“Patched-robe monk” is a term of respect in the Zen tradition, as it indicates that the practitioner, wearing patched robes, is thrifty, self-sufficient, and unconcerned with appearances. In our present times of mass-market waste, throw-away products, and material overabundance, and with the environmental degradation and human suffering that results, how much more are the virtues of the “patched-robe” practitioner needed?
In light of this, our sangha is initiating on ongoing project to make our own clothes from discarded fragments of cloth. This tradition reaches back to the original community of the Buddha, where monks regularly gathered discarded or donated material to sew their own robes. Some modern Zen sanghas engage in the practice of hand sewing their ritual okesa and rakusu robes, but hand-making the practical clothes that one wears daily is a rare practice today. (The original “kesayas” that the early monks made were their practical daily coverings, not extra clothes made for ritual). We aim to re-awaken this tradition. We also encourage others to join us in gathering material and learning the art of hand-sewing, either to help us make communal temple robes (for use by anyone joining our daily practice) or to make your own.
If you have fabric you would like to donate, or if you would like to sew for us (or with) contact us through e-mail.
- If you would like instruction or patterns, we would be happy to share.