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Glossary - individual


Kanzeon Bodhisattva (Kanzeon Bosatsu 觀世音菩薩)

S. Avalokiteśvara, "the lord who looks down." The bodhisattva who "sees" or is "cognizant of" (kan 觀) the "sounds" or "cries" (on音) of the "world" (ze 世) and responds with compassion (jihi 慈悲) to save beings from all kinds of misfortune and suffering. Also called Kannon Bodhisattva (Kannon Bosatsu 觀音菩薩) and Kanjizai Bodhisattva (Kanjizai Bosatsu 觀自在菩薩). Images of Kanzeon take many different forms in East Asia where, despite the fact that Avalokiteśvara is a masculine noun in Sanskrit, this bodhisattva came to be understood as a female figure associated with (among many other things) motherly kindness, assistance in childbirth, and the protection of children. Images of the Eleven-Faced Kannon (Jūichimen Kannon 十一面觀音) and Thousand-Hand Kannon (Senju Kannon 千手觀音) graphically illustrate the concepts that Kanzeon can see everywhere and is fully endowed with the expedient means (hōben 方便) needed to respond effectively to every kind of emergency. In Zen monasteries, an image of Kanzeon is enshrined in the common quarters (shu ryō 衆寮) as the Sacred Monk of that facility.

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