Rakusu Pt 1: The Hadron Collider

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.

Instructions for sewing my Rakusu. Hopefully no explosions.

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.

A completed Rakusu.

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.

Latest post from my other site: deathpoints.com

5 responses to “Rakusu Pt 1: The Hadron Collider”

  1. Glad to see you are formally taking the Precepts. Brings me joy actually. And yes, sewing the small kesa as we call it can be a trial. I’ve never hand sewn one, not part of our practice in our Order. Machine sewing is testing enough. I’ve not sewn a ‘perfect’ one yet, meaning all the four ‘kings’ in the corners are the same size and other details to get RIGHT. Thankfully perfection is not the point of sewing it. Good fortune and with bows. Mugo


  2. Hi Ian
    In response to Rocky’s suggestion, I can donate a dressmaking pencil (rubs off easily). Happy to help with sewing tips and guidance anytime.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Ian,
    Use a thimble when hand sewing, it will prevent some of the sewing needle pricks. It needs to be firm but not tight. One of my sewing students likes to draw a light pencil line so she can keep a straight line, perhaps that might work for you.
    Wishing you luck with your project.


  4. Good luck, I sometimes think constructing the Hadron Collider would be easier but I tend to be a bit spatially challenged. I have been known to manage to get patterns back the front and everything, arse up, literally, when making clothes for infant daughter. Have fun with the learning experience.


  5. 🙂 _/\_


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: