A Dharani for the Shadows
a menagerie of demons,
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.")
it is only a
and I only this—some
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.