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About the Robe Verse Takkesage

The verse for draping on the Okesa (kasaya – dull colour) robe, or the smaller portable robes such as Rakusu. Chanted usually in the morning at the end of the zazen period (slowly). Repeated three times. At some groups practitioners will keep their Rakusu folded during the first zazen and place on their head during the chanting (so that it is higher physically than their body) then put it on.

The robe of ‘freedom’ – gedatsu – can mean the robe of freedom from suffering or illusions – and therefore the robe (puku) of meditation practice which is the way to nirvana. Datsu means undressing or getting rid of – letting go of ego attachments and greed. In zazen we let go of being tightly gripped by distraction and return to open our awareness. The okesa design is based on rice field paddy shapes. It was pieced together by Buddha’s disciples from used rags. In it are teachings of impermanence and ‘form or emptiness’, ‘non material reward’ or ‘no forms/marks’ (musō). With practice and the expression of all things together we cultivate the ‘lucky/virtuous field’. The harvest is enlightenment rather than physical reward.

Wearing it we are wrapped (hibu) in the Tathāgata’s teachings (nyorai kyō). But by draping it on, freedom is not only for the wearer but spreads the robe out widely (kōdo) to embrace all other beings (sho shujō).

Read the verse here, with the English and Japanese/Chinese characters.

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