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Thread: Rakusu Color

  1. #1
    Senior Member Shujin's Avatar
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    Rakusu Color

    Hey y'all,
    I don't really know where this post belongs. It's rakusu related, but not limited to the sewing forum. All the rakusu I've seen are made from dark colors, but I came across a photo of this guy the other day while messing about online. Is there a school that uses bright colors for their rakusu? It's an inconsequential question, I know, but I'm curious. So there.

    gassho,
    Chris

    Attached files

  2. #2

    Re: Rakusu Color

    Hi Chris,

    Generally rakusu are made of darkish colors. But the color system is used in Japan to make the difference between a fully trained priest and a priest in training. Black for novice priests. The lighter the color, the higher the rank. This doesn't apply to the tradition we follow which is the nyohoe as taught by Sawaki Kodo students and followers. Just bear in mind that a kesa ( big robe that we put on the left shoulder and covers most of the body) or rakusu should be made of a muted color, a dark shade.

    gassho


    Taigu

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Color

    Another thought on Rakusu...
    I've heard that Roshi Bernie Glassman has a time of year or something, when students wear brightly colored, clown like Rakusu with the intention to have some "fun" with Zen and not to take things to seriously. The Rakusu, after all, is just a piece of fabric! The true meaning is in ones heart not clothes.

    Gassho
    John

  4. #4

    Re: Rakusu Color

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Another thought on Rakusu...
    I've heard that Roshi Bernie Glassman has a time of year or something, when students wear brightly colored, clown like Rakusu with the intention to have some "fun" with Zen and not to take things to seriously. The Rakusu, after all, is just a piece of fabric! The true meaning is in ones heart not clothes.

    Gassho
    John
    Bernie has a whole clown thing, and it is wonderful. That's him on the left ...



    An interview ...

    Moshe: So the other question: What caused you to seek out a clown teacher and to bring clowning into your world

    Bernie: Well, itís been part of my world in some kind of natural way for a long time, but when I was sort of phasing out of being in charge of different kinds of organizations and Zen centers and things of that nature and installed a lot of people into running these things; one of the things that kept grabbing me is how people felt, how they were taking themselves too seriously. So I was really looking more at the trickster role, coyote role than the clown role. When I thought of clowning, that was more to getting some technical skills to be able to do the other work in a better way. But I really felt it very important that one phase of our work has to be to make sure that people donít take themselves too seriously or see the gates or the armor that they are building in doing their job and how to make it more inclusive. I thought that a fun way of doing it or a good way of doing it is to sort of visit them in the role of the clown or the jester and poke fun at ways that I felt they were blocking the world from entering their spheres.

    http://yoowho.wordpress.com/2008/04/09/ ... n-and-zen/
    I think it good ... a time to smile, a time to cry, a time to clown, a time to be serious (Bernie also does the Zazen sittings at Auschwitz and such) ... all Zazen.

    Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz/Birkenau
    http://www.zenpeacemakers.org/sa/auschwitz.htm

    So, maybe there is a time to joke about clothes, but most days we take the Robes seriously. Bernie does ... Here he is with Rakusu at Birkenau



    You see, a Kesa holds a universe of smiles, tears, clowns and painful places ...

    Gassho, J

  5. #5

    Re: Rakusu Color

    Indeed,

    Sometimes I make fun of myself and my robes but most of the time I just practice with them and bow to what they represent. If you only say "the rakusu is after all a piece of fabric", then you should also say"my self is just a bag of bones and flesh" ...

    It is indeed, and much more.
    Both views swallowed in one gulp. Both totally spat out.

    Neither coton nor silk. Neither fabric nor Buddha's body.

    So what is it? Only practice can tell. Clowns laugh. Buddhists sit.


    gassho

    Taigu, the wardrobe guy.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Color

    Thank you Jundo Sesei for all the added information and to Taigu Sensei for sharing your insights as well.
    I'm not trying ro trivialize the deep meaning of the Rakusu or robes. It is very important.....to us Buddhists. Maybe not so much to someone of another religion.
    I've heard it asked why some people in the Zendo wear "bibs" arount their necks. I suppose this is a common observation (as it's not the first time I've heard it called a bib) to one who isn't "in the know". To the one witnessing it's wearing, a bib. To the one experiencing it's wearing, the universe.
    So which is it? Perhaps nothing and everything all at once.
    Next time someone asks me what the bib is, I will answer "Just a bag of bones!"

    Gassho
    John

  7. #7

    Re: Rakusu Color

    Hi John,

    Haha, I love your answer. I've had the same bib response when friends had asked about the rakusu.

    When I was reading this I was thinking of the capping verse from a koan in Dogen's True Dharma Eye collection:

    Wind, flag, mind - bah humbug!
    If you wish to attain intimacy, just close the gap.

    Daido Roshi has a good talk in this koan available @ http://wzen.org/its-your-mind/

    However maybe it's just how this koan speaks to me that makes smile.

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  8. #8
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Rakusu Color

    Thanks for the links Shawn. I'll be sure to check them out when I get home to my computer.

    If the Rakusu is part of the Buddhist
    and the Buddhist is part of the bag of bones
    Then Rakusu and bag of bones are one and the same are they not?

    Of course we could also have a more light hearted approach.
    With hushed tone draw them in closely, as if to impart unto them some great secret of Zen and say "we wear it so that we don't spill bad karma all over our good kimono"
    after the tension has been relieved through a little homor go on to explain it's true meaning.

    Gassho
    John

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