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Bodhisattva of Compassion: The Mystical Tradition of Kuan Yin (Shambhala Classics) Paperback – October 13, 2009

4.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

The author evokes the charming presence of the Goddess of Compassion through colorful anecdotes and descriptions of rituals and legends. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

John Blofeld (1913–1987) was a world-renowned scholar and writer who devoted his life to the study of Eastern religion, especially Taoism and Buddhism.
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Product Details

  • Series: Shambhala Classics
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590307356
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590307359
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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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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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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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.
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Format: 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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This is a fascinating study of the historical connections between Kuan Yin (Chinese), Tara (Tibetan) and Avalokitsvara (Tibetan)....all goddesses of compassion, kindness and generosity. Blofeld has an engaging and rather emotional connection to all of them, and he intersperses some rather dry history with his own personal experiences, which lightens the book.
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Format: 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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