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April 08 Journal Contents
Dharma Talk
Making a Difference
A Blade of Grass
Shuso Talk
Zen at War
Beginner's Mind
Found Dharma
Whimsy Buddha

A Dharani for the Shadows

This morning

a menagerie of demons,

barely invisible,

have settled in. There’s one—

thorny fingers coming out of my ears.


Could go down the block to the hardware store

I’ll take the strongest demonicide you have

and be done with them—

watch them writhing on the kitchen

floor, pallid, one by one exiting

my eyes, ears, nose, mouth, body.


Instead maybe I’ll watch for a while—

let them live, like the centipedes

I capture and put outside my door,

wishing them well on their journey.

Or like a naturalist observing

the behavior of another species

whose habits in some distant way

resemble our own.


In the quiet of the morning where

the fading night terrors turn,

I remember a forgotten vow,

a pact, ancient and stone-like,

but softer. Older than earthbones.

Infested with demons, barely moving,

with nothing left to do—

together we go out into the day.


(Dharani is a Sanskrit word that means "uniting and upholding." A dharani is just a mantra. Mantras are for the purpose of giving rise to goodness and destroying evil. A dharani "unites all dharmas and upholds limitless meanings.")



I know

it is only a

poem. Spring


brings the

yellow crocus

and I only this—some


grubby words.

But I made it

for you—and I hope it will do.


Joshua Mitsunen Moses is a member of the Village Zendo and a student of Enkyo Roshi. A PhD candidate in anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, he studies the relationship between religion and mental health in disaster settings. He is also the Outreach Director for the New York City Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

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