Dharma-Dykes Web Site

The Kwan Yin Vows


Kwan Yin in Chinese, Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit, Kannon in Japanese, Quan-Te Am Botat in Vietnamese and Kuan-Te Am Bosa in Korean. All the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and except for the Sanskrit reference, all female.


This Kuan Yin has come to the
D-D Web site from Ven. Ayya Khema's
Parappudawa Newsletter (more info
will be posted when available)

When I first started studying Buddhism and practicing meditation in 1974, I was quite drawn to this lovely figure on the altar, the only female in the temple. One day, in the middle of a retreat, I went for an interview with my zen master, and I asked him who was Kwan-Yin. His answer was, "You are Kwan-Yin." That totally blew me away, and I stumbled back down the stairs from the interview room to my zafu. I didn't really know what he was talking about. But since that time, I have kept Kwan-Yin in my heart/mind and hopefully my compassion grows. She is a fine companion and an even finer role model.

If you ask me who is Kwan-Yin, my dharma friends, I say, "You are Kwan-Yin."

Gassho, Sarika


Here are the vows that she has taken:

The Twelve Vows of Kwan-Yin Bodhisattva
translated from the Vietnamese

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, with the title Boundless Understanding, the name Great Liberation, who raised the Immeasurable Vow.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, of one thought and a mind of no obstacles, who vowed to stay always in the Southern World.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, who vowed to stay in samsara, in the realm of darkness, listening to the cries and rescuing sentient beings.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, the conqueror of raksas and destroyer of evil spirits, who took the vow to end all troubles and difficulties.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin the Tathagata, who holds the bowl of pure water and willow branch, who took the vow to sprinkle sacred water to calm the mind of humankind.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, the great compassionate, forgiving one, who took the vow to practice equanimity at all times.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, who day and night is the destroyer of obstacles, who took the vow to destroy the three realms of suffering.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, who faces south, diligently practicing, who took the vow to cut all fetters and knots.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, the maker of the dharma boat which rows in the suffering ocean, who took the vow to save all sentient beings.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, with streamers in front and a canopy behind, who took the vow to guide beings to the Western World.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, who resides in the Realm of the Buddha of Unlimited Life, who took the vow to be the helper of Amitabha Buddha.

I respectfully bow to Kwan-Yin, the Tathagata, the honorable one with a body without imperfections, created by the twelve great vows.