Bright FlowerThere is a fine line between spiritual practice and ritual.  

I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with ritual per se, I guess it’s just down to the importance one may attach to it.  We all conduct various repeated behaviour in the course of our daily lives, kinds of rituals that we enact for a variety of reasons.

The chanting of mantra is in itself ritualistic, repeating the same small collection of sounds, with their vowels, consonants and dipthongs, all the subtleties of the sounds as they roll from the mouth into the air.  Inevitably, there is a structure that builds up around such daily practice.  As far as I understand it, these kinds of behavioural habits are not seen as particularly useful in themselves, as they can become structures to which we can become attached in an unhelpful and perhaps delusional manner – doing it ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, doing things in the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ order etc.

I have always liked the non-punitive nature of Buddhist and Hindu thinking.  Continue reading

Kuan Yin and Green Tara, Himalayan sisters of compassion

Kuan Yin statue

Kuan Yin statue

For the last week I have been chanting a new mantra (new to me anyway!):

Namo Kuan Shi Yin Pu Sah

This is the mantra to/for/of Kuan Yin (or Guan Yin), the Chinese goddess of compassion, an emanation of Avalokiteshwara (Sanskrit), or Chenrezig (Tibetan) – the Bodhisattva of compassion.  The mantra of Avalokiteshwara is Om Mani Padme Hum.  A Bodhisattva is someone who has attained enlightenment but chooses to stick around to help other people achieve the same thing, rather than going off into the Buddha realm and never returning through rebirth into sentient form.

When I was in Paris last year I visited the museum of Asiatic arts and saw a lifesize statue of Kuan Yin, with the ‘thousand’ arms of Avalokiteshwara and sitting in the posture of Green Tara, displaying the same mudras, or hand positions – in truth everything links back to one root in the end, whether through representation, legend/myth or interpretation.   Continue reading