Wednesday, October 12, 2016
What does it mean to be merciful? To study this I compared Asian legends about the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin and European legends about Mary, Our Lady and Mother of Mercy. I discovered that many qualities of mercy are present in both the Asian and the European model.
Interestingly, each of these female images of mercy was preceded by a male image with the same characteristics. Although these are frequently presented as feminine characteristics, men also may have or develop them Both Guanyin and Mary are typically dressed in long robes reminiscent of royalty. Both are portrayed as beautiful young women as these two contemporary depictions show.
Both models of mercy are depicted as loving, responsive, compassionate, nurturing, tender, perceptive, supportive, forgiving, encouraging, empathetic, self-aware, joyful, pure, transcendent, immortal, beautiful, promising, blessed, liberating, helping, giving, saving, interceding, protecting and delivering.
While images of Guanyin are most notable for their enormous size, images of Mary are notable for their diversity. The Goddess of Mercy is almost always depicted as an Asian woman standing alone, while the Mother of Mercy is generally depicted as a European woman surrounded by a community of people. The preceding posts illustrate these points.