Rakusu PDF Print E-mail
Written by Edward Larson   
Friday, 11 June 2010 15:37

I have recently finished sewing my rakusu, a bib like cloth worn about the neck that zen practitioners wear after they have accepted the precepts in a ceremony known as Jukai or Zaike Tokudo. The rakusu is constructed out of different sized patches of cloth according to a pattern observed in a rice field by either Ananda or perhaps the Buddha. The rakusu is a miniature version of the monk's okesa, a garment that in Buddha's time (and in some cases today) was made out of discarded cloth remnants. Often times these remnants were from burial cloth, menstrual rags, litter, or other trash.

"The Kashaya Robe is the robe of the renunciant, wherein the discards of the world are made pure and precious, yet the rice field pattern also represents and encompasses the world, in all the fecundity of agriculture.  It can also be regarded as a mandala, geometric patterns of squares and lines which represent the universe and serve as a meditation object on many levels.  The little squares on each corner represent the four directions or, perhaps, each of the Buddhist Dharma protectors.  The center column is sometimes said to represent the Buddha, and the two flanking squares his attendants." source


Rakusu face



face and back (note this is before my teacher wrote anything on the back)



 Envelope to hold rakusu with a button from my wife's coat. May it be a reminder that practice is found in the present, in the midst of relationships. After all "What's the point of giving up your seat to go wandering around in dusty lands?" Fukanzazengi


Sacred and profane, trash and treasure are examples of a dualistic, exclusionary attitude. We see the Buddhist response to such dualism in the scraps of Buddha's robe, in the teaching that this ordinary, everyday moment is the ground of practice and in the idea that in Zen there is nowhere we can spit.


"'The universe completely accepts us, accepts our lives as the contents of the universe. The universe never separates its life from our lives. The tree’s life, the bird’s life, our life, winter’s life, spring’s life are all accepted as the content or quality of the universe.' He added, 'This is why the universe is Buddha.' This is why there is nothing we can do that doesn’t matter, or that we can do carelessly. This is why there is no place where we can spit, no place that we can just disregard. Everything is within this universe that is Buddha." Josho Pat Phelan discussing a quote by Katagiri


Recently I found this link to a Buddhist temple in Thailand composed of beer bottles. Speaking of art, Buddhism and ideas of sacred and profane it is hard to beat this spectacular example.



 Link to more info

Last Updated on Friday, 11 June 2010 18:03

Add comment

Security code