A straightforward description of Avalokiteśvara can be found in Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya sūtra, which is two hundred and sixty words in total, and is the essence of the six-hundred scroll long Mahā-prajñāpāramitā Sūtra. The first lines of the sutra are: “Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, when practicing the Prajna Paramita in depth, perceives that all five skandhas are empty, and is saved from all suffering and distress”. Avalokitesvara was able to practice in depth through hearing the inner voice, and is a Bodhisattva with a heart of great compassion, able to save all sattva from misery based on hearing their voices, and able to perceive the emptiness of the five skandhas to attain Buddhahood. The construction of this Avalokiteśvara’s image is pure and simple, sitting in lotus position on the putan atop the rock of void, which is a metaphor for practicing stillness and observation, to practice dhyana (zen) and jnana (wisdom) together. Through the perfect fusion of dual practice of fortune and wisdom, to accumulate religious merits, and scrutinize with the wisdom of Śūnyatā, one can achieve Buddhahood naturally.

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Xia Jing Shan

ink and colors on paper


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