Stories from Dr. Yukari, Story 43, Hands of Avalokiteshvara (the Goddess of Mercy)

[Stories from Dr. Yukari ]

Guided by the hope of St. Nichiren, we continue to work towards a peaceful society. Honolulu Myohoji Mission collaborates with Psychologist Dr. Yukari Kunisue, a trained and experienced therapeutic life coach, to offer a safe online space: Stories from Dr. Yukari




One night in December. There was a house beyond a country road, that emit light in the middle of cold biting winds. The warm light came out of the seemingly affluent farm house.  Compared with the outside harshness, the light looked especially warm and welcoming.  A young woman came out of darkness, and quietly approached the farm house. There she placed a large package near the gate. The package was wrapped around by an old man’s overcoat. The bottom of the coat was folded in many times. Those double and triple wraps should keep warmness even for a while until someone finds the package.

As soon as the young woman placed the package next to the gate, she ducked into a small bush nearby. She squatted behind the shadow of the bush and stayed still. She pressed her own mouth into her frozen hands hoping that no one could hear her weep. Soon, a small crying noise came from the inside of the package. The sound grew louder and louder. Once someone from inside the farm house turned the gate light on, the woman behind the bush ran away disappearing into the darkness. The farmer soon discovered a new born baby hidden in the black coat with a small piece of paper attached.

“November 21, 19XX”.

If the date indicated the baby’s birthdate, the small baby was no older than three weeks. When the farmer’s strong working hands picked up the baby, the baby quieted down.

Next day, the baby was taken to a local facility by the farmer with a police officer accompanying him. These events took place in Yiwu city in the Zejiang province. The municipal facility is a combination of a nursing home and an orphanage. People called this place as “Fu Li Yuan (Fortune/Welfare House)”. It is unknown how many babies like this one was accepted by the Fu Li Yuan facility.

The director of the facility was a middle-aged woman over 50 with a rather study set of arms with kind eyes. She received the new comer from the farmer and sighed deeply when opening her ledger which kept track of the birthdates and arrival dates. China started its population control policy known as the One Child Only rule during the 1980’s. Many girls were abandoned especially since the Chinese culture values boys over girls for the family heir. Orphanages in China these days definitely had a shortage of baby beds. It was common for two babies to share a crib.

All of the baby girls wore the exact same clothes and cloth diapers and had the exact same hairstyle. Chinese people traditionally shave a baby girl’s hair since they believe this tradition makes her hair healthy and beautiful. The director of the orphanage picked a name for each and every baby. She herself used clippers to shave the baby’s hair. One day, these girls would be adopted and they may even want to know their origin stories, the director thought. She kept her record to be as accurate as possible.

This, happened roughly 25 years ago.

I repeatedly told this story to my daughter ever since she was a little girl. Your straight hair is so abundant and beautiful thanks to the shaving that the director did for you. You are wonderfully disciplined in life because of the orphanage teachers who took very good care of you since day one. You are so healthy because many people protected your life ever since you were born. You grew up lucky as an American because many people helped you along the way. Your birth mother had no other choice but to leave you for your happiness, the kind farmer also chose to pick you up whole heartedly and the director even gave you a name for the first time. You are now fortunate to be able to focus on the academic subject you are really passionate about. Certain opportunities may not have been possible if you had stayed in China.

As I told the same story to my daughter, I often think about different people who helped her throughout her life. I feel they are the manifestation of Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara, Mercy Goddess (or Kuan’non). The hands of mercy formed a chain of compassion helping my daughter become an American college student 20 years later. I would like to preface this by saying that I am not an especially religious person. I am also not an expert on Buddhism but I have always loved Kuan’non, the Goddess of mercy. Kuan’non’s official name is Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara. The Japanese translation of Kuan’non indicates seeing and hearing “on” meaning voice of suffering. The Goddess of mercy has a special ability to change its form in order to see the pain of other people.

In addition to being able to transform, Kuan’non is shown as a multi-armed deity whose hand has on eye in order to see and help different types of suffering. Kuan’non can hear the cry of an abandoned baby along with the birthmother’s pain who had no choice but to leave the child behind. Kuan’non can also be the farmer’s hands as well as the welcoming arms of the director.

I can’t help but to think that all of these acts are the acts of Kuan’non’s manifestation of mercy.

Even now, I often see the acts of the Goddess of mercy while I work as a life coach and hypnotherapist. I see her presence among workers and helpers in the community. Recently, I visited a local hospice and care home facility in Honolulu. The door of the bathroom was wide open and I walked right in without thinking. A resident who was around 80-years-old was using the toilet with a care taker helping her. The caretaker was an older Japanese woman carefully assisting the frail older woman. Upon entering, I immediately apologized and exited. Either way, I couldn’t help but notice that they had a way about them. I was impressed at how kind the caretaker’s eyes appeared to be when she saw me walk in unannounced. I believe she was looking at me the same way she was looking at the resident. It was interesting to see the exchange of trust between the resident and the care taker. Both of them looked at me upon walking in and smiled. From this exchange, I was reminded of Kuan’non’s manifestation of compassion.

One other thing I love about Kuan’non is that the Goddess can appear as beings such as you and I. When we happen to feel compassion towards others, when we are able to truly feel another person’s pain, we forgive others who wrongs, or when we offer kind words to someone, we are used by the Goddess of mercy. The Goddess gives us a chance to participate in the Kuan’non to do goodness to others and to the world. I wonder if and when we open our heart, the Goddess gives us a chance. When we see goodness in others, we are then able to see the Goddess. We too, can become the compassionate hands and eyes of the Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara.