AS WE SEW A RAKUSU IN PREPARATION FOR JUKAI, I THOUGHT IT NICE TO LOOK BACK ON THIS LITTLE VISIT WITH NISHIJIMA ROSHI (who is doing fine, by the way) ...
Today, our most special guest 'sits-a-long' ...
The subject was the 'Kesa' (skt. kâshâya), the monk's outer robe. The 'Rakusu' is the shortened version that I wear most days. Nishijima Roshi always sits in a full Kashaya. He recently wrote this:
When we wear Kashaya, we usually sit on the floor stretching the waist, and putting the folded Kashaya on the head, with joining hands, and recite the Chodai Kesa no Ge, or the Poem of praising Kashaya three times. Then standing up, we wear it.
Chodai Kesa no Ge
Daisai Gedaffuku Muso Fukuden-e Hibu Nyoraikyoo Koodo Shoshujoo
"Daisai" means it is so great. "Gedatsu" means to become free. "Fuku" means clothes. "Hibu" means to wear reverently. Nyoraikyoo means Gautama Buddha's teachings. Koodo means to save widely. Shoshujoo means miscellaneous living beings. Therefore the total meaning is:
How great is the clothing of liberation,
Formless, field of happiness, robe!
Devoutly wearing the Tathaagata's teaching,
Widely I will save living beings. (translated by Gudo Wafu & Chodo Cross)
1)Rags chewed by an ox, 2) rags gnawed by rats,3) rags scorched by fire,4) rags soiled by menstruation,5) rags soiled by childbirth,6) rags offered at a shrine,7)rags left at a graveyard,8) rags offered in petitional prayer9)rags disregarded by king’s officers,10) rags brought back from the funeral. These ten sorts people throw away, there are not used in human society. We pick them up and make them into the pure material of the kasaya.