|Whatever you want to write is entirely appropriate and personal to you. You can address the prayer as a letter to Kannon or Mother Nature or the Cosmos or God – whatever it is within your own spiritual path that feels comfortable for you. If you prefer, you can write your prayer as simply a statement of an intention for yourself, or a wish or desire that you have. It can be as long or short as you like; it can be for yourself or for another person or animal whom you wish something for; it can formal or informal; written in pen or crayons; plain or decorated… It is your own private prayer to be offered in whatever form feels right for you. The only request I have is that you write your prayer in your own handwriting; that you write it on the back of the Heart Sutra (for details see the next section); and that you include your name - it doesn’t matter if it’s a real name or pen name or username.|
Writing your prayer...At each of the temples there is a separate box for delivering a special prayer called the Heart of Wisdom Sutra. This prayer is recited at each of the Kannon temples and pilgrims place hand-written copies of this sacred text in the box along with their offering to the temple. They copy the letters of the Heart Sutra and then add their own prayers and petitions at the end or on the back of the paper. Later, the temple priest will collect the prayers and ritually burn them as a way of sending their petition into the realm of Kannon’s mystical energy. I would like you to follow this tradition too, which is called “Shakyō” (Copying the Sacred Text).
Below, you will see a copy of the Heart Sutra. Click on the photo, which will open a PDF file that you can then print out. If you can't print it out, please contact me and I'll send it to you as a Word document.
You will see that the paper is faintly covered with Japanese characters. Using a pen or pencil, write over the letters. This is a meditation that helps to settle your mind so that when you write your prayer you are calm and focussed. Don’t worry about getting the letters “right” – it is the act of quietly tracing that is most important.
When you have finished, write your prayer on the back of the page. Remember to include your name and where you are from. If this all seems too difficult, then just print out the page and write your prayer on the back. But I encourage you to take the time to trace the letters because it is a very satisfying experience and results in a work of art that is very beautiful. Sending your prayer...
|About the Heart of Wisdom Sutra:
The actual meaning of the Heart of Wisdom Sutra is very profound and difficult to grasp. This important sacred text contains all the teachings of Buddhism condensed down to just one page. It is the very essence of Buddhism, and that is why it is called the “Heart of Wisdom”; that is, getting to the heart of the matter, the very essence of reality in fact. When you copy it, you are participating in this essence and creating a kind of abstract painting of Cosmic Wisdom. Because this Cosmic Wisdom is a great mystery, it doesn’t really matter that you don’t understand it!
|Also, because the text is very profound, it is difficult to translate into English and you will find many versions available online if you just put “Heart Sutra” into Google search. Here is my version of the Heart of Wisdom Sutra.
You can hear the Heart Sutra as you would hear it chanted in a Japanese temple in this video of Myōju-san, a Buddhist nun from Kyoto. Although her voice sounds so strong and deep, she is a wonderfully gentle elderly nun who truly is a living manifestation of Kannon. I intend to write more about Myōju-san at a later time, so check the “What’s New” pages in the coming months.
How to send your prayer
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