One Thousand Hands of Compassion and Eyes of Wisdom is a non-traditional mandala inspired by the legend of Avalokiteshvara. As I have heard the story, the noble bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, a disciple of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni 2,500 years ago, vowed to become enlightened only after he helped all other sentient beings achieve enlightenment. At the same time he placed a curse on himself, that if he should ever have any doubt, may he explode into many pieces. One day, while Avalokiteshvara was gazing out upon the vast number of suffering beings, he became the slightest bit discouraged and shattered.
Since all the Buddhas and other bodhisattvas knew how truly heroic and loving Avalokiteshvara was, they reassembled him, but with one-thousand arms and an eye in each hand. The idea being, if our two arms and hands enable us to help others, with one thousand we could help many more. With eyes we can see those that need assistance and the best way to help them. Together, hands and eyes represent the union of wisdom with compassion, or the union of an open mind and open heart.
Throughout the world, in many different cultures and religions, mandalas have embodied different forms of artistic expression and been used as tools for spiritual development. Mandala, literally circle in Sanskrit, is interpreted as being a representation of the spiritual universe. In North America, mandalas are used by native people in the form of ceremonial sand paintings and medicine wheels, while in Europe, pagan walking labyrinths and Christian cathedral rose windows are forms of mandalas intended to enable communion with the divine. In Asia, especially in Indo-Tibetan Buddhist paintings and sand drawings, mandalas are created to achieve higher states of consciousness.
This mandala, created with oils and acrylics on canvas, includes exactly one-thousand hands and eyes arranged in concentric circles. The overall design suggests a blooming lotus flower, which also signifies wisdom and awakening in the Buddhist tradition.
Prints of this image are available.
All proceeds benefit humanitarian aid projects in Tibet, Nepal and India.