Meaning of Kannongyo

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Tatsuo
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Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by Tatsuo »

The Kannongyo is one of the most popular chapters in the Lotus Sutra. Even though the text seems quite straightforward, the actual meaning is not that clear to me. I do not think that traditional exegetes understood the miraculous examples of Kannons intervention to be literal. Or did they? If it is not a literal description of Kannons power, then what does it mean?
In verse Mujinni Bodhisattva asked,
“World Honored One possessor of all grace
For what reason is the heir of the Buddha named Kanzeon?”

The World Honored One answered too in verse:
“Listen to the actions of Kanzeon
Which have their application to all!
Her vow is deep like the ocean
Unfathomable though kalpas pass
A myriad of Buddhas she has truly served
And made a great, pure vow.
If you hear her name and see her body,
and bear her in mind,
Your life will not be in vain;
And you will end all sufferings.
If someone wants to hurt you
And pushes you into a great firepit,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The firepit will change into a pond.
If you’re cast adrift upon the vast ocean
And meet danger from dragons, fish and demons,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The waves will not drown you.
If from the peak of Sumeru
Someone would push you down
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Like the sun you will stand firm in the sky.
If evil ones chase you
And push you from Mount Diamond,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Not even a single hair will be harmed.
If robbers surround you
Each with a sword drawn to strike,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Compassion will awaken in them.
If you suffer by royal command
And your life is to end in execution,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The sword will be broken to bits.
If you are imprisoned,
Shackled, and chained,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The fetters will drop and you’ll be released.
If someone wants to injure you
With curses or poison,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
These ills will return from whence they came.
If you meet evil rakshas,
Poisonous dragons or demons,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
They will not dare to harm you.
If you are surrounded by evil beasts
Whose teeth and claws are fearfully sharp,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
They will run away in boundless retreat.
If vipers, lizards, snakes or scorpions,
Threaten to scorch you with poisonous breath
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
They will turn away quickly at the sound
of your voice.
If clouds thunder and lightning flashes,
If hailstones beat and rain pours down,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Immediately they will vanish away.
If sentient beings are in great adversity
And immeasurable suffering presses them down,
The wonderful power of the wisdom of Kannon can relieve the sufferings of the world.
Endowed with transcendent powers
Full master of wisdom and skillful means,
In all the worlds in the ten directions,
There’s no place she doesn’t manifest herself.
The suff’rings of those in the troubled states:
Hell dwellers, hungry spirits, and beasts;
The sufferings of birth, old age, illness and death all by degrees are ended by her.
She of the true gaze, she of the pure gaze,
gaze of great and encompassing wisdom,
gaze of pity, gaze of compassion—
ever longed for, ever revered.
She is a spotless pure ray of light,
A sun of wisdom dispelling darkness.
Subduer of woes of storm and fire
Illumining all the world.
Her will of compassion shakes like thunder;
Her mind of mercy is like a great cloud
Which sends down sweet dew of Dharma rain to quench the flames of earthly desires.
In disputes before judges or in the midst of battle,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
All enemies will flee away.
She has a wondrous voice,
The voice of one who perceives the world,
A brahma voice, voice of the rolling tide,
A voice unsurpassed in all this world;
Therefore you should always think on her.
Have no doubt, even for a moment
The pure seer Kanzeon will be a refuge
When suffering distress or the misery of death. She is endowed with every quality.
Her eye of compassion views all sentient beings, her ocean of blessings is beyond measure. Therefore you should pay homage to her.”

Then Jiji bodhisattva arose,
Stood before the Buddha and addressed him thus:
“World Honored One, they who hear this scripture
Of Kanzeon bosatsu, and hear of her deeds
And transcendent powers,
No small amount of merit will they gain.”

When the Buddha taught the scripture of the life and work of the All-Sided One, all present then in number eighty-four thousand strong, with all their hearts cherished a longing for the Supreme Enlightenment, with which nothing in all the universe compares.

https://torontozen.org/chants_sutras.html#LS

南無阿弥陀佛
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Queequeg
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by Queequeg »

One might suggest that St. Jude is an avatar of Kanzeonbosatsu, the bodhisattva of lost causes.

I've always taken the promises to be literal. The power of faith is difficult to achieve, but I believe it is real.
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta
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LastLegend
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Location: Northern Virginia

Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by LastLegend »

Tatsuo wrote: Sun May 03, 2020 11:23 am The Kannongyo is one of the most popular chapters in the Lotus Sutra. Even though the text seems quite straightforward, the actual meaning is not that clear to me. I do not think that traditional exegetes understood the miraculous examples of Kannons intervention to be literal. Or did they? If it is not a literal description of Kannons power, then what does it mean?
In verse Mujinni Bodhisattva asked,
“World Honored One possessor of all grace
For what reason is the heir of the Buddha named Kanzeon?”

The World Honored One answered too in verse:
“Listen to the actions of Kanzeon
Which have their application to all!
Her vow is deep like the ocean
Unfathomable though kalpas pass
A myriad of Buddhas she has truly served
And made a great, pure vow.
If you hear her name and see her body,
and bear her in mind,
Your life will not be in vain;
And you will end all sufferings.
If someone wants to hurt you
And pushes you into a great firepit,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The firepit will change into a pond.
If you’re cast adrift upon the vast ocean
And meet danger from dragons, fish and demons,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The waves will not drown you.
If from the peak of Sumeru
Someone would push you down
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Like the sun you will stand firm in the sky.
If evil ones chase you
And push you from Mount Diamond,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Not even a single hair will be harmed.
If robbers surround you
Each with a sword drawn to strike,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Compassion will awaken in them.
If you suffer by royal command
And your life is to end in execution,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The sword will be broken to bits.
If you are imprisoned,
Shackled, and chained,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
The fetters will drop and you’ll be released.
If someone wants to injure you
With curses or poison,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
These ills will return from whence they came.
If you meet evil rakshas,
Poisonous dragons or demons,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
They will not dare to harm you.
If you are surrounded by evil beasts
Whose teeth and claws are fearfully sharp,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
They will run away in boundless retreat.
If vipers, lizards, snakes or scorpions,
Threaten to scorch you with poisonous breath
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
They will turn away quickly at the sound
of your voice.
If clouds thunder and lightning flashes,
If hailstones beat and rain pours down,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
Immediately they will vanish away.
If sentient beings are in great adversity
And immeasurable suffering presses them down,
The wonderful power of the wisdom of Kannon can relieve the sufferings of the world.
Endowed with transcendent powers
Full master of wisdom and skillful means,
In all the worlds in the ten directions,
There’s no place she doesn’t manifest herself.
The suff’rings of those in the troubled states:
Hell dwellers, hungry spirits, and beasts;
The sufferings of birth, old age, illness and death all by degrees are ended by her.
She of the true gaze, she of the pure gaze,
gaze of great and encompassing wisdom,
gaze of pity, gaze of compassion—
ever longed for, ever revered.
She is a spotless pure ray of light,
A sun of wisdom dispelling darkness.
Subduer of woes of storm and fire
Illumining all the world.
Her will of compassion shakes like thunder;
Her mind of mercy is like a great cloud
Which sends down sweet dew of Dharma rain to quench the flames of earthly desires.
In disputes before judges or in the midst of battle,
If you think on the power of Kanzeon
All enemies will flee away.
She has a wondrous voice,
The voice of one who perceives the world,
A brahma voice, voice of the rolling tide,
A voice unsurpassed in all this world;
Therefore you should always think on her.
Have no doubt, even for a moment
The pure seer Kanzeon will be a refuge
When suffering distress or the misery of death. She is endowed with every quality.
Her eye of compassion views all sentient beings, her ocean of blessings is beyond measure. Therefore you should pay homage to her.”

Then Jiji bodhisattva arose,
Stood before the Buddha and addressed him thus:
“World Honored One, they who hear this scripture
Of Kanzeon bosatsu, and hear of her deeds
And transcendent powers,
No small amount of merit will they gain.”

When the Buddha taught the scripture of the life and work of the All-Sided One, all present then in number eighty-four thousand strong, with all their hearts cherished a longing for the Supreme Enlightenment, with which nothing in all the universe compares.

https://torontozen.org/chants_sutras.html#LS
Kanzeon is not a Bodhisattva in training but a complete Buddha who has perfected all skillful means to liberate sentient beings who still do Bodhisattva work because of vows. Her vows are infinite as her merits and wisdom. Such skillful means are not known or understood by Bodhisattvas in training.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Tatsuo
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by Tatsuo »

Thank you for your replies. Maybe the sutra and exegetical traditions do understand the promises to be literal. In this case there should be hagiographic accounts confirming the validity of these promises and encouraging practitioners to "think on the power of Kanzeon" in times of need. If anyone knows these texts, please share.

Is it really the case, that Kannon is considered a Samyaksambuddha and not a Bodhisattva in training? Can you give quotes for this?

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LastLegend
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by LastLegend »

Okay for you only. I had to dig.

The Buddha said: "This Bodhisattva is called Avalokitesvara, the Unrestricted One, also called Nipping a Lariat, also called A Thousand Bright Eyes. Virtuous man, this Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has unimaginable mighty and holy powers. Uncountable kalpas before, he had already been a Buddha named True Dharma Brightness Tathagata. Because of the power of his great compassionate vows, and in order to call upon all Bodhisattvas to comfort and please all living beings, he appears as a Bodhisattva. All of you, including the Bodhisattvas, Brahmas, Gods of the 33 heavens, dragons, and divinities, should show respect to him, do not despise him. All heavenly and human beings should constantly make offerings to him and recite his name absorbedly, then they will get infinite blessings and eliminate countless sins, and at the end of their lives, they will be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha."
https://huntingtonarchive.org/resources ... ra.doc.pdf

Page 17
Great Compassion Dharani Sutra
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
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Tatsuo
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by Tatsuo »

Great! Thank you LastLegend! I didn't know that. Maybe it's not emphasized in the schools I practiced.

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LastLegend
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by LastLegend »

Tatsuo wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 6:11 am Great! Thank you LastLegend! I didn't know that. Maybe it's not emphasized in the schools I practiced.
Kannon has her method of ‘nature of hearing’ for practice as well. She reacts very quickly to sentient beings who are in danger when calling her name as most ancient Bodhisattvas/Buddhas. Just like her vows, we too can aspire to make such vows.
Make personal vows.

End of the day: I don’t know.
jmlee369
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by jmlee369 »

Tatsuo wrote: Fri May 08, 2020 8:29 pm Thank you for your replies. Maybe the sutra and exegetical traditions do understand the promises to be literal. In this case there should be hagiographic accounts confirming the validity of these promises and encouraging practitioners to "think on the power of Kanzeon" in times of need. If anyone knows these texts, please share.

Is it really the case, that Kannon is considered a Samyaksambuddha and not a Bodhisattva in training? Can you give quotes for this?
There are many collections of accounts from past to present of people receiving the benefits of calling on Avalokitesvara. This genre of writing is called 感應錄 (Records of efficacious response) in Chinese, 영험담 [靈驗談] (Discussions of spiritual experiences) in Korean. There was a 20th century Korean seon master (unfortunately I cannot recall the name) who decided to test the truth of the verse that says through the power of being mindful of Avalokitesvara a pit of fire will transform into a pool, i.e. one will not be burnt. He built a pyre, climbed on top of it, set it alight and sat in meditation reciting Avalokitesvara's name. As the fire built up around him, he remained untouched. However, as soon as the thought "Oh, the fire isn't burning me" arose, it broke his samadhi and he was burnt.

As for the status of Avalokitesvara as a Buddha, the Lotus Sutra already gives a hint of this. First in the list of manifestations Avalokitesvara can take is the form of Buddha. LastLegend has already provided the more direct sutra citation. The real identity of Avalokitesvara as a Buddha is better known in Chinese Buddhism because of this commonly recited praise of Avalokitesvara that appears in the Great Compassion Repentance:
南無過去正法明如來現前觀世音菩薩成妙功德具大慈悲於一身心現千手眼照見法界護持眾生令發廣大道心教持圓滿神咒永離惡道得生佛前無間重愆纏身惡疾莫能救濟悉使消除三昧辯才現生求願皆令果遂決定無疑能使速獲三乘早登佛地威神之力歎莫能窮故我一心歸命頂禮
NAMO the former Thus Come One Light of Proper Dharma, the present Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva, perfect in miraculous merit, complete in great compassion. Who in a single body and mind manifests a thousand hands, a thousand eyes, who illumines and looks upon the dharma realm and protects and upholds living beings and causes them to bring forth the great mind of the way, who teaches them to hold the perfect spiritual mantra. To leave forever the evil paths, and to be reborn at the time of a Buddha. Grave offenses which deserve the uninterrupted hells and evil ills which bind the body, from which no one can be saved or extricated, are caused to melt away. Samadhi, eloquence, and whatever is sought in this present life, are all brought to accomplishment. There is no doubt whatever that the three vehicles can be quickly attained and that the ground of the Buddhas can soon be reached. No one can exhaust the praises of his awesome spiritual might. Therefore with one mind I return my life in worship.
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Tatsuo
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by Tatsuo »

Thank you for your detailed reply, jmlee369! I'll try to find out more about this genre of Buddhist writings and about this Seon master. That quote is really clear on Avalokitesvara's identity as a Buddha. Amazing I didn't come across this before. Thank you!

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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by Soma999 »

This is certainly very good to recite the chapter which reminds the vast ocean of goodness of the Buddha. It generates so much radiance, benevolence and power, and the whole universe love this offering. It is an universal offering, and there is always someone who benefit and need this chapter to be recited.It awakens to the vast mind of benevolence. It connects to those powerful aspirations. It connects to this infinite light which can transforms your destiny.

By reciting it, contemplating it, aspiring to align and connect to this expression of wisdom mind, faith will build. As you let this vast and immense benevolence fill you and radiates through you, it will bring many benefits.

Concerning the question : should it be understood as a metaphor, i will use an exemple taken from india.

It is said through Rama, an hindu expression of divinity, one can perform anything, like lighting a candle with water.

It looks metaphor, of course. Still, a great saint, Sai Baba of Shirdi, has been observed... lighting candle with water (among many other miracles).

But as we are not those kind of beings, we do our best, and don’t act foolishly. If you enter fire while chanting, praying you will burn yourself and it will be 100 % your fault. But if the fire of anger consume you and sincerly you pray, chant and take refuge, from all your heart, the fire will calm down. But we have to really be sincere and perseverant.

Some miracles are possible also. We never know when grace comes.

Hope it helps.
jmlee369
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by jmlee369 »

Tatsuo wrote: Wed May 20, 2020 9:48 am Thank you for your detailed reply, jmlee369! I'll try to find out more about this genre of Buddhist writings and about this Seon master. That quote is really clear on Avalokitesvara's identity as a Buddha. Amazing I didn't come across this before. Thank you!
As much as I tried, I couldn't find the name of the Seon master online, so I must have come across the story in a book somewhere.

In terms of stories of efficacious responses, I happened to have this one typed up somewhere else:

The late Master Boseong (1928-2019) offers the example of former Korean Minister for Justice Hong Jin-Ki and Chief of Public Security Lee Gang-Hak who were both sentenced to death, along with two others, in the aftermath of the May 16 1961 coup. To save their sons, the mothers of these two men both undertook recitation practice. The mother of Lee Gang-hak vowed not to sleep nor eat and chanted Pindola-bharadvaja’s name day and night with prostrations for seven days following Master Boseong’s advice. The mother of Hong Jin-Ki secluded herself in her room and spent seven days constantly chanting Avalokitesvara’s name without even drinking water on her own initiative. This strong determination, risking even their own lives, led to the death sentences being commuted to life imprisonment. They served only a few years of their sentences before being released. Interestingly enough, Hong Jin-Ki went on to became the father in law and mentor to the chairman of Samsung Group, Lee Kun-hee. Samsara sure can be a wild ride, from high society to death row and back even in one lifetime.
SilenceMonkey
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by SilenceMonkey »

The Lotus Sutra has a miraculous quality of inspiring faith in the faithful. I chanted Lotus Sutra for months, and experienced this!

I know quite a few practitioners in taiwan who have stories about how Guanyin saved them. So many people have these stories, it's crazy.
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Re: Meaning of Kannongyo

Post by Caoimhghín »

LastLegend wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 2:24 am[...] Buddha named True Dharma Brightness Tathagata [...]
jmlee369 wrote: Wed May 20, 2020 9:17 am [...] 正法明如來 [...]
Thus Come One Light of Proper Dharma
Saddharmapradīpa Tathāgata, Shōbōmyō Nyorai, Zhèngfǎmíng Rúlái.

Beautiful names.
savi saghara aṇica di, savi saghara dukha di, savi dhama aṇatva di:
yada paśadi cakhkṣuma tada nivinadi dukha eṣo mago viśodhia.

"All formations are inconstant," he said.
"All formations are stressful," he said.
"All phenomena are selfless," he said.
When one sees this, one becomes adverse to stress, and this is the path of purity.

(Gāndhārī Dharmapada fragments)
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