A Note About Our Name
Why Chenrezig? Chenrezig is the Tibetan name of (and translation of the Sanskrit) Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, the very embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas. His mantra, OM MANI PEME HUNG, is the most popularly recited of all mantras in Tibetan Buddhist practice.
Avalokiteshvara (or Chenrezig), also sometimes referred to as the Holder of the White Lotus, is the earthly manifestation of the self born, eternal Buddha, Amitabha. He is believed to guard this world in the interval between the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, and the Buddha of the Future, Maitreya.
According to legend, a very long time ago Chenrezig made a a vow that he would not rest until he had liberated all the beings in all the realms of suffering, or Samsara. After working diligently at this task for a very long time, he looked out and realized the immense number of suffering beings yet to be saved. Seeing this, he became despondent and his head split into thousands of pieces. Amitabha Buddha put the pieces back together as a body with many arms and many heads, so that Chenrezig could work to alleviate the suffering of myriad beings, all at the same time. Today, Chenrezig is therefore sometimes visualized with eleven heads, and a thousand arms fanned out around him, for this purpose. Other legends hold that from Chenrezig's sorrow, a tear was shed, and from that tear was born Green Tara, the female Buddha, who in that moment vowed to rescue all beings from suffering, and Samsara.
The Bodhisattva Chenrezig is beloved and revered by Buddhists throughout the world. He is known by different names in different lands; as Avalokiteshvara in the ancient Sanskrit language of India, as Kuan-yin in China, and as Kannon in Japan. Chenrezig is considered the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet, and his meditation is practiced in all the great lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is held by many to be a reincarnation of the previous 13 Dalai Lamas of Tibet (the first having been born in 1351 A.D.) and indeed considered to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig. Thus His Holiness is recognized by many to be a manifestation of Chenrezig, indeed the seventy-fourth such manifestation, in a lineage that can be traced back to a Brahmin boy who lived at the time of Buddha Shakyamuni.
Our acknowledgments and gratitude to the Official Website of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, and the website Dharma-Haven, for their presentations of much of the information restated above, and, to our Rinpoche, whose hand drew the name of our center, in Tibetan, above and at the very top of this and every page on our site.