Sorrow and Hope

A Prayer to Kuan Yin

Close-up photo of the Kuan Yin

Preview of poster with image of Kuan Yin and Ven. Chodron's Kuan Yin poem.

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This is a prayer to Kuan Yin, a female manifestation of the Buddha of Compassion. In light of recent events in Russia and the suffering in the world, Venerable Lobsang Tenpa of Friends of Sravasti Abbey Russia made a heartfelt request to Venerable Chodron. He wrote, “Please write a prayer to Mother Kuan Yin for her compassionate protection for both living and deceased. Through seeing the Compassionate Mother in all beings, may we all attain full awakening.” This is Venerable Chodron’s response.

Kuan Yin, you who hears the cries of the world, please listen to our outpouring of sorrow and hope.

Just as when frightened, children seek protection and refuge in their mother’s comforting arms, so do we children of the Dharma seek protection and refuge in you when saddened and horrified by the suffering of saṃsāra.

But who are you? You are nothing other than wisdom and compassion—the wisdom and compassion of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, and our own latent wisdom and compassion that can grow to become like yours.

In tragedy may we turn to wisdom and compassion and be comforted by its protective embrace. Seeing that all beings seek only happiness and never misery, may we abandon despair, anger, and blame.

May all those who suffer from loss and grief, from horror and outrage, become fountains of wisdom and compassion flowing out to the world and healing beings’ pain.

May all those who have died in avoidable tragedies release all attachment to this life and go on to the next with their hearts of wisdom and compassion. And with love, may we send them on with prayers that they be born in your pure land.

By holding ourselves and others responsible for our misdeeds, may we too hear the cries of the world. And with compassion may all of us overcome the self-centered attitude and create a better world—one in which everyone seeks to benefit each other.

Composed by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron
March, 2018

Photo by Gen Heywood Photography.
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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