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Thread: Broken Bones Zen

  1. #1

    Broken Bones Zen

    I was attacked a week ago coming off of work by people trying to get RX from me. After telling them I don't write RX and am not an MD they proceeded to beat me, leaving me with 4 cracked ribs fractured jaw and torn meniscus and cracked patella. I tried to lay down and meditate but with norcos they gave me I was so out of it and I kept thinking I was having all these sattori experiences and I was in Kensho. I decided to use the time to try sewing practice and it has had a real positive effect. I am working on a Rakusu and then hope to try a Kesa to replace my 15 year old worn chan kesa. Through this practice I have begun to empathize with Dogens thoughts on the kesa. Each stitch showing when I am mindful and when I am not and the pattern itself linking me with others in this chain of transmission back to the Buddha. I will try and post more when I am feeling better.
    Cheers and Gasho,

  2. #2

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Wow! Addiction is so damned powerful.

    I hope you are feeling better; you will be in my thoughts. Did you go to the doctor to make sure you are all good (well at least as good as can be considering)?

  3. #3

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    I'm so sorry. I hope you have a speedy recovery. You seem to at least be on the way with sewing, and you seem to be handling your reactions with respect to anger. I'm very impressed. Take care, Grace.

  4. #4

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Oh! Best wishes for smooth recovery! Ann

  5. #5

    Re: Broken Bones Zen


    Get well.
    We'll be here.


  6. #6

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi Chris,

    I am sorry to hear about this.
    I am also glad that you see the value of this pointless sewing.
    These guys could have been great Boddhistavas in disguise? Or plain sc..?
    In my linited experience, nobody is fully one or the other.
    Just the matter of choosing the non-choosing path or keeping the game of having and loosing.
    These guys need to be helped and punished. Both. And life will provide both.
    Make sure you sew every stitch for them. Make sure you surrender your beliefs and ideas in every stitch as well.
    This kesa thing is most precious and totally ordinary at the same time. Don't make it too special.
    Choose one and you loose it.
    Do what is being done. And it is done.

    Nothing is broken here.



  7. #7

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hello all,

    Chris - Wow! I am so sorry. May you heal quickly and do whatever you can to get through it. Please know that we are here with you whenever you need to chat, vent, whatever.

    I've yet to experience violence like this, so I have no wise words to offer. Just please know that my heart is with you in your recovery. You sound so strong and 'clear' even in the midst of a med-induced foggy mind. I wish you well. Come back to us when you can.


  8. #8

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Chris, I am terribly sorry you had that experience.

    Like Taigu Sensei says, they need to be taught and punished, since no one deserves violence like that . I really hope you get well soon.

    Now about your practice, I think you took the smartest approach. To meditate, sew and think about Dogen's words is pretty awesome if you ask me.

    Please heal fast and get back here!

  9. #9

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Dear Chris,

    Sorry such a bad thing has happened to you!!! Nobody should have to suffer because of someone elses selfishness. Those guys could have killed you and they didn't even care! Why?! To a healthy mind this makes no sense. How do they justify their actions to themselves? I Just don't get it!? Did they at least get caught? I just worry for the next person they do this to.
    Hope you recover from this without too many scars(physical as well as emmotional).


  10. #10

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Best wishes on getting healed soon, both for you and your attackers. Always sorry to hear of such things but a reminder of an unfortunate reality.

    Be well.
    Gassho~ Dave.

  11. #11

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi Chris
    Thank you for sharing your very valuable lessons with us!!
    Jonesin' Bodhisattva are very indeed tough teachers, who will eventually, be students of an even harsher teacher, I am afraid.
    I am just going to echo that Its very sad, however I am very glad you are "okay" (as im sure you are too!!). Time will heal most of this.
    I'm glad you finding a great teacher in sewing too! your assailants and you will be in my metta tonight.


  12. #12

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    What an awful thing to happen! Good to hear you're on the mend.

    As Shohei has said, you will be in my metta practice . . . and those guys too.

    Take care.



  13. #13

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Sorry to hear about your run-in with addicts, hope you recover soon, I know whats it like (occupational hazard for us gays). I also know what painful lives those attackers have having know people hooked on drugs. Lets hope they get the help they need soon, before they do even more harm to someone or even themselves.

  14. #14

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Yes, much Metta to you ... may you be healthy, and at ease in all your ills.

    Much Metta to those who attacked you, victims of the devils of greed and violence, desperate to fill a hole within their self. The true "evil doer" is the longing and violence or the drug addict. That does not excuse their behavior, either in society's laws or in the Karma of their actions causing harm to both you and them. However, we chant and sincerely hope ...

    May they be free of suffering, may they feel safe and still.
    May they be be free of enmity, may they be loving grateful and kind.

    If they felt such way ... free of suffering, free of enmity ... they would not have attacked you. Thus, we chant this with your attackers in our hearts.

    Also recognize that, at times in the days which follow, it is perfectly natural and human to feel resentment, anger back toward them, depression and despair at your situation (I am not saying that you will, but humans tend to do that after such things happen). If so, do your best to just recognize these passing thoughts and emotions and let each go. Neither should you feel resentment and anger toward yourself for feeling so or any of it. Perhaps try a bit of our "Nurturing Seeds" recommended Practice ...


    These Devil-Bodhisattvas handed you important Teachings and "opportunities for Practice" ... the hard way.

    Gassho, J

  15. #15

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Thank you all for your kind words and well wishes. It is very interesting how, as many of you have elaborated on, this act of violence can be used for practice. I was in shock after it first happened the last physical confrontation I had been in was some 17 years ago and I had forgotten how much getting punched and kicked hurt. What I did notice is that it allowed me to see some of the fruits of my practice and even deepen those practices. One of the things that amused me and gave me a painful laugh was thinking back after the attack happened I was in pain and fully present of the pain but while I was riding in the ambulance with the EMT's I started to get gas, maybe from being kicked multiple times or anxiety, and all I could think of was I don't want to fart in front of these strangers. I caused myself more pain in those few moments because I was still attached the social stigma associated with this natural bodily function. The last thing I will add before I become disoriented from my medicine is the irony of the whole situation is that I am now getting those medications they probably beat me for.
    Take care all

  16. #16

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Glad to hear you're well, relatively speaking.. and have and will send metta to you and your attackers. Kudos to you for taking the situation and making it a deepening of your practice - farts or no farts - an inspiration.

    Here's to a speedy recovery...

    _/_ Nate

  17. #17

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    I read your post yesterday, was disheartened and thought of metta. The first thing that came to mind was, would it not be that all could be loving, grateful and kind. Then I thought, how does one respond, If I were to write a terse, canned response it would sound insincere. So, I sat in silence with thoughts of the unspeakable. And now this morning I read the kind words of our fellow sanga members and see how wrong I was to leave you alone. This is just one of the benefits of this sanga that I have learned and am thankful for. But, then you come back in you levity to speak of your concerns in the presence of strangers in the ambulance. And, I am reminded of a verse that one of my school chums used to recite many years ago:
    "It is better to let it out and bear the shame than hold it in and bear the pain." :roll:
    much metta to you and, to your assailants; may they be reminded of their wrong doings.

  18. #18

    Re: Broken Bones Zen


    Take care and I wish you a speedy recovery. Very wise of you to see things from the "who knows what's good or bad" perspective.


  19. #19

    Re: Broken Bones Zen


    I really have no words to express how sorry I am for what happened, but agree with the others that it is an opportunity for practice. I'm not sure many people outside zen and buddhism would ever see it that way, so I suppose we are fortunate. And even I don't think I would look upon such an incident with the clarity you have demonstrated...something to think about.

    In the meantime, get better and know we are here whenever you need us! Deep bows to you and your practice, especially the sewing. It is nothing special, but also very much so.


  20. #20

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Chris, sorry yu had to experience this. Get well soon.

  21. #21

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Chris wrote:
    The last thing I will add before I become disoriented from my medicine is the irony of the whole situation is that I am now getting those medications they probably beat me for.
    Very profound realization on the irony of this!


  22. #22

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    I am real sorry that this happened to you. You seem to have good view of the situation. Take care of yourself, take it easy and allow yourself to heal both physically and emotionally. Don't be hard on yourself for what has happened. The attackers need to deal with the consequences for their actions but anyone who acts out of violence are already suffering deep within themselves. However it is unfortunate that others who are innocent have to suffer from other people's harsh actions and wrong intentions. I hope you will you feel better soon.


  23. #23

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Sorry to hear about the incident. Hope you find healing sooner rather than later.Metta to ya.


  24. #24

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    It's inspiring to hear of someone enduring so much and in Bodhidharma finding positive outcomes.
    Get well soon.

  25. #25

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    I just saw this thread. I am sorry for what happened to you, Chris, but I agree with the others that your positive perspective is a good source of healing for you. I would also add you have the best community (here) with you.

    It's a lesson for all of us; thank you for your sacrifice in showing it to us.

    I hope you heal quickly and completely. There's metta for you in every stitch; keep on sewing. And sitting.


  26. #26

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi Chris,
    I hope you are feeling better. These things I know can shake one up a lot. Your approach to this experience is inspiring.

  27. #27

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    I just started to getting back on my feet. I ended up getting pneumonia because of all the cracked ribs but in my spare time i did finish this.

  28. #28

    Re: Broken Bones Zen


    It's very good to hear that you are recovering. And nice work on the rakusu...actually looks much like mine as it's about the same color, minus the ring of course!

    Be well.


  29. #29

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hellos to you, Chris and to all others posting here!

    There are so many different threads and so many comments....I just don't get to them all. So all this time you have been beaten and broken and have been mending and sewing, I have been unaware of all of it!

    Even though I have not known of any of it, my basic wishes for your wellness were there. Now that I know of these things, my more specific wishes for your well being are here.

  30. #30

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    What was apart, all sewn together!

    Gassho, May you be healthy and at ease in your ills, Jundo

  31. #31

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Awesome work on the rakusu and good to hear you are feeling better
    take care,

  32. #32

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the update! Sorry to hear that you also have to deal with pneumonia on top of all else you have been through
    Your Rakusu looks great! Did you follow a pattern? Please share with us some imore Info when you are feeling better.


  33. #33

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    John I will post more info on how I did the Rakusu and the ring part of it when I get a chance. I will also try to post patterns. I am also going to start a a 7 panel Kesa to replace my old precepts Kesa that has not lasted the 15 years I have had it, and I will try to post video tutorials on it. Question to one and all should I post that info here or in the Rakusu sewing section?
    Cheers and Gasho

  34. #34

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you very much for your posts, your originality, enthusiasm and will to help.
    I have to mention a few things though and I hope you won’t mind.

    The kesa is not an object for the eyes…used to say a very famous Japanese Nyohoe teacher.

    When I visited the Kyoto kesa exhibition a few months ago I was not amazed by the heavily decorated okesa embroided with phoenix, flowers and the likes, but by a few practice kesa of a light brownish color, all worn out and not displayed fully opened but just in a stack…The curators thought these kesa that were used by aristocrats at the Kyoto court had very little value in the eyes of textiles freaks…

    The kesa is not an object for the eyes.

    My favourite kesa is by far not the colourful Funzoe that took me almost a year to sew, but I treasure a few old kesa made many years ago and falling into pieces.

    Now let’s have a look at the rakusu. Which pattern did you follow, which guidelines ?

    I observed the following mistakes :

    a)The Joro are misplaced, sewn under the fabric ( we don’t do that since the 19th century) and in the Nyohoe school Joro are overlaping the frame and keeping back and front together ( sealing the four directions).

    b)The Sao on your rakusu are in the wrong position :the one with the ring should be on the top ( as you can see on this picture)

    c)The ring is placed to high and wrongly attached.

    d)The choice of colour is also a problem , your green is a bit too light, and if you choose something like that you should ask me if it is OK.

    e)You mixed two sewing styles Nyohoe and Sotoshu Japanese style which is a no-no in our tradition. If you sew a Nyohoe : no ring. As a matter of fact, nobody apart from the priests in training should wear a rakusus with ring in this sangha.

    f) The frame doesn’t look proper and straight and I sense you have struggled a lot with it.

    I really appreciate your will to help but I will ask you not to post videos. You are now joining this Sangha and you should take the time it takes to learn and ask other senior students about how to sew . It takes a really long time to train in this tradition and one should not teach until one has all the sewing skills and full understanding of this tradition. If you look at my sewing videos , they look simple but it takes a mountain of skills to teach as i do.

    You will understand that it is my responsibility to make sure that people here sew and wear the right thing.

    I think it is a great idea to sew a seven stripes kesa . Anybody willing to do so should :

    a) ask permission to Jundo or myself
    b) Follow exactly the sewing rules and patterns provided on line by Katagiri sensei or the method taught by Sawaki Kodo if you have access to it
    c) Make sure that no mistake is done and ask when appropriate experienced people in the Sangha
    d) Once completed, receive this kesa and learn the way to put it one, put it off, take care of it…A kesa is a responsibility.

    What I write here applies to everybody.

    Thank you for your understanding and patience,
    And please, try to develop an humble mind, bodaishin.

    Take great care of yourself



    Attached files

  35. #35

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Thank you Taigu for your explanation. I think I will explain some of my idiosyncrasies in the pattern. The jurro are basted in there so they can be removed easily and not lost. I would have placed them on the top as explained in your video but since I don't have the silk backing Just put them there basted for not losing sake. The color was not chosen but given and dye was not really an option because I don't want to risk staining my apartment. All the fabric I got for the Rakusu and the Kesa were given by my consumers in my meditation group. I followed your pattern except for changing minute measurements due to sizing issues as I am 6'1 and there were just a few tweaks. The ring pattern I got from another rakusu pattern on the web in your video you showed one with a ring and then said that it was difficult so weren't going to show how to do it. I made the assumption that I could do that style which shows that I still have much to learn about this tradition. I think some of the unevenness was because I have ben shaking from fever but it came out pretty straight though the first panels in the center you can really see big unevenness because I was starting my to get sick as I started that part of the rackusu. The biggest mistake was that the whole thing is upside down. I noticed it yesterday and I laughed and hurt my sides. Thank you for your critique and knowledge. I will refrain from posting anything on sewing or making videos and will get confirmation with you and Jundo for starting the Kesa and I appreciate all your help. What is your recommendation for this rakusu should I leave it as is or should I change it? I will ask a couple of other questions in other threads so they don't get bogged down in this one. Thank you again Taigu for your help.

  36. #36

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi Chris,

    Thank you for your understanding.
    Yes, you should fix the Sao properly and on the other side of the frame. Make it without a ring, plain simple. And if you receive Jukai or would like to wear this rakusu, you should ask Jundo or myself to put our black ink and seals on the back.
    To start a kesa, ask Shohei to give you access (if it is not the case already) to the kesa sewing guide and thread.
    And please, as you go along, ask for advice and information.

    Good luck and best recovery!!!



  37. #37

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi chris

    Happy to hear that you are feeling better! And thank you for your enthusiasm! :wink:
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu
    If you sew a Nyohoe : no ring. As a matter of fact, nobody apart from the priests in training should wear a rakusus with ring in this sangha.
    I'm happy to have a clear statement on this matter, I believe a while ago it wasn't so clear... Now we know what is the place of these "rakusus with rings" in our Sangha!


  38. #38

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Thank you for these teachings Sensei.

    When you say, "Make sure that no mistake is done" I'm not sure what you mean. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't know how to make no mistakes. When I began my kesa over 2 years ago I was using stitches about .25 cm apart thinking that doing so was "better". When I began the frame, such small stitches became difficult and I nearly stopped. At that point I was able to drop some of my perfectionism and used .5 cm stitches, but was still very concerned that they be equal distance apart. I attached the two long sides of the En only to find they were too short. Ripping out all those stitches was brutal on my ego and done with a frown. I cut longer pieces, but then sewed one of them on the wrong line. Ripping out all those stitches was NOT brutal on my ego and done with a smile. After finishing the first line of sewing on each side of the frame, I flipped them over and was excited to start the second and third lines, but wanted to stop worrying so much about the distance. I am now almost done with the second line and my imperfect stitches are running at .7 cm...more or less.

    If I had not made these mistakes I would not have learned so much about sewing the buddha's robe, but the opprtunity to learn so much about my self and how much I cling to it offered so much more than that. My kesa looks crooked in places, just like me. It reveals my excitement, fear, frustration, and acceptance in every single stitch. It is a perfectly imperfect embodiment of the buddha's teachings, just like me. And if it was somehow destroyed tomorrow, only the kesa itself would be lost. Everything it represents would still remain and can never be destroyed.

    Perhaps these mistakes are not the type you are referring to, but when you say, "Make sure no mistake is done", I fear some people will think that you are looking for perfection. If you wish the mistakes I mentioned to be fixed I will pull out every single stitch. But when I begin another kesa, I feel strongly that any attempt to avoid mistakes would do a disservice to everything I have learned from you and Treeleaf. But if that is your wish, I will do so.


  39. #39

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi, Chris.

    You are a much better human being than I am. If I got beat up like you did, the only way I would be thinking about using needles was poking the eyes of the attackers, or sticking needles into voodoo dolls made after them.

    Once, I got punched in the face by a stranger for the sake of his fun. But nothing compared to what you went through.

    I am really sorry for your suffering, and thank you very much for kindly teaching me with your experience and wisdom.

    Get well soon,


  40. #40

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    If I got beat up like you did, the only way I would be thinking about using needles was poking the eyes of the attackers, or sticking needles into voodoo dolls made after them.
    Hi Sunyata. I got quite the laugh out of this, but it is how I would feel too! I'd go the route of voodoo though, as there would be less evidence :twisted:


  41. #41

    Re: Broken Bones Zen

    Hi Dosho,

    Thank you for your wonderful desciption of the sewing process.
    Indeed, the kesa shows what we are and much beyond.
    "Make sure no mistakes is done" refers to the method. One has to be respectful of the pattern, the layout, the way to sew this, attach that. Of course, it can be done clumsily or skillfully and this doesn't matter.



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