This is the Cuke Archives page for what’s being featured each day.
Our other two Zen sites: - all the transcripts, audio, film, photo archive
and - for Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.
New 2021: Audiobook for Crooked Cucumber & Zen Is Right Now: More Teaching Stories and Anecdotes of Shunryu Suzuki
Youtube Cuke Archives - Posts from here also appear on Facebook Cuke Archives
Core Books by and about Shunryu Suzuki -- People Index -- DC home -- DC Books
Cuke Podcasts - Instagram Cuke Archives - - Donate
For personal, environment, music, etc, go to Cuke nonZense Blog and cuke-annex
Search cuke blog 

Thursday, August 19, 2021


Willem Malten in Santa Fe has finished sewing his okesa. He wrote: "Started this with Kobun-- finally finished. Took 30 years or so to get this far, with long breaks in the middle (Kobun’s death). The stitching is with Japanese golden threat on green canvas cloth. and supposedly the pattern itself is a reflection on the irrigation channels through rice fields in Japan."

DC: The okesa I've always heard and read is in the form of a rice field so naturally the stitches are the irrigation ditches by the paths between the sections. I live in Indonesia, as you know, and have walked the paths in rice fields here often. I did so in Japan too. Wonderful feeling. Also I imagine you know the kesa dates back to the original monks robes in India. The material came from rags and sometimes, I gather, the clothes of the dead. Sewing our own kesa and the smaller rakusu is not a common practice at all in Japan. It was passed down to us from Dainin Katagiri, not Shunryu Suzuki. Katagiri knew of the practice through his teacher Hashimoto. The nun Yoshida who'd studied with Hashimoto came to Zen Center while Suzuki was still alive and taught people how to sew the kesa and rakusu. A few years later the nun Joshin came from the Kodo Sawaki lineage and taught us. Yoshida had us saying Namu Amida Butsu with each stitch. I don't recall if Joshin did that.