One morning when the Goddess Kwan Yin was a human child, she strolled out beyond the village to the place where the meadow meets the forest. While gathering berries for her breakfast, she met the Bodhisattva, deeply absorbed in walking meditation.
Sensing the sweet savor of enlightenment simply through his body's motion at rest, rest in motion, Kwan Yin approached him with a question. "Sir, I have been searching for someone to tell me why we are here. Can you?"
"I can tell you why I am here," he answered gently. Then he knelt and whispered:
"To sit, to stand, to walk, and to lie down.
These are the four dignities of human life.
If you do these four tasks well,
all else in heaven and earth is accomplished.
No need to pray for a miracle.
Just dwell completely in your body."
A professor from the nearby temple school was walking there too, gathering his thoughts for the next class in Advanced Moral Philosophy. Overhearing the conversation between the Bodhisattva and the girl, he interjected, "Sir, you should instruct this child's soul, not her body. Enlighten her moral character with the great virtues of justice, charity, temperance, and service."
The Bodhisattva replied, "You may teach these abstractions if you like, but I will teach the beauty of mere sitting, standing, walking, lying down."
Indignantly the professor departed. Then the Quiet One asked the child, "Tell me what you did this morning."
She replied, "Lying in my bed, I awoke. Sitting up, I saw the sun at my window. I stood and had a good stretch. Then I walked here."
"Well done, my little friend! And what were you doing as you did these tasks?"
"Sir, I was doing nothing else. Lying down, I was just lying down. Sitting, I was just sitting. Standing up, I enjoyed standing. Walking, I walked with delight."
"Well done." said the Quiet One. "Now I can see that when you stand, you stand like a mountain whose streams nourish the earth, your body as light as a cyclone of butterflies. When you walk, you walk like a well-fed lioness. When you sit, you are a forest in Spring, still yet stirring with unborn blossoms. Lying down, you become a river in a fertile valley. All your future victories rehearse themselves in the calm abiding of your breath. Warrior angels are at ease, yet ready to serve, in the sinews of your flesh."
The child looked at him with eyes so empty and clear, they were as spaces where galaxies whirl. She did not understand what he said, but she understood very well what he meant.
"Now tell me, little friend. Early in the morning, does the sun not rise in your chest?"
"Yes!" she replied.
"And in the evening, does moonlight not pour through your bones like milk into a hollow cup, filling you from belly to crown?"
"Yes!" she replied.
"Well done. Now honor your body till the end of days, when the secret of dust shall be revealed."
"And how, sir, shall I honor this body?"
"Pour one breath into another, letting the sky kiss the earth in your heart, sitting, standing, walking, and reclining with joy. Thus you bring peace to all creatures.