Yán Mìng Shí Jù Guān Yīn Jīng
The Ten-Line Longevity Sutra of Guan Yin
(Translation by John Szabo)
1. Guan Shi Yin,
Guān Shì Yīn,
2. praying to Buddha,
ná mó Fó,
3. is caused by the Buddha,
yǔ Fó yǒu yīn,
4. and causes the Buddha.
yǔ Fó yǒu yuán.
5. The Enlightened One, the Teachings
and the Community of Followers bring
Fó Fǎ Sēng yuán
6. Permanence, Happiness, Self-nature
and Purity, the Four Gifts of Enlightenment.
Cháng Lè Wǒ Jìng.
7. In the morning, be mindful of Guan Shi Yin,
Cháo niàn Guān Shì Yīn,
8. in the evening, be mindful of Guan Shi Yin.
mù niàn Guān Shì Yīn.
9. This mindfulness continually arises in my mind,
Niàn niàn cóng xīn qǐ,
10. this mindfulness never departs from my mind.
niàn niàn bù lí xīn.
According to traditional teachings, the recitation of this sutra brings long life to the practitioner, through the power of Guan Yin. The first four lines of this short scripture reminds us of the doctrine of interdependent causation: the teaching that tells us that nothing has an essential nature on its own, only in relationship to others. Guan Yin can not be Guan Yin without the Buddha (not only the historical person, but the universal essence of Enlightenment), and the Buddha can not be Buddha without Guan Yin. We tend to think of ourselves as isolated beings, but the truth is, we need others in order to be ourselves. This ancient teaching also has environmental connotations – if our existence is dependent on everything else around us, we need to look out not only for people, but also for plants and animals on our planet.
After this the sutra confirms that the Three Jewels (Fa-Fo-Seng in Chinese, Buddha-Dharma-Sangha in Sanskrit, Enlightened One-Teachings-Community of Followers in English) help us achieve Enlightenment, which is manifested in four ways: Permanence, Happiness, Self-nature, and Purity. Right now our state is Impermanent, Not Happy, No Real Self-nature, and Impurity. At least, that is what the illusions that we create make us experience…
The last four lines instruct us to focus our minds on Guan Yin, as a way to reach this enlightened state. One of the ways to interpret this is to try and see Love and Compassion in all things – even in painful, and seemingly unjust situations. After all, Love and Compassion is what Guan Yin is all about. By cultivating mindfulness on Her, and realizing that She truly is present in everything, we can gain a higher, and happier perspective on life.