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SOTOZEN.COM > Archivio > Glossario (Inglese) > Verse for Donning Kesa

Glossario (Inglese)


Verse for Donning Kesa (Takkesa no ge 搭袈裟の偈)

How great the vestment of liberation,
robe that is a signless field of merit.
Wrapping ourselves in the Tathagata's teachings,
we encompass and deliver all living beings.
dai sai gedap-puku 大哉解脱服
musō fuku den'e  無相福田衣
hibu nyorai kyo  披奉如來教
kōdo shoshu jo  廣度諸衆生

The "vestment of liberation" is the kesa, the vestment (fuku 服) that is emblematic of Buddhist monk-hood, renunciation of attachments, and the path to "liberation" (gedatsu 解脱). The kesa, of course, is a visible sign of membership in the monastic sangha, which is a "field of merit" (fukuden 福田) because gifts made to it result in much merit for the giver, just as seeds planted in fertile field yield a bountiful crop. Nevertheless, the kesa or "robe" (e 衣) is called "signless" (musō 無相) because the liberation that it is symbolic of is not something that can be identified by any external marks ( 相, S. nimitta). To don the kesa is to figuratively "wrap oneself" (hibu 披奉) in the "Tathāgata's teachings" (nyorai kyō 如來教). Because the two main functions of clothing are the practical one of protecting the person and the social one of signaling identity and status, this line has a double meaning: (1) to publicly identify oneself as a Buddhist monk by donning the kesa, and (2) to gain personal comfort and protection by accepting the Buddha's teachings. The goal of the Mahayana bodhisattva, however, is not simply to attain liberation (nirvana) for oneself alone, but to "deliver" (do 度) "all living beings" (sho shujō 諸衆生). Thus the suggestion that when donning the vestment of liberation and wrapping oneself in the Buddha's teachings, one should spread that figurative robe so broadly ( 廣)as to "encompass" all others as well. → "kesa," "field of merit."