Kanzeon

(The Scripture of) Avalokiteshwara,
the Bodhisattva Who Beholds All

The following rework of the poetry part of chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra is a personal attempt to modernise it. Therefore it should not be considered to be the Sutra proper. It is not my intent to provide an alternative to the Avalokiteshwara Scripture as used within the OBC.

The Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Devotion said:
“World-honoured One, possessor of all grace,
I now ask you for what reason Kanzeon,
Born of the Buddha, is called The One Who beholds
All the world’s sounds and sights?
The Honoured One answered:
“Just listen to the life of the great Bodhisattva,
Who lives by an infinite vow, deep as the ocean,
Perfectly responding to calls from every quarter.
Manifesting the great wish for pure being,
Kanzeon served many thousands of Buddhas,
For inconceivable periods of time;
I will tell you now briefly about this.
When you, alert to Kanzeon’s name and form,
Hold the Bodhisattva steadfast in your heart,
All forms of suffering will dissolve.
When people with minds twisted by hate,
Attempt to push you into a great fire,
Think upon the power of Kanzeon, and
The fire will change into a cool and serene lake.
While drifting in the great ocean’s expanse,
Without compass, a prey for predators of the sea,
Think upon the One Who Hears All,
And you will be safe within the waves.
If men run after you with the lust to rape,
Throw you down and threaten you with knives,
Think upon the power of Kanzeon
And like the sun you will remain aloft.
If, chased by terrorists, you are trapped,
Take refuge in the One who hears you call,
And not a single hair of you will be hurt.
If enemies invade and bomb your land,
Just think upon Kanzeon’s great power,
And compassion will flow out to all.
When persecuted by a cruel dictator,
You find yourself at the place of execution,
By turning towards the One Who Beholds all,
The bullets will find no target and do no harm.
If, in prison and bound in chains,
You think upon the great Bodhisattva’s power,
The shackles will at once set you free.
When threatened by poisonous fumes or radiation,
Take refuge in the One who responds to all,
And the poison won’t affect your heart and mind.
If slander or abuse come your way,
Gently abide in Kanzeon’s great power,
And goodwill and clarity will prevail.
When your car crashes or your train derails,
Injuring your body or killing your child,
The One who embraces the world’s suffering,
Is lovingly present with your pain and sorrow.
When snakes and scorpions attack with deadly venom,
Call upon the power of the great Bodhisattva,
And this will turn them all away at once.
When lightning flashes and the thunder rolls,
When hailstones beat and rain pours down in torrents,
The power of Kanzeon, if thought upon,
Will quickly clear the heavens of the storm.
Struck by cruel disaster or tortured by endless pain,
Flee to the gentle arms of the Compassionate One,
Who, wise and full of wondrous power,
Sees you beyond all worldly grief and care.
Deeply knowing and skilfully caring for all,
Kanzeon appears in all quarters of the world;
In every time and place without exception.
All distorted ways of living,
All the hells, spirit-worlds and animal realms,
And all realms where there is the suffering
Of birth, old age, illness and death,
Will finally completely be dissolved.
Kanzeon sees the world as it truly is,
Undistorted and in great clarity,
Infinitely knowing all,
Intimately being with all, loving all.
Keep Kanzeon’s vow constantly in your heart,
Always look up, look up to This –
Unblemished and clear luminosity,
This sun of wisdom, which banishes all darkness,
And puts to rest the destructive force of wind and fire;
This all-illuming bright light fills the whole world.
The compassionate body of Precepts is like thunder,
The wonder of loving-kindness is like a great cloud,
Which pours down the sweet dew of Dharma-rain,
Extinguishing the blazing flames of burning hearts.
Threatened by litigation or court judgements,
Or oppressed in a concentration camp,
Turn towards the compassion of Kanzeon,
And all hatred will be wholly dispersed.
The Beholder of the world has a wondrous voice,
The voice of the skies, the earth and the sea;
May we always listen to this voice,
Which excels all other voices of the world.
Do not doubt but always bear in mind
The presence of the pure one, who holds the world,
Who protects in all pain, grief and death,
And is a true refuge;
Who is endowed with every kind of goodness
And beholds all beings within the eye of love.
So let us in deep veneration bow and open
To this infinite sea of full and joyous peace.

Thereupon Bodhisattva Holder of the Earth rose from his seat, stepped forward and said: “World-Honoured One, they who hear about the Bodhisattva who points at that ‘being’, which is naturally present, and who shows that all things offer a gateway to the Truth, have no small amount of merit.”

Then the Buddha finished preaching this chapter on the Dharma-gate of all things, and all 84.000 listeners opened their mind to the perfect enlightenment with which nothing in the universe compares.