by Dr. Mario Castelán
Editor's note: Archetypes are universal forces originating at the highest levels of creation to shape the physical world of Nature as well as the human soul. Larger than a single “thing,” they are the prototypes or patterns that emanate from the spiritual world and are revealed in symbols, images, gestures, energetic patterns and qualities in both nature and human culture. The ability to become articulate in this language is a fundamental practitioner skill in flower essence therapy. Following is an archetypal character study written by Dr. Mario Castelán as part of his requirements for the FES Certification Program.
Kwan Yin is probably the most popular female deity in the Orient. The aim of this essay is to relate Kwan Yin with the archetype of the
The mariposa effect
flower essence of Splendid Mariposa Lily. To this end, a reflection about the collective consciousness and separation are first introduced, to further develop the story of Kwan Yin and its connection with compassion. Finally, a link is suggested between the archetype and the flower essence.
Categories are necessary for structuring reality, for communicating to each other, for finding a common ground. From the moment we are born, however, society starts cutting us into small pieces that have to fit into predefined boxes, practically dictating what our lives should be. Gender, race, nationality, social status, religion: we are immediately tattooed with expectations on what we should become.
Soon we learn how to judge good from bad. We later transfer this judgement to other humans. You are bad, I am good. You are good, I am bad. The victim, the victimizer. The cheater husband, the ungrateful son, the abnegated mother. We start taking sides. We learn how to separate. This separation is fertile soil for fear, anguish, loneliness, distrust, guilt, and the list of emotions seeking for a space to transcend towards comprehension beyond categorization seems endless.
The most painful illusion of humanity is separation.
Separation is not only noticeable at the individual level, but at the collective level. News about death and destruction are becoming more frequent: carnages, famines, brutal repression of our governments, wars. Before the horror occurring around the world, it is impossible not to question ourselves about where we are heading as humanity. Is there really a better world?
It depends on the decisions we take each instant of our lives. There lies the power of the individual over the collective. That is the true strength of our decisions. Reality is conformed by decisions, step by step, an almost imperceptible sequence, as subtle as the flutter of the wings of a butterfly.
Imagine two possible worlds, almost identical, except from one butterfly that exists in one of them. In the long term, these two worlds will end up being completely different, particularly, in one of them there will be a tsunami as an indirect effect of the flutter of the butterfly. This is known as the butterfly effect and was introduced by the meteorologist and mathematician Edward Lorenz, as a way to explain the sensitivity of dynamic systems to small variations in the initial conditions.
We all participate actively in the creation of reality. Our decisions are as wings of a butterfly capable of generating big changes. Imagine now that the reality of humanity is shaped by several thousand million butterflies. None of them is more important than the other as all of them make the great force of the collective consciousness we belong to.
Take a step out of the boxes of “good” and “bad” and visualize millions of beings resembling flowers suspended at infinity. This is humanity. Our consciousness belongs there, fluttering, vibrating with strength.
Where are you directing your flutter at?
There is no separation. There is no difference at the core. We all breathe the same oxygen, we are all given heat by the same sun, covered by the same moon, fed by the same earth. The same blood unites us.
Such is the basis of compassion.
The great pain of humanity is a reflection of the great pain of each individual.
We have the power to decide our individual actions with the clarity of a consciousness which no longer separates, but is capable of resonating at unison with the vibration of thousands of millions of other human beings.
This is the message of Splendid Mariposa Lily (Calochortus Splendens): the universal mother embraces humanity to remind us that we are all her children. Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz refer to Splendid Mariposa Lily with some verses of “The choir invisible,” a poem by Mary Ann Evans. Here is an excerpt:
May I reach
That purest heaven - be to other souls
The cup of strength in some great agony,
Enkindle generous ardor, feed pure love,
Beget the smiles that have no cruelty,
Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,
And in diffusion ever more intense!
So shall I join the choir invisible
Whose music is the gladness of the world.
The mother who hears
Mariposa means butterfly in Spanish. In the first part of this essay, the butterfly effect and the collective consciousness are introduced as the doors of compassion.
This section is dedicated to Mother Kwan Yin, whose name, a short for Kwan Shi Yin, means “She who hears the cries of the world.”
Imagine being a newborn whose crying is not heard by anyone. This feeling is prevailing on Earth more than ever. Violence, racism and prejudice combined with the immediacy and impersonality of social media have created a collective energy of disconnection from each other.
We have not been taught to think beyond our immediate circle, to go beyond our own tears. We have learned that love is all and we pursue a perfect relationship, a fulfilling parenthood and solid friendships, but few seek to experience what is beyond love: compassion.
This amazing word encompasses the most needed healing energy for humanity. But how are we going to become compassionate human beings if our tears are invisible even to ourselves? How are we suppose to listen to the crying hearts of others if we are unable to connect with the sound of our own hearts? How can we possibly nurture those who suffer if we, inside, are uncapable of growing flowers?
Without flowers, butterflies die.
We have to go one step beyond love.
This is what the archetype of Kwan Yin represents: infinite compassion.
Kuan Yin (also spelled as Quan Yin, Kwan Yin, Guan Yin, Gwan Yin) is the Bodhisattva of mercy and compassion. It is said that her compassion towards sentient beings exceeds that of all the other Bodhisattvas combined. She is considered to be a source of unconditional love and a savior of sentient beings, not only humans, but animals and plants.
A Bodhisattva is a person who has attained enlightenment but chooses to forgo Nirvana and remain in the world to help others attain enlightenment. It is said that Kwan Yin was about to become a Buddha when she heard the cries of the world and she decided to stay on Earth, pledging that she would be the last being to become Buddha until every soul had attained illumination. This level of compassion is what is expressed in the several legends about Kwan Yin. Below I will share the thousand arms story.1
The protagonist is princess Miao Shan, who was asked by her father to marry a wealthy man. She told him that she would obey his command, so long as the marriage eased three misfortunes.
The king asked his daughter what were the three misfortunes that the marriage should ease. Miao Shan explained that the first misfortune was the suffering people endure as they age. The second misfortune it should ease was the suffering people endure when they fall ill. The third misfortune it should ease was the suffering caused by death. If the marriage could not ease any of the above, then she would rather retire to a life of religion forever.
When her father asked who could ease all the above, Miao Shan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all of these.
Her father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. He forced her into hard labor and reduced her food and drink but this did not cause her to yield.
Every day she begged to be able to enter a temple and become a nun instead of marrying. Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but asked the monks to give her the toughest chores in order to discourage her.
|The Legend of Miao Shan usually ends with Miao Chuang Yen, Miao Shan’s father, falling ill with jaundice. No physician was able to cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the jaundice could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of one without anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain. When asked, Miao Shan willingly offered up her eyes and arms. Miao Chuang Yen was cured of his illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to give thanks to the person. When he discovered that his own daughter had made the sacrifice, he begged for forgiveness. The story concludes with Miao Shan being transformed into the Thousand Armed Guanyin, and the king, queen and her two sisters building a temple on the mountain for her. She began her journey to heaven and was about to cross over into heaven when she heard a cry of suffering from the world below. She turned around and saw the massive suffering endured by the people of the world. Filled with compassion, she returned to Earth, vowing never to leave till such time as all suffering had ended.
Mother Kwan Yin statue at Mount Putuo
The legend says that Kwan Yin chose Mount Putuo in China as her bodhimanda, a term used in Buddhism meaning the “position of awakening,” a place used as a seat, where the essence of enlightenment is present.
Kwan Yin is related with other deities. For example, it is generally accepted among East Asian adherents that Guanyin originated as the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Commonly known in English as the Mercy Goddess or Goddess of Mercy but often depicted as both male and female to show this figure’s limitless transcendence beyond gender.
Dancing with butterflies
Usually, Mother Kwan Yin is symbolized with pearls, meaning the purity of light; and a vase, where she holds the nectar of compassion and wisdom.
The mantra Om-Mani-Padme-Hum is widely related with Mother Kwan Yin. It is said that reciting it is a way of paying homage to her, an invocation to become ourselves enlightened through the path of compassion. A meaning of the mantra is described below:
- Om symbolizes the impure body, speech, and mind aiming at transforming into Buddhahood.
- Mani indicates the path, the jewel to be found, which can be thought of as the altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.
- Padme means lotus and represents wisdom.
- Purity must be achieved by unity of method and wisdom. Compassion without wisdom is simply kindness. The final syllable hum, indicates such indivisibility.
Here is a personal meaning for the mantra: My intention is to become light. I seek wisdom and find the jewel of compassion as the path towards Unity.
I imagine mother Kwan Yin blessing humanity while she visualizes every human being as a flying butterfly. She carefully listens to the subtle fluttering of her children and silently sends her blessings. She delivers the soothing balm of compassion and embraces us with her immense mother butterfly wings, resembling the petals of Splendid Mariposa Lily. Our butterfly mother waits for her children to become light. While she tenderly kisses billions of baby butterflies, she dances in the midst of hope and forgiveness.
About Mario Castelan
Dr. Mario Castelán lives in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico and holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of York, UK. In addition to his scientific activity, he is dedicated to flower essence therapy. He is interested in contributing to flower therapy from the scientific perspective, for example, with bio-energetic systems of testing response or through experiments with water.
Dr. Castelán has a diploma in Bach flowers and has obtained two certifications from the Flower Essence Society – Practitioner Certification and Advanced Studies. Visit his web site www.splendidmariposa.com to view his commentaries and information about his practice.
1 This story is from Wikipedia. Most online sources agree on the story as well as on further references about Avalokitesvara and Mount Putuo.
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