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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories, philosophy and history of Kuan Yin., May 16, 2002
This review is from: Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) (Paperback)
This is perhaps my favorite book by John Blofeld. The stories of Kuan Yin are well told, diverse and moving. He strikes an excellent balance between philosophy, history, story telling, Kuan Yin meditation techniques, and personal devotion.
There are a few pages of b/w photos, of Kuan Yin, Tara and Avalokiteshvara, the pictures vary in quality. However, many of them I have never seen before and a few definitely inspire devotion.
The fact that John Blofeld lived and traveled in China, his joyous devotion to Kuan Yin, and his knowledge of the Chinese language and culture adds immensely to the book and puts it in a class by itself.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great "travelogue" about Kuan Yin, but not an academic work, December 6, 2008
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This review is from: Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) (Paperback)
Like virtually all reviewers, I really enjoyed this book. But I also feel people should understand what the work is, and is not. This is a description of the author's exploration of the worship of Kuan Yin across many different Asian cultures he's visited, and relating anecdotes from Kuan Yin worshippers about the boddhisattva. The question at the heart of the book and its author is, more or less, "Who is this figure, why does She impel such passionate devotion among so many, and is She 'real'?" While he dabbles in questions about the relationship between Kuan Yin and other Buddhist devotional beings such as Avalokitesvara and White Tara, this book is *not* an academic exploration of questions of comparative religion or socio-anthropology, so if you seek that, this is not your book.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meeting Kuan Yin, July 8, 2005
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This review is from: Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book. It's become my favorite "bedtime stories" book. What I especially like is that the engrossing tales of personal experiences with Kuan Yin (as well as some with Tara) create for readers our own "virtual" experience of a Bodhisattva being as a reality; I feel I'm actually meeting Her, and I fall asleep in a very pleasant mood. I love many Buddhist books, but "Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin" is certainly one of the most absorbing and intimate. It's often whimsical and sometimes funny. At the same time there is a lot of new knowledge to be gained here, especially for people in the West who may not be so familiar with details of who Kuan Yin is and how she is regarded in the East. Also, there is wisdom, and good discussions of universal Buddhist concepts.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Blofeld's best, October 7, 2010
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The late John Blofeld was a British convert to Buddhism who spent many years living and traveling in the Far East. Amongst Westerners who have attempted to educate the general public about Buddhism and Taoism, he is arguably the most entertaining raconteur of them all. He is a very skilled writer, and he succeeds in making matters of religion and philosophy come alive for the reader as personal questions.

What sets Blofeld apart is his ability to weave personal anecdotes in with philosophical exposition, historical narrative, folklore, and "how to" instructions in various meditative exercises.

Blofeld's task in this book is to explain who - or what - Kuan Yin is, and to put beliefs concerning Kuan Yin within the context of Buddhism as a whole. This is no easy task, because devotion to Kuan Yin - a female representation of Buddhist compassion and enlightenment - seems (for many Westerners) to be at odds with the fundamental Buddhist precept to "be a light unto yourselves."

As Blofeld traces the evolution of Kuan Yin from the male Hindu Boddhisattva Avalokita, to the female Tibetan Boddhisattva Tara, on to her Chinese representation as Kuan Yin, we see that we are dealing with what appears to be a figure of mythology and folklore, a creation of storytellers and artists. But not quite . . . Time and again - and Blofeld illustrates this with many personal anecdotes - Kuan Yin seems to manifest as an actual, independent being. Blofeld devotes many pages to this apparent paradox, and the reader will have to judge for himself whether the stated explanations actually resolve that paradox.

Expressed in various ways, the explanation is essentially reduced to the doctrine of One Mind, i.e., the notion that all of our individual minds participate in the universal One Mind, and that in this realm, ordinary distinctions between "real" and "mythical" break down. One would perhaps have to be enlightened oneself to firmly grasp this or experience it as a lived reality, but - as Blofeld shows - the mythic breaks through into the real just often enough to keep faith and devotion alive, and to pass these perplexing questions down through the generations.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very worthwhile..., January 12, 2008
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This review is from: Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) (Paperback)
For anyone interested in Kuan Yin, the Boddhisatva of Compassion, this is a very worthwhile read! It traces the cultural origin of Kuan Yin and her place in the cosmology of Buddhism. The book gives both an esoteric and exoteric view of her being, and how she is honored/celibrated/worshipped in central and southeastern Asia. Interesting personal anecdotes by Blofeld prevent this from ever becoming a dry, theoretical, work. Anyone who loves Kuan Yin and wishes to learn more about her will enjoy and profit from a reading of this book!
SJD
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful, Illuminating, Warm & Funny Book!, October 13, 2002
By 
KJ Adan "KJ Adan" (Los Angeles, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) (Paperback)
If the rest of us "foreign devils", as Blofeld's friends refer to him, manage to inbibe even half the wisdom offered in this book, we'll be better off. His gentle, academically bumbling, tireless search for the origin and nature of Kuan Yin is something many of we rational Westerners can appreciate. I especially enjoyed the point that lesser path and greater path Buddhism are equal; one is not more "real" than the other. Kuan Yin is real as is the keyboard on which I type, as long as we remember that void & non-void are the same. The Chinese make no distinction...why should we?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and stories well told, October 15, 2009
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This review is from: Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) (Paperback)
John Blofeld's book is a scholarly and yet heart warming story about Kuan Yin. Through his knowledgeable and skillful telling of many folktales about Kuan Yin, he gives the reader a profound understanding of the nature of this Buddhist archetype and of Buddha Dharma. It includes some very nice black and white examples of artwork of Kuan Yin, Tara, and Avalokita, mainly sculpture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kuan Yin and Chinese Buddhist Tradition, December 28, 2012
By 
David Gould (Hobart, Tasmania, AU) - See all my reviews
John Blofeld, was one of the greatest Sinophiles of the twentieth century. From the time as a child, that his aunt gave him a Buddha statue, John Blofeld's karmic connection and affinity with Chinese Buddhism was profound. This book does not claim to be a scholastic treatise on the fullness of theology of Kuan Yin. It is not in the tradition of new age goddess worshipped, who seek to channel Kuan Yin, forgetting that she is a Bodhisattva, firmly grounded in Buddhism.

Blofeld's book is a delight because it brings to life his experience of Kuan Yin, in shrines, temples and homes, with monastic and lay devotees, and he does so with delightful and evocative language and imagery. His description of family shrines, and temple rites conveys us to a Chinese Buddhism that barely survived the spiritual and cultural assault of Chinese Communism, whose vandalism and destruction of temples, shrines and abuse of monks and nuns and pious laity caused so much grief and pain.

Kuan Yin, hearer if the cries of the world is surely needed in contemporary Communist China, in which Marxist ideology and rampant materialism sit side by side. Indeed the contemporary flowering of religion in China has seen a proliferation of that emotional and spiritual connection between the Chinese people and Kuan Shih Yin.

This book will not disappoint.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kwan Yin Society highly recommends this book!, June 8, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) (Paperback)
This is the classic Kwan Yin book in English.Very interesting historical information. When the author peeks out from behind his scholarly facade, the book really shines.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging account of compassion rooted in the depths of a culture., October 28, 2012
By 
Robert L. Rose (Blooming Glen, PA, 18911-0064, Bucks County,United States)) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Kuan-yin/Avalokiteshvara has been an enchanting wisdom figure for me for many years, guiding my own cultivation of compassion along the way. Blofeld's book is an elegant witness to the healing energy Kuan-yin bears for many around the world to the present day.
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Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions)
Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Dragon Editions) by John Eaton Calthorpe Blofeld (Paperback - February 12, 1988)
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