The Great Compassion Mantra of Avalokitesvara (Kuan Yin) is a dharani to be recited for purification, protection, and healing. I’d like to share with you a free downloadable copy of the text pre-formatted to the standard A5 trim size (with gutter and mirror margins for binding). You can then print and get your copy bound so that you possess a physical copy of this sacred text.
The sacred text is definitively revered among Mahayana Buddhists. My context for offering this free book download is broadening that scope, however, and here, I’d like to invite you to consider the Great Compassion Mantra as a general tool for your personal spiritual cultivation, no matter what your path might be. Of course, take a look at what I have to share first, to see if it aligns with your own aspirations.
Recitation of the dharani is used for personal healing but also for a practitioner to send healing to another. Healers are often drawn to the Great Compassion Mantra and working with the dharani, as it has a tendency to amplify their abilities. For those struggling with physical health or wellness concerns and you feel like you’ve tried everything else with little result, just give the Great Compassion Mantra a try. Common practices, applications, and uses for the dharani are provided in the free book.
A physical copy of the text is also treated like a talisman, so it casts as sacred any space the book occupies, and wards off evil. (I’m using the word “evil” within the context of the religious doctrines associated with this particular text.) Though I don’t believe it’s necessary, you can consecrate your physical copy of the book through a consecration ritual where you invoke Kuan Yin and attune yourself to that energy, asking for the blessings of Avalokitesvara to empower your book and sanctify it as holy.
The dharani represents the spoken words of Kuan Yin as she recites the names of deities from many pantheons (including references to Shiva, Vishnu, Indra, among others). As the mythology goes, the Great Compassion Mantra is Kuan Yin’s gift to us, a Key that will gain us access to spiritual awakening, greater understanding, wisdom, Divine Sight, and the strengthening of divine senses (also referred to as the four clairs–clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and claircognizance).
Sacred Text (PDF) – Interior Pages Only
Start by downloading the interior pages, a PDF file, through the link above. The text features a few meditation pages where a visual focal point can be religious imagery and the likeness of Kuan Yin. The son of the late master artist Wang Shuang-Kuan has generously given permission to include some of his father’s artwork of Kuan Yin. The short invocations for Kuan Yin are also provided in the book.
There are chapters about the Great Compassion Mantra, in English, including a reprint of the English translation of the dharani by Daisetsu Teitaro Suzuki. Then the dharani, in Traditional Chinese, pin yin, and Siddam Sanskrit is printed nine consecutive times, each time numbered so you can keep count. That means reading the text twelve times will yield 108 recitations.
There’s a sigil inscribed inside the pages to consecrate and empower your copy of the text, connecting it to Divinity through the sigil seal (a Fu talisman). Then there are some concluding notes about religious beliefs around the dharani and its divine powers, and also esoteric applications of the sacred text, from using it to obtain Kuan Yin’s blessing, faith healing, spell-crafting, psychic or spiritual protection, and notes on awakening the kundalini.
Next, download and unzip the file folder of cover design options. These covers are formatted to the A5 trim size, since that’s what the interior pages are formatted to as well. Of course, you don’t have to use any of the design options I’ve provided. Please feel free to customize your own cover. After all, this will become your sacred text, and your talisman, so it should be something you love to look at, love to work with.
After you unzip the file, you’ll get a folder full of image files for A5 cover options. These are all set to the required specs for Lulu printing. For my own copy, I went with “Floral Medallions -Blue Gold” and didn’t include a title on the front cover, so I simply used the plain “back cover” twice–once for the front and again for the back when I uploaded it to the printers.
However, there are paired front cover options with the title in Chinese in case that suits you. The above shows a couple of examples you can use to pair the image files and create your cover. Once again, I’m repeating, you’re free to design your own cover art for your personal copy of the Great Compassion Mantra. Although it is my strongest preference that you keep your own contributions or revisions to the work respectful and in a way that honors Buddhist ethos, ultimately, you do you. Right? 🙂
Finally, download step-by-step illustrated instructions on how to print out a paperback bound copy of the sacred text for yourself. I like to use Lulu.com so below you’ll find instructions on how to use that site to order your book. Total cost? I got it for $3.81 plus free shipping! A physical copy of the sacred text is in itself a powerful talisman. At $3.81, I say it’s worth your while to print yourself this book!
For the Great Compassion Mantra Book (PDF)
You don’t need to use Lulu or even any commercial print shop. If you’re crafty and you think you can print the text on your own, create your own beautiful cover, and bind it yourself, then I would say that should be the preference.
My option A would be to do the whole thing on your own and in your own style, with a totally personalized cover and hand-bound by you. That option A just isn’t practical for everybody, however, which is why I’m giving you all the resources and instructions for convenient printing.
Sacred Text (PDF) – For Digital Viewing Only
The above link is to the e-book. Do not use this for upload and printing via Lulu.com. If you’re using a third-party printer, use the “Interior Pages Only” version provided above, plus your option of cover design. The link here is for the complete e-book only.
Some of us (yes? no?) maintain a private digital library on the cloud so that any time we have Internet, we can access our personal archive of books. This PDF is for that personal archive of books. Don’t use this for printing purposes. Use this for digital viewing purposes only.
Per Buddhist mythology, during a gathering of the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and gods on a remote mountain, Avalokitesvara rose and requested permission to recite words to be transmitted to the people, so that the people could always commune and call to Avalokitesvara through those utterances and be protected from karmic suffering. The deities permitted it and Avalokitesvara proceeded to recite the syllables of the Great Compassion Mantra dharani.
Anyone who recites the dharani with sincere heart will call out to Avalokitesvara and will be able to seek refuge from any danger, harm, pain, or suffering. The dharani is also believed to be a gift endowed to the people, by Avalokitesvara, as a key or access to spiritual or kundalini awakening.
Recitation of the dharani purifies karmic merit, ensures divine protection, and there are a number of occult or esoteric uses for the text as well. The end pages of the PDF download will have more information on metaphysical, psychic, and spiritual purposes of the Great Compassion Mantra. It’s also a key text used by Chinese, esoteric Buddhist, or Taoist exorcists, which is addressed briefly in the text.
If you’d like to be able to follow along with folks way cooler than us singing the dharani while you read the text from the book, check out the below videos. You’re probably going to recite the dharani rather than sing it, but these are just too beautiful to not share.
I’m going to include a couple of different options for you to listen to. That’s because if you listen to all of them while reading along in the book, you’ll notice discrepancies in pronunciation for just a couple of the words. That’s just…life. I’m sure the way you and I pronounce certain words in English is totally different.
Below is the dharani recited/sung (somewhere in between the two) by male voices, is a bit more rhythmic than the previous female version. This one also features classical Chinese instrumental music in the background. If the previous female version is a good one to sleep or unwind to, then the subsequent male version is a good one to recite along with and for me, is keyed well to keeping me focused.
If you don’t want song and just want to hear the dharani recited aloud straight through, see below. This one is perhaps the easiest to follow along with the Mandarin Chinese pin yin of the dharani in your book. (Note in the beginning, the voiceover states the title of the dharani. Then once the highlighted words or “lyrics” appear across the bottom of the screen, the dharani starts.)
The next version below is co-ed. You get a chorus of male and female voices. It’s more upbeat than the previous versions, I think, and is a good companion for daytime meditation or early morning practices.
Yeah, yeah, I’m overloading you with options. However, I really do love all of these versions and I believe they’re going to help you get a sense for the pronunciation–and also a sense for the variations in pronunciation so that you don’t feel so self-deprecating or insecure about your own!
And this one below is just beautiful, but you’re not going to be able to follow along from the book I’ve provided because the below version is sung in Tibetan. Interestingly, if you follow along by reading the Siddam Sanskrit version in the book, there’s striking similarities.
I tried to find for you guys a publicly shared recording of the dharani in a tone and style I’m more used to in real life practice, but couldn’t find any. Basically, the most common way I’ve heard the recitation is monotone, what you’d stereotypically think of when I say “monks chanting,” and while calm and even-toned, is uttered with a certain unmistakable force behind each word. I think the versions I’ve shared here were intended to be more artistically rendered, so stylistically it’s a bit different from everyday dedicated practice.
At one point in my life I had the Great Compassion Mantra memorized and could recite it by heart. Nah, not anything impressive– I was forced to. Kind of like kids being forced to memorize and recite Shakespeare soliloquies for AP English in high school. These days, regrettably, I can probably recount snippets of passages but that’s the extent of it. =)
The reason kids were forced to memorize this particular Mantra, over all others, was the importance it was believed to hold. Recitations of it, even gazing upon its text, hearing it in audio form was believed to purify and cleanse your karma, your aura, ensure prosperity, ensure good health, and do all sorts of crazy magical things.
Do I buy into all of that, hook, line, and sinker? Here’s my reasoning: it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t hurt to keep a copy of the sacred text around. It doesn’t hurt to read the passages from time to time. It doesn’t hurt to listen to the recitations, especially when they’re put to beautiful melodies, while I’m trying to relax and unwind. So hey. Whether Da Bei Zhou just puts me in a lighter mood or it saves my soul, what’s it matter? It’s happy juju. =)
I will be making references to this dharani in the future when talking about my craft, so that’s why I’m creating this post and sharing a completed and printable text of the dharani. Stay tuned for passing references to the Great Compassion Mantra in my Bell Chimes In and Tinkering Bell video series.
Do you need to be Buddhist to reap benefits from this text? No. Do you even need to be religious or buy in to religious doctrines? No. Can you integrate the Great Compassion Mantra into your current practice and path, no matter what that practice and path looks like? Well, this is going to depend more on your end than the Mantra itself (and whether your own path allows for syncretism and integration). From the perspective of the Mantra, yes of course you can integrate it into any practice or path, though please preserve and honor the Mantra as sacred in the way its religious adherents honor it as sacred.
Sacred texts in Buddhism or Taoism should never be permitted to touch the ground, but listen to the spirit of this guideline rather than taking it too literally. The spirit of the guideline is to honor and respect the sanctity of the text. Sacred texts should be treated as, well, sacred, meaning that your perception of it is as something beyond the ordinary or mundane. I have many sacred texts from other religions, faiths that are not my own, and I treat those texts with the same respect and reverence I show the sacred texts that are from my own faith. And I hope you’ll consider doing that here, too.
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