Sewing Buddha’s Robe


“Sew with heart”
– Kasai Joshin, Zen Sewing Teacher

The beautiful, ancient practice of hand-sewing and wearing a “patchwork robe” extends back to the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. Ancient Dragon Zen Gate carries forth this tradition of sewing Buddha’s Robe as part of the Buddhist precept-taking ceremony. Bringing awareness and compassion to each stitch, we follow the warm, wholehearted sewing style of San Francisco Zen Center and sewing teachers, Joshin-san and Zenkei Blanche Hartman.

Sewing class is offered by arrangement to assist those who have received permission from their teacher to sew Buddha’s robe in the form of a rakusu or an okesa in preparation for taking refuge and receiving the Bodhisattva precepts, lineage papers, and a robe as part of a lay ordination ceremony (jukai) or priest ordination (shukke tokudo) ceremony. With each stitch, we silently take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and express our hearts through our bodily activity.

We offer our practice of sewing and wearing Buddha’s robe for the benefit of all beings. Before wearing our robes, we chant the Robe Verse:

How great, the robe of liberation!
A formless field of merit,
Wrapping ourselves in Buddha’s teaching
We free all living beings.

Temple priest, Hogetsu Laurie Belzer, is our sewing teacher and is available for inquiries about sewing practice.

Please note: There is a materials fee for rakusu sewing. Additionally, donations to one’s Dharma Teacher/Preceptor, Temple and the Sewing Teacher are encouraged for those receiving ordination.

Resources

Buddha’s Robe is Sewn. The history and practice of sewing and wearing the robe in our tradition is chronicled by Berkeley Zen Center sewing teacher, Jean Selkirk.

Being Upright: Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Tenshin Reb Anderson’s inspiring book on the ceremony of receiving the precepts.

Rakusu Instructions from San Francisco Zen Center. Helpful reference for rakusus sewing class students.

Study of the Okesa, Nyoho-e: Buddha’s Robe Minnesota Zen Center’s founding sewing teacher’s, Tomoe Katagiri’s, book on the history and practice of sewing buddha’s robe.  Though the instructions in this manual differ slightly from those utilized by ADZG, the history, heart and mind of our styles fully accord.