It’s a long time since I made myself a new day robe. Years possibly. Time passes and one doesn’t necessarily see the frayed cuffs and faded fabric. Imperceptibly, day by day material things age. A rip does get ones attention signally something needs to be done however for the most part the everyday wear and tear goes unnoticed. If the garment does the job that’s good enough and with a weekly wash appropriate smartness is maintained.
Yesterday was almost entirely devoted to making myself a new robe. That involves measuring the old one and then cutting out new fabric ready for sewing. So I’ve been taking a closer look from the outside at what I’ve been wearing every day. The fabric is not at its best, several seams need a few mending stitches and the sleeve cuffs are worn through and overdue for repair. I’ll be giving it some TLC after the new one is finished and then it will become my second best.
And I love that robe! Anything used, worn and handled daily builds a loyalty and a caring and a cherishing which forges a bond. One could say this is just attachment and in part that is true. Recognizing this dynamic between oneself and items of personal use though doesn’t mean the next step is to get rid of, or lower ones regard and gratitude. Not at all. In fact items of personal use that once belonged to revered masters and teachers are highly valued as an object of remembrance. I’ve several things which my late teacher used. In fact I have a brown small kesa made out of fabric from one of her day robes!
What’s stuck in my mind is a conversation from yesterday. I’d been chatting generally to an acquaintance and mentioned what I’d been doing all morning. Oh, are you going to put in part of the old robe? she asked. Why would I do that? I replied. For continuity, was her response.
Now pondering on this business of continuity generally I’m left thinking the marks we make in the world, which gradually crumble and eventually decay, are the visible marks of the life of the Buddha having been lived. I love my old robe because it has given me shelter to live this life, which has no beginning and no end!
The day in and day out living the life the Buddha taught is that which lives on. Unbroken continuity?