Real Rakusu

Today when I was giving meditation instruction, I noticed that something was hanging from my rakusu and then saw that the end of one of the straps was no longer attached. I had sewn this blue rakusu with a brownish-golden thread, each stitch visible, each stitch a dot, symbolizing all directions, everything.

I remembered that there was an envelope in a dresser drawer with some materials from when I sewed the rakusu and I thought that perhaps there would be some golden thread in there. The envelope was a treasure trove of things I had forgotten — rakusu sewing instructions, chalk-like sewing markers, white thread, blue thread, and even the cloth where I had practiced the stitches — but no golden thread.

I began by sewing with the white thread and it just wasn’t working because I no longer remembered how to do the stitch. It was a horrible disaster so I pulled it out and returned to the cloth with the practice stitches. Attached to the cloth was a needle and thread so I was able to figure out how the stitches had been done.

Slowly, like a child just learning a new skill, I sewed this small area with the blue thread.

Now the strap is attached with thread that doesn’t match and isn’t quite visible and with stitches that aren’t all dots, but when I looked at the rakusu, it was a perfect match. It was a perfect match because this 17 year old rakusu, with its worn fabric, discolorations, and some spots left by long ago oatmeal, is a real rakusu. Unlike the scraps used by monks of old, it started out with new cloth, but now speaks of practice and life and that perfection lies even within the flaws.

About kesho

Kesho is liaison for new members and coordinator for meditation instruction at Heart Circle Sangha.
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One Response to Real Rakusu

  1. Jakudo says:

    Thank you for this. Last year the same thing happened to my rakasu, although the separation of the upper and lower portions was due to breakage of the wooden ring (Maybe this part has a name?). I remember feeling shocked and upset, as if something sacred was broken, and that if I didn’t fix it right away, I might mysteriously be visited by demons and hungry ghosts, and I certainly would not become enlightened. No, not like this! Well, a year later, my rakasu wears quite well with the broken halves of my wooden ring held together by masking tape, and without Roshi ever noticing! I like to think of this broken ring as a symbol of my life, and it asks me repeatedly in my practice to question: Is it broken? Is it whole? Does THIS need fixing?


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