The trappings...

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  • scareyw
    Member
    • Oct 2015
    • 25

    The trappings...

    I had some questions about Zen attire. I know a rakusu is sewn before taking the precepts. Is a kesa treated the same? Is it something for a person who has taken jukai? Are either article worn by people who haven't done so? What is the protocol concerning kimono and koromo? Do only teahers and priests wear them? If not, are they reseved for after jukai? I guess I'm just asking what is appropriate at any given stage.
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39237

    #2
    Hi Carey,

    In our Nyoho-e sewing tradition (a way of sewing the Kesa not common to all Soto Zen Sangha), anyone who has undertaken Jukai can sew and wear a Rakusu and Kesa. The Kesa can be sewn after one has sewn a Rakusu, although we usually ask someone to have been practicing for awhile before beginning to sew one. Here is another Zen group with a sewing circles and a little more information.



    And much more information ...



    Gassho, Jundo

    SatToday
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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    • scareyw
      Member
      • Oct 2015
      • 25

      #3
      Interesting read there, Jundo. I saw that the kimono and koromo have come to replace the two smaller of the rectangular panelled robes (5 and 7 panels), but I'm still unsure as to the function and station associated with them, in our context, and the greater western sangha, in general. Also, where in our context would the rag robe fit? I'm under the impression that it would be reserved for a teacher of great prestige, or the head of a large organization. How would that work in a lineage that tends to defy formal structure, to an extent? Further, I may be somewhat naive in this, but wouldn't "found" fabric be preferable in the consruction of any robe?

      Gassho
      Carey (is still working on remembering to say he) sat today

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      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39237

        #4
        Originally posted by scareyw
        Interesting read there, Jundo. I saw that the kimono and koromo have come to replace the two smaller of the rectangular panelled robes (5 and 7 panels), but I'm still unsure as to the function and station associated with them, in our context, and the greater western sangha, in general. Also, where in our context would the rag robe fit? I'm under the impression that it would be reserved for a teacher of great prestige, or the head of a large organization. How would that work in a lineage that tends to defy formal structure, to an extent? Further, I may be somewhat naive in this, but wouldn't "found" fabric be preferable in the consruction of any robe?

        Gassho
        Carey (is still working on remembering to say he) sat today
        Hi Carey,

        Wearing some special clothing ... just like making a special sacred space in our homes where we sit Zazen ... helps us to realize some sacred moment and to step back from the dusty day-to-day world a bit. I think it a good things that we do that. So, I put on special robes for our Sangha Zazenkai each month, and I encourage in this Sangha ... inspired by brother Taigu ... the Practice of sewing the Kesa Buddha's robes as a sacred act, a sacred robe. I wear the "full gear" once in awhile, for our monthly Zazenkai, simply to be respectful of tradition at such times.

        I simultaneously believe (Zen let's us see things in many ways!) that we can sit anywhere, that all of life is sacred when tasted as such ... that the most ordinary is special ... that there is no sacred space left out, and nothing that need be worn. We do place some special emphasis on the Kesa, but as a symbol of this way and a place for Practice in the sewing (frankly, I don't think the Kesa is a cloth much different from how Yanks sew the red-white-and-blue strips together and salute as a symbol of a place and way of life. Taigu sometimes said it was something more somehow than a "symbol" in his heart, but I am content to say that the Kesa is filled with the meaning we place there.).

        Apart from the Kesa, no other particular clothing or gear is necessary. Nishijima Roshi, who was often seen in both the formal robes of a Soto Zen Priest or in a business suit (with Kesa), would sometimes say that our wearing traditional robes (under the Kesa) is just dressing up for Halloween like "old Chinese people from the Tang Dynasty".

        BUT, if one will wear robes ... best to fold and wear them right!

        He often sat and dressed in all these ways ...


        If you are interested, a little more history on all this is here, including her discussion of the rag robe. It is Traditional to sew with found or used rag cloth, and the "fancy" robe I am seen to wear at the Jukai Ceremony is actually Taigu's handiwork, a "funzoe" sewn from found pieces of used material. (The word "Funzo-e" literally means "shit wiping cloth"). However, as the scholar here says, there is some crossover on materials ...

        These are the three major patterns of belief and practice regarding the Buddhist robe that appear in ancient texts: the robe made from scraps of discarded cloth as an integral part of ascetic life; the robe made of materials donated to the community of monks that signals the interdependence of lay and monastic groups; and finally the golden robe associated with Buddhahood. Although these three paradigms arise from very different circumstances and questions about what it means to be a Buddhist, they are by no means mutually exclusive. Throughout history there has been considerable borrowing between these three patterns creating, for example, patchwork robes made of gold brocade scraps. The potential for extreme polarization between the two ideals of asceticism and monasticism was tempered by alternative methods of defining nyohoe. We now turn to definitions of nyohoe that applied equally to the rag robe and the monastic robe: the three humilities (sansen) and the ambiguous term "pieced robe" (funzoe).

        http://repo.lib.ryukoku.ac.jp/jspui/...0005242162.pdf
        Some other information on the origin of the 5-7-9 panel Kesa here ...

        In a hot, humid climate like India, Buddhist (male) monks usually wore only the kesa plus two simple garments underneath. These are the “three robes” allowed each monk by the Vinaya. ... Only in [colder] China and Japan did the “three robes” become “three kesas.” Great Master Dogen names these three types—five, seven, and nine stripe—in his chapter “Kesa kudoku” [The Merit of Wearing the Kesa]ix in his masterwork Shobogenzo. He writes that the five-stripe kesa (gojo-e) is also known as the under kesa. The five-striped kesa corresponds to the smallest of the three robes allowed by the Buddha, the antaravasaka, used as underclothing.x It was originally a skirt in five panels or “stripes”; it seems that the “paddy-field” pattern was lost about the time monks began attaching the skirt to the jacket.xi Dogen writes that the five-striped kesa (our rakusu—see below) is to be worn “for daily use, samu [working meditation], and when alone in our rooms.”xii The seven-stripe kesa, shichijo-e, is also known as the uttaraso and is worn “when training with other monks or when participating in a ceremony.” This robe lacks a lining and is worn as a toga, uttarasanga; the Buddha allowed it for moderate weather; it could be worn under the nine-stripe kesa. The nine-stripe kesa, Kujo-e, according to Dogen, is also known as the large or double kesa. Dogen writes that it is to be worn when teaching, whether in a palace or in a householder’s modest home. This nine-stripe kesa, consisting of two layers of fabric, is the third robe allowed by the Buddha, the sanghati; it may be worn as a cloak in cold weather.http://www.shastaabbey.org/pdf/kesa.pdf
        Some Buddhist groups and Sangha differentiated color and cut with "rank" (we have run into some groups associated with San Francisco Zen Center not caring for our folks to sometimes wear brown material Rakusu, because in their community ... and that is all it is, a convention in that particular community that I have never run into in Japan ... "brown is for Teachers"). Shasta Abbey has similar rules for themselves at the above link, as they are not Nyoho-e

        As to the color of these formal robes, junior monks (novices and Transmitted monks, as well as postulants) wear black; as with the novice’s kesa, black is the color of all-acceptance, the “key to the gateless gate.” Senior monks (teachers and masters) wear brown, a color that Rev. Master Jiyu explained as one that people instinctively trust. As explained above, brown in its various shades has come to be considered a “universal” color for Buddhist monks.
        However, in the Nyoho-e Tradition, the Kesa may be worn by all, and there is no Tradition of the black Kesa or brown as some "rank".

        I hope that helps with some of your questions.

        Gassho, J

        SatToday

        PS - Even more information here on all the traditional Soto Zen "gear" ...

        Last edited by Jundo; 12-15-2015, 04:38 AM.
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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