and closer till I was standing before this bodhisattva of compassion. I could have sworn that his chest then gently inflated. It was as if my brain could not comprehend how such a beautiful body with such a gentle face could not actually be alive. So my brain ‘saw’ this 11th-century wooden statue breathe.
When I visited this Guanyin again recently, I spotted a student sitting on the floor in the corner, staring. When I mentioned the bit about the statue having seemed to breathe on my last visit, he did not bat an eye. “Yeah, I can see how that might happen. Your attention goes immediately to his chest,” he said, his eyes on Guanyin. As I left the gallery, I cast one last look back to take with me as much as I could without setting off the alarm.