About Apparitions Revered Here and Around the World
By Nancy Greenheart
In an article published in the October 2014 issue of El Ojo Del Lago, I mentioned that in many cultures people receive manifestations of beings imbued with core-reaching penetrating love. Here in Mexico and in many countries around the world, these apparitions are seen as a divine mother.
The best known apparition of divine mother in Mexico is Our Lady of Guadalupe. In December 1531, a man from the local tribal group , who had recently been converted to Catholicism, had seen a vision of a beautiful lady on a mountain now called Tepeyac. It is the highest of three peaks, which had long been the worship site of the indigenous mother goddess Tonantzin. This name in the Nahuatl language of several indigenous groups means “Our Mother.”
The beautiful lady spoke to Juan Diego, referring to herself several times as “your mother’. She clearly stated that she would always be available to anyone who called out to her in need. She aligned herself with Catholicism by asking Juan Diego to go to the bishop and ask that a temple or shrine be made on that mountain peak to her. Historically this is interesting because the Spanish had just torn down a temple there dedicated to Tonantzin.
This does not make the mother presence any less real, but rather substantiates the thought that such beneficent helpers find the most suitable form to relieve suffering of those in need. If the cultural conditions shift, the transcendent nature of such high spiritual source can assume any form or identity that can be received in the new circumstances. Her often used title indicating purity is “Virgen” or virgin. Thus the Mother of Compassion is referred to in Mexico as La Virgen de Guadalupe.
This ability to change specific characteristics to better serve the people of a given circumstance is seen in Asia in earlier centuries. By the 12th century, a pure soul who stays in our realm to help others, was clearly mentioned in the Sanscrit Sutras, sacred scriptures crossing over from older Hindu traditions to the more recent Buddhist traditions.
Buddhism was new to the region and the Lotus Sutra make clear a transition of this specific high spiritual helper of Mercy and Compassion. Earlier the Sanscrit scriptures referred to a being called Avalakitesvara. From the Lotus Sutra or Heart Sutra, this spiritual helper was received and revered anew by the Mahayana Buddhists. This pure spirit was said to take the form of any male or female (or appear genderless) in order to reach sentient beings; any form required to relieve suffering of people.
In China by the 12th century, this ascended master of Compassion and Mercy was represented as a mother, a beautiful white robed woman Guan Shi Yin, she who watches over the world and hears the cries and lamentations of the people. Through the years since the 12th century , she has become revered as a significant Mother by people of many Asian cultures. The Taoists consider her an immortal. Her name varies according to the language of each locality. In Cantonese she is “Guan Yam”; in Japanese she is called “Kannon or Kanzeon”; in Indonesian she is called Mak (mother) Kwan Im; in Tibet she is called “Chenrezig.” Her robes change somewhat with each culture. Today she is popularly referred to in western countries as Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion.
Though costumes and names change to suit each culture, I conclude the Mother of Compassion and Mercy is well received as a representative of the highest source, one God who loves all people.
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