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Thread: To all nervous sewers

  1. #1

    To all nervous sewers

    Hi,

    Many people have posted that they are nervous about sewing. Does anyone have any concerns, other than being worried that it will look terrible?

    thank you for your time,
    rowan

  2. #2

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Hi,

    Let me mention that I hope to have permission in a day or so from Minneapolis Zen Center in the US to use the late Katagiri Roshi's instructions for what is known as a "Nyoho-e" style Rakusu, a bit different from Joan Roshi's described style ...

    Over time, the Kesa has changed, but the original one,
    is known as the Nyoho-e. Nyo means “as it is ness” which
    reveals the truth as it really is. Ho means the law of Dharma,
    and e means robe. As Tomoe Katagiri [Dainin Katagiri Roshi's widow], one of America’s
    important teachers of Kesa writes, “When all three words are
    put together it means that the law or the Buddha’s teaching is
    represented as it really is by means of one’s clothes or robe.”
    The Nyoho-e has been transmitted from Shakyamuni
    Buddha to Bodhidharma to Tendo Nyojo and to Dogen Zenji
    who teaches us that the Kesa is Buddha’s body completely
    alive in and through us. The Kesa itself is the Buddhadharma
    and we become the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind
    of Buddha when we wear the robe. The opportunity for the
    Sangha then to manifest Buddha’s body is extraordinary.
    Buddha gave many teachings regarding the rules of
    Kesa. It is important to consider the material, the color, the
    length and width, the type of construction, and the length
    of time allowed for the sewing. All of this is vital as we are
    manifesting the Buddhadharma. Each day as we wear the
    robe, our practice is to know that “the Kesa is a virtuous
    garden far beyond form and emptiness” and our lives are
    transformed in the qualities of the Buddha and we become
    the Virtuous Pure Precepts. May the hands of each Sangha
    member sew a part of the Kesa

    by Eido Frances Carney of Olympia Zen Center
    The design is rather different from the Rakusu in the Joan Halifax Roshi link I sent earlier, but as our Rev. Taigu writes ...

    Hi Jundo,

    I must say i am very keen on the idea of using the Katagiri instructions for two reasons: they follow exactly the nyoho-e school ( which is the one of Sawaki Kodo [and Nishijima Roshi's Lineage]) and it will be easier for everybody (including me...)...As soon as you get the permission i could send you copies of the pages and if you can scan them, then everybody would be provided with something reliable and clear. Please, can we make it possible?

    Ros is right, by light cotton we mean the kind which is used for shirts. Cotton is the very best option because it is "stable", silk and linen require experienced hands. Colour is essential, please, ask for dark broken colours, black is quite an easy option.

    The nyoho-e traditional rakusu is without a ring for very complicated historical reasons which are...Japanese. These days, a few teachers in the West agree that rings are fine. As a mere student of the kesa, I think the ring is OK. [So, we can have the rings].
    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Another big advantage to using the MZMC model: Ms Katagiri, who is the real authority in the matter of sewing (not the Roshi himself) is still around (or was as of 2 years ago, when I used to sit there). So my suggestion would be to not only get permission to use their material, but also to contact Ms Katagiri herself to see if she has any advice for our particular situation.

    Gassho, Alberto

  4. #4

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    I find this all very interesting. I'm excited.

    Gassho,
    Keith

  5. #5

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by ros
    Many people have posted that they are nervous about sewing. Does anyone have any concerns, other than being worried that it will look terrible?

    Add me to the nervous list. Aside from screwing it up royally, I am nervous that I'll give up and say
    **** it!...I am converting to Judaism!
    :mrgreen:

    But. Really. I am so non-craft oriented that I am afraid I might loose myself following the instructions that I'll just give up on the whole thing. :cry: ops:

  6. #6

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    **** it!...I am converting to Judaism!
    Do you know about the circumcision that that requires? :shock: Even if you already have one, I think they redo it.

    By the way, as Keith and some folks can tesify, some Zen lineages require a branding with hot incense as part of Jukai.

    In South Korea, the sugae [Jukai] ceremony involves burning the arm with a lit incense stick, leaving marks which serve to remind the practitioner of the Five Precepts he or she has vowed to obey. Korean monks also undergo the ceremony, but with thick, temple incense sticks which leave much larger scars.
    We can incorporate any of the above into our Jukai, if anyone wishes. Of course, given our online format, the circumcision and/or branding portion will have to be self-administered at home. :shock: :shock:

    Gassho, Jundo

  7. #7

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    By the way, as Keith and some folks can tesify, some Zen lineages require a branding with hot incense as part of Jukai.
    Yes, I still have the scar on my left arm from the Kwan Um folks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    We can incorporate any of the above into our Jukai, if anyone wishes. Of course, given our online format, the circumcision and/or branding portion will have to be self-administered at home. :shock: :shock:
    Now THAT would be dedication. :shock:

    Gassho,
    Keith

  8. #8

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    So, I'm one of the ones who said over in the other thread that I'm nervous about the sewing. I guess I AM worried it will look like crap, or that I'll miss an important step and one day I'll tug on a loose thread and the entire thing will fly apart into a million rakusu strips in a blazing display of impermanence.

    But seriously, my real issue is that I'm not a very good spacial thinker, so I doubt my own ability to translate printed instructions into a real 3D object. But I'm going to give myself plenty of time to work on it, and I'll watch all the talks, which may give me good examples.

  9. #9

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Just so there is no misunderstanding about the "branding" during the Kwan Um precepts ceremony, I have done it, I recall a signal one gives to let the person know when to stop, it is quite quick and not painful (and I have sensitive skin). And I think "branding" is a misnomer since it is not done for the purposes of "tagging" but rather is symbolic of burning away ones past bad "karma". I think that labeling it as "Branding" might be particularly offensive to the Jewish Zen Master who heads the Empty Gate Zen Center in Berkeley, California.

    thank you for your time,
    rowan

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    By the way, as Keith and some folks can tesify, some Zen lineages require a branding with hot incense as part of Jukai.
    Yes, I still have the scar on my left arm from the Kwan Um folks.

  10. #10

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by aebaxter
    So, I'm one of the ones who said over in the other thread that I'm nervous about the sewing. I guess I AM worried it will look like crap, or that I'll miss an important step and one day I'll tug on a loose thread and the entire thing will fly apart into a million rakusu strips in a blazing display of impermanence.
    ...
    ^^ Yeah that! I guess I'm not nervous about sewing, just about the mess of material ill have left over when im done I have sewn my zafu and zabuton they are still together and functioning but they certainly are not "pretty"

    Gassho
    Dirk

  11. #11

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    **** it!...I am converting to Judaism!
    Do you know about the circumcision that that requires? :shock: Even if you already have one, I think they redo it.
    Really OT.... :mrgreen:

    Personal history. I looked into it. One of my ex's is Jewish. So. Just to be sure in case we got serious, I studied Judaism 101 (read a lot of books, talk to Jewish friends, etc), visited a synagogue, and even talked to a Rabbi about marriage between interfaith couples. The synagogue that I went to was basically come to conversion classes, come to services for a year, and a symbolic circumcision. But. Life took another road and my skin was spared. :mrgreen:

    We can incorporate any of the above into our Jukai, if anyone wishes. Of course, given our online format, the circumcision and/or branding portion will have to be self-administered at home. :shock: :shock:
    :shock:

  12. #12

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Do you know about the circumcision that that requires? :shock: Even if you already have one, I think they redo it.
    Well, yes, but it is literally just a symbolic pinprick.

    --Charles

  13. #13

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by ros
    Many people have posted that they are nervous about sewing. Does anyone have any concerns, other than being worried that it will look terrible?
    Yeah, I might sew something to my hand...

    Seriously though, despite my ineptitude, I'm looking forward to learning how to do this. Thank you very much for offering your help with this!

    --Charles

  14. #14

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by ros
    Just so there is no misunderstanding about the "branding" during the Kwan Um precepts ceremony, I have done it, I recall a signal one gives to let the person know when to stop, it is quite quick and not painful (and I have sensitive skin). And I think "branding" is a misnomer since it is not done for the purposes of "tagging" but rather is symbolic of burning away ones past bad "karma". I think that labeling it as "Branding" might be particularly offensive to the Jewish Zen Master who heads the Empty Gate Zen Center in Berkeley, California.

    thank you for your time,
    rowan

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    By the way, as Keith and some folks can tesify, some Zen lineages require a branding with hot incense as part of Jukai.
    Yes, I still have the scar on my left arm from the Kwan Um folks.
    Hi Ros,

    As a Jewish Zen Buddhist guy myself, I think the first rule of being a Jewish Zen Buddhist guy is one has to be a bit irreverent toward all things Jewish, Zen or Buddhist. It is one of the secrets to how the Jewish people have survived for 5000 years (2500 years longer than that new kid on the block called "Buddhism"). Sorry if I offended though.

    Around this Sangha, there is no harm in making light of any Buddhist customs or beliefs, as long as it is done either constructively or in good humor (it becomes clear real fast when lines are overstepped). Heck, you will hear me say from time to time that the Buddha himself was just another "Bozo on the Bus, Like the Rest of Us" who maybe needed to learn to crack a dirty joke now and then.

    By the way, somebody asked me recently if I still considered myself as practicing the "Jewish" religion. I said that, if there is a Jehovah up above, I am pretty sure She is not displeased with our Practices (the same answer I recently gave to the question of Zen and Christianity). Anyway, I have not been hit by any lightning bolts yet.

    Oh, and the Second Rule of Treeleaf Zendo ... Don't Talk about Treeleaf Zendo. 8)

    Gassho and a Tickle, Jundo (frustrated Jewish Stand-up Comedian)

    PS - These have been around the internet for awhile ... Jewish Zen Koans ... Some need to be said with a vague Eastern European accent and a shrug ...

    11. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining
    Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

    10. If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

    12. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao does not
    speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao is not Jewish.


    14. The Buddha taught that one should practice loving kindness to all sentient beings.
    Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish?


    15. Be patient and achieve all things. Be impatient and achieve all things faster.


    16. In nature, there is no good or bad, better or worse. The wind may blow or not. The
    flowering branch grows long or short. Do not judge or prefer. Ask only, "Is it good
    for the Jews?"


    18. Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?
    .

  15. #15

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Hi Jundo!,

    Thanks for your reply. As a jewish girl form a (small-time) theatrical family, I certainly understand about humor . I was just concerned, since most people haven't practiced at a Kwan Um Zen center, that htey might get a very wrong impression. Must get going on that "sewing tips for newbies"......

    yours,
    rowan

  16. #16

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Jundo,

    I must say i am very keen on the idea of using the Katagiri instructions for two reasons: they follow exactly the nyoho-e school ( which is the one of Sawaki Kodo [and Nishijima Roshi's Lineage]) and it will be easier for everybody (including me...)...As soon as you get the permission i could send you copies of the pages and if you can scan them, then everybody would be provided with something reliable and clear. Please, can we make it possible?

    Ros is right, by light cotton we mean the kind which is used for shirts. Cotton is the very best option because it is "stable", silk and linen require experienced hands. Colour is essential, please, ask for dark broken colours, black is quite an easy option.

    The nyoho-e traditional rakusu is without a ring for very complicated historical reasons which are...Japanese. These days, a few teachers in the West agree that rings are fine. As a mere student of the kesa, I think the ring is OK. [So, we can have the rings].
    So, it seems we won't be going the route of some Zen centers and lineages where colors will be used to designate our standing in the Sangha (e.g., black for monks, blue for householders, etc.). I think that's very cool. I'm kind of keen on sewing either a green or a blue rakusu.

    Regarding fabric, I once saw a rakusu made of hemp cloth. How's that to work with?

    Gassho,
    Keith

  17. #17

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Hi all,

    I was thinking that green would be cool. Ya know, Treeleaf and all that.

    Gassho.

    Linda

  18. #18

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper
    Hi all,

    I was thinking that green would be cool. Ya know, Treeleaf and all that.

    Gassho.

    Linda

    Emphatic agreement. Question tho--I don't understand the term 'broken color' that has come up once or twice. How is a broken color different from a solid color--different shades?
    Gee, we have to find out! I think it is fine to use any darkish color, not too shiny, not bright or pastel color. Like a medium to dark brown or green. That is pretty standard. I will ask our experts!

    By the way, green sounds great for Treeleafers! No obligation to do that, but nice if folks want to. I think I will.

    Gassho, Jundo

  19. #19

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Hemp is a fiber and therefore can be woven in various ways with various thicknesses, etc. You might buy a 1/4 yard, try drawing and cutting out, say 2 pieces 3 inches x 6 inches and sewing them. However I seem to recall that as you piece things, you get up to many more layers on some of the seams, so it might be tricky unless you can get a light-weight hemp. It might fray a whole lot, there is this stuff called "fray-check" that is a thin glue (I think) and you put it on the raw edges of the cut pieces. I have never tried it so I have no idea how it works. If you are a new sewer, you might be handling the fabric more and more roughly than us 40 year needle veterans. But I firmly believe that if that is what you want - go for it. The worst that can happen is that you have to make a second rakusu, and how bad is that? There is also bamboo fiber cloth now available. I don't know how the shopping is in your area. I know several people who buy from fabric.com.

    your schmata kibbitzer,
    rowan,
    nee wexelbaum
    (who stole "rowan" and kept "sherwood" in the divorce settlement)


    Regarding fabric, I once saw a rakusu made of hemp cloth. How's that to work with?

    Gassho,
    Keith[/quote]

  20. #20

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    I know . . . SPANDEX RAKUSUs! That way we could use them as slingshots when we are not wearing them. Booooiiiiiiinnng.

    Bill

  21. #21

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Swiss army rakusu ? hmm...

  22. #22

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    :lol: utility bib rakusu.

    random pockets for pocket for incense, lighter, bell, blow up zafu and survival rations to sneak when you're on sesshin :lol:

    I assume plans/link wil be posted when permission is gained for using it, along with a patent for util-rakusu :lol:

  23. #23

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Hi,

    My hands tend to get cold, so I'd like to see one with the sides open so that I can use it like the old-fashioned hand muffs! No fur though, I believe that might violate precepts. It gets cold in canada.

    Many blessings,
    lora

  24. #24

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Do you know about the circumcision that that requires? :shock: Even if you already have one, I think they redo it.
    Well, yes, but it is literally just a symbolic pinprick.

    --Charles
    Thanks for sharing... ops: :mrgreen:

  25. #25

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    I guess I don't know enough about it to get nervous and you guys have been doing the terrific job of finding out what to do and how to do it best, the patterns etc. Especially knowing so many of us will be doing it and so many have done it before makes me feel relaxed about it. It can only be... perfect.

    The word "ring" or even "rings" in one of the posts made me wonder though. :roll:

    Gassho,

    Irina

  26. #26

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    :lol: I don't know if the unusual heat here has got to me but every time I see the title of this thread I think of sewers as in sewerage, nervous sewers takes me to IBS and now there's talk of rings :lol:

    Oops I gotta rush ops: , nervous sewers :lol:

  27. #27

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    lol

  28. #28

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    These kinds of rings ...





    It is one thing that you need not make for yourself (unless you are good with woodworking or the like!), and can purchase online (many sources) ...

    ... They are usually plastic (modernity) or light wood ... but bone is cool too. Jade is you want to go the posh Chinese traditional (ivory is also a historical favorite in China, as I guess nobody thought about the elephants).

    Gassho, J

  29. #29

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Speaking of rings, I was wondering if I could use this brass gear that I found in a junkyard when I was a kid. I've had it stashed in my "junk drawer" for years and came across it recently. Its a good reminder of my sometimes overly analytic mind. And its just the right size.

    I'd like to know more about what the ring's symbolic and historic function is though, before I make a decision.



    -Skye

    Edit: found this:

    Japanese rakusu have sewn designs on the straps, or on the collar covering, where they fall across the back of the neck to indicate denominational sects: Soto is a pine, Rinzai is a mountain-shaped triangle, and Obaku is a six-pointed star. In addition, Rinzai and Soto traditions sew a large flat ring on the left strap. This ring is not functional, but recalls the shoulder fasteners of the full-length kesa. As a result of a reform movement known as the fukudenkai in the mid-20th century, some Soto Zen groups have eliminated the rakusu ring.
    Decoration as a shadow of functionality? I love it.
    It seems more meaningful to me, to have the cheapest mass produced ring possible in this context!

  30. #30

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Hi.

    Regarding rings, can we please get an outside diameter measurement in inches and centimeters so we can all go shopping?

    gassho,
    rowan
    who is thinking of the next bead show..............

  31. #31

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Hi Guys,

    I hope to have diagrams of the "Nyoho-e" rakusu sewing pattern in the coming day or so (I need to scan it into the computer). We will also start to collect all the various tips and hints into a single file of sewing instructions, so please stand by.

    As to the ring, Skye. Sounds fine to me. Shakyamuni Buddha instructed us to make our clothes from bits of discarded fabric, including from the cemetery. So, I think the ring works in that way.

    Yes, originally, it was no more significant than a zipper ... something to keep your pants (or in this case, Kesa) on. However, of course, in the Buddhist world, it then took on every kind of significance as imaginative Buddhist teachers could think up ... that it holds together the universe, that it is a link in Indra's net, that it is form (the donut) and emptiness (the donut hole) ... you name it. It is much like the Enso ...



    So, I think it is fine ... so long as the little spikes don't rip the cloth, and so long as it is not too heavy as to pull down on the cloth on one side. The wooden and plastic rings are very light, so they don't tug on the cloth. Also, you will have to check the diameter of the hole, and make sure that you can tie the cloth in there as it should be tied.

    Gassho, Jundo

  32. #32

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Jundo,

    Thanks for the picture of the rings, they don't look that scary at all and I like the idea of the natural materials (ivory, wood).
    Someone kindly posted a shopping link somewhere in the forum.

    Standing by,

    Gassho,

    Irina

  33. #33

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Will we be sewing the rakusu together as a group in the Zen hall or individually?

    Gassho

  34. #34

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    A few miscellaneous thoughts on various points:
    Skye, regarding the gear-ed ring, I think this would, considering that the fabric is some type of cotton probably, would if not rip it, then fray it quickly. I was thinking this morning, and perhaps you could wrap two portions (top and bottom?) of the gear with natural jute twine. this would cover the gears where the fabric wraps around, and still be a natural look and material. It also leaves the sides unwrapped, so the original toothed look of the gear shows.

    I was also thinking that embroidery thread would be nice for the pine twig. Or, perhaps a light-weight crochet cotton. Either of these, however, would require another needle with a larger eye-hole. I don't know if the thread for the pine twig is supposed to be the same as what is used to construct the garment--someone else should speak to the authenticity required here. It seems as tho a slightly thicker 'thread' would show better.

    Since some of us are considering using a green fabric, then the green thread for the pine twig won't show. I was wondering if we could sew the twig onto a separate patch of black or white (brown, beige--different contrasting solid color), and then sew that patch onto the neck strap.

    Gassho, and deferring to those who know more about the garment than I do, ann

  35. #35

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Or perhaps we could use a lighter green or even black (pine tree at night) for the embroidery.

    No doubt having the instructions will help. Jundo, you can't say we aren't enthusiastic!

    Gassho,

    Linda

  36. #36

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Quote Originally Posted by lindabeekeeper
    Or perhaps we could use a lighter green or even black (pine tree at night) for the embroidery.

    No doubt having the instructions will help. Jundo, you can't say we aren't enthusiastic!

    Gassho,

    Linda
    Actually, I am trying to let things cool down a little. If everyone's in a hurry, I say "slow down". If everyone's slow, I say "speed up"!

    But no rush, nothing to attain or achieve. Rev. Taigu will be to Treeleaf Tsukuba in about 10 days to film his talks, and we will have it all worked out by that time.

    Neither be attached to your Rakusu, nor be afraid of what it takes to make one.

    Will we be sewing the rakusu together as a group in the Zen hall or individually?
    I am thinking "individually", but we will have some regularly scheduled "sewing circles" in the "meeting room", plus the recorded talks by various folks. Ros, do you have a camera on your computer? It would be lovely if I could get you "on the air"?

    Gassho, Jundo

  37. #37

    Re: To all nervous sewers

    Re: pine pattern. When I sewed my Rakusu last winter using the SFZC instructions, the pine pattern had to show on both sides, so you started and finished in the middle between the straps. I also had to use double thread and keep both threads parallel, not twisted. There is no ring on this pattern.

    This is just a comment - I wouldn't feel very confident about giving advice to others on sewing as I found it very difficult and needed a lot of help (and perseverance) when I got stuck trying to decipher the instructions. I had to resew a lot of stitches so found a stitch ripper-outer (or whatever they're called) very necessary.

    Gassho,
    John

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