Having been born to meet the spread of this Dharma, if we cover our body with the kasaya only once, receiving it and retaining it for just a ksana or a muhurta, that experience will surely serve as a talisman to protect us in the realization of the supreme state of bodhi.Dogen Zenji, Kesa Kudoku chapter of Shobogenzo (Nishijima/Cross translation)
Some of us recently began meeting monthly on Zoom to practice our zen sewing. Our small friendly group started on Sunday afternoon, with two sewing periods. These were interspersed with time in the middle for the Takkesage chant, a brief chat about Master Dogen’s Kesa Kudoku (Merit of the Kasaya/ Okesa) and a break for a cuppa.
The sewing periods are peaceful times of practice where we can carefully attend to whatever task we are working on, and still ask for help when we need it. Michael and Margaret were on hand to give detailed advice, with Margaret expertly guiding us in the warp and weft of the fabric 🙂
Most of us are just beginning our sewing projects, either a rakusu (5 row robe worn over the neck), or seven row okesa (worn over the shoulder) and also zagu sitting mat which is often used for prostrations. Some of us have sewn okesa before whilst others including myself have sewn a rakusu or two but are now preparing for the okesa. And some of us are at the exciting stage of getting ready to sew their first rakusu, with the plan to receive Jukaie precepts after completing their sewing.
Each stitch, each moment of sincere, committed action, one cause in many from which the completed okesa emerges. It can be said that the work of sewing the okesa is never finished. The stitches of the okesa are the actions of our Buddhist life, dedicated to all beings. At the end of that life, the okesa of a lifetime of actions are unfolded and spread out.Michael Kendo Tait
We have been enjoying chatting online (using Slack) about fabrics and stitching and what equipment is best to use, but it was really nice to have some time together to help each other and discuss in more details about the practice. It is a friendly and easygoing group with practitioners from Glasgow and other places further afield – wherever you are you are welcome to join us 🙂
Please read more on the Okesa Sewing Group page.