Saturday, May 19, 2012


Kimono sabaki is the art of wearings a kimono. In martial arts circles where a hakama is worn we might say hakama sabaki; for learning to put on, and train in, a hakama is certainly an art form.

Some of us, however, once the technique of putting on the clothes is learned sufficiently we stop giving it much attention, and chatter away in the locker-room giving little care to our dress; or, on the other extreme, become so obsessed with a precise technique we forget to enjoy the feeling of learning fresh how these wondrous clothes might fit today.

When I first wore buddhist robes I was told it takes awareness to learn 'how to live within the robes' (this phrase has many layers of meanings; some of which I am just coming to appreciate). As monks we also recite a vow, the 'Takkesa no ge' or Robe Chant.

Daizai gedappuku
Muso fuku den-e
Hibu Nyorai kyo
Kodo shoshu jo

Daisai gedatsu fuku is 'how great are the clothes of liberation'.
Muso fukuden-e is 'formless robes of happiness'.
Hibi Nyorai kyo is 'devoutly wearing the teaching of the Nyorai' (Nyorai is another name for a Buddha)
Kodo shoshu jo is 'to save living beings widely (or everywhere)'.

This kind of vow is humbling and sets ourselves in a process of gratitude for the practice and the teaching. It places us in a relationship between ourselves and others with awareness of the clothes between us; remember between us does not separate us, but joins us... connects us.

When I put on Hakama and/or Kimono to do budo I say this same vow. To remain ever humble and grateful.

Though for non-monks reciting this vow may be too much to ask, it may be a nice practice to don the hakama & kimono with a similar attitude, to help us step on this path facing an old direction of gratitude to those who came before... and in the new direction toward those who will train with us today.

Domo Arigatou