The creation, care and transmission of textiles in Zen practice

Overview of Events

Thursday, October 5th
Consecration of Fabric Ceremony
Dharma Field, 6:30 pm
Open to everyone, $20 donation suggested.
Please RSVP here.

Friday, October 6th 
Brunch for sewing teachers
Dharma Field, 10:00 am
Open to all Sewing teachers and their apprentices
Please RSVP here.

“Wearing Buddha’s Robe”
Dharma Field, 6:30 pm
Interactive discussion and learning followed by tea.
Open to everyone $20 donation suggested.
Please RSVP here.

Saturday, October 7th 
“Great Robe of Liberation Workshop:
The creation, care and transmission of textiles in Zen practice.”

Clouds in Water, 9 am – 3 pm. 
Lunch included.
Workshop is designed for Zen priests and teachers but open to all who are interested.

Sunday, October 8th
“Giving Life to Zen Forms” 
Public Talk- Shosan Victoria Austin
MZMC, 10 am
Talk followed by tea
Open to everyone, donation-based

Thursday, October 5th

Event: Consecration of Fabric ceremony
Location: Dharma Field
Time: 6:30 PM
Contribution: $20 donation suggested
Open to everyone
RSVP by contacting Dharma Field

How does the gift of fabric transform into “a field far beyond form and emptiness?” This inter-sangha ceremony, open to all, gives Zen form to the spirit of Buddha’s Kathina offering tradition. 


  • One representative chosen by each sangha in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area will serve as a Doshi (ceremony leader) to receive offerings of fabric to be used in sewing Buddha’s robe.
  • Doshis will wear formal robes and white footwear to show respect for giver, receiver, and gift
  • We will hold a short training for teachers at 5:45PM.


We invite ceremony participants to donate:

  • Black, brown or navy fabric
  • Robe-sewing thread
  • Sewing materials and equipment

Before the Ceremony:

  • Please wear loose, comfortable clothing in dark colors; cover elbows and knees.
  • Please sign up by (deadline) (where) to ensure adequate seating
  • If you have a question about what or how to offer, please contact Fiona.

Tea and social gathering to follow.

Friday, October 6th

Event: Brunch for sewing teachers
Location: Dharma Field
Time: 10:00 AM
Open to all Sewing teachers and their apprentices
RSVP by contacting Dharma Field

Sewing teachers who are in town are invited to share food and conversation about our tradition of Buddha’s robe. Please bring a dish to share.

Sewing teachers are welcome to invite an apprentice.

Event: Wearing Buddha’s Robe
Location: Dharma Field
Time: 6:30 PM Interactive discussion and learning followed by tea
Contribution:$20 donation suggested
Open to everyone
RSVP by contacting Dharma Field

For priests in the international Soto Zen sangha, wearing robes is a skill that trains and requires awareness of the body and of tradition. In this fun night of discovery, we will study and give feedback on the dressing and deportment of these garments.

Participants will have the opportunity to explore how to wear robes with comfort and ease. We may also discover some alterations and adjustments that need our attention. Hemlines too long or too short? Ties too worn or too awkward to use? Gaping necklines? Okesa corners that persist in flapping around our ears?

Okesa of different styles will be brought to this event and demonstrated, along with some of the differences in how they are worn in various temples.  If you have an okesa of a different form, or one about which you have a question, please bring it! A small prize will be given to the participant who most effectively stumps Victoria.

Saturday, October 7th

Event: Great Robe of Liberation Workshop: The creation, care and transmission of textiles in Zen practice,
with Shosan Victoria Austin
Location: Clouds in Water
Time: 9 am – 3 pm. Lunch included.
Contribution: See (link) for more information and to register

This is a special workshop for Zen priests and teachers, offered in conjunction with Dharma Field Zen Center, Minnesota Zen Center and Clouds in Water Zen Center. Rev. Shosan Victoria Austin is a treasured Zen sewing instructor, and will provide valuable information to our local teachers. This hands-on workshop is part of a multi-day, multi-sangha series of events. It is designed for Zen priests but open to all.

In this workshop, participants will observe and discuss teaching demonstrations of robe skills modeled by volunteers from participating sanghas. 

Activities will include:

  • Meditating together with fellow priests and teachers from local sanghas on the teachings in the robe chant; 
  • How to wash and care for Buddha’s robe, including a live washing ritual of one or more volunteers’ rakusu and okesa;
  • A “Ruining Ceremony.”  Tenjo (点浄), “mark of purification.” Shosan will share her experience with the practice, and may guide one of our teachers to show it;
  • Calligraphy on the back of rakusus. We will learn ink making and intention brought to marking the back of the Rakusu. Shosan will share her process and actually complete the inscription on the back of a rakusu with prepared ink.

Shosan Victoria Austin began practicing Zen in 1971. She trained in the U.S., in India, and in Japan, and is entrusted as a Dharma heir in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, an international Soto Zen priest, and a Dharma teacher at San Francisco Zen Center. In 2022, she co-led the training and participation of the Ryoban (ceremonial assembly) for the Zenshuji 100th Anniversary Jukai-e in Los Angeles. 

Shosan studied everyday sewing skills with Mrs. Mitsu Suzuki, and began her study of Buddha’s robe with Kasai Joshin-san in the 1970s. One of her early practice teachers was the MZMC founder, Dainin Katagiri Roshi. She studied with and assisted her elder Dharma sister, Zenkei Blanche Hartman, in the San Francisco Zen Center style of sewing Buddha’s robe. Shosan was instrumental in the creation of a six-month non-residential online practice period in June 2021, called Sewing with Heart, offered by the Zen Buddhist Sewing Teachers and Everyday Zen, where 70 sewing teachers and apprentices from the U.S., Canada, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Italy, and Russia participated. 


Clouds in Water relies on a Gift Economics Model of resource transparency, suggested sliding scale tiers and no set fees in order to balance financial sustainability, the Buddhist practice of generosity, justice and equity. Clouds in Water is a community supported temple, relying primarily on the donations and class fees that our sangha offers. Sliding Scale – All are welcome. No one will be turned away for lack of funds!

Level 1: $200, Level 2: $125, Level 3: $75, Your Level: You choose the amount.

Sunday, October 8th

Event: “Giving Life to Zen Forms,” Public talk – Shosan Victoria Austin
Location: MZMC
Time: 10 am Sunday Talk followed by tea
Contribution: Donation
Open to everyone

Soto Zen is often called the yogic arm of Mahayana practice, the Buddhist vehicle that harmonizes self and the world. Yet formal temple practices can seem difficult, inaccessible, or rote both to those of us unused to them, and to those who have long practiced them.

How do the traditional forms of Soto Zen help us understand three important aspects of spiritual awakening: our everyday life, our interconnection with all beings, and that which is beyond our human capacity to know? How can we practice them in accessible, life-giving ways that truly help us and those whose lives we touch?

In this special morning of lecture and conversation, we will explore the life of Zen forms as skillful means to study and realize oneness, difference, and interconnection in our own body and mind, in ways that transcend words.

Study Resource: Ben Connelly’s Vasubandhu’s “Three Natures”