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Toronto Zen Centre

A Buddhist Community


Toronto Zen Centre

Kannon Day

“ She of the true gaze, she of the pure gaze, gaze of great and encompassing wisdom, gaze of pity, gaze of compassion, ever longed for, ever revered...Her eye of compassion views all sentient beings. Her ocean of blessings is beyond measure. Therefore you should pay homage to her.”

On Sunday, January 13, from 8:30 am – 12 noon we will pay homage to Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. This bodhisattva, so beloved in Mahayana countries, is the embodiment of tender compassion. Through this ceremony, we thank Kannon for her unceasing help.

After a half hour of zazen, we begin a series of rounds of sitting, bowing, chanting, and circumambulating. We chant the Kannon sutra in English and Japanese a total of 108 times, recite the mantra of Kanzeon (“Praise to Kannon bodhisattva”) 108 times, and chant the Lotus Sutra Scripture of Kanzeon Bodhisattva and the Dharani of Avalokitesvara three times each.

By the end of the ceremony, we will have made 108 prostrations. Even if you are unable to do prostrations, you can still participate by making standing or partial bows.

In addition to the bowing, there will be circumambulations, incense offerings, special readings, and a vigorous Rinzai-style chanting of the Kanzeon in Japanese. A few notes about the ceremony:

  • Who May Attend: Members and their families, as well as friends of the Center and non-members are all invited. Anyone who wishes to pay homage to Kannon Bodhisattva is most welcome to attend. If you have never been to the Centre and would like to attend the Kannon ceremony, please make arrangements with the centre office to receive a special orientation by the afternoon of Friday, January 11.
  • Dedication: Everyone is invited to dedicate the merit of this ceremony to whomever they wish. There will be an altar for photos and names of those to whom the ceremony is being dedicated.
  • Home Altar Figures: There will be a special altar for Kannon figures from your home altars. Important: Please bring them to the Centre no later than the Saturday workday prior to the ceremony.
  • Workday: On Saturday, January 12th at 9:30 am there will be a work period to prepare for the ceremony. Please join us if you can.
  • Donations: As a concrete expression of compassion, please bring to the ceremony a monetary donation for Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). We will also be collecting donations of clothing for babies and children in need, and a special area will be set aside for this. Donations should be clean and in good condition, and it would be helpful if such items are labelled for sex and size.

The celebration of Kannon Day affords us a way to express our boundless gratitude to the Bodhisattva of Compassion for her ceaseless, wondrous help. We hope you will join us on this special day.