Thank you, pillows. Thank you, mattress. Thank you, sheets. Thank you, duvets. Thank you, floor. Thank you, ceiling. Thank you, walls. Thank you, windows. Thank you, door. Thank you, electricity. Thank you, water. Thank you, gas. Thank you, neighbourhood. Thank you, city. Thank you, country.
Continue, with or without words.
More than ten years ago, I realised I had never seen a good English translation of The Kannon Sutra, a.k.a. Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo, so I decided to attempt one that was both accurate and easy to chant. This is the result, Romaji followed by English. (Note: in our sangha, we still chant it in Japanese.)
ENMEI JUKKU KANNON GYO
KAN ZE ON NA MU BUTSU YO BUTSU U IN YO BUTSU U EN BUP PO 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
TEN-LINE LIFE-PROLONGING KANNON SUTRA
Kanzeon Veneration to the Buddha The Buddha is my origin The Buddha and me — no separation The Three Treasures and me — no separation Bliss outside of time, pure freedom from self First morning thought: Kanzeon Last nighttime thought: Kanzeon Thoughts, thoughts arise from the mind Thoughts, thoughts are nothing but the mind
I used to hike with a friend who was a map enthusiast, and I told him maps didn’t seem to help me to avoid getting lost. He told me, “That’s because you want the map to show you where to go, but that’s not what maps do. What they do is show you where you are.”
I didn’t understand what he meant, but, more than twenty years later, I think I finally have an idea of how knowing the route to where we think we want to go is not the same thing as knowing where we are. We might know where we’re trying to go, but we rarely know where we are.
Nearly all of our thoughts are comparative — comparing how we’re doing to how we perceive other people to be doing, comparing life to how it used to be, or how we hope it will be in the future, or how we think it ought to be now. We compare ourselves, who we are and how we are, to who and how we think we ought to be, or we compare ourselves to other people. We’re not reading the map skilfully, and so we’re lost.
What if we stop thinking about where we should be, and just read the map? What if we let it show us where we are right now? Can we take that instruction as it is? What if we look at who we are, how we are, the situation we’re in, without comparison or story? Then we might find that we have what we need. If we look at what is, rather than what isn’t, at who we are rather than who we’re not, it may be interesting and it may be wondrous and it will certainly be perfect, because we find out where we are. We are no longer lost.