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Thread: Rakusu Procedure?

  1. #1

    Rakusu Procedure?

    Hi everyone,

    Since Jukai, every time I sit I realize that I don't have a good handle on the use of my Rakusu, especially during Zazenkai. Would someone (Dosho, Shohei, Kelly-Jinmei, Jundo, Taigu) be so kind as to give a quick rundown of the sequence of events? For regular zazen practice, I enter my sitting room, bow to the altar, bow to my seat, turn and bow to the room, sit, face wall, remove Rakusu from its envelope and place on head, recite robe chant (Verse of the Kesa from Jukai ceremony) - is this to be done three times?, put on Rakusu, sit. After sitting, bow in place then... remove Rakusu while still seated? Or after standing and bowing again? This is when I realize I may need a bit more instruction. As for Zazenkai, I don't have a clue when to do what, Rakusu-wise. :roll:

    Thank you in advance for leading me by the hand, dear ones.

    Gassho, Jikyo

  2. #2

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Jikyo,

    To the look of things, you are a great teacher, you could certainly teach me the rakusu procedure
    So, yes you may proceed exactly as you describe, in fact you may put the rakusu on before bowing to the altar. Everytime you put your rakusu on, you can touch your forehead three times with it, for the three treasures, the Buddha's bodies, then open it, touch the pine needle with your lips, forehead and put it on. You can wear the rakusu everywhere, not just for sitting, but when you work, study...One avoids wearing the rakusu in toilets for obvious reasons ( not that it is a place which is not pure, but it could be soiled easily). You don't need to take it off while seated or immediately after sitting, nothing wrong having a cup of tea with your rakusu on your lap.

    For zazenkai, we generally don't wear the rakusu or kesa for the first zazen but at the end, as we are still sitting, we put it on our head and sing the sutra of the kesa three times with and hands in gassho.

    The rakusu should be always kept on a high spot, you may put it on your altar if you wish.

    I hope this helps.


    Gassho


    Taigu

  3. #3

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Dear Taigu - thank you! This helps a great deal. Funny how in the doing of a thing, one can realize just how little one knows about it.

    Gassho, Jikyo

  4. #4
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Hi Jikyo,

    And thank you for asking this question as I would have only recalled about half of what you already knew and remember only about quarter when actually sitting! If anything those who have been practicing awhile forget to ask the basic questions which puts us right back at the beginning...where we all should dwell.

    Thank you for this teaching; many bows to you and Taigu.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  5. #5

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Hi Jikyo and all,

    I too thank you for asking this question Jean as it is a great place to start and to return to. I have a similar pattern to yours, and I follow Taigu's suggestion of touching it to my forehead three times before putting it on. Then I sit with you and all!

    You have a lovely practice and I thank you for this question - as I needed a reminder.

    Gassho,
    Kelly-Jinmei

  6. #6

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Hi again, everyone. Your kind and generous responses are much appreciated.

    Of course, I have another question. Do we wear our Rakusu while prostrating? I ask because it would undoubtedly touch the ground each time. I wouldn't mind, as I do such activities on a clean(ish) carpet, but wondered about protocol.

    I hope my newbie stumblings continue to be of help.

    Gassho, Jikyo

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Hiyas, First good thread! - Thanks for posting the questions and for all the answers!

    I wondered the same and I think the suggestion was to hold the rakusu to you with your arms when bowing or prostrating.
    When bowing/prostrating/bending over our hands are usually in shashu or gassho so you could just kind tuck your elbows in to your sides pinning the rakusu for a Gassho or for a full prostration same thing but let your middle grab the material. This may or may not work for you but you could experiment...nothing wrong with a lot of bowing .

    Gassho
    Shohei

  8. #8

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Jikyo, Shohei,

    during bowing, bowing happens. Nothing else. Kesa, rakusu, washing machine, kettle, cat, door, sky, car, moon...it bows.
    No need to think, is it on the floor or not?
    When you fully bow, there is no floor.
    High and low vanish.
    Tears, laughter, sometimes.
    Bowing bows.

    Love


    gassho


    Taigu

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Gassho!

    Shohei

  10. #10

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    Jikyo, Shohei,

    during bowing, bowing happens. Nothing else. Kesa, rakusu, washing machine, kettle, cat, door, sky, car, moon...it bows.
    No need to think, is it on the floor or not?
    When you fully bow, there is no floor.
    High and low vanish.
    Tears, laughter, sometimes.
    Bowing bows.

    Love


    gassho


    Taigu
    Yes, well, I am going to drop into this "dinner party" with my own story ... 8)

    Here's actually a little trick: While heading down to the floor, hold the Rakusu to your chest with the back of your arms while in Gassho. See where the fellow on the left has his arms and elbows are against his chest in this photo. You can hold the Rakusu in place that way as you goes down ...



    Then, when you get down, the Rakusu should be sitting on your knees (which are now folded under your chest). In other words, the Rakusu is in the fold between thighs and chest. See how his knees and lap are folded up into his chest while down (thus holding the Rakusu).



    And that's my handy dandy Rakusu trick of the day.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 01-19-2013 at 02:21 AM.

  11. #11

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Thank you big brother 8)

    I carry on with my humble stupid no floor
    when I bow, I could not care less about where the rakusu is...Just want to be able to come back up :wink: .
    Or let let my heart open and flow .

    So allow me not to use your trick.

    and thank you for your trick, very useful.


    Thanks brother.


    gassho

    taigu

  12. #12

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Thank you! Thank you, Taigu, Jundo, Shohei! Great tips and perspectives and advice.

    Taigu, I, too, am grateful when I get back up - and am pleased if I manage to be graceful about it. My experience is that prostrating many times in a row is great for the quadriceps.

    Once again, thank you all for your responses; for me, they shine like jewels.

    Gassho, Jikyo

  13. #13
    Member shogyo's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Thank you Jikyo for reminding me of the importance of relating to the rakusu in this way.

    Gassho
    Shogyo

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Thank you Taigu. It is always good to know the traditional way of doing such things. It adds to the nature of things like the Rakusu and helps to set it apart from things in our day-to-day life. Of course we have always been taught a certain reverence toward our vestments and the habits we wear, and it is good to express the same toward the Rakusu.

    Gassho,

    Kyrill-Seishin

  15. #15

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    is it really important to do the kesa verse with the rakusu on your head? because i for one dont do it...

    although i liked the idea of touch the forehead with the rakusu 3 times... might adopt it and start doing that instead with the verse...
    i guess that having the rakusu on top of my own head isnt my cup of tea. although i dont really mind it if it is important.

    Gassho, Dojin.

  16. #16
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin
    is it really important to do the kesa verse with the rakusu on your head? because i for one dont do it...

    although i liked the idea of touch the forehead with the rakusu 3 times... might adopt it and start doing that instead with the verse...
    i guess that having the rakusu on top of my own head isnt my cup of tea. although i dont really mind it if it is important.

    Gassho, Dojin.
    Hiya Dojin!

    Ha perhaps that is all the more reason to do it

    Thinking about why I do it - I guess at first I thought I probably looked silly. I look silly regardless - big deal! I am! I looked at it like this - Took the time to sew it with my best intentions, sticth by clumsy incorrect stitch, care for it, and revere it as the buddhas teachings might as well do it full out - and according to Dogen it was important. That said its still up to you really... Again maybe look at why you are reserved about it? There will be much better post than this with reasons for or not for so just my long winded opinion

    Gassho
    Shohei
    (and son who helped type this)

  17. #17

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin
    is it really important to do the kesa verse with the rakusu on your head? because i for one dont do it...

    although i liked the idea of touch the forehead with the rakusu 3 times... might adopt it and start doing that instead with the verse...
    i guess that having the rakusu on top of my own head isnt my cup of tea. although i dont really mind it if it is important.

    Gassho, Dojin.
    You do not need to put the Rakusu on you head, but you must put your head under the Rakusu. 8)

    Because you do not like to do that ... please do that.

    Gassho, Jundo

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Kyrillos's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Very good Jundo! I really heard that.

    Gassho,

    Kyrill-Seishin

  19. #19

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    .

  20. #20

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Undo,

    As I said, it is the way I was shown some 30 years ago and I believe there are many variations to do it. So your way sounds great too. Putting the kesa on one's head and singing the sutra is an important part of our practice. You might be willing to investigate it.


    gassho

    Taigu

  21. #21

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    .

  22. #22

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    the reason i dont like doing it... well as silly as it might sound i have a girlfriend that really isnt that supportive about it, actually i dont have anyone who supports me in my practice most people think its stupid and just let me be except for a little remark here and there... i guess i just dont want to explain it to people and have them judge me as. does the verse have to be said out loud or quietly in my own mind?

    and could i just touch the rakusu 3 times to my forehead while saying the verse, out loud or in my mind?

    Gassho, Dojin.

  23. #23
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Hi Dojin again take my stuff with a grain or 10000 of salt -
    You do not have to explain anything if you do not want. Firstly your being judged, whether you have a pile of rags on your head or not! (like it or not, its what people do, me included) - Its doesn't bother us if people were to say ...

    "Wow...that's one sweet bib!! tell me how you made it and what it means!!" (lol hasnt happened yet) right?

    Unless its endangering you or your loved ones... Try to let that "judged" worry go. Heck - Tell them your getting enlightened via osmosis :twisted: Its not easy, but it is You that needs to deal with it, not your girlfriend or others... they may (or may not!) come around when they experience the benefits of you practicing!

    I still say do it, however, Don't have to chant the verse of the kesa out loud in a foreign-to-you-language, quietly in your head in your words is cool (whos gonna know ;D)




    Gassho
    Shohei

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  24. #24

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Shohei, tanks for the encouragment.

    English aint a very foreign language to me i know it better than the 2 other languages i know ( funny thinking one is my native and the other i grow up with so they both are native to me ).

    I must admit i dont wear my rakusu so often... i am a student and i rent an apartment with my girlfriend. we usually go back to my parents house on the weekends. so i keep it there and wear it when ever i sit there. but mostly without it since its not here with me.
    actually been thinking of sawing another one so i could have one for each house.

    as for doing the kesa verse i think i might do it... or atleast i will try to start doing it... i must say that lately my practice hasnt been very good. i still sit almost daily, although i am sometimes too tired to sit for longer than 20 minutes, so i sometimes sit 10.

    but i havent been doing much except sitting. no metta or nurturing seeds.

    although i try to put my practice in to everything i do. and i am sure it is since everything i do is effected by the person i am and this practice has become an integral part of who i am and i know it changed me. so i guess i practice each day at work with patients and in every part of my life.

    as for dana... just wanted to mention that i donated thrombocytes (blood platelets). i do it once in a while.
    just wanted to suggest it as a dana for everyone... i dont know how it is in other countries but here there is always a serious shortage since they only last for about a week and are often needed to save lives in cases of severe bleeds.

    so if you have a few hours and dont mind getting pricked with very big needles ( they do use a big one 16g, which is pretty big ) or being strapped to a dialysis like machine for an hour or so... i encourage everyone do do it.
    i have helped a child with cancer last time... they called me since i am registered as a Donner and i do it every few month and asked me if i could come and donate since it was urgent. so i put my things aside and made the effort to go and do it, feels good doing something good for others even though i will never meet the person i helped.

    Gassho. Dojin.

  25. #25
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    i must say that lately my practice hasnt been very good.
    If i had a nickle for every time Ive thought/said the above, id have a lot of nickles! :lol:
    Seriously though it sounds like "normal" practice to me - short sitting good sitting no sitting and on. The metta and seed nurturing I also have a resistance too and I've been trying to just do it for that reason... somtimes i modify the wording because i forget the one on the form. Been making a point to sit the the zazenkai's -and since im already doing it I have been doing the metta verses etc.

    You got your self a deal on the blood donation! I think all areas of the globe need a good donor base.
    I got some kinda blood that is great for all but i can only receive my own type?? Anywho I hit the next clinic in a couple of weeks!
    Besides I don't mind needles much (unless i have to give em) /me shivers

    Thank you, Dojin, for every thing!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  26. #26

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    you probebly have O- its like one of the rarest if not the rarest blood type.
    it is always in demand. and if you could donate such a type that would be a very good thing...
    i have the most common but it can be used almost by everyone. i have O+

    Gassho, Dojin

  27. #27
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    I believe I have O+ as well. As I understand it, O+ can be given to anyone with a + but not a -, while people with O- can give to anyone.

  28. #28

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    yes Dosho, that is absolutely right.

  29. #29

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Hi Dojin,

    This is where real practice starts...When you are getting out of the comfort zone and start to bargain with the path. We don't bargain with the path. The rakusu represents not just your blood ( O ) but the blood of all ancestors (any blood type) and beyond, all existences (blood types or not). Putting this cloth on your head makes you a clown, so be it! Who dislikes being a clown except the lovely cuddled ego centered voice in you? Can't you see how this challenges your belief system and shows you where your daily reactions arise from? I am the same, made of the same stuff, Dojin, I am not better or wiser. I tend to surrender more, maybe. That's all. Can't you give up the idea of what you like like for other people? Putting that cloth of your head is now your big challenge until the next one. In Zen, we call this a gate. A barrier. Could be seen as a personnal Koan. You take it, chew it, swallow it and get on with your life. I would recommand you not to sew a kesa until you can do this simple action without any more resistance. Good luck with the work.

    Gassho

    Taigu

    PS wearing the rakusu during zazen is not optional. As much as possible, one should always do it.

  30. #30

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    you know when i think about it... you are right Taigu. i did resist doing it because i thought what people think of me but i realize that i dont really care what they think. so i will start putting it on my head and chanting! actually even looking forward to it a bit ( next time im home and sitting with the rakusu )
    thank you for this encouragement...
    Gassho, Dojin.

  31. #31

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dojin
    you know when i think about it... you are right Taigu. i did resist doing it because i thought what people think of me but i realize that i dont really care what they think. so i will start putting it on my head and chanting! actually even looking forward to it a bit ( next time im home and sitting with the rakusu )
    thank you for this encouragement...
    Gassho, Dojin.
    And, of course, no need to make a show of it, intentionally shock anyone. Just be natural. My view is, if it is really disquieting to your mother ... no need to do it in front of your mother (be kind to mom). My own mother, who was originally not too sure of my "becoming like those guys wearing bedsheets" a few years ago, finally asked me to sit Zazen with her when she was sick, and to have me lead a Buddhist-Jewish-Whatever funeral for her when she died.

    And no need to wear it on a first date with a new girl/guy. On the other hand, no need to hide it at a certain point from a girlfriend/boyfriend if you truly want them to know who you are (allowing the other's beliefs is important in a relationship).

    I do not wear my Buddhist robes all the time, for example, most times when attending the PTA at my son's school or going shopping for groceries. Most of my day, I am in t-shirt and jeans. But I could wear my priest's robes, and sometimes I do wear my robes (if it happens to be a day on which I happen to be wearing robes and need to get to the PTA or grocery store, I go ... I have done both) and, I think, nobody would be that shocked. Sometimes people stare for a moment, but it is no big deal.

    And, even if they are "shocked", I am sure it is a mild shock. Even mom and my relatives (most of them ... the rest, they have their own problems) got over it. The neighborhood where I live is used to me (believe me, while they are used to Buddhist priests in Japan ... they are not used to "Big Yankee" Buddhist priests, so that gets looks).

    On the other hand, I intentionally do not wear Buddhist robes to a friend's non-Buddhist wedding, or a relative's Jewish funeral, because I did not think it appropriate. I have worn it at weddings and funerals when asked to do so.

    I do not wear them when meeting a translation client for my work ... as I do not think it necessary or appropriate to mix religious views and business. On the other hands, several of my clients found out and think it a positive thing ... (although this is Japan, of course).

    Our own Taigu sometimes stands in front of the local train stations in full regalia, begging bowl in hand. I think he has to put aside what people think. Here is a picture of Taigu ...



    So, just be natural to the circumstance, and do not overly worry about what people think, nor try to throw it in anyone's face. Judge by the circumstances.

    But you know, Daniel. You are in Israel. Certainly, you have seen this ritual of Orthodox Jews. Do you notice anything similar? How hard could it be for folks to understand?

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... 3609231223



    Gassho, J

  32. #32

    Re: Rakusu Procedure?

    Jundo i couldnt Agree with you more.

    i think you summed it up beautifully so i will not try to add anymore to that since it pretty much sums up what i think.

    as for hiding it i never hid it. i always do it during the ceremonies and such. during the Jukai my girlfriend say on the side and watched me do it... laughed and took pictures but she doesnt do a big deal of it only sometimes make a joke about it or something... so after seeing this i think i might start doing it whenever i wear a rakusu.

    as for wearing it out side i will never do it... unfortunately israel isnt the most religion tolerant place in the world ( unless its their own )
    and some orthodox jews are very very fanatical about things they think as corrupting. each year there is a gay parade in israel mostly it is done in tel aviv ( the big secular city in israel ) and nobody is bothered to much but about a year or 2 ago they wanted to do it in the capital in Jerusalem. there was a huge public out cry that they couldnt do it. the orthodox jew threatened that if it is done they will just blow it up, because the parade is very provocative with people dancing sometimes in revealing cloth and gays kissing ( lesbians included ). even though they organizers promised a very modest thing that wouldnt include things like that.

    on another occasion that actually happened last year there was a parking garage near the old city in jerusalem where you could park your car ( for money ofcourse ) and go walk there. so the city decided to open it on saturday and let people park their cars there. and violating the shabat!!!!
    the orthodox jews rioted they came each week there and rioted! they through rocks at cars, jumped under the wheels of cars to stop them. it was madness!

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