Nio - Guardian
The Lotus Sutra makes it clear that Kannon is limitless like the ocean and can take any form necessary to assist us - be it that of a Loving Mother or that of a fierce guardian Nio. Furthermore, Kannon is the source of all courage and fearlessness and in that manifestation is represented as the Almighty muscular Guardian Nio that can be found at the gates of the biggest temples of Japan including Zenkoji, Shittenoji, Sensoji, Sanjusangendo and Koya-san as well as China's Luoyang Grottoes and Shaolin Temple -- where the warrior monks would gain special powers when meditating on Nio-Kannon and were so formidable that a mere 13 monks were able to take on an entire army in battle. Similarly Samurai armour and helmets were inspired by images of Nio while swords often had images of Nio carved on the hilt along with inscriptions "Have no fear for I the Almighty God am with you". From a scientific perspective, when one meditates on an all-powerful all-muscular archetype, one cultivates great power within them which is why martial artists and athletes have a special connection to Nio-Kannon.
In the Amida Sutra it says that Nio the Almighty has all the powers of Kannon and that is why in Japan and China, we often worship the Trinity of Amida the Savior, Kannon the Protector and Nio the Almighty as a way to attract Hope, Faith and Courage/ Determination. In such trinities, Nio is called Seishi and dressed up in robes like Kannon - however when the robes come off and Nio gets ready for battle, He assumes the muscular warrior form of Nio. Nio can also be seen in the oldest statues of Gandhara which show Him guarding the Buddha Himself. Nio is often seen as a Pair of Guardians that together represent the holiest mantra in all of Buddhism and Hinduism - OM - which is the primordial sound of the universe. Nio's striking imagery reminds us to be tough and disciplined in the pursuit of our goals and praying to Nio brings us Divine protection plus inner power from within.
The mantra for Nio is Namo Nio Kannon and Om Vajrapani Hum in Sanskrit. While Kannon and Amida are universally worshiped, Nio is popular more with Samurai and Shaolin warriors as well as advanced practitioners. Nio is the embodiment of resilience, fortitude, heroism and fearlessness and connecting with Nio is tapping in to the very source of persistence.
Shaolin & Samurai worship Kannon in the form of Nio - the all-muscular, Almighty Source of Fearlessness!
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