The 10 Verse Kannon Sutra

This is the jukku kan on gyō (十 句 觀 音 經), or the “10 Phrase Kannon Sutra”, also called the “10 Verse Kannon Sutra”. It is a popular, devotional chant in Japanese Buddhism toward Kannon Bodhisattva. The liturgy is used in many sects of Japanese Buddhism, but the specific one I am posting here comes from the “Kannon Bodhisattva” prayer book I purchased at Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan, a Tendai Buddhist temple. The verses are broken out exactly as printed in the prayer book and I’ve managed to print all the right kanji.

The origin of the text is not entirely known, though it’s speculated that this was composed by a Tendai Buddhist priest as a possible summary or condensed version of the 25th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, which is colloquially called the Kannon Sutra by devotees. The 25th chapter is a devotional expression toward Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Kanzeon Bosatsu), while this text could be used more readily in lay devotions.

The pronunciation of some characters varies just slightly from other online versions I’ve seen, but don’t despair. Many characters have multiple readings, so just use whichever version you’re familiar with. Because this text is so short, people sometimes chant it more than once in a single session, but the number is up to you. Choose what suits you. Feel free to print this out and use it on your own time. Enjoy!

Can’t read the characters?

If you’re having trouble reading the Kanji characters, you might have one or two problems with your computer:

  • Your computer may not have Asian fonts installed. In Windows you have to enable UTF8 and East Asian fonts under the Control Panel. Modern Mac computers are fully compatible already.
  • Your browser may be assuming the wrong character set. If you use a relatively modern browser and use UTF8 as character set, you should be able to read fine. IE, Firefox and Safari all read this fine as far as I can tell.

Even if not, then you can still use the romanized characters, and the (terrible) English translation. Also check out this excellent page for more information.

Disclaimer and Legal Info

I hereby release this into the public domain. Please use it as you see fit, but if you attribute it to this site, greatly appreciated. Also, please bear in mind this is an amateur translation, and should not be taken too seriously, nor is it of academic quality.

Dedication

I dedicate this effort to all sentient beings everywhere. May all beings be well, and may they all attain perfect peace.

Namu Kanzeon Bosatsu

The 10 Verse Kannon Sutra

Kan ze on
na mu butsu
yo butsu u in
yo butsu u en
bu – ppo so en
jo raku ga jo
cho nen Kan ze on
bo nen Kan ze on
nen nen ju shin ki
nen nen fu ri shin

My Translation

This translation of mine is far from perfect, but after consulting other translations as well as online Kanji dictionaries, I believe this is one way to read it in English. Big thanks to “E” for his excellent scholarship and assistance in this endeavor.

Kanzeon [Bodhisattva]!
Praise to the Buddha!
With the Buddha as cause,
With the Buddha as condition,
Through the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha
I attain eternal, blissful, self, purified of all defilements [nirvana].
In the morning, I recite “Kanzeon”.
In the evening, I recite “Kanzeon”.
Reciting and reciting arises from the awakened mind.
Reciting and reciting is not separate from [awakened] mind.

P.S. The “Buddha” here I believe is the eternal Buddha, the Dharmakaya, not the historical one. It’s basically a subtle allusion to Emptiness and interdepedency. Pretty clever for only 10 verses. ;)

5 Responses to The 10 Verse Kannon Sutra

  1. Marcus says:

    Thank you Gerald!

  2. lukas says:

    Hello
    i am also interested in Japanese religion. Hopefully, we can share our experience.
    this is my website (in Polish) http://www.asukadera.mahajana.net

    Can you speak, read, write Japanese or Classical Chinese?
    (please answer to my mail)

    gassho

    luki

  3. Doug says:

    Hello Lukas,

    No, I can’t read Classical Chinese. I can only read Japanese a little. I saw your website, and I was surprised because we’re almost writing on the same subjects. :)

    Gassho

  4. lukas says:

    yes, and my wife is Japanese:>

    yoroshiku

  5. Doug says:

    Yeah, you and me both. :)

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