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TALKING ABOUT AVALOKITESVARA BODHISATTVA (EXCERPT)
by Song Xi (1947 - )
English translation: Zhi Yue and Ellen Wong

The other name for Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, “guanzizai (contemplating at ease),” is especially meaningful to me. Many years ago, my mother became seriously ill and passed away. Only after the death of a loved one did I truly understand the pain of impermanence. It was as if my mother’s illness and death opened a new window of boundless darkness, and I could only face my grief with fear.

I was able to safely pass this dark and rugged time in my life mainly through finding guidance and strength through copying and reciting the Heart Sutra as well as by painting images of Avalokitesvara.

Even though the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra is short, consisting of only two hundred and sixty characters, it is the most translucent and precious pearl thats shines deeply in the vast collection of sutras.

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva while contemplating profoundly the Prajna Paramita, clearly saw that the five skandhas are empty and thus he overcame all ills and sufferings...

Every time I transcribed this first sentence of the Heart Sutra, I could not help but feel touched beyond words.

Here, “contemplating” means to observe as well as to experience true wisdom. “At ease” refers to the state of ultimate liberation and ease that comes after one attains wisdom. In Buddhism, bodhisattvas are named according to their virtues.

Therefore, anyone who is able to contemplate with wisdom and obtain perfect ease can be called “guanzizai bodhisattva.”

In this way, bodhisattvas are sentient beings, and one can also be at perfect ease.

── from Sanshisan Tang Zhaji (Notes on Sanjusangen-do)