This week, I will be living at the Temple in Brooklyn as part of preparation for jukai, the public ceremony of receiving the 16 Buddhist Precepts. It is taken very seriously in the Mountains and Rivers Order, which I think is a good thing because it ensures that it really means something to the person receiving them. We spend years reflecting on the precepts and working with them in our lives before taking this vow of commitment.
One part of the week's work will be sewing a rakusu. It is a bib-like garment that represents the Buddha's robe. It is hand stitched and each stitch is filled with one's intention and aspiration. I will be receiving the precepts with three other people - all men. They have each expressed a little anxiety about the sewing part - and I have heard tell of people sewing into the wee hours of the morning in order to finish the rakusu in time. I would like to think that, for once, this might be something that comes easily for me in this practice. But I am well aware that pride cometh before a fall and I am not getting too cocky. There is a lot of measuring that needs to be exact, and that is not really my strong point. I am certain there will be plenty of opportunities for humility.
At the end of the week, on Sunday, there will be the actual jukai ceremony. It is really a beautiful thing. I have been moved to tears watching others participate. In some ways, it is A Big Deal. And yet, it is just our regular life too. We have been given this opportunity to make a choice about what kind of life we want to live and, for me, this is one way of saying yes to it all.