One Fat Buddha

Under the vast robe of liberation, a practitioner confronts her body.K. D. McLeod

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In Soto Zen centers, there’s a verse we chant every morning between the dawn sitting and the morning service. The robe that symbolizes the commitment to the Buddha’s way is unfolded from its pouch and placed on top of our heads before we intone,

Vast is the robe of liberation
A formless field of benefaction
I wear the Tathagata teachings
Saving all sentient beings.

© On many mornings, I indulged my initial amusement at the absurdity of people sitting on their cushions with bundles of cloth piled on their heads. So much of dislocated Japanese Zen ritual can provoke a wince, with its bloodless and robotic pretensions. By contrast, this seemed sweetly—even innocently—kind of silly.

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