Finding a Forgotten Past Through Kuan Yin

Tulan Ma, from Toronto, recently took the Yoga Journey to gain clarity about a career decision. She also found Kuan Yin as a symbol of a forgotten cultural lineage and a source of strength.

In Life Seals, I drew a picture of three people in a boat and one person swimming. It made me think of my grandmother. She tried to leave Vietnam after the war on a fishing boat. The boat capsized and she didn’t make it.

She was a widow who raised five children, was illiterate and ran a small business selling textiles. She did that all on her own and was someone I really admired.

Culturally I am Chinese but I was born in Vietnam and came to Canada when I was nine. Deities weren’t a part of my upbringing. Yet when we were doing the practice of chanting during the course and we chanted Kuan Yin, it really resonated with me. It allowed me to reflect back on my mother’s Buddhist/Confucianism practices which I wasn’t a part of – and I realized I could draw strength from that.

I was reminded of a picture of my grandmother with my mom where she looks very compassionate; I connect that with Kuan Yin. The emotions I felt were overwhelming and I recognized I tapped into something that I had forgotten. I now feel my grandmother is one of my ancestors looking after me.

I want to learn more about the resiliency of my family and to understand that better. It has been quite a journey of migration from China to Vietnam to Canada and lots has been lost as we assimilated. I hope the inner work I do will help my family and help me accept them the way they are.

When I look at Kuan Yin, she is a maternal image for me – she is someone I can ask for help, ask for compassion. I want to develop my self-compassion so I can have compassion for others.

I didn’t go to the Ashram to find Kuan Yin, yet I found her and now I can draw upon her inspiration and strength.


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