Sunday Inspiration: Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy


If you’re just beginning my Goddesses Anonymous series, you might wonder where the title “Goddesses Anonymous” comes from.

In One Mountain Away, the first book of the series, Charlotte Hale, the major character, tells her minister Analiese Wagner how meaningful the legend of the Buddhist goddess Kwan Yin has become to her.

In Somewhere Between Luck and Trust, the second book, which arrives at bookstores this week, Charlotte’s friends, who call themselves goddesses anonymous in her honor and who together support and maintain the Goddess House in the mountains above Asheville, North Carolina, have willingly, purposefully taken on the mission of Kwan Yin, by reaching out to women who need their help.

But what of Kwan Yin, herself, who is often referred to as the female Buddha and whose name is spelled many ways in many cultures? Although the stories about her life differ widely, many have noted her resemblance to Mary, the mother of Jesus, to whom many people pray for assistance and mercy. Others say that in some ways Kwan Yin brings to mind the goddess Isis, of Greco-Roman empire and Egypt, or Goddess Hariti of ancient India. What we do know for certain is that in  many religions a compassionate woman who ministers tirelessly to those in need is a  powerful symbol of femininity, and hope.

In one popular version of the legend, used in my novels, Kwan Yin was a beautiful Indian princess who refused marriage and wealth to live in a convent so that she could become an enlightened human being. In that way her life story is much like that of the historical Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama. Both struggled to become merciful, spiritual beings, who sought to alleviate mankind’s sufferings.

After a difficult life Kwan Yin had earned the right to enter Buddhist Heaven or “Nirvana”, but the story says that at Heaven’s gates she heard the cries of the suffering back on earth. She turned around and came back, vowing to stay and serve mankind until there was no more suffering.

Kwan Yin’s name means “The one who hears the cries of the world.”

So many women in so many faiths, nations and cultures have taken on the goal set by Kwan Yin. Their lives are the greatest inspiration of all.

Thanks to for this image of Mother Teresa, whose mercy was a beacon in our time. The billboards are always such a joy to see on a long stretch of highway and a reminder of what each of us can achieve despite every obstacle.


  1. Koten Benson on June 17, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    There is now a shrine to Kwan Yin where prayers can be made and incense offered in Lytton B.C. Canada:

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