In his long career as a poet, Buddhist teacher, spiritual advisor, and writer, Stephen Levine has changed our understanding of death and dying. In Becoming Kuan Yin, Levine’s first new book in many years, he turns to the legend of Kuan Yin, the Bbodhistitva venerated by East Asian Buddhists for her compassion.
In Becoming Kuan Yin, Levine shares the tale of Miao Shan, born centuries ago to a cruel king who wanted her to marry a wealthy but uncaring man. This is the story of how Miao Shan refused to follow the path her father had in mind and, instead, became Kuan Yin, the first acknowledged female Buddha who watches over the dying and those who work with them.
Levine weaves together story and practice and helps readers discover their own infinite capacity for mercy and compassion under difficult circumstances. This book will have resonance for Kuan Yin’s millions of followers.
Best known for his work on dying, teacher and author Levine (A Gradual Awakening) explores the legend of Kuan Yin. This beloved Chinese manifestation of the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion vows to help all sentient beings escape suffering. Retelling the story of her origin, Levine recounts how, when Miao Shan refused her cruel father’s orders to marry, he sentenced her to harsh labor at a convent. Yet as she faced increasingly severe hardships tending the sick and dying, her compassion grew, until she finally became the bodhisattva Kuan Yin, “she who hears the cries of the world.” He uses Miao Shan’s legend as a starting point for a meditation on compassion for self and others, noting that “ealing is to reoccupy those parts of ourselves abandoned to pain.” Noting that Kuan Yin has been described as the “first acknowledged female Buddha,” Levine identifies similarities to the life of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. Levine’s writing isn’t quite up to the task of lyrical celebration, but this short, heartfelt book offers hope in the face of extraordinary pain. (Sept.) – Publishers Weekly
“A loving poetic fable, filled with the mercy of Kuan Yin and the devotion to love that is Stephen and Ondrea’s life work and gift to the world.” –Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart
“Becoming Kuan Yin is our true work–mine, yours–and a marvelous path from the head to the heart, right into the splendid universe of her Buddha heartsoul. I bow and reverence the radiant Buddha within our own innate original goodness; don’t overlook her! Unconditional Compassion is the way, the truth, and the light, and Stephen’s long awaited guide takes us right in. Meet ya there!” –Lama Surya Das, author of Awakening the Buddha Within
“After decades of Stephen Levine’s devotion to compassionate service, who better to bring us the story of the transformative journey of Miao Shan becoming Kuan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.” –Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now
“Stephen Levine’s new book, Becoming Kuan Yin, is a beautifully written masterpiece that embraces the reader in a reverent flow. The tale of awakening, alternating with principles of practice and guided meditations, opens the heart and generates a profound inner stillness. A remarkable and vibrant transmission of love.” –Francine Shapiro, PhD, originator of EMDR therapy, author of Getting Past Your Past – From the Publisher
“Stephen Levine’s new book, Becoming Kuan Yin, is a beautifully written masterpiece that embraces the reader in a reverent flow. The tale of awakening, alternating with principles of practice and guided meditations, opens the heart and generates a profound inner stillness. A remarkable and vibrant transmission of love.” –Francine Shapiro, PhD, originator of EMDR therapy, author of Getting Past Your Past – Reviews