Chenrezig (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara)
Chenrezig (Avalokiteshvara) is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is an enlightened being who has decided to delay becoming a fully enlightened Buddha and who lives in a compassionate spirit life for the sake of all beings He has taken vows to save all beings. With a mantra, Om mani padme hum! (Hail the jewel in the lotus), he tirelessly attempts to deliver all beings from suffering. He appears in many different forms to assist suffering beings.
Tibetans believe that Chenrezig, as a disciple of the Buddha, made a vow of compassion to free the Tibetan peoples from their violent ways: "May I be able to establish in emancipation all living beings in the barbaric Land of Snow; where the beings are so hard to discipline and none of the buddhas of the three times has stepped...May I be able to mature and emancipate them, each according to his/her own way. May that gloomy barbaric country become bright, like an island of precious jewels." (Geshe Wangyal , Door of Liberation, New York, Lotsawa, 1978, pp. 54-55). He is the patron of Tibet. The Tibetan people claim descent from Chenrezig, who in the form of a monkey sired the original inhabitants of Tibet. Chenrezig, according to Tibetan legends, has appeared in numerous forms to defend Buddhist teachings. He has been identified with the Tibetan emperor Songtsen Gampo (617-698 C.E.) and the successive lineage of Dalai Lamas. The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the current incarnation of Chenrezig.
Tibetans believe that every person whose heart is moved by love and compassion, who deeply and sincerely act for the benefit of others without concern for fame, profit, social position, or recognition expresses the activity of Chenrezig. Love and compassion are the true signs revealing the presence of Chenrezig.
Compassion is the most important religious practice. For Tibetan Buddhists, compassion is sensitivity to the sufferings of others and attempt to relieve suffering. It is the realization that we (human beings, animals, and the earth itself) are all interconnected. The Buddha is an example of compassion, for he taught human beings the way to freedom.
BRIEF DISCRIPTION OF THE MANDALA OF AVALOKITESHVARA
Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig as he is known in Tibetan, is the Buddhist deity who personifies the ideal of compassion. He can be portrayed in several different forms, two of the most popular being as a white deity with either four arms or 1000 arms; the extra arms symbolize his ability to help many beings simultaneously.
The Mandala can be described as being the residence of the respective deities and their retinues. The sand Mandala of Avalokiteshvara was originated from the tantric teachings of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. Although depicted on a flat surface, the Mandala is actually three-dimensional, being a “divine mansion” at the center of which resides Avalokiteshvara, surrounded by the deities of his entourage.
Every aspect of the Mandala has meaning: nothing is arbitrary or superfluous. The four outer walls of the mansion are in five transparent layers, colored as white, yellow, red, green, and blue, representing faith, effort, memory, meditation, and wisdom (these five colors also represent the five dankinis). The four doorways, one in the center of each of the four walls, represent the Four Immeasurable Thoughts: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity and there are decorated with precious jewels. The lotus flower in the center of the Mandala represent the lotus family, one of the Buddha families that correspond to the five psychophysical components of a human being, and which purify specific impure states of mind; the Lotus family purifies passion into discriminating awareness. The white thousand arms, thousand-eyed Avalokiteshvara is standing in the center of the lotus flower, on a white moon disk. In the four directions are seated his retinue seated on white full moon disks. The deities arise from the unity of; the wisdom of emptiness and great bless of the principle deity Avalokiteshvara. Seated on the eastern red petal is the purified aspect of Hatred in the form of a blue deity Akshobhya, on the southern yellow petal is the purified aspect of Misery in the form of a yellow deity Rathasambhava and likewise, the purified part of Ignorance & Jealousy are represented by the white deity Vaivochana at the western and the green deity Amogasiddhi at the northern petal respectively. The central deity Avaloketishvara represents the freedom from attachment. The four colors in the four directions are the emanated light rays of the four deity retinues. The lotus itself symbolizes the mind of renunciation. To protect the residence from negative conditions, it is surrounded by a Vajra fence, which also symbolizes the continuous teaching of the Vajrayana (Tantric Teaching) by lord Avalokiteshvara. In the outmost part, it is circled with burning flames radiate with intense light are not only for protection but also to burn away or to get red of delusion and the dark nesses of the ignorance.
In general, the Mandala shows a method of bringing peace and harmony in our world, through genuine practices of the mind of Great Compassion, the Wisdom of Emptiness, and the meditations of Mandala with their respective deities. We can generate the respective qualities as mentioned and thereby bring about a positive change in this world of ours. For a practitioner who meditate on the Tantra of Avalokiteshvara, one would familiarize oneself with every detail of the Mandala and the deities within it, engaging in repeated exercises based upon visualizing the pure beings and pure environment which symbolized one’s own being and environment in purified, sublime form. Such exercises, carried out within the basic Buddhist framework of developing wisdom and compassion, bring about a profound transformation of the psyche. Just to glimpse the Mandala, however, will create a positive impression on the mind-stream of the observer, who for a moment is in touch with the profound potential for perfect Enlightenment, which exists within the mind of all beings.
At the end of ritual ceremony, the Mandala will be systematically dismantled and the sand powder of the Mandala will be thrown into a clean river or a sea to remind the impermanence of the world. In fact, it serves to enrich the soil and the mineral resources and to eliminate the untimely death, diseases, famine etc.
In conclusion, we dedicate the merits generate in the preparation of this Mandala together with its rituals for the world peace and true happiness of all the sentient beings. May peace prevail on the Earth!!
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Chenrezig Mandala Descriptive Overlay
Chenrezig Mandala with Descriptive Overlay