The One Who Hears the World

Every Saturday morning at 8:30am, the Priory has the group chanting of The Scripture of Avalokiteswara Bodhisattva (Kanzeon in Japanese, 觀世音 in Chinese, meaning “the One who hears the world”, who embodies the Compassion of all Buddhas.) At this time of “Shelter in Place” due to the pandemic, may the sound of this scripture (chanted by Shasta Abbey choir) and the text here accompany you and support your spiritual practice at home.

In verse, Mujinni Bodhisattva asked,
“World Honored One, possessor of all grace,
What reason is there for the Buddha’s Son,
Great Kanzeon, to thus be addressed?”

The Honored One made answer too in verse,
“Just listen to the life of Kanzeon.
To calls from every quarter He responds;
Of oceanic depth His holy vows.
A myriad Buddhas has He truly served
For ages past beyond the thought of man
And made for aye great vows of purity.

When people hear His name, and see His form,
And think of Him not vainly in their hearts,
All forms of ill, in all the worlds, shall cease.
If, wishing harm, an enemy should try to push another in a fiery pit,
The victim should, on Kanzeon’s great power, think, — and straightway that fiery pit shall be transformed into a cool and silver lake.
If, drifting in the vast great ocean’s foam, — a man should be in danger of his life from monstrous fish or evil beings,
Let him only think on Kanzeon’s great power, — at once the sea will all compassion be.
If, from the top of Sumeru, — a man be hurled down by an enemy’s cruel hand,
Just let him think on Kanzeon’s great power and, — like the sun, he will remain aloft.
If, chased by wicked men, — a man should fall upon a mountain,
Let him think again of Kanzeon’s power — and no injury will e’en a single hair of him sustain.
If, ringed by enemies, — a man should be threatened by them, — all with their swords in hand,
Just let him think on Kanzeon’s great power, — compassion then within their hearts will dwell.
When tyrants persecute a man — and he stands at the place of execution,
Let him only think on Kanzeon’s great power, — the executor’s sword will be broken be.
If, bounded in chains, — in prison, let a man just think on Kanzeon’s great power,
At once the shackles will then set him free.
When poisonous herbs, — or magic, threaten harm,
The power of Kazeon, — if thought upon, — will quickly send the curse back where it came.
If poisonous creatures, — eve ones, should come,
Upon great Kanzeon’s power gently dwell, — straightway those evil ones dispersed will be.
When snakes and scorpions attach a man, — exhaling evil poisons, scorching him,
By dwelling on great Kazeon’s holy power — they will be turned away with shrieks of fear.
When lightening flashes and the thunder rolls, — when hailstones beat and rain in torrents pours,
the power of Kanzeon, — if thought upon, — will quickly clear the heavens of storm.
If, stuck by cruel disaster’s evil hand — or tortured by interminable pain, — a being flees to Kanzeon’s gentle arms,
He, being wise and full of mystic power, will save him from all worldly grief and care.
With all miraculous powers well endowed
And widely skilled in knowledge of all things,
In all the world, in all the quarters,
There is not a place where Kanzeon does not go.
Hells, evil spirits, — beastly creatures, — all the evil ways of living, — all the pain that comes from brith, old age, disease and death
Will, for eternity, all pass away.
Great Kanzeon views all the world in Truth,
Free from defilement, loving, knowing all,
Full of compassion;
He must always be prayed to, — adored for all eternity.
He is a Light pure, — spotless, like the sun,
With wisdom does He darkness all dispel, subverting all effects of wind and fire;
His all-illuming light fills all the world.
As thunder shakes the universe does He control His loving body
And His thought of great compassion, — like a cloud from which a rain of Dharma comes, as nectar, down, — destroys the flames of evil passion all.
When, threatened by court judgements or, in camp, — the military should a man oppress,
Let him but think of Kanzeon’s great power — and all his enemies will be dispersed.
He is a most exquisite Voice, — a Voice that all the world encompasses;
The Voice of Brahma — Voice of oceans — One that all the voices of the world does much excel,
Because of this our thought must always dwell upon Him.
Let us never cherish thoughts of doubt about great Kaozeon
Who is all pure and holy and a refuge true, — protecting in all grief, — in trouble, death, disaster.
He possesses merit all, — regards all things with a compassionate eye and, — like the ocean, — holds within Himself a mass of virtues inestimable,
For this He must for ever be adored.”

Then rose up from his seat Jiji Bosatsu,
To stand before the Buddha, saying thus,
“World Honored One, — they who this Scripture hear of Kanzeon Bosatsu,
Must indeed no small amount of merit gain
For here His life of perfect action is described.
This is the life of One Who, — all endowed with powers all miraculous, appears in all directions.”

When the Buddha thus finished the recitation in the hall
Of this great Scripture which makes clearly plain — the life and work of the All-Sided One,
All people present then, — a great concourse, — in number four and eighty thousand strong,
With all their hearts cherished a longing deep
For the Supreme Enlightenment with which
No thing in all the universe compares.

Whole-heartedly do we recite this Scripture. We offer the merits thereof, candles, flowers, and fruits to Kanzeon, the Great Compassionated Bodhisattva Who is our example. Whenever this Scripture is recited, Great Compassion is with us and we are searching for it within ourselves. We pray for peace in all the world; we pray that evil may be overcome by good; we pray for the peace of this temple and our Sangha, and for the cessation of all disaster in the world.

Homage to all the Buddhas in all worlds
Homage to all the Bodhisattvas in all worlds
Homage to the Scripture of Great Wisdom