Kuan-yin Bodhisattva is one of the most enduring members of the Buddhist Pantheon. Across boundaries of land and ocean，he has continued to be the focus of cultic devotion among Buddhists for two millennia,and is perhaps second only to Sakyamuni Buddha in popularity. Ever since the invocation in ancient India of his name，Avalokitasvara in Sanskrit in the Samanta-mukha Section of the Lotus Sutra, he has been known in the Mahayana branch of Buddhism as the embodiment of the supreme virtue of love and compassion. Traces of belief in and worship of thisBodhisattva are found in all regions where Mahayana Buddhism once spread，and are a living practice in East Asian countries today，despite contemporary political，social and economic changes. Kumarajiva (C.E. 406) and Hsuan-tsang (between 645-664)respectively rendered the Sanskrit Avalokitasvara or Avalokitesvara in Chinese as kuan-shih-yin (or in shortened form as kuan-yin) and Kuan-tzu-tsai. While the virtue of love and compassion continued to be praised，hypostatized and depicted in human form for countless ages, the iconographic image of this Bodhisattva rapidly multiplied into varied forms in India through assimilation of Hindu deities.In China, during the latter half of the first millennium，his standard image radically changed from that of an austere male figure to that of an effeminate figure with a maiden-like smile and refined celestial womanhood. Regarding their initial encounter with Kuan-yin，some writers in the West wrote of being "profoundly affected" by the artistic representation of the figure and its enchanting spell.The popularity of the cult of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva is due primarily to the dual virtues that Mahayana Buddhism ascribed to the ideal of this Bodhisattva.Love and compassion constituted his practical virtue，while the insight of Sunyata was his theoretical virtue. The ideal of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva fared well among Mahayana Buddhist followers by attracting their belief and devotion,whether in high or low culture and South or East Asia. The said two virtues, interdependent like the two wheels of a cart，represent the two expedient means or criteria (upaya-kausalya) essential to any Bodhisattva's career. What makes the Bodhisattva's dual virtues unique among all human systems of thought is the very insight of Sunyata (emptiness),the principle that whatever is devoid of its own nature (nihsvabhava).
In this paper，I am concerned with the subject of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva's virtue as invariably expressed in "the vow of self-abnegation for love and compassion toward all sentient beings, especially those in suffering and distress." Because of his vow not to cross to Nirvana, despite his full capacity to do so，Kuan-yin is said to hold mid-stream until all other beings have been successfully rescued and have crossed to the yonder shore. I think that Kuan-yin's virtue as the embodiment of Buddhist love and compassion is the bridge that links human virtue to that of the enlightened and perfected (Buddhas, Tathagatas).This paper has three main points：(1) distinguishing love and compassion of Buddhas from that of humans in terms of non-duality between the agent of love and the recipient; (2) analyzing this principle in reference to the three motivational contexts of love and compassion; (3) evaluating Buddhist love and compassion in terms of perfect communication based on the insight of Sunyata.
I. Love and Compassion in the Four Contemplative Disciplines II. Three Motivational Contexts of Buddhist Love and Compassion III. The Difference of Buddha and Bodhisattva Regarding Love and Compassion IV. The Buddhist Cult of Kuan-yin Bodhisattva and Human Cultures V. Kuan-yin Bodhisattva in the 25th Chapter of the Lotus Sutra VI. Kuan-yin Bodhisattva and the Prajna Heart Sutra VII. Kuan-yin's Love and compassion Based on the Insight of Sunyata VIII. Conclusion