Thursday, February 09, 2006

Starting Now

Dear Nickm,

Yes good for you. There are no reasons not to start. I remember sewing my first kesa when I was seventeen following rough plans and instructions. I could hardly do any needle work at the time but the faith and determination got me through. Of course, in Japan most monks buy their own kesa instead of making it and this particular type of kesa is quite different ( shape, size, colour, pattern) from the kesa as taught by Kodo Sawaki and his disciples: the Nyoho-e kesa. Even nowadays, if you go to sit in Eiheiji or Sojiji as a monk in traininig, you are allowed to wear a Nyoho-e, you have to wear the kesa of the so called Soto sect.

How to start? Now. You may think about getting some thin fabric, cotton or linen of a dark and broken colour ( dark brown, purple, grey, black ) and you can of course buy it ( safe and easy route). I would advise you to buy a thin and strong fabric of good quality. The other way is to gather bits and pieces, garments and stuff people don't want anymore and dye it. You may be inspired by an article about Halifax roshi and her kesa or read both chapters of Shobogenzo where Dogen describes the kind of material used and where it comes from.

Then, you need to just learn the back stitch used for kesa making. I can send you a picture or you could may be find somebody around you to show you how to do it.

And you just get going.

What you truly have to understand is that you don't need to be ordained to sew, receive and wear the kesa. The kesa is the robe of zazen. Its universality is beyond schools, opinions, groups and sects and religions.

If you wish I can send you plans, measurements and very valuable instructions to get you started. As far as I know, There isn't any resource on the web. A book was released in English years ago by Katigiri Roshi's sangha about kesa making. If you could find it, it would help. There is another book in French whichI could photocopy for you.

Please, don't feel it is too challenging. It is not out of your reach. If you want help, I'll be there.



Blogger NickM said...

Thankyou for the generous offer of plans, measurements and very valuable instructions. I would be most pleased to have them!
Here's an address you can use:

11:30 AM  
Blogger Ordinary bloke said...

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5:17 AM  

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