Just as the previous Arcanum revealed how inner-equilibrium is attained (through Vajradhara’s Vajra and Ghanta), the presentation of the Arcanum Justice reveals how this equilibrium, once reached, is maintained. Justice also determines how all of us are judgement makers:

Because to pronounce judgement with respect to anything whatsoever amounts to an action having as its aim the finding of justice. It is not only the judges at tribunals who judge; everyone judges in the degree to which he thinks. All of us, in so far as we are thinking beings, are judges. Because every problem, every question that we try to resolve, gives way in reality to a session for our inner tribunal, where the “pros and cons” are confronted and weighed before judgement is pronounced. We are all judges, good or bad; we are so, and we exercise the functions of a judge almost unceasingly from morning ’til night. Nevertheless, it is one thing to judge and another thing to condemn.

One judges phenomena and actions, but one cannot judge beings as such. Because to do so would exceed the competence of the judgement of thought. Therefore one should not judge beings, because they are inaccessible to the judgement of thought which is founded only on phenomenal experience. Thus, negative judgement concerning beings, or their condemnation, is in reality impossible. (MOTT)

This salient truth was once illuminated in a Tozen teaching on Karma:

There is no god with the power to ultimately judge your actions without itself paying the price for such an action first by distress and later by rebirth.

Every mind is ultimately its own judge and regulator. This is the nature of the law. When we speak of karma we cannot point at a certain point of a beings evolution and say, “look what evil it does, it deserves the pain that has or may fall upon it”.

If I were to bring forth your own karma, I would be able to show you the most incredible atrocities you have committed in the name of desire, greed, fear, pride and other forms of self-ignorance.

When you look at another being you most probably see a person and nothing else. Thus you should be careful in judging the actions of others before you know the precise karma behind their present being and actions caused by that formation.

Walking hand in hand with Justice is Compassion—for Compassion dictates that we should not judge ourselves or another in the first place. Within Buddhism the Bodhisattva, Avalokiteshvara, is at once both Lord of Compassion and Lord of Justice. He (She) has a very long and varied spiritual career, as witnessed in the following synopsis:

Avalokiteshvara is a high-level bodhisattva (“enlightenment being”) in Mahayana Buddhist tradition, expressing the important element of compassion in the Dharma teachings. His name means “Lord who looks down [and hears the cries of the world]”. He was popular in India until the twelfth century, when Muslim invaders expelled Buddhists…

Tibetan Vajrayana tradition regards him as a Buddha. They developed many variations on his imagery, some with many faces or many arms. They see the ultimate source of his tradition as the universal manifestation of compassion itself. Some see the Dalai Lama as an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, also named Chenrezig.

The earliest text about his teachings is the Lotus Sutra, Chap. 25, “The Universal Gateway of Avilokateshvara Bodhisattva” (Lotus). Here he is the savior of those who suffer dangers such as fire and shipwreck, beating or robbery. Wholeheartedly chanting the name of Avalokiteshvara will save those facing danger: “Homage to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara” and respectful meditation on Avalokiteshvara will free one from desires, anger, or confusion.

Thus, Avalokiteshvara displays such qualities, wanders through many lands in various forms, and saves sentient beings…

The Heart Sutra:

Once when the Buddha himself entered the meditative state of Profound Illumination, the Noble Avalokiteshvara answered seekers’ questions about ultimate reality. He taught that ultimately the material world (the five aggregates – earth, water, fire, air, and space) and our human egos are transitory, and so are ultimately unreal, or “empty”, of substantial Being. Avalokiteshvara says “The five aggregates themselves are empty by nature. . . Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. … In the same way, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness, are empty. … There is no appearance, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no phenomena. There is no ignorance, no cessation of ignorance . . . no old age and death, no cessation of old age and death. “Since there is no ignorance, there is no cessation of ignorance, because something that does not exist cannot cease. Likewise, there is no suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no path”.

[We could also note here that Avalokiteshvara is the very Lord of the Six Paramitas themselves, inclusion mine]:

Six perfections emerge from Avalokiteshvara’s compassion: giving (material possessions, security, and spiritual teachings), ethics (avoiding harm, keeping vows), patience (responding to aggression with love), diligence (maintaining meditative practice to keep compassion present), concentration (calmly focusing on love, not being easily distracted), and perfection of wisdom (knowing that the ego and its desires are earthly conventions, not ultimate reality).


When Buddhism was taken to China during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), Avalokiteshvara was translated into “Guanyin” with the same meaning “Lord who looks down [and hears the cries of the world]”

She retained Avalokiteshvara’s savior archetype; like him, she was portrayed as responding immediately to sincere cries for help from people in desperate situations.

Now Guanyin (also known as Kannon and other names across Asia) is a very popular uniquely Chinese goddess who synthesizes Buddhist, Daoist, Confucian, and indigenous shamanic elements.


Mahayana Buddhism connects Avalokiteshvara with the six-syllable mantra: Om mani padme hum. People in Tibet especially recite this mantra frequently with prayer beads (Avalokiteshvara).

(Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion)

Lord Avalokiteshvara and Integrity walk hand in hand as we cannot separate works of Compassion from the very mantle of Justice. One can discern within one’s own life that freedom is non extant when judging according to personality or disposition; but one is rightfully so when one judges and acts according to that necessary balance of Compassion. In light of this it is best to invoke Avalokiteshvara’s aid whenever and wherever such situations are present.

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2 Responses to Justice-Avalokiteshvara

  1. Scott says:

    Hi Vajrayogoni

    Got to say I am loving this series on the Tarot through a Zen Buddhist lens. Just brilliant on so many levels. I once had a Thoth ~ Crowley/Harris deck many decades ago in another life and used it strictly for meditation and personal divination purposes. Very interesting topic indeed.

    Thanks so much for yet another brilliant teaching! I look forward to the remainder of your profoundly beautiful set.


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