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BACKGROUND:
Avalokiteshvara
(also known as Kuan-yin, Kannon, or Chenrezig) is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. This bodhisattva appears prominently in many Mahayana Buddhist texts, including the Lotus and Heart Sutras.

Once became a bee. A reference to the Karandavyuha Sutra, a Mahayana Buddhist text commonly accepted as the first scriptural reference to the mantra OM-MANI-PADME-HUM (“Behold! The Jewel in the Lotus”). The sutra probably originated in Kashmir during the 4th or 5th century C.E. and shows the influence of Hindu scriptures (in which Vishnu and Siva also become bees).

To liberate the worms and insects. According to the Karandavyuha Sutra, Avalokiteshvara became a bee so that, through the sound of its buzzing, he could recite the formula Namo Buddhaya Namo Dharmaya Namah Samghaya (“I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha”). Upon hearing this, the worms and insects destroyed the “twenty-peaked false view” of individual existence and achieved rebirth in Sukhavati, the Pure Land.

Varanasi. This city is also known as Benares. Situated on the banks of the Ganges, it is considered holy by Jains, Buddhists, and Hindus. To the latter, it is the most holy city of all. According to Wikipedia, “It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest of India.” Being the axis mundi (world center) of Hindu cosmology, all Hindus are expected to visit Varanasi at least once to pour the ashes of their deceased ancestors into the river.

COMMENTARY:
What kind of bodhisattva is Avalokiteshvara, letting worms and insects into the Pure Land without being reborn as a human being first? Whoever heard of such a thing? Hasn’t he read the sutras? Doesn’t he know there are millions of people in the world up top just dying to get in?

What are we supposed to tell those human beings who want a bugless, wormless Pure Land, that’s what I want to know. What a letdown! What a colossal failure this Compassionate Bodhisattva is!

VERSE:
The Bodhisattva
Has no idea what you mean
By “organic food”—
Don’t you know what you’re eating?

Don’t you know what’s eating you?

Read all the Green Koans.

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