Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy
The deity I saw most in China was Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.
She is possibly one of the most revered supernatural beings of the dieties in China, and has many recognized functions and devoted believers. I learned she is mainly associated with compassion, love, and mercy, and is thought to protect women and children, so is therefore also thought of as a fertility goddess. I’ll bet through the centuries literlly millions of “Kuan Yin, please bring us a boy” prayers have been spoken with the sincerest of expectations. One might even imagine that perhaps it is Kuan Yin and not the unfortunate abortion of female fetuses that has caused there to be more men than women in China? If so, when looking at past population growth figures, Kuan Yin has been anwering a lot of prayers.
Esteemed as “she who hears and responds to the cries of the world," Kuan Yin is also seen as the champion of the poor, sick, and unfortunate.
I even saw her statue in the restaurant near the boatyard, an homage of protection to those who give their lives to the sea aboard ships or make a living working on boats.
I saw Kuan Yin in a teahouse where I would often stop for a cup of tea on my way to the boatyard. I think among businesspeople she is looked upon as a goddess of luck and fortune as her alter was always overflowing with incense and offerings.
In "No Problem, Mr. Walt", I tell quite a few stories about Kuan Yin. There is even a story about how she is given credit for having caused China’s first tea plants to grow in order to help Buddhists stay awake while meditating. Some even give her credit as the one responsible for “all the tea in China." This may very well be a wives tale, but who am I to argue with thousands of years of tradition?
From the number of times I saw her in my travels, I’m sure Kuan Yin will carry on with her popularity. Though she's not on Twitter or Instagram, she does have millions and millions of followers. So if you visit China, look for Kuan Yin wherever you go, and say a little prayer when you do. You never know, her generosity has held the respect of millions of Chinese people, and this hopeful journeyman.
Any questions? You can contact me here.