Chenrezig, also known as Avalokitesvara, "One who looks with unwavering eye," is the most revered of all Bodhisattva, embodying the compassion of all Buddhas. He listens to the prayers of all sentient beings in times of challenge and difficulty. In one prominent Buddhist story, Chenrezig vows never to rest until he has helped free all sentient beings from samsara, but despite his best efforts, his task is overwhelming. So in his effort to reach out to so many cries of suffering, his arms are shattered into pieces, making them many, to better reach out to those in need. Sometimes Chenrezig visualized with eleven heads and a thousand arms fanned out around him. Tibetan Buddhism relates Chenrezig to the six-syllable mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, and when this mantra is spoken aloud or in silence, it invokes his benevolent power and intervention. Chenrezig is consider the patron of Tibet, and, in fact, the living Buddha, the Dali Lama, is an incarnation of him.
When ever we are compassionate, or feel the love of another directed as you, be they human or animal, we experience a taste of our connection with Chenrezig.
His two front hands are in a devotional gesture, clasped in front of his jewel-draped heart. His upper right hand holds his special symbol, a crystal akshamala, or rosary, symbol of the never-ending cycle. While his left hand holds a white lotus, signifying that he frees the sentient beings from the muddy waters of suffering and hellish realms to the pure states of enlightenment. He is draped in silk garments, both legs in the "diamond pose" of mediation, and seated on a row of lotus petals.
"Bodhisattva," literally meaning "enlightenment ('bodhi') being ('sattva')" in Sanskrit, has two primary meanings in Buddhism. One of them, held by the Theravada and by some Mahayanists, is of someone who is dedicated to becoming a Buddha. The other, held by some Mahayanists, is of someone who deliberately refrains from becoming enlightened, a Buddha, in order to help others.
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