I have absolutely no idea when it comes to sewing. Re-attaching a button is usually a frustrating excursion into mangled, tangled knot-craft, and repairing anything more complex than that is immediate white flag defeat. Usually there is blood on the white flag from multiple finger pricks.
Despite all this, I will soon be attempting to sew a Rakusu. I’ll explain what this is in just a moment, but looking over the voluminous instructions I may as well be constructing a Hadron Collider.
The reason for pushing my creative sewing envelope is that I am undertaking what is known as Jukai or “receiving the precepts”.
Jukai signifies a lay persons commitment to zen practice by formally acknowledging the 16 Bodhisattva precepts as an ongoing path in their lives ( Bodhisattva is simply a Sanskrit word combining bodhi = awake & sattva = being).
…Precepts encourage us to protect and nurture life, to be generous and respectful of others’ property, to use sexual energy in an appropriate way, to tell the truth, to maintain a clear mind and body, to speak of the virtues of others and our interdependence with them, to be generous in all material and spiritual matters, to practice loving kindness and nonviolence, and to respect and protect the Triple Treasure.— Anderson, Reb. Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Rodmell Press.
Anyways, as part of the various preparations, I must mindfully build this Rakusu Hadron Collider.
The Rakusu consists of a multitude of cloth pieces sewn together (traditionally hand-sewn by the student as part of their Jukai preparation) into a sort of square bib. It represents a miniature version of a zen monks robes. Some sources suggest it was originally worn by early Chinese zen monks in secret under ‘civilian’ clothes during times of religious persecution. Today is often worn by lay zen practitioners after they have undertaken Jukai.
On the back is a white cotton section that the teacher inscribes with the students dharma name and a few words of wisdom.
Although the prospect of making this is completely intimidating, I am approaching the whole adventure by breaking it down into more psychologically manageable chunklets.
- I can buy the cloth (easy).
- I can cut it into strips (no worries).
- I can thread a needle (yup).
- I can do one single stitch (Kelly, help me out here).
- I can do another stitch (cool).
And so on and so forth.
Donations of bandaids, support and sewing tips will be appreciated.
I will update my progress in Rakusu Pt 2.
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