The Nine Row Kesa, in the Foguang shan Chinese Ch'an(Zen) Tradition
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Merits of the Kesa –
“The buddhas praise the kasāya as a fertile field,
They call it supreme in giving benefit and joy to living beings.
The mystical power of the kasāya is unthinkable,
It can cause us to practice deeds that plant the seeds of bodhi,
It makes the sprouts of the truth grow like spring seedlings,
The wonderful effect of bodhi being like autumn fruit.”
The transmission of the Buddhist master’s vestment (kesa) to the disciple represents the transmission of the dharma (teaching), especially in Zen Buddhism. The only person able to recognize that the disciple is on the way to enlightenment (or has reached it) is the master, who has already experienced it. Kesa are treasured and associated with those who wore or owned them.
Small, rectangular pieces of fabric are joined together to form one kesa. Many robes have been created from cut-up religious offerings, reflecting the idea that what is worthless in the secular world translates into the sacred in the Buddhist realm.