Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Kesa object of faith...

  1. #1

    Kesa object of faith...

    Hi,
    after a while surfing on the forum. I learned more about the way you folks did your rakkusu, about the great videos Taigu makes... And a question began to appear in my mind ( what a mess in there!).
    Well, I'll try to be clear...
    In Europe, teachers insist on the fact that beeing in contact with Zen is not a banal thing. We 've a responsability once we met the practice. The first generation learned from the East, and now the second generation of "sitters" try to maintain and adapt Zen to make something who's not different from life. This sangha is the most beautifull example of it: true spirit and practice but multiplicity of capabilities to achieve it.

    And all this transmission is based on two main things. The practice of Shikantaza and the devotion to the kesa.(it's a specificity of Sawaki ligneage, I presume.)

    But study and devotion to the kesa also means faith in the kesa.
    And, I'm asking myself, how you people live your link with the kesa? your practice of the kesa? Have you faith in it? in his practice of sewing and sitting?

    Might seem a large question, but I just wanted to let you talk about your practice of studying kesa...

    Gassho,

    Luis

    ps: I'm not use to English so be nice with my mistakes :?

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY, USA
    Posts
    4,701

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Hi Luis,

    As one of the folks here working on a kesa I have some thoughts on this, but I think I'll let the folks who have finished one chime in first (also because I'd like to hear how they answer your question). However, my first reaction is to say that a kesa isn't so much an object of faith...it's just a kesa. Working on the kesa has been a wonderful experience and has added to my practice greatly, but I also try not to become too attached to it. Saying it is a symbol of faith is even too strong I think...perhaps the kesa is more like evidence of dedication to buddha, dharma, and sangha.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  3. #3

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Saying it is a symbol of faith is even too strong I think...perhaps the kesa is more like evidence of dedication to buddha, dharma, and sangha.
    I agree with you! And I think maybe that's also a difference in the teachings of Deshimaru sensei and Nishijima roshi.
    You see, here in France, Belgium,... people ordained as Bodhisattva, people who received Jukai, don't let the rakkusu or kesa on the ground, they don't go to toilet or make food with them, people often do a second rakkusu to get it as a kind of "lucky charm".
    For example, when sewing, if all the angles are not 45° ,you just make it again, if the sewing point are not in shape of a point but in shape of a line ... u make it again... And it is not said like if you've done something wrong. They explained it not an ordinary object. It's the object-symbol of the transmission. Hi heard often : "kesa and transmission are like zazen and realization ---> not the same, not different"

    Another example is the colors, kesa or kasaya means "ocher" or "earthed" (?the color of the ground?). I've seen some group photography of sangha's on the net, their kesa where light green, orange, electric blue... And I must confess it shocked me... What do you think about colors? are u free? or Jundo as chosen a color for all is student (the actual situation here in Belgium)?
    Well, don't think I'm judging people, I just noticied different sanghas have different opinions on those subjects... And I like to dig in those fields of the practice, just to take the time to analyse for a moment the way we do things...

    Hope you folks don't think I'm "digging" to much, I just want to confront (as the word 'confront' a negative meaning?) opinonS and practiceS

    Deep Gassho,

  4. #4

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Hope you folks don't think I'm "digging" to much, I just want to confront (as the word 'confront' a negative meaning?) opinonS and practiceS
    I think that attitude is most welcome here!

    Gassho
    Tobiishi

  5. #5

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Hi Luis,
    Your English is good.

    You ask a difficult question . . . I like something I read by Sawaki about the kesa:

    Wherever it goes,
    The snail is at home when it dies.
    There is no world outside the kesa.

    The snail is an interesting image in that it is an animal who carries its home with it. Much like the kesa for a mendicant. For a householder like myself, I see the kesa as a reminder of the commitment to the way and as a physical manifestation of refuge. I also agree with Dosho that it is just a piece of cloth. But like anything (a hairbrush, a stone, a table) the kesa is eveything and nothing all at the same time. It is sacred, as the moon is sacred, as the rocks are sacred, as the table is sacred. Similar to the advice to the tenzo to treat food like it was their eyeballs . . . something so precious and fragile, but of course we know it is also food, nourishment for the body. The kesa is the universe (this in one of those sentences I never thought I would write a couple of years ago), it is everything, it is our delusion and imperfection, our enlightenment and perfection, our devotion, our carelessness, etc. Very difficult to explain.

    Sewing the kesa simply seemed like the next thing I should do.

    I'm still working on mine . . .

    Gassho,
    Bill

    PS--Welcome, Luis!

  6. #6

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Luis, welcome...Eika has got it right. What he says about the kesa is very true.
    I have been studying the kesa for so many years, but I know very little.
    Just a few observations...About the colour, the kesa should not be pitch black. In the nyoho e tradition, it should be a muddy colour, broken, mixed. What the AZI do is simply to borrow the Japanese system of colour to identify the rank of the monk, the clearer the higher...With special meanings given to purple, light brown, rings that they forbid for young sitters and that are allowed for Godos and teachers. This is not Sawakis tradition at all. I started sewing in 1981 and even in those days, they were pretty strict with the process. Nowadays, it is a bit too much. It seems that they have somehow lost the true spirit of sewing.
    As to what the kesa is, well, once you sit with it, you forget it and in the process of forgetting it, you...

    Thank you for your patience

    gassho

    Taigu

  7. #7

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    I recommend reading Ch 12 Kesa-Kudoko and 13 Transmission of the Robe of Shobogenzo Book1 by Nishijima & Cross.
    For me the robe symbolizes and is the real evidence of the unbroken transmission of the Dharma from Buddha to the present. Buddha's actual robe was transmitted along with anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (supreme balanced state of truth) from patriarch to patriarch in India all the way to the 6th patriarch in China. So I think the robe is also symbolic of our faith that if we practice the teaching of Buddha as passed thru our teachers to us, we too can find the truth.

  8. #8

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Hi Rich,

    Indeed. I shall actually talk a bit more about these two chapters during the summer. Very important chapters and, at the same time, very tricky. You see, it is written by a man of 13 th century Japan and we also have to bear that in mind. The point of Zen is not to fall into a cultural or medieval practice, it is to experience the Buddha s teaching here and now, beyond time.

    gassho


    Taigu

  9. #9

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobiah
    I think that attitude is most welcome here!
    Thanks Tobiishi, then I'll continue untill I've find oil :mrgreen:

    Quote Originally Posted by Eika
    The kesa is the universe , it is everything, it is our delusion and imperfection, our enlightenment and perfection, our devotion, our carelessness
    :shock: ... what else? You just say the things I couldn't say properly :!: I knew talking about kesa is always intersting because everyone live it differently... that's really exciting!
    Hope you follow sewing your kesa, and show us when it's done

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    I have been studying the kesa for so many years, but I know very little.
    That's an interesting point, an old nun in Brussels sangha often says "she plunges in the practice of the kesa, with no beginning, and no end".

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    About the colour, the kesa should not be pitch black. In the nyoho e tradition, it should be a muddy colour, broken, mixed. What the AZI do is simply to borrow the Japanese system of colour to identify the rank of the monk, the clearer the higher...With special meanings given to purple, light brown, rings that they forbid for young sitters and that are allowed for Godos and teachers. This is not Sawakis tradition at all. I started sewing in 1981 and even in those days, they were pretty strict with the process. Nowadays, it is a bit too much. It seems that they have somehow lost the true spirit of sewing.
    I've noticied that "olders" in the sangha, had more "fancy" rakkusu colors. And it's true the sewing is beeing to strict in most dojos. But, I must say they are also some "olders" teaching the sewing method, who really care about it, and do great job in their dojos. And, fortunately, people continue to sew together in the sanghas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rich
    I recommend reading Ch 12 Kesa-Kudoko and 13 Transmission of the Robe of Shobogenzo Book1 by Nishijima & Cross.
    For me the robe symbolizes and is the real evidence of the unbroken transmission of the Dharma from Buddha to the present. Buddha's actual robe was transmitted along with anuttara-samyak-sambodhi (supreme balanced state of truth) from patriarch to patriarch in India all the way to the 6th patriarch in China. So I think the robe is also symbolic of our faith that if we practice the teaching of Buddha as passed thru our teachers to us, we too can find the truth.
    I remember I've read commentaries of Deshimaru sensei about kesa kudoku, But I confess that if Taigu could talk about it, would be great! Because I don't really remember ... And with the awesome translation of the Sobogenzo Nishijima roshi put online it won't be difficult to look at.
    The Shobogenzo is also been translated in french but the most important translator (ORIMO) is very academic and at the and the text, the words are "dry" ... fortunately some teachers are translating it or parts of it too. like Eric Romelučre in the Nishijima tradition.

    I sometimes wonder why this special attention to the robe in the Zen tradition. In other tradition, the monastic robe is important too, the bowl and the kesa are the universal attributes of the buddhist monk. But why this special care for the monastic robe in Zen... someone knows?

    Gassho ,
    Luis

  10. #10

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Hi Rich,

    Indeed. I shall actually talk a bit more about these two chapters during the summer. Very important chapters and, at the same time, very tricky. You see, it is written by a man of 13 th century Japan and we also have to bear that in mind. The point of Zen is not to fall into a cultural or medieval practice, it is to experience the Buddha s teaching here and now, beyond time.

    gassho


    Taigu
    Taigu, Thanks for pointing that out and I look forward to your discussion of those chapters.

    Luis said
    "But why this special care for the monastic robe in Zen... someone knows? "

    I can't explain it but I do believe in mystical powers and have been to carry a small piece of the robe in my pocket for protection and wisdom when entering dangerous or stressful situations.

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    2,939

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis
    ...I sometimes wonder why this special attention to the robe in the Zen tradition. In other tradition, the monastic robe is important too, the bowl and the kesa are the universal attributes of the buddhist monk. But why this special care for the monastic robe in Zen... someone knows?

    Gassho ,
    Luis
    Hi Luis, and all,
    sorry for the snippet but everyone kind of already provided some sound reasons. Ill say, like Eika, it was the next (and for me, the only thing) to do and that during the process of making our rakusu for jukai, i found it zazen in stitches so to speak and very helpful and and and.. i guess you could say i REALLY liked sewing. Of course if you see anything ive done its a novices attempt, crooked, misshapen and still 100% perfect.

    Now as for the reason to pay such special attention to the robe. The kesa is the Buddhas original garment. Its not just for monks. ANY one can wear it, you do not even have to sew one to be wearing the kesa.
    I "wear" my kesa when im at work, by doing my best to be understanding, kind and patient. The actual sewn robe, to me, represents my dedication to this practice and my service to every being on 2 legs or no legs upright or on belly. I do not have to be a monk to commit to this as I think its [our service to all beings] an important and integral part of this practice.

    So in the 2 chapters mentioned above, well i will let people read it and digest it as they choose. It really spoke to me. The importance as a symbol of Buddhas teaching and a link to our ancestors is one reason to treat the rags with respect but i also think the kesa is representative of US all now. tatter rags and such held together by such thin seemingly fragile threads and through practice we realize how strong the stiches are. The kesa covers us all. even in the shower. As mentioned before the kesa is not a cloth that puts you up above others, as and advance practitioner or holier person, but shows your dedication to server others...and in the same breath - "you should be like your Master, like a tower".

    I'll also say that in sewing our robes (kesa, rakusu etc) i found we all bonded in our sharing and understanding. We shared our impatiences, frustrations, lol our "victories" and such. Sewing as a Sangha, i think, really helped bring us together that much tighter. ALSO, we all benefited by meeting a wonderful, patient and kind being to to teach us how to, and why we do, sew these robes. Endless thank you's to Taigu, Jundo and you all!

    When i bow to the robe and say the verse with the pile of cloth on my head I do so with the conviction and I bow to you all. (and yeah I'm pretty sure i do it awkwardly and a bit off ) I vow to save all beings!
    lol ill stop rambling. Others have already more than covered it all and so very well. I think i get a bit too excited on this topic. Very much looking forward to sewing with you all (though i do every time i sew), I think i may get too excited about it all.

    Gassho, Shohei(aka the rambler :P)

  12. #12

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Luis, you will have a bit more patient and wait for these comments of the two chapters of Dogen about the kesa.

    Rich, I'll do my best to meet your expectations. I like your voice on this forum. Very warm. Cosy.

    Dirk the rambler is a very inspired voice too! Thank you for your teaching, Shohei!

    gassho

    Taigu

  13. #13

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    That's a passionate answer! I love it :mrgreen:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    i also think the kesa is representative of US all now. tatter rags and such held together by such thin seemingly fragile threads and through practice we realize how strong the stiches are. The kesa covers us all.
    I didn't realize this point! I knew anyone could where it, but they are just a few to wear it at work! Tell us about it? How is it perceived by your colleagues?
    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    When i bow to the robe and say the verse with the pile of cloth on my head I do so with the conviction and I bow to you all. (and yeah I'm pretty sure i do it awkwardly and a bit off ) I vow to save all beings!
    That's also an important point. It's somethimes difficult to deal with this mushotoku practice. Could we really do things without having a purpose?
    It reminds me a "quote" (citation ? I don't know wich one I should use)a teacher said to me years ago
    NON META SED ITER , the point is not the PURPOSE but the WAY to reach it!

    Gassho
    Luis

  14. #14

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Luis, the kesa covers us all...

    There is nothing to add. No question to ask. It takes you-me-everybody back to the cushion.

    By the way, nothing is out of the kesa. People teaching you-me that the kesa is this and that, should be sewn this way and that way, are precious.

    Nevertheless, how much is one kesa added to another one?

    Two, three, none. Everything. Nothing( they love that word...). KESA......................................

    Could not we consider that non-buddhists are worthy of the kesa? ( as an heretic, I think they are), the kesa covers us all.

    Yes Luis, nothing but the path. The path is the goal, Trungpa Rimpoche used to say. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!

    So what's the point Luis? Shohei told you...

    I'll also say that in sewing our robes (kesa, rakusu etc) i found we all bonded in our sharing and understanding. We shared our impatiences, frustrations, lol our "victories" and such

    And this is more poweful than any kusen-teaching of great monks ( Don't worry, i am not one of them)


    The sewing of the kesa is the sewing of the kesa...

    AMAZING!!!

    Yeah. Baby. It is. Questions? No answer. Answer? Ten thousand questions. You bet!

    Taigu is really stupid. Sorry. Please, sit wrapped in IT.

    And be patient with me.

    This mushotoku practice is not a word. Forget MUSHOTOKU.... Make it mushotoku...make it you...

    Allow it to be you.


    With love


    Taigu

  15. #15

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Thank you Taigu! Everything is said with this !
    :roll: Now back to cushion!
    Talking about cushion, do you think maybe we could sew one, even I I've find it's quite simple,
    and it maintain the wonderfull habit of sewing!
    Sorry, about the mushotoku practice, that's more a problem when I tryied to expressed
    myself but don't mind, I understand you perfectly!

    Thanks for your patience you and all of you!

    Deep Gassho,

    Luis

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Posts
    2,939

    Re: Kesa object of faith...

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis
    I knew anyone could where it, but they are just a few to wear it at work! Tell us about it? How is it perceived by your colleagues?
    Well i was speaking figuratively... i should say. I meant, The Kesa is the Buddha's Teaching, the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha and a place to seek refuge. I meant that I bring the teachings with me to work(well i do my best and still fail by times ).

    Well its true now that i think about it, i have worn my kesa @ work once, to receive it, i got a lot of stares through my office windows and door (all glass ) and even with all of the kesa's mystical powers beyond my comprension, i still could not tell you how my co-workers perceived it.I never asked or was asked.
    But that is okay I hope my actions tell them who I am/we all are! not my body/clothes or facades

    Gassho, Shohei

Similar Threads

  1. SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Doubt Faith
    By Jundo in forum TALKS and TEACHINGS by JUNDO & TAIGU
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 10-31-2011, 10:09 PM
  2. Perfectionism: Faith in the Self, Faith in an Illusion
    By Stephanie in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 30
    Last Post: 07-05-2010, 12:56 PM
  3. Not Faith -- Precepts 8 Fold Path
    By Mushin in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 09-11-2008, 04:44 PM
  4. My faith isn't the only way
    By Jundo in forum TREELEAF COMMUNITY: Topics about Zazen, Zen, Buddhism & MORE ZAZEN!
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 07-01-2008, 03:59 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •