This beautiful statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy lies in Daxiangguo Temple in Kaifeng, Henan, China. Gold-plated, it is a memorial to both propriety and filial piety, two of the great Chinese Confucian virtues. The story below is a combination of the story told by the tour guide and some local conversationalists who were happy to relate the story to me.
Many centuries ago,
An old emperor of China grew very, very ill and saw that his country was suffering as well. Realizing that the country was troubled and needed heavenly assistance, the worried king called out to Buddha and asked for guidance on how to appease the heavens and reclaim the blessings from above.
Buddha responded that the country and its king had done some very wicked things in the past and that now a sacrifice would be required to repair the damage. Buddha asked that the Emperor offer up to the heavens one arm and one eye from someone within his family. If he did so, Buddhas said, the country and emperor would be healed and would live in peace once more.
The Emperor was very saddened and worried, because the only family he had left were his three young daughters. The Princesses though were very concerned about their father and finally convinced him to share what Buddha commanded. Upon hearing of the sacrifice required, the sisters were quite upset.
The eldest daughter went to her father ~ “My king, although I love you and would do anything else that you asked of me, I cannot do this for you. I am a new mother, my baby is still nursing. If I only have one arm and one eye, how could I possibly care for my baby the way a good mother is supposed to?” (more…)