Shuiyue Guanyin: Water-Moon Kwan Yin Bodhisattva
The earliest paintings of Shuiyue Guanyin (Water-Moon Kwan Yin Bodhisattva) were discovered in the groves of Dunhuang, China. Chinese painters first took a fancy to this unique style of painting during the 10th century, A.D. The paintings depicted Kwan Yin as seated on a ledge of stone in the middle of water, surrounded by lotus flowers, and backed by an aureole of a full moon. Sitting in the ruyi (at ease) posture, with one foot rested on a lotus flower, the Water-Moon Kwan Yin looks dignified and at ease. It is believed that those Water-Moon Kwan Yin paintings marked the beginning of sinicization of Kwan Yin from His Indian origin.
The reflection of the moon in water symbolizes the Buddhist concept of sunyata (the empty nature of all existence). All phenomena in the universe are but illusions, like the reflection of flowers in a mirror and the reflection of the moon in water. Nothing possesses a permanent self, and everything is empty in its true nature. Because of the Truth of Sunyata, all things can be created, altered, and eliminated. The reflection of the moon in water also symbolized Kwan Yin Bodhisattva’s spirit of great compassion, as described in Volume Two of The Profound Meaning of “The Lotus Sutra”: “Water not arising, moon not descending, only one moon, but reflected in all waters in the world at once.” A widely spread phrase praises this spirit of compassion of Kwan Yin: “Responding to the cries for help from all corners of the world and steering rescue vessels in the sea of suffering.”
In the fall of 2004, Ms. Lau So-kam from Hong King proposed the idea of erecting a Kwan Yin statue at the American Bodhi Center. With the guidance of Ven. Wing Sing, the decision was made to build a large Water-Moon Kwan Yin statue at the Center. To discuss the specifics about the statue with the Huihe Sculpture Company, Ven. Hung I made special trips to Xiamen, China. After numerous modifications to the original design over eighteen months, this statue was finally completed in the May of 2006.
The Water-Moon Kwan Yin statue is made of “sesame white stone,” the best quality granite of its kind (No. 633) from Fujian Province. The statue is made up of eight pieces of granite, with a total weight of 100 tons originally. Thanks to the meticulous craftsmanship of eighteen sculptors, the finished sculpture weighs only 48 tons, with 20 feet in height, 15 feet in width, and 7 feet in thickness. It is a very rare stone statue of Kwan Yin in America. We sincerely hope that all people in the presence of Kwan Yin will cultivate great compassion and receive profound happiness and wisdom.
June 9, 2006