Sewing the Sacred: The Living Tradition of the Buddha’s Robe
You know the Buddha’s robe already. You’ve seen it many times: worn by the Dalai Lama, and other Buddhist monks and nuns, draped on their left shoulder. But do you know its significance and history? How it came from the historical Buddha himself, some two-and-a-half millenia ago? How it remains a living tradition of devotion and sewing, practiced by all Buddhist schools, even here in Ireland?
In this short talk, Zen Buddhist priest, Rev. Myozan Kodo Kilroy, introduces us to the history and culture of the ‘Kāṣāya’, the ‘Okesa’, or Buddha’s robe. You will see depictions of it here in our Buddhist collection at the Chester Beatty Library, but what are its hidden meanings, what esoteric significance does it have for Buddhists, and how does it function as a sacred mandala in the Buddhist tradition?
The Buddha’s robe represents a rich and enduring tradition in Buddhism; a tradition that holds an important place in world culture and religious practice. This is a fascinating story that spans the centuries, and that has found a living expression, right here in contemporary Ireland.
Rev. Myozan Kodo Kilroy is a Zen Buddhist priest and a Dharma Heir of Taigu Roshi, in the Soto Zen school of Japanese Buddhism. He is the founding teacher and abbot of Zen Buddhism Ireland, and the founding president of the Irish Buddhist Union. He represents Buddhism on the Dublin City Interfaith Forum and is on the academic staff of TU Dublin.