Namo Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa
Michelle at Michelle's Ministry Blog mentioned that she has a tatoo of Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. It reminded me of some funny moments at my daughter's school this year.
I've mentioned before that my daughet goes to a Buddhist elementary school. It is only recently that my daughter has figured out that her principal is actually named Heng Yin not Kuan Yin. Heng Yin Shr is wonderful and if I were to be rescued by a vision of Kuan Yin I suspect it would be someone like her. Might cause some problems with the Dalai Lama though. (The bodhisattva avalokitsvara is known as the goddess Kuan Yin in China, but is typically male in Buddhist tradition and is apparently reincarnated as the Dalai Lama in Tibet).
When my daughter started at the school, my favorite misunderstanding was that she knew the word Buddha but not Buddhist, so any monk or nun was simply a Buddha. My daughter would say "My principal is a Buddha," or "A Buddha visited my class today." She has a classmate name Madison, and when they talk about Medicine Buddha they would always say Madison Budha.
In Spring they celebrated Guan Shi Yin's birth and my daughter started to recite her name more formally "Namo Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa." Namo is to return, Guan Shi Yen is to contemplate the world's sound's (Guan Yin hears the world's sounds and can help you if you call her) and Pu Sa is the Chinese for bodhisattva or enlightened being. The girls a the school will sometimes call Guan Yin Pu Sa if someone gets hurt.
The Chinese Pure Land Buddhism that the girls are learning is rather different from the intellectual, distant and bookish Buddhism that seems especially popular in white California. It has a fully functioning immanence and transcendence and a practical simplicity. There are aspects of the system that I don't agree with, but I think in general they do a good job of being true to their core tradition while still being open to other beliefs.
Heng Sure, a monk from this tradition teaches at the Graduate Theological Union (I'm registered for his Buddhist Christian Dialogues class) and is also a blogger.