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Thangka Gallery

Buddhist legend, the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara vowed to liberate all beings from suffering, but when he realized the magnitude of his task, his head exploded into countless pieces. His body was then reassembled by the Buddha Amitabha and the bodhisattva Vajrapani - the "wielder of the thunderbolt" into this omniscient form, with eleven heads and a thousand arms. Each of Avalokiteshvara's hand displays an All Seeing Eye, symbolizing the union of wisdom and skillful means. The first two hands hold a wish fulfilling gem, a symbol of the deepest powers of the human psyche. The next five hold a lotus, a bow, a vase, a rosary, and a wheel. The eighth holds an arrow in the open palmed gesture generosity. An archetype of boundless compassion, Avalokiteshvara's multiple rows of heads are crowned by the fierce blue face of Vajrapani and the red face of Amitabha symbols, respectively, of uncompromising compassion and the boundless light of the awakened mind. Buddhist tradition speaks of two levels of Bodhichitta, or compassionate mind. On the relative level, compassion consists of intentional acts of kindness. On an absolute level, Bodhichitta requires a total recognition of the non dual nature of reality. Abiding in the selflessness of our true nature, compassionate actions occur spontaneously without thought or premeditation, as expressions of enlightened awareness.

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