Over the last ten days I have I been practicing a sadhana with the Bodhisattva Cintamani Cakra Avalokiteshvara, the second deity in my 40-day practice vow, today being the last day with Avalokiteshavara before moving to a practice with Mahavairocana for ten days.
Avalokiteshvara gave me my first taste of progression, moving from one deity to another, and I discovered that the contrast (or complimentary nature) between Vajrasattva and Avalokitesvara was itself revealing, in addition to the practice. Whereas Vajrasattva is all about seeing myself as divinely capable as a practitioner, cultivating non-self confidence, having no hindrances as a practitioner innately, Avalokiteshvvara reveals to me a deep trust not only in myself, but in all of my experience, doing this through the cultivation of intimacy between Avalokiteshvara and I, my experience and my awareness of that experience, then to immediacy, radical subjectivity, awareness itself.
In just looking at this image of Cintamani Cakra Avalokiteshvara, you can probably get a sense of the qualities he embodies and communicates. He looks totally chill with whatever is happening, with complete openness, and his posture is that of relax attentiveness, with the willingness to respond. To me, Avalokiteshvara represents both being completely ok with whatever is happening in experience, where appearances and reality in any form is not only NOT a problem, but they/I/we are innately and equally pure, and he is ready and willing to respond to what is arising.
And this is where Avalokiteshvara is known for compassion, but as Hokai has been teaching me and as I have discovered in practice, there is so much more to compassion itself and how it arises. And for Avalokiteshvara, and when I see these qualities directly in myself, compassion arises spontaneously. If I recognize the purity of phenomena and myself, not in opposition of impurity, but from the very core are not able to be defiled, a deep peace arises, even in the face of suffering or what I might label impure. And not only that, as Cintamani Cakra Avalokiteshvara’s posture indicates, it invokes naturally the quality of responsiveness, not passiveness. Perhaps one thing that has been blowing my meditative mind is slowly recognizing that all of these qualities are ALREADY present all at once, not produced, not arising sequentially in dependence on one another, but as inseparable aspects of my own being. And in my practice, I start as seeing them as separate from myself, but in the course of one sit, I move from their through intimacy until seeing these all arising as once, as me.
And so, each time I pause a moment before taking my seat and practicing with Avalokiteshvara, I sometimes feel a sense of not being ok with things in my life, with myself, and sometimes this is subtle, and sometimes not so subtle. But when I take my seat, I practice relaxing into a deep, natural trust of my experience, and as Hokai told me, I “create a trajectory of fearlessness of trust”. And to me, Avalokiteshvara is ultimately about how I show up in the world off of the cushion, to see everything in my life as an opportunity of deep wisdom and compassion, for deep trust and responsiveness.