Avalokiteshvara - Chenrezig
Chenrezig is renowned as the embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas, and is known by many different names, including Avalokiteshvara in India, Kuan-yin in China, and Kannon in Japan.
He is sometimes depicted with two arms, but most commonly with either four arms or one thousand arms.
From Bokar Rinpoche’s Chenrezi, Lord of Love: Principles and Methods of Deity Meditation. “While he was in the presence of Amitabha, Chenrezig thought, “As long as there is even one being who has not attained awakening, I will strive for the benefit of all. And if I break this promise, may my head and body split into a thousand pieces!”
Amitabha understood his thought and told him, “This promise is excellent. Myself and all the buddhas of the three times, having taken such commitments, attained awakening for the benefit of all. I will help you to accomplish that which you have promised.” Chenrezig’s body then emitted six beams of light that produced emanations whose destiny was to act for the benefit of all in each of the six realms of being: humans, gods, demigods, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell beings.
He thus worked for many kalpas. Then, one day, he looked with the eye of knowledge from the top of mount Meru to see if he had liberated many beings and if the number of beings in samsara had diminished. Alas, he saw that they were still innumerable.
He was very sad. Being discouraged, he thought, “I do not have the capability to help beings; it is better that I rest in nirvana.” This thought contradicted his promise, and he burst into a thousand pieces and felt intense suffering.
Amitabha, by the power of his grace, reconstructed the body of Chenrezig. He gave him eleven faces and a thousand arms similar to the thousand spokes of a universal monarch’s wheel and a thousand eyes, symbolic of the thousand buddhas of the present kalpa. Chenrezig could henceforth help the beings in this form as well as with his other forms of two or four arms. Amitabha asked Chenrezig to retake his promise with still more vigor than before and then transmitted to him the six syllable mantra: OM MANI PADME HUNG."
It is said that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in Chenrezig's mantra, OM MANI PADME HUNG, and it carries with it the power to purify our mind's obscurations. We develop the enlightened quality of compassion through Chenrezig practice and mantra recitation as well as by compassionate conduct toward all beings.