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Your rakusu?

Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:45 am

Curious about this ...

What color is your rakusu and when do you get it in your tradition? Did you make it yourself?

Mine is black. I sewed it as part of the preparation for taking the precepts in Jukai ceremony. I made it and then gave it to my teacher, who then wrote my dharma name in calligraphy on the white silk on the back, as well as a poem. He then formally gave me my rakusu at the Jukai ceremony along with my dharma name.

In our lineage, we have a green pine needle stitch done with embroidery thread on the patch at the back of the neck strap. My understanding is that the pine needle stitch comes through the Diamond Sangha Soto lineage, but I'm not actually sure about that. I've seen rakusus with other colors and stitches on their rakusus. What is yours and what tradition/lineage does it come from?

Our rakusu has a ring in the strap. I've seen some that don't have the ring -- San Francisco Zen Center does not use the ring in the strap. What about yours?
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Meido on Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:40 am

Always interesting to hear how traditions vary from place to place.

Here only ordained folks wear rakusu. Folks taking the five lay precepts (zaike tokudo) are given nenju/juzu (beads) and a dharma name recorded on a shikishi. However our ceremony documents do say that either "rakusu or juzu" may be given, and there are certainly Rinzai groups in which rakusu are.

Rakusu worn during daily practice are often made of simple/practical material and generally in some dark color. On more formal occasions (if a kesa is not worn) you may see lighter colors and richer material.

The pine needle stitching, if I'm not mistaken, is commonly used in the Soto tradition? Rinzai rakusu have a stitched triangle representing a mountain. There is a ring, smaller but otherwise similar to that found in the Rinzai-style kesa. I've seen these variously made from ivory (these days faux), wood and iron.

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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:50 am

Meido wrote:Rakusu worn during daily practice are often made of simple/practical material and generally in some dark color. On more formal occasions (if a kesa is not worn) you may see lighter colors and richer material.


In Diamond Sangha the rakusus are made of black cotton ... serviceable, not fancy. A teacher, when s/he receives Dharma Transmission -- Inka Shomei -- gets a gold brocade rakusu which s/he wears on formal occasions. I helped to sew one of the fancy gold brocade ones a few years ago. It was nice since many of us in our sangha added stitches to it.
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Jugglesaurus on Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:39 am

Mine is black, with the broken pine needle on the patch like this:
http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lhtew ... o1_400.jpg
I sewed mine with grey thread, though. It has some calligraphy on the back, including my name. No ring.
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Hosei on Sat Mar 09, 2013 10:00 am

In our Soto Zen sangha, the AZI (Association Zen Internationale - based in france), we sew our rakusus and kesas in the Nyohoe fashion. It was a sort of a resurgence in sewing style reintroduced by Kodo Sawaki. This is the same style of sewing that they use in Shunryu Suzuki and in Katigiri lineages.

It doesn't use the ring and the way the panels overlap is different from the ring-style rakusu (there are a few other differences). We sew the pine needle in the neck piece.. but we use the same colour as the thread used to sew the rakusu, rather than in green as is common with the ring-style.

In OUR lot - you can have any colour you like.. so long as it's black. This is for both those who receive the precepts in jukai (which we call bodhisattva ordination) as well as for those who receive the tokudo ordination.

Teachers then get to go a little more diverse in the their colour choices for rakusus as well as kesas - I've sewn my own teacher several different colours of rakusu - but brown.. or mustardy/yellow/brown is the most common variant I think .. :-)

:-)
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby unsui on Sat Mar 09, 2013 11:12 am

Our rakusus are black cotton, for both those who have taken jukai (the ten precepts) and for ordained. The backing is white, in a fabric that allows for calligraphy - I don't think I have seen silk, but many qualities of cotton or linen. The majority order the rakusu from Japan and mount the backing themselves - which is done so that none of the stitching shows, except for at the top. We use a white ring and the triangle "mountain" on the neckpiece is "embroidered" with black thread. Although we don't have the tradition of sewing the whole rakusu, some choose to do it.

Teachers wear brown, although, for a short period, priests were allowed this as well. Denko's is a lovely dark brown brocade.

Here's a few pictures of my well-worn rakusu:
behandl.JPG

croppedbacklille.JPG
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby jiblet on Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:48 pm

The only 'formal' Zen Sangha I've practised with is these guys:

http://www.dogensangha.org.uk/about.htm

Although I haven't attended weekly or monthly group sittings for some time, I consider Mike Luetchford to be my teacher and this sangha to be my sangha. I've attended 6 (all but 1 since I started daily practice) of the annual 3-day sesshin organised by the sangha and, before that, attended monthly 1-day retreats for 2 years and a few months-worth of weekly sittings. My rakusu is under construction. Has been for a while!

Mike is a Dharma-heir of Gudo Nishijima and his understanding and practice of Buddhism follows that of his teacher.

OK. Rakusus -

Like Hosei, we sew our rakusus (and kesas) Nyoho-e stylee. So no ring, with the Soto broken pine needle stiched on the neck strap. I say "we sew" - sewing your own rakusu or kesa is encouraged, but not required. Folks are free to have them made or buy them. Or not. Many sew.

Anyone can sew/buy and wear a rakusu in our sangha, whether they've taken the precepts (jukai) or not, although the white silk lining will be inscribed only after precepts have been taken. In fact, I know of no one who, not having taken the precepts, has worn an 'incomplete' rakusu. I could be wrong. My guess is that no one would be talked out of wearing a robe, or anything else, in whatever state, if they really wanted to. I can think of one member - there may be more - who has worn a kesa while practising but who hasn't yet taken the precepts. This attitude is a recognition of Dogen (and the Buddha's) recommendation that Buddhists/Buddhist practitioners wear the robe; anyone who wants to can wear the robe. Or not.

Colours: There is no distinction of rank or 'level of accomplishment' reflected in the colour of rakusu or kesa we wear. Most members' rakusus are brown (Mike was given a whole heap of brown cloth for the purpose when he left Japan to return to England in 1999 - I believe I got the last piece!) but there are black, blue, green rakusus...and kesas. Mike's usual kesa is green* and brown kesas have been worn by the un-transmitted.


* which got him into a spot of bother with the Association Zen Internationale in England (IZAUK), to whom he was invited to give talks on Dogen's Shobogenzo on his return from Japan in 1999. All went well until Mike was asked, politely of course, to change his green kesa for an approved-for-Dharma-heirs' brown one. Mike refused. Discussions were had. A minority backed Mike. Mike was not invited back to continue talks. A couple of members left the AZI to become Mike's students. Dogen Sangha UK was born. I wasn't there. I'm just sayin. :peace:
Last edited by jiblet on Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Hosei on Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:53 pm

jiblet wrote: * which got him into a spot of bother with the Association Zen Internationale in England (IZAUK), to whom he was invited to give talks on Dogen's Shobogenzo on his return from Japan in 1999. All went well until Mike was asked, politely of course, to change his green kesa for an approved-for-Dharma-heirs' brown one. Mike refused. Discussions were had. A minority backed Mike. Mike was not invited back to continue talks. A couple of members left the AZI to become Mike's students. Dogen Sangha UK was born. I wasn't there. I'm just sayin. :peace:


Probably this isn't the forum for digging up 14 year old stories.. the version I heard was a little different - and that was 1 senior teacher with the azi.. not all of izauk :-) just sayin' ;-) anyway.. 2nd hand stories are really just gossip right? so can be more damaging than helpful - and I'm not into it :-)

peace to you too. and I mean it :-) (we're not that bad really)

-hs
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby jiblet on Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:01 pm

Hosei wrote:
jiblet wrote: * which got him into a spot of bother with the Association Zen Internationale in England (IZAUK), to whom he was invited to give talks on Dogen's Shobogenzo on his return from Japan in 1999. All went well until Mike was asked, politely of course, to change his green kesa for an approved-for-Dharma-heirs' brown one. Mike refused. Discussions were had. A minority backed Mike. Mike was not invited back to continue talks. A couple of members left the AZI to become Mike's students. Dogen Sangha UK was born. I wasn't there. I'm just sayin. :peace:


[...] the version I heard was a little different - and that was 1 senior teacher with the azi.. not all of izauk :-) just sayin' ;-)

Didn't mean to suggest... And point taken.

Hosei wrote:peace to you too. and I mean it :-) (we're not that bad really)

-hs


Back atcha, Hosei. I'm sure our lot are doing it all wrong anyway ;)
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Hosei on Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:16 pm

jiblet wrote:Back atcha, Hosei. I'm sure our lot are doing it all wrong anyway ;)


lol - I've learned that 'right' and 'wrong' when it comes to procedures, and etiquette and stuff is all in context.
So back on topic - I find it pretty cool that every group, and every temple has slightly different jobs and names for stuff and things they do - it makes it so harmonising is that much less 'doing it by rote' and much more about awareness ... paying attention and casting aside pre-assumptions.

This is one of the reasons I love sitting with other groups sometimes - a whole new bunch of stuff to notice!

[edit:]oops.. that was another topic I went back on.. so actually this was off topic.. :-/ sorry... Rakusus! that's what this is about.. I love sewing them! (<---lame effort to be topical )

:-)
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:36 pm

Hosei wrote:[edit:]oops.. that was another topic I went back on.. so actually this was off topic.. :-/ sorry... Rakusus! that's what this is about.. I love sewing them! (<---lame effort to be topical )

:-)
-hs


I love sewing them, too. After I made mine I started helping others who were more "sewing challenged" with their sewing. We had a wonderful time sewing together.

What color is your pine needle?
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Hosei on Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:00 pm

Carol wrote:I love sewing them, too. After I made mine I started helping others who were more "sewing challenged" with their sewing. We had a wonderful time sewing together.

What color is your pine needle?


we sew our pine needle with the same colour as the thread used to sew the rest of the rakusu.. which is usually white, off-white, cream, or grey (though sometimes other muted colours.. I used a browny-gold thread when I sewed a brown rakusu for my teacher). I tried using black thread on a black rakusu.. but it's so hard to see the stitch and my old eyes weren't up to it - so I switched to dark grey after a few practise lines.

I teach sewing here in london - I admit I have a preference for sewing rakusus over kesas - probably because you get a finished item so much faster ... and I need to work on my patience :-)

-hs
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~~ check out: http://www.zeninlondon.org, http://www.izauk.org and http://www.tenborin.org - websites I built, but things I say should in no way be considered their fault or attributed to them (or, in an ideal world - even attributed to me !) :-) ~~
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:15 pm

Hosei wrote:
Carol wrote:I love sewing them, too. After I made mine I started helping others who were more "sewing challenged" with their sewing. We had a wonderful time sewing together.

What color is your pine needle?


we sew our pine needle with the same colour as the thread used to sew the rest of the rakusu.. which is usually white, off-white, cream, or grey (though sometimes other muted colours.. I used a browny-gold thread when I sewed a brown rakusu for my teacher). I tried using black thread on a black rakusu.. but it's so hard to see the stitch and my old eyes weren't up to it - so I switched to dark grey after a few practise lines.

I teach sewing here in london - I admit I have a preference for sewing rakusus over kesas - probably because you get a finished item so much faster ... and I need to work on my patience :-)

-hs


Diamond Sangha is a lay tradition. We don't use kesas, at least I've never seen anyone wear one. Some old hands do wear black lay robes -- a kimono, hakama and white collar. More recently, most newbies are not wearing the robes, but just dark loose (preferably black) sitting clothes.

Do you know the sewing koan? Discussion and a couple of translations here.
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Jugglesaurus on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:21 pm

Carol wrote:Some old hands do wear black lay robes -- a kimono, hakama and white collar. More recently, most newbies are not wearing the robes, but just dark loose (preferably black) sitting clothes.


Loads of our crew have kimonos! Not white collars or hakama, though. I hated the idea of wearing a kimono for the longest time - hated it way out of proportion, really. Now I have one I quite like it. If nothing else, I can fit an awful lot of things into my sleeves.
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:25 pm

Jugglesaurus wrote:Loads of our crew have kimonos! Not white collars or hakama, though. I hated the idea of wearing a kimono for the longest time - hated it way out of proportion, really. Now I have one I quite like it. If nothing else, I can fit an awful lot of things into my sleeves.


Ha! They do look handy for kleenex and such. But what other trouble do you hide up your sleeves?

I bought my husband a set of lay robes for his birthday a couple years ago to replace his worn-out (and outgrown ;) ) 35 year old set. They were pricy, but there's a lot of fabric and work in them, and he looks really spiffy!
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby unsui on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:26 pm

I'm actually looking for a pattern for a Rinzai rakusu, if anyone can help.

The only sewing instructions I have found on-line are for Soto rakusus - and the dimensions are different, if not also the panels. One of our sangha members ordered his rakusu from London and it too was way too different from our standard to get the pattern from the woman who sewed it.

I find it interesting that the kesa is used by others than ordained. Is it both or either/or?
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:43 pm

Here are photos of Rinzai Rakusus and Soto rakusus.
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:46 pm

unsui wrote:I'm actually looking for a pattern for a Rinzai rakusu, if anyone can help.

The only sewing instructions I have found on-line are for Soto rakusus - and the dimensions are different, if not also the panels. One of our sangha members ordered his rakusu from London and it too was way too different from our standard to get the pattern from the woman who sewed it.

I find it interesting that the kesa is used by others than ordained. Is it both or either/or?


This is the pattern we use. Looking closely, it looks like the layout is like the Rinzai rakusus rather than the Soto ones, but I'm not sure.
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Jugglesaurus on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:47 pm

Carol wrote:
Jugglesaurus wrote:Loads of our crew have kimonos! Not white collars or hakama, though. I hated the idea of wearing a kimono for the longest time - hated it way out of proportion, really. Now I have one I quite like it. If nothing else, I can fit an awful lot of things into my sleeves.


Ha! They do look handy for kleenex and such. But what other trouble do you hide up your sleeves?

I bought my husband a set of lay robes for his birthday a couple years ago to replace his worn-out (and outgrown ;) ) 35 year old set. They were pricy, but there's a lot of fabric and work in them, and he looks really spiffy!


Things that I have fitted into my sleeves include:
Sutra sheets
Rakusu pochette
Juggling balls
An altar-cleaning kit
Kleenex
Medication

Things that I could potentially fit but don't generally have in the dojo:

Corn snakes
Mobile phone
iPod
Kindle
My lunch
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Re: Your rakusu?

Postby Carol on Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:10 pm

Here's my well-worn rakusu

Front
Rakusu Front.JPG


Back
Rakusu Back.JPG
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