Avolokiteshvara: A Vision of Selflessness
43" x 25" Framed. Painting: 22" x 16"
Avolokiteshvara, the most important of the bodhisattvas, leads us to realize
that everything that has happened in our lives, whether directly or indirectly,
is the result of our aspirations. We create our own reality.
Avalokiteshvara, the “bodhisattva of great compassion”, wears the silk robes
and jeweled ornaments of a bodhisattva, a celestial being who returns to the
world to bring others to the realm of enlightenment. Two hands hold against
his heart a wish fulfilling gem, a symbol of the mind’s enlightened potential
for great compassion. His other hand holds a crystal rosary and the lotus
of transcendent wisdom.
At the heart of the cosmos of compassion is the vision of the inseparability
of all existence. Harm to others brings harm to oneself: kindness to others brings forth kindness; generosity induces wealth and abundance; miserliness creates inner poverty. The world reflects our level of consciousness. Free
from the bonds of greed and aggression, one sees the world as a realm of
illusions created out of hope and fear. The deities of the Buddhist pantheon
transport us, not to some alternate reality , but to a deeper vision of the world of which we are an inseparable part. These deities are not icons of
hope or escape, but expressions of our deepest potential. Avolokiteshvara,
empathy and compassion, dwells in the hearts of all beings, a latent energy
giving rise to all other virtues.
The mantra most commonly intoned by Tibetans of all walks of life is that of Avalokiteshvara or, as he is known in Tibet, Chenrezig. The mantra om mani padme hum converts the mind from the self serving thoughts and invokes the spirit of universal compassion represented by Avalokiteshvara’s archetypal form.
Although mantras defy literal interpretation, the Sanskrit syllables that invoke the energies of selfless compassion translate roughly as, “The jewel of compassion and the lotus of wisdom dwell in the innermost heart.”
By Romio Shrestha & Ian Baker: Celestial Gallery
Handpainted by monks in Nepal