Sunday, December 21, 2008

ah ah ah Panel Five!

Well its been way too long with out an update. Lots of everything but sewing going on sincemy last post but as you may have guessed by the title of this post I just finished the 5th panel. Soon the really tricky bits like joining the sets and the frame (eek!) but all in due time.

I had been sick all last week with the flu and after basically laying down for 5 days straight, I was really motivated to do Anything but sit around watching TV or the like. Still I decided to put a bit more time into this project over the holidays since I'm free from work until the the new year.

Well here is what I have done so far (note:also pictured is Sir Wobblington (upper right) guarding the castle and keeping an eye on the Field of Happiness ;) )

click me for a full view

Thursday, December 4, 2008

JUKAI & ROHATSU 2 day retreat

Well not much to tell on the sewing front this week. I still have to finish up a line of stitches on the fourth set and will perhaps after this weekends mini-sesshin... which to me will be the longest yet.

On that subject I am rather excited to be able to participate live. So in anticipating a longer sitting I had been getting all the reading in I could (at the expense of my sewing endeavor) and had run across this wonderful gem on Mr. Crosses blog "Treasury of the Eye of True Sitting" (along with many other excellent translations and such) That I thought was a particularly fitting bit to read with this retreat forth-coming and it really resonated with me.
(permission was granted to post this- with many thanks!)

58. Rules of Sitting-Zen

Zen practice is sitting-zen. For sitting-zen a quiet place is good. Lay out a thick sitting mat. Do not let wind and smoke get in, and do not let rain or dew seep through. Preserve an area big enough to contain the body. There are traces of ancients sitting on a diamond seat or sitting on a bed of rock, but they all spread out a thick carpet of grass and sat on that. The sitting place should be bright; it should not be dark, day or night. To be warm in winter and cool in summer is the way. Cast aside all involvements and cease the ten thousand things. Good is not considered. Bad is not considered. Mind, intention, consciousness, is not it. Awareness, thought, reflection, is not it. Do not have designs on becoming buddha. Drop off sitting down and lying down. Eat and drink sparingly, and guard time closely. Enjoy sitting-zen unreservedly -- as if putting a fire out, on your head. The fifth ancestor on Obai-zan mountain had no other occupation: he practised nothing but sitting-zen.

For sitting-zen wear a kasaya and use a round cushion. The cushion does not go under the whole of the crossed legs; it goes under the backside. So the underside of the folded legs is on the sitting mat, and the sitting bones are on the cushion. This, in the time of the sitting-zen of the buddhas and the ancestors, is THE Method of Sitting -- whether it is full lotus sitting or whether it is half lotus sitting. In full lotus sitting the right foot goes on the left thigh and the left foot goes on the right thigh, with the toes placed symmetrically on each thigh, not out of proportion. In half lotus sitting the left foot just goes on the right thigh. Let robe and gown hang loosely and keep them neat. The right hand goes over the left foot and the left hand goes over the right hand. The thumbs at their tips connect into each other. The hands, like this, are drawn in towards the body, and placed so that the tips of the thumbs meet opposite the navel. Letting the body right itself, practise upright sitting -- neither leaning left nor leaning right, neither slumping forward nor arching backward. Allow without fail the ears and the shoulders to be opposed and the nose and the navel to be opposed. Let the tongue rest against the roof of the mouth. Let the breath pass through the nose. Let the lips and teeth come together. Let the eyes be open -- not wide open and not half-closed. Having readied the body-mind like this, let there be one full out-breath. Sit totally still, thinking into that zone which is the negation of thinking. How is it possible to think into the zone that negates thinking? It is by non-thinking, which is the key to Sitting in sitting-zen. Sitting-zen is not the zen that is learned. It is the gate to the great and effortless ease of Sitting. It is untainted practice-and-experience.

Treasury of the Eye of True Sitting;
Rules of Sitting-Zen

Delivered to the assembly at Kippo temple in the Yoshida district of Esshu [Fukui prefecture], in the 11th lunar month, in the winter of the first year of Kangen [1243].

Monday, November 24, 2008

4 of 7

Not much to update about really. I am still working albeit very slowly on the 4th panel out of 7. Been very busy around the house with projects for winter etc. Installing a dishwasher where there was none before turned out okay my 3rd attempt at plumbing that finally went right.
Gassho Dirk

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Well its the middle of the day I'm home sick. Day # 2 and I had to get up and around a bit. I did get some sewing done lastnight before I fell over. I have been doing the "proper" stitch as I had seen in the Treeleaf rakusu making vids. Much nicer stitch that is far more neat and quick then what ever it was I had been doing :) Im just finishing my 3rd panel now.

So far its the middle set and the sets flanking either side of the middle, I hope to shake this cold/flu and get back to my daily grind. I was looking ahead to the part where the 2 anchor square and ties are attached and i cannot seem to get my head around how that works out... guess I will have to look at that with a clearer head when I get to it.

Back to bed


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

sew slow!

Tonight I'm finishing up my second set leaving 5 more to get together. That is a lot just to get ready to sew those sets together, which even more stitching!

Ive noticed the way im stitching isnt as efficent as it could be. I rewatched some of the wonderful videos Rev. Taigu had done for Treeleafs' Jukai ceremony and realised I had been doing things differently... and more awkwardly. Another lesson learned ;)

I'm keeping my attention on the tasks at hand rather then running ahead while working. Been sewing a bit less frequently lately as family stuffs come first, well family and work around the house which is a very good teacher of impermanence in all scales :)

As for family I am very pleased to share with whom ever reads this.. lol *Cricket* that we (my wife, daughter and I) are expecting to add bouncing baby boy to our family this March which is roaring towards us :) Because of this I do expect to pickup the pace in order to have hands free the coming months. Not rushing just being a bit more diciplined.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A little further

Slow and steady - well slow anyways! I finished the center set of the 7 strip kesa and have the some stitches done on the next set's 2 patches of material. I basically took a night off that turned into 5! Well not a lot to show at the moment but I will see how much progress there is tonight and possibly post some pictures.

I have decidedly taken a much slower, careful approach with this. I found my self rushing again lastnight even and I ended up making some pretty mean mistakes that required me to pull the stitches and start again. Best part is I made a NEW mistake after pulling them out... not a serious one but I noted it just the same.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So far...

Okay so the blog is made now I will post where I am at to date.

I Set out to do this entirely of the same (store bought) material as my Rakusu just to make it as straight forward as possible. I understand that Kesa can be made of many rags, born anew, but the reality of that for a newb like me is varying thickness and "strechiness" of the different materials . Makes it tough to maintain any kind of accuracy and for a first timer like me, it might prove too much.

Best laid plans, as it turned out our house need a door and some windows much more than the Kesa needed new material so I went frugal and used up my Rakusu material then switched to a huge old bed sheet that i had been using as an ironing pad :) Its a tight enough weave but its a tad thicker and a tad fuzzier than the Rakusu material... C'est la Vie!

So I cut out all the bits over a couple of nights and I have sewn the center set of 3 patches, well 2/3rds of that set :)

I noticed right from the start when I decided to dive in here (sewing the Kesa) I had much the same mind set when I started sewing the Rakusu... RUSH! I was cutting the material while thinking a head to the sewing and basically not being present with each cut. I sat the first night and then went back to cutting focusing on the task at hand measure, measure - double check mark then cut. Repeat. Besides whats my hurry? I have been asking my self that every time I get that "Burning" need to get more done. I think I do that a lot. Hurry to the point of making mistakes, getting discouraged then ditching the endeavor.

For tonight I will finish the remaining 1/3 of the first set and call it an evening (after some Zazen)

Gassho, Dirk

Oh just for giggles here is the Rakusu I spoke of, its still not complete as I am still studying for Jukai and so the Silk bit on the back is yet to come.

also here is the center set with the bit I am going to sew threaded on in preparation for sewing. Beside it is the other material I will be using as well

and this is one of four of my "helpers"

Gassho, Dirk
So I decided to post my thoughts, grumblings and euphoria as I work along sewing my first Kesa -with instructions provided completely on-line thanks to the endeavors of Rev. Taigu Turlur and his blog on kesa. Some how in the process of making the worst mess of cloth, thread and blood I have a new found passion for ... sewing?!

I have all but finished sewing my first Rakusu in preparation for the (as far as its known- worlds first-ever on-line) Jukai ceremony with Treeleaf sangha. With deep gratitude and unending thanks to Jundo Cohen, for following through with all of it, shooting the video based instructions with Rev. Taigu - who, I also cannot thank enough for his time and effort and ongoing support through out the process of sewing! Oh and of course to all the "Leafers" for both listening and sharing their journey too, every bit we do together.

I also have many others to thank and so I'll do so by pouring myself into completing this Kesa.

Oh and I'll post my progress as I go along, text and pictures.