Today I was asked about the image of '1000 Arm Kannon' thst appeared with the netcast. I think everyone knows, but just in case: The Bodhisattva Kannon stands for Compassion and Mercy, as central to our Buddhist Practice as Wisdom. With her 1000 arms, she is said to reach out to alleviate suffering wherever found.
Do I really believe that '1000 Arm Kannon' exists? Well, wherever in the world there is an act of mercy, and wherever each of us reaches out with our two arms to someone to lend a hand, I believe that Compassion exists right there. When we bring our human hearts of Compassion into the universe, the universe contains Compassion. In that way, I believe that Kannon is real (at least, as a symbol) when we make Compassion real by what we do.
But I also believe that Santa Claus exists in much the same way, as the spirit of giving (I mean, I REALLY DO believe that Santa exists in that way).
Now, whether that is a "projection of mind" or something "external" to us in the universe. That may be kind of a 'chicken or the egg' argument. Dogen was of the view that mind/body/universe were not divisible that way, and "inside" "outside" are matters of perspective.
And if there is literally a Kannon with 1000 arms, I will fetch wood and chop water, and if not, fetch chop and wood water.