big, great, strong, and respected”; ja generally means “love.” But this “love” has a particular character to it. It is not erotic love; it is not sentimental love; it is not attachment love. It has a strong connotation of the kind of care given by a mother to her child; the implication here is that the nature of this care supersedes any love based on attachment. In other words, this expe- rience of love is not needy or greedy. It emerges naturally and dynamically in response to the causes and conditions of the child’s needs and development and is not an expression of neurotic symptoms. Of course what is being described here is an ideal of a mother’s love, and it may not be how each and every mother has experienced it. The care and love given by a mother to a child is easy to associate with the bodhisattva of com- passion as a female archetype (Kuan Yin or Kan- non or Kwan Se Um Bosal). In folk Buddhism throughout China, Japan, and Korea, this female figure is represented as having a thousand eyes and arms, through which she is able to help all those who seek her help. What seems to emerge in these narratives is the quality of care the sup- plicant expects to find in seeking a refuge in the bodhisattva of compassion. We can come to a similar kind of understand- ing when we consider that bi in the Morning Bell Chant, while popularly translated as “com- passion,” has in its historical roots a nuance of meaning that is much closer to “sadness.” This nuance has more to do with a state of mind or a feeling-tone. Thus, the etymological nuances of both ja and bi are much closer to states of mind or feeling-tones rather than idea or concepts. When the bodhisattva of compassion looks down with her thousand eyes at the beings caught in the sea of suffering, she feels an enormous sad- ness for their situation. This sadness is not pity or pathos or commiseration. It is a response to the entire human condition. From the perspec- tive of the bodhisattva, human beings don’t learn much; they keep going around and around within the same grooves of samsara – greed, hatred, and delusion – in a never-ending cycle. The feedback loop of this cycle is dynamic, but it also remains