Avalokiteshvara (Sanskrit, lit. "Lord who looks down"; pronounced Ah-va-low-key-tesh-va-ra).
There are two primary uses of the name Avalokiteshvara:
- The embodiment of the ultimate compassion.
- A bodhisattva who renounced Nirvana in order to assist all other beings.
In general, Avalokiteshvara is a term referring to the source of the Bodhisattvas of Compassion according to Mahayana Buddhism. The Tibetan name is Chenrezig. Both are symbols of the Cosmic Christ. Synthetically, the ultimate source of compassion (Christ) is like the sun whose rays (the bodhisattvas) reach out to aid all who suffer.
There are many forms and manifestations of Avalokiteshvara. Perhaps the most easily recognized is the eleven-headed, thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara (pictured above), the symbol of the many Bodhisattvas of compassion that attained the ten Bodhisattva stages, and also a symbol of his many incarnations or Buddhas of compassion within the different Sephiroth of the Tree of Life.
Avalokiteshvara is also known as Kuan-Yin and Chenrezig; in Hinduism he is Vishnu. In the Greek language he is Khristos or Christ who looks in every direction in order to assist and save any being through his Bodhisattvas. Thus, his thousand arms extend his helping hands toward all beings.
His ten heads indicate the process through the ten Bodhisattva stages towards the perfection of the Nirmanakaya Body; these stages are represented in the ten hierarchies of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life of the world of Yetzirah, with the eleventh that represents the acquisition of the Samboghakaya Body; thus, the eleventh head indicates the incarnation of the universal compassion of all Buddhas. The ten heads also represent the prajnaparamita type of vision that is able to look at all beings within and without the ten Sephiroth of space; the eleventh head represents the all-encompassing Buddha wisdom (Chokmah).
The mantra related to Avalokiteshvara is Om Mani Padme Hum.