The goddess of mercy was Guan Yin. She was born Miao Shang and was the daughter of a Chinese emperor of the Zhou dynasty. Her father wanted to arrange her marriage to a rich prince to increase his influence, but Miao Shang did not want to marry because she wanted to enter a convent.

Guan Yin as a male bodhisattva, 12th century, Japan

He tried to convince Miao’s father, but she didn’t want to hear, she didn’t want to marry the prince. Eventually, the emperor allowed her to go to a monastery, but he was actually preparing his insidious plan.

The emperor had a long conversation with the abbess of the monastery, explaining to her that his daughter was so devoted to her religious duty that she had to take on the blackest work she had. This included maid duties, cleaning, carrying heavy loads. So he secretly hoped that Miao Shang would hate the monastery and want to return to the palace and marry the prince.

However, this plan failed. Miao Shang gladly undertook the heavy duties, and everyone understood that she had no intention of leaving the monastery. For this disobedience of his young daughter, the emperor became enraged and demanded that she be executed. Such unheard of disobedience would not be allowed!

Guan Yin Senteced to Death

Miao Shang had to be executed, so she was brought to the palace and the executioner brandished his sharp sword. A miracle happened – he swung and touched the girl’s neck, the blade shattered into thousands of pieces, and Miao was unharmed. The emperor became angry and ordered her strangled immediately. The servants put their hands together, and Miao’s body fell to the ground lifeless. Her soul drifted to the afterlife, but due to her pious nature she quickly passed through the underworld.

When she arrived in heaven, she said she preferred to return to earth to help people in need. Thus, Miao Shang was rewarded and became the goddess Guan Yin, and her name meant “Hearing the Cries.”

Hearing the Cries

Guan Yin returned to earth and learned that her father was seriously ill and knew that the only cure to help him was made by one of her eyes and one of her hands. Ignoring the terrible pain, she sacrificed her body to the goddess to prepare the medicine and sent the elixir to the palace. Her father recovered thanks to a cure.

Then the emperor realized that he had unfairly underestimated his daughter and the power of Buddhism. So he devoted himself to Buddhism, and built a statue for his daughter with a thousand hands as a sign that she had helped him a thousand times through adversity, through the sacrifice of his flesh. To this day, in Buddhist Chinese temples, Guan Yin is represented with a thousand hands or with many hands that really look like a thousand.

Guan Yin, wooden statue depicting 1,000 eyes and 1,000 hands, 1656, Hanoi History Museum

The goddess continued to travel and to help and respond to prayers and praying. Sick in need, and families in misunderstandings and misunderstandings – helped wholeheartedly. Childless families loved her especially because she gave hope and helped to give birth. Parents and children helped them respect each other, like her father when he realized he was wrong, and she helped him with the determination to heal and give.

Guan Yin’s mercy and power were incommensurable – all those in need turned to her in prayer. She helped women during childbirth, comforted the sick, and reassured people with recently deceased parents and loved ones. It gave strength to those who faced hardships, long journeys, loss, or even a new job.

Guan Yin was indeed a goddess of mercy. She also performed a duty to the souls who took on the hereafter – she helped them to calm down. According to the Taoists, the soul, after ascending, faced a court in which to decide where to go, and then prayers for help to Guan Yin were often sent. For Taoists, she became a central figure, as well as for Buddhists. And so to this day, her people make prayer gifts from tea, fruit or money, convinced that it will help them overcome life’s difficulties. In millions of Chinese homes and temples, there is always a statue of Guan Yin.