Avalokitesvara is known as the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Sometimes he is depicted having a thousand-arms (represented by many arms, not a literal thousand) because it is said that in his quest to save all beings from suffering, Avalokitesvara shatters his arms. Seeing this, Amitabha Buddha grants the Bodhisattva a thousand arms to save all beings.
Lately I’ve been feeling like I have a thousand arms, reaching out into all of the various projects and responsibilities I have going right now. Family, work full time, school full time, photography, cleaning the house, car maintenance, applying for school, trying to buy a house, dealing with credit bureaus. Today I was thinking about how burdensome those 1000 arms would be, and how infinite Avalokitesvara’s compassion must be.
But a Bodhisattvha isn’t limited to one paramita. In order to have boundless compassoin, Avalokitesvara must have already developed boundless patience. Must have already developed dhyana. And prajna. And the rest of the paramitas.
This path is not a staircase. It can’t be taken in succession. It must be taken up at once, all of it, with the determination of Hui-k’o. Realization comes as a thunderclap and a blowing dandelion all at once.
Is it beneficial to apply oneself to the paramitas, or the precepts one at a time? Certainly. But we cannot believe for one moment that once we have conquered one, we can simply move on to the other. Nor can we assume we have mastered one without the others.
More photos hopefully coming soon btw. I haven’t had the opportunity to take any lately because it has either been raining, or completely dark out by the time I get home from work. I also recently inherited an older Canon film SLR that I’ve been playing with, so I don’t have much digital to share.