Buddhism teaching

Revealing the hidden teaching of the Kannon Sutra in ten lines

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This is a recording of a lecture given on April 30, 2022, for the Toledo Buddhist Temple Practice Period, Celebrating Women in Buddhism, and for the Zen Obstacle Vine.

The Ten Line Life Prolonging Kannon Sutra is a sutra/practice close to my heart and I was happy to share some of that inner work here. The practice of this amazing sutra offers a powerful integration of nenbutsu (remembrance of Buddha), absorption and awakening. When properly understood and actualized, it offers the full path to Buddhadharma in just ten lines. It is a practice that originated in a dream. It can be practiced day or night inside and outside the formal liturgy and is therefore ideal for heads of families.

I hope that if you are new or new to Dharma practice, this conversation with you will at least give you a foothold in Kanzeon. And if you’re not so new, I hope this gives you a fresh perspective.

You will also find a section of the lecture that explains how Kannon started out as a man in India and became a woman in China, and how the Buddha may also have had intersex genitals, and so we should really refer to the ancient Buddha with neuter pronouns. Awakening is, of course, fluid between the sexes.

Here is the sutra:

Japanese: Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo

Kanze on
na mu butsu
yo but you’re in
yo butsu u en
bup po so en
jo raku ga jo
nen nen ju shin ki
nen nen fu ri shin
cho nen kan ze sur
bo nen kan ze on

My English translation: Ten Line Life Prolonging Kannon Sutra

Namo Buddha!
One with the cause of Buddha
One with an affinity with Buddha
Buddha, Dharma, Sangha affinity
constancy, joy, self, purity
Mornings nen Kanzeon
Nen Kanzeon evenings
Nen nen through the rising spirit
Nen nen not outside of this spirit.

In the talk, you will learn more about the loanwords – “namo” and “nen” – that I used in the translation. You can read more about the details of the Chinese characters used in the sutra from a seminar I gave earlier this year for Boundless Way Zen and the North Carolina Zen Center here:

Dōshō Port began practicing Zen in 1977 and now co-teaches with his wife, Tetsugan Zummach Sensei, with Vine of Obstacles: Online Support for Zen Training, an internet-based Zen community. Dōshō received dharma transmission from Dainin Katagiri Rōshi and inka shōmei from James Myōun Ford Rōshi in the Harada-Yasutani lineage. Dōshō’s translation and commentary on The Empty Room Record: One Hundred Classic Koans, is now available (Shambhala). He is also the author of Keep Me in Your Heart for a Moment: The Haunting Zen of Dainin Katagiri.