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Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo


The Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, or Life Prolonging Ten Line Kannon Sutra, is a part of the Sunday morning service at the zendo I attend, and it is my favorite chant.  It goes like this:

Kan ze on (Kanzeon!)
Na mu butsu (Veneration to the Buddha!)
Yo butsu u in (With Buddha I have origin;)
Yo butsu u en (With Buddha I have affinity;)
Bu po so en (Affinity with Buddha, Dharma, Sangha;)
Jo raku ga jo (Constancy, joy, self, and purity;)
Cho nen kanzeon (Mornings my thought is Kanzeon;)
Bo nen kanzeon (Evenings my thought is Kanzeon;)
Nen nen ju shin ki (Thought after thought arises in mind.)
Nen nen fu ri shin (Thought after thought is not separate from mind.)1

We say it many times, increasing the tempo from crawling to racing.  By the last recitation, we are screaming it.  After the last three syllables are draw out, we roar mightily and then sit still and silent.  It really is quite a dramatic and beautiful chant.  The story goes that a criminal in China, Kao-huang, was sentenced to death and was about to be executed, when Kannon, the bodhisattva of compassion, visited him in his meditation.  He told Kao-huang to recite this sutra one thousand times before the dawn broke on his execution morning.  He did as he was told and was miraculously spared and pardoned by the authorities.  It’s quite a fantastic way to illustrate the power of compassion, and tells of the desperation that sometimes visits us in life.

1Trans. Robert Aitken

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 03.11.2010 5.53 am

    Do you chant in English or Japanese at your Zendo?
    I wrote a short post on what language is used and why we do it.
    I found your site through your comment on Luke’s site where he interviewed Batchelor. (did you buy his book yet?)

    • 05.11.2010 6.04 pm

      We chant in a mixture of Japanese and English, although mostly in Japanese. So are you another ‘Buddhist Atheist’?

  2. 05.11.2010 6.26 pm

    Yes, I am another “Buddhist Atheist” — but I am lazy, unorthodox and confused in my Buddhism and my Atheism. Hell, I could be a Avaita Hindu too but I break their rules and their doctrines also. Damn, if I could only find a home. :-)

    Thank you for commenting on my site. In light of that, do you find it odd to chant in Japanese (and “Classic Buddhist Japanese” at that)? It is as if it is used to give the foreigners a special feeling of holiness. Big time self-delusion!

    • 07.11.2010 1.59 pm

      I too am lazy, unorthodox, and confused. As you can tell I haven’t updated this blog in forever. Perhaps I should, now that you’re reading it! I did it mostly as a personal project, but I’ve been sidetracked by my job (which is a good thing) and my disillusionment with the perspectives of my local teacher. If you’ve heard of the Roshi Shimano controversy, it’s related to that.

      But perhaps our home is our unorthodoxy. Confusion is the mess of clothes in the bedroom.

      Thanks for commenting here, too. I don’t find it odd to chant in Japanese because it’s something I’m interested in, but I do question the honesty of it. Is it being used to impart a sense of holiness? Maybe, and if so, I’m not totally down with that.

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