In Japanese Zen, a common liturgy is the shōsaishu (消災呪), which is short for shōsaimyōkichijōdarani (消災妙吉祥陀羅尼, しょうさいみょうきちじょうだらに). My amateur translation of the title is the “Dharani for Cancelling Out Calamities”:
- 消 – to cancel, extinguish
- 災 – a calamity or natural disaster (e.g. earthquake, tsunami, etc)
- 呪 – spell, mantra, dharani
But what is it? A dharani is a small chant used in Buddhism as a kind of supportive tool optionally used to generate good karma and avoid potential calamities. This link provides a good overview. In the context of Buddhism, this is intended to allow one to practice the Buddhist path more easily and without obstruction. However, as stated above, it’s pretty optional. Unlike mantras, which are a core feature in some Buddhist sects for awakening to the truth, dharanis are considered purely as supplementary.
Can’t read the characters?
If you’re having trouble reading the Kanji characters, you might have one or two problems with your computer:
- Your computer may not have Asian fonts installed. In Windows you have to enable UTF8 and East Asian fonts under the Control Panel. Modern Mac computers are fully compatible already.
- Your browser may be assuming the wrong character set. If you use a relatively modern browser and use UTF8 as character set, you should be able to read fine. IE, Firefox and Safari all read this fine as far as I can tell.
Even if not, then you can still use the romanized characters.
Disclaimer and Legal Info
I hereby release this into the public domain. Please use it as you see fit, but if you attribute it to this site, greatly appreciated. Also, please bear in mind this is an amateur work, and should not be taken too seriously.
I dedicate this effort to all sentient beings everywhere. May all beings be well, and may they all attain perfect peace.
Namo Shaka Nyorai
The Dharani for Cancelling Out Calamities
Recite 3 times:
Example Chant in a Japanese Buddhist Service