Becoming Kuan Yin

“The heart must sometimes be broken open to make room for one’s full
potential. It is the pain that ends our pain, and embraces others to soothe their
suffering. It is the nature of this terrible and wonderful world into which you
were born to find the miraculous.

“Do you think it was otherwise for Miao Shan in the blood-stained palace,
the foul drudgery of the nunnery, the wailing demons in hell? How else would I
have found the dharma, the priceless jewel of Om mani padme hum that brought
me through to the Pure Land stillness of fully letting go, the great release of
suffering, the formula of the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra that lets go of
anything but unconditional love, of anything that obscures the fullness of

“When these wisdom teachings are integrated, there is room to breathe in the
pure compassion of her great mantra: Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi
swaha!, which leads to the obliteration of the hindrances to our original grace:
‘Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, nothing but clarity

Breathing in, “What is the word?
Breathing out, “hidden in everything?”
Each inhalation uncovers
what lies hidden and unborn.
Breathing in and out
in the mad house or
on the meditation cushion,
to find a word
sane enough to save us.

When Long Nu was asked how one might find Kuan Yin, she answered,

Let this body be born. Allow awareness to come to the level of sensation.
Feel the breath breathe itself.
Breathing in, breathing out.
Soften the belly with each mindful rising and falling of the abdomen.
Let the breath breathe itself in soft belly.
No resistance, no holding anywhere.
Notice awareness as the light of knowing in the mind and body.
The light recognizes consciousness.
Letting go into the silence of wordless sensations.
Nothing to hold to, nothing remains but the sacred emptiness which
exudes mercy.
Letting go is freedom from what we hold to.
Surrender is victory.
An unexpected loving-kindness arising.
I am standing there, pure awareness.

We walk through half our life
As if it were a fever dream
Barely touching the ground,

Our eyes half-open
Our heart half-closed.
Not half knowing who we are
We watch the ghost of us drift
From room to room
Through friends and lovers
Never quite as real as advertised.
Not saying half we mean
Or meaning half we say
We dream ourselves

From birth to birth
Seeking some true self.
Until the fever breaks
And the heart cannot abide

A moment longer
As the rest of us awakens,
Summoned from the dream,
Not half-caring for anything but love.

As compassion’s Avalokiteshvara, she offered the great teaching that emptiness is the realization of form, form the participation of emptiness. Self-existent love.

“Somewhere in us is buried treasure.”

There are blessings that arise in spiritual practice that seem too good to be true.
But seeing there is nothing you know that you couldn’t know at a deeper level,
you go even beyond your training to discover aspects of yourself too beautiful
for words.
Sometimes the heart opens spontaneously. There are earthquakes in the skull that rattle our knowing and knock all our trophies off their shelves. A sharp pain may flash across the side of the head. It says, “Sit up straight. What you were born for is coming!”

To paraphrase what Thomas Merton said, “Union (heart yoga) is
learned when prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone.”

When no obstruction, in form or concept, confines the unlimited clarity of a
merciful consciousness, we are in the heart of the matter. Love is the highest
form of acceptance, fear the resistance of nonacceptance. Love, one might say,
is heaven; but heaven without compassion is hell.