Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Bodhisattva of Mercy

The above image of Guanyin (AvalokiteĊ›vara) at Gilsangsa Temple in Seoul "was sculpted by a Catholic sculptor Choi Jong-tae, who modeled the statue after Virgin Mary in hopes of religious reconciliation in Korean society."

The Bodhisattva of Mercy has long been of interest to me. Similarity to the Virgin Mary has been noted for centuries. The Kakure Kirishitan ("Hidden Christians") of Japan venerated the Maria Kannon when the True Faith was punishable by death.

I am in the land of my in-laws now. For three days in a row, I have been hiking up the mountain behind their apartment building in Ulsan. One of my stops is a small mountain Buddhist temple. Today I approached it from a different path and, to my surprise and delight, learned it was dedicated to Gwaneum Bosal, and found her image inside. Nor a coincidence, I think.

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