Selected Poems, Essays and Musings of Bhikkhu Moneyya

last updated: February, 2019

Selected Poems and Musings of Bhikkhu Moneyya
Artwork for the front cover by I Ketut Murtana

With Original Artwork From Bali






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Essay on Abortion (PDF)
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In Memory of my Mother
The Artist



Bhikkhu Moneyya was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1946 and spent his early youth in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Stanford University for one year and then transferred to University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. Several months later, he dropped out and spent the next two-and-a-half years traveling through Europe and the Middle East, before returning to the US and joining the Rochester Zen Center in December of 1968. His involvement with the Rochester Zen Center lasted eleven years and included a two-year stint as a Zen monk.

In 1989, he sold his house and business, and retired to an ashram in central Virginia, where he met his future wife. In 2002, he traveled to Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in Myanmar, taking ordination there as a Theravada Buddhist monk and later putting together an introductory manual on the practice of Theravada Buddhism, which has seen repeated publications.

Due to a gradually worsening health condition, he left Myanmar in 2007 to seek medical assistance in Australia, spending time at several monasteries there. Over the next seven years, he traveled respectively to Sri Lanka, Malaysia, France, the US, back to Myanmar, and then on to the Philippines and Bali, where he currently resides.

“Through the mediums of poetry, prose and painting, Bhikkhu Moneyya brings his spiritual and terrestrial journey to life, as he shares his insights and experiences with the reader. His wit and unabashed sincerity become a magic carpet upon which the reader rides, soaring above the pettiness of daily life, with a monk’s-eye view of the world below.”

– David Chadwick, author of Crooked Cucumber: the Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki

Last updated: July 2018


Note to the Reader

The poems in this book may be printed out for free distribution, but may not be altered or reproduced for commercial purposes without the author’s permission.


My thanks to Ron Browning, Joanne Ferris and Philip Starkman for their support and encouragement, without which I would not have undertaken this project, and to others who read through the manuscript, made suggestions, and provided assistance with printing and emailing. A special word of thanks to the Venerable Anandajoti, for doing the document’s final formatting and posting it on his website, to Thomas Fricke, a long-term resident of Bali, for his hospitality and suggestions, and to Pak Merta Ada, for allowing me to stay at Forest Island, a retreat center in central Bali.

Illustrations accompanying the poems are from local and expatriate artists living in Bali.

New Edition, December 2017


Part of the joy of writing poetry is in sharing it with others, which I have done with my friends and family over the years, and now, for the first time, in this small book of verse, a select number of these poems have been compiled to share with a wider audience. With the exception of the first poem, this book spans the years of my life as a Buddhist practitioner, initially in the Zen tradition, later in the Theravada tradition, and finally as a Theravada Buddhist monk (bhikkhu in Pāli). This does not mean, however, that every one of these poems has a Buddhist theme or subject. Some of them do, but many do not, except in the sense that my orientation as a Buddhist practitioner serves as a backdrop for their presentation.

A number of the earlier poems merge this Buddhist orientation with those of other spiritual traditions. “Tears of Blood,” for example, has an unmistakably Christian theme, while “Hansīka” and “Return” were written during my residence at a yoga ashram. Another turning point takes place during my second visit to a spiritualist church in the Philippines, in 2015. This is reflected in several of the final poems in the book. In order to avoid confusion about these different periods in my life, I have arranged the poems in chronological order and included specific locations, where possible. This should make for greater continuity in the reading and also make it possible to trace the various threads of development running through the poetry. The poems are followed by a postscript, consisting of a series of aphorisms and musings that were separated out from the main body of the poetry due to their difference in style and character. To make the document more accessible to the general public, Buddhist terms have been footnoted and defined. A short biography has also been included at the end of the book, which will hopefully provide some insight into the origin of the author’s works and make for a more fruitful reading experience.

Bhikkhu Moneyya
Pa-Auk Forest Monastery
Mawlamyine, Myanmar
March 2017