Eczema

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.

Eczema

Postby LonesomeYogurt » Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:38 pm

I have light, non-painful eczema exclusively under my eyes. Most of those I've spoken to have said that it wouldn't be an obstacle to ordination, but I wanted to ask the opinions of those on this board. Will this cause any problems to one who aspires to monkhood?
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
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Re: Eczema

Postby James the Giant » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:43 am

I also get flaky dry skin beneath my eyes, which I put moisturising cream on every other day, which solves the problem. I also get tiny almost-invisible blisters on my hands when I am really stressed out, and that goes away when I relax for a few days, or when I put cream on it.
I asked a senior western bhikkhu with 29 pansa if that was okay, and he said "Fine, no worries", and said he would be happy to ordain me.

Eczema today is usually easily treated by a $2 tube of cream, so it seems that the original reason for the rule has become irrelevant (although not for the more serious diseases which are expensive to cure.)
This is what Thanissaro Bhikkhu says about it in the Buddhist Monastic Code II
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/bmc2/bmc2.ch14.html

(Side note - interestingly, it seems that if you go forth and are fully accepted, then you need not be expelled... you remain a bhikkhu, even if you do have eczema or something worse. See the bit I underlined below.)
Undesirable. Applicants falling into the following categories should not be given the Going-forth. As Going-forth is the customary first step in full Acceptance, this means that they should not receive full Acceptance, either. Any bhikkhu who gives any of these applicants the Going-forth incurs a dukkaṭa. However, the applicant does count as having properly gone forth; if fully accepted he is properly accepted and need not be expelled.

2) Those with serious, disfiguring, or communicable diseases. The Canon separates this category into three types:

(a) A person afflicted with leprosy, boils, eczema, tuberculosis, or epilepsy. Some have questioned whether this prohibition is compassionate to the diseased, but the origin story behind the rule shows that it was formulated out of compassion for the bhikkhus and lay supporters who would be burdened with the diseased person's care.
Now at that time five diseases were widespread among the Magadhans: leprosy, boils, eczema, tuberculosis, and epilepsy. People afflicted with the five diseases went to (the doctor) Jīvaka Komārabhacca and said, "It would be good, teacher, if you would treat us."

"Masters, I have many duties. I am very busy. I have to tend to King Bimbisāra of Magadha, as well as his harem and the Community of bhikkhus headed by the Buddha. I cannot treat you."

"All our wealth will be yours, teacher, and we will be your slaves. It would be good, teacher, if you would treat us."

"Masters, I have many duties. I am very busy. I have to tend to King Bimbisāra of Magadha, as well as his harem and the Community of bhikkhus headed by the Buddha. I cannot treat you."

Then it occurred to these people, "These Sakyan-son monks are of pleasant virtue and conduct. Having eaten fine meals, they lie down in beds sheltered from the wind (see Pc 65). What if we were to go forth among the Sakyan-son monks? There the bhikkhus would tend to us and Jīvaka Komārabhacca would treat us." So, going to the bhikkhus, they requested the Going-forth. The bhikkhus gave them the Going-forth, they gave them the full Acceptance. The bhikkhus tended to them and Jīvaka Komārabhacca treated them. Now at that time the bhikkhus — tending to many sick bhikkhus — were continually begging, continually hinting, "Give a meal for the sick. Give a meal for those tending to the sick. Give medicine for the sick." Jīvaka Komārabhacca — tending to many sick bhikkhus — neglected one of his duties to the king.

Then a certain man afflicted with the five diseases went to Jīvaka Komārabhacca ... (as above). Then it occurred to him, " ... What if I were to go forth among the Sakyan-son monks? There the bhikkhus would tend to me and Jīvaka Komārabhacca would treat me. When I am well I will disrobe." So, going to the bhikkhus, he requested the Going-forth. The bhikkhus gave him the Going-forth, they gave him the full Acceptance. The bhikkhus tended to him and Jīvaka Komārabhacca treated him. When he was well he disrobed.

Then Jīvaka Komārabhacca saw the man disrobed. On seeing him, he addressed him, "Master, weren't you gone forth among the bhikkhus?"

"Yes, teacher."

"But why did you act in this way?"

Then the man told the matter to Jīvaka Komārabhacca. Jīvaka Komārabhacca criticized and complained and spread it about, "How can the revered ones give the Going-forth to a person afflicted with the five diseases?"

— Mv.I.39.1-6


Four of these diseases are explained in the commentaries.

Leprosy includes scabies, yaws, and psoriasis as well. Apparently, any other disease that causes ulcerating lesions on the skin would also come under this heading. If the disease occurs in small patches the size of the back of a nail in areas covered when fully robed and is in a condition that won't spread further, the applicant may go forth. If the patches are visible on the face or the backs of hands, then even if they are small and won't spread, he shouldn't go forth. If he has been treated so that the patches disappear completely, he may. The Sub-commentary adds here that the "back of the nail" means the back of the nail of the small finger or toe; if the patches are small and in a covered area but still spreading, the applicant should not go forth.
Boils, according to the Commentary, also covers skin excrescencies looking like fingers or cow nipples. If the boils are not spreading, no larger than jujube pits (the same size as olive pits), and in an area covered when fully robed, the applicant may go forth; if they are in an uncovered area, he shouldn't. Acne and warts don't count as boils under this rule.
Eczema covers a wide variety of skin diseases, differing from those included under "leprosy" in that they are not debilitating and do not ulcerate or ooze. Thus ringworm and athlete's foot would come under this category. As under the preceding category, small, non-spreading infestations in an area covered when fully robed would be allowable.
Epilepsy includes both grand and petit mal, as well as cases of seizures caused by hostile spirit possession (!).
(b) A person with goiter. This was apparently incurable at the time. At present, if such a person is cured, he may go forth.
(c) A person afflicted with an "evil" disease. This, the Commentary says, includes such things as hemorrhoids, fistulas, upsets of bile or phlegm, cough, asthma, or any disease that is "chronically afflicting (reading niccātura with the Thai edition of the Commentary), exceedingly painful, disgusting, and disagreeable." AIDS and cancer would come under here.


I just read further, and came upon a bit where there is some fanatical Taliban-style lunacy about mustaches and monobrows making someone unsuitable for going forth. Ridiculous.

5) Those who are physically handicapped, feeble, or deformed. The following list is from the Canon, with passages from the Commentary in brackets: an applicant with a hand cut off [C: at least from the palm] ... a foot cut off [C: at least from the ball of the foot].. a hand and foot cut off ... an ear cut off ... a nose cut off ... an ear and nose cut off [C: in the case of ears and nose, if the cut-off part can be reconnected, the applicant may go forth] ... a finger or toe cut off [C: so that nothing of the nail appears] ... a thumb or big toe cut off .. a cut tendon ... one who has webbed fingers [C: if the fingers are separated by surgery, or if a sixth finger is removed, the applicant may go forth] ... a bent-over person [C: bent-over forward (a hunchback), bent-over back (a swayback), bent-over to either side; a slight crookedness is to be expected in all candidates, as only a Buddha is perfectly straight] ... a dwarf ... one with a club foot (or elephantiasis) [C: if the foot is operated on so as to become a normal foot, he may go forth] ... one who disgraces the assembly [C: through some deformity; (the list here is very long and includes many seemingly harmless characteristics, such as connected eyebrows, a lack of a beard or moustache, etc. This is one area where the Commentary seems to have gone overboard)] ... one who is blind in one eye ... one who has a crooked limb [C: limb = at least a hand, foot, or finger] ... one who is lame ... one half-paralyzed [C: paralyzed in one hand, one foot, or down one side] ... a cripple [C: one who needs a crutch or stool to move along] ... one feeble from old age ... one who is blind... dumb [C: unable to speak or with such a bad stutter that he cannot pronounce the Three Refuges clearly]... deaf ... blind and dumb ... blind and deaf (§ — not mentioned in BD) ... deaf and dumb ... blind and deaf and dumb.

Again, some people have questioned the compassion behind these prohibitions, but the point of the prohibitions is to keep the bhikkhus from being burdened with looking after those who are a burden or an embarrassment to their families. There is at least one case in the Canon of a dwarf who ordained and became an arahant (Ud.VII.1-2), but apparently he, like Aṅgulimāla, was accepted into the Community by the Buddha himself. If it so happens that a bhikkhu develops any of these handicaps after his ordination — e.g., he goes blind or loses a limb — he need not disrobe, and his fellow bhikkhus are duty-bound to care for him (see Chapter 5).
Then,
saturated with joy,
you will put an end to suffering and stress.
SN 9.11
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Re: Eczema

Postby Craig86 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:18 pm

I hope nobody minds me resurrecting this old topic but I'd be very interested to see some more comments on this, especially as it's so difficult to find any mention of it elsewhere online.

The main reason I ask is that ordination is a possible route for me in the future but I do experience dry skin on my face and head that is managed through daily moisturising (though I have a specific form of dermatitis that particularly affects my nose and sometimes has to be treated with a corticosteroid cream).

It's certainly something I'll be asking next time I visit my local monastery (Harnham/Aruna Ratanagiri), but I would like to know if the kind of maintenance it takes to control this problem would be a barrier to ordination.

The connected eyebrow part is of note also - I have to shave in between my eyebrows to prevent sporting such a monobrow; as that could easily be incorporated as part of whatever general shaving routine takes place within the monastic setting then can I assume that it wouldn't be an issue?

Blessings,
Craig
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Re: Eczema

Postby kmath » Wed Oct 30, 2013 10:46 pm

Craig86 wrote:I hope nobody minds me resurrecting this old topic but I'd be very interested to see some more comments on this, especially as it's so difficult to find any mention of it elsewhere online.

The main reason I ask is that ordination is a possible route for me in the future but I do experience dry skin on my face and head that is managed through daily moisturising (though I have a specific form of dermatitis that particularly affects my nose and sometimes has to be treated with a corticosteroid cream).

It's certainly something I'll be asking next time I visit my local monastery (Harnham/Aruna Ratanagiri), but I would like to know if the kind of maintenance it takes to control this problem would be a barrier to ordination.

The connected eyebrow part is of note also - I have to shave in between my eyebrows to prevent sporting such a monobrow; as that could easily be incorporated as part of whatever general shaving routine takes place within the monastic setting then can I assume that it wouldn't be an issue?

Blessings,
Craig


The dry skin is not an issue. When I was ordained, friend or family would gladly send me that kind of thing. If you don't have a benefactor like that, the monastery can probably provide some kind of moisturizer for you. That kind of thing is perfectly reasonable to request.

As for the eyebrows, that is not an issue either. I mean, the monastery will probably require you shave your beard, so you'll have a razor. Just shave your monobrow - no one cares. In fact, if you ordain in a Thai monastery, you will actually be required to shave off your eyebrows completely.

You're good to go, Craig. No worries :thumbsup:
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Re: Eczema

Postby Craig86 » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:27 pm

Thank you Kmath; I have no doubt I would have someone who could provide such things for me. I think part of my concern would just be that having to moisturise daily could potentially cause issue with the part of the Vinaya about the use of "garlands, perfumes, unguents and adornments".

I also have to take daily anti-histamines due to a range of allergies so have concerns about my health issues being a burden to the monastery, but I suppose there is no reason that would be a problem if a family member would be kind enough to provide such things (anti-histamines are very cheap and a bottle of moisturiser lasts me a good couple of months).

I appreciate you taking the time to respond :)
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Re: Eczema

Postby Christopherxx » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:50 pm

hey guys, this is an old post but when I stumbled upon it I thought it was important for someone to chime in.

many people get caught up thinking, "Oh I am this or that, or I have this or that affliction, etc. etc."

This is what it means to be alive. We are in a world with viruses living inside of us (Some causing problems some not), bacteria is part of us lol, etc.

I would be very surprised if not saddened if someone seeking liberation was refused from a monastery for eczema, hiv, etc, etc. The only reason I could see a monastery refusing is if they couldn't provide the adequate services to make sure that person would stay in good health, and in the world we live in now even in the remote parts that is very rare.

There are many monks in burma and thailand that come down with infections and or parasites and without medical treatment they would die. They are treated, simple as that.

So don't let any kind of condition, ethnicity, or any other thing of what it means to live in the world hold you back. The good sanghas will not turn you away from your search.

Let's keep on the high road here and not fall to foolish tradition and dogma.

History looks back at those as fools. And it's not loving kindness.
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Re: Eczema

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:33 pm

Christopherxx wrote:The only reason I could see a monastery refusing is if they couldn't provide the adequate services to make sure that person would stay in good health, and in the world we live in now even in the remote parts that is very rare.

That's wrong. Things have gotten better for many people but there is still a long way to go before we can use the word "rare" in this regard.

But much remains to be done. More
than 700 million people still lack ready
access to improved sources of drinking
water; nearly half are in sub-Saharan
Africa. More than one third of the global
population – some 2.5 billion people
— do not use an improved sanitation
facility, and of these 1 billion people still
practice open defecation.


SOURCE:
http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/1066 ... g.pdf?ua=1
Peace,
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Re: Eczema

Postby Christopherxx » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:17 am

Mkoll your right I probably overstepped on the reality of the situation.

Though most monasteries I have had the pleasure of being in contact with are wise enough to know what was brought up in a traditional context and for what reasons. That is one of the more rational aspects of Buddhism (In particular Theravada) is that the Pali Canon is viewed as a teaching and instructing material yet not divinely inspired and inerrant.

It's an historical document.

My post was really to bring to attention to an aspect that I see a lot of new and even mature posters bringing up.

The worry that they may not be "right" in Buddhas eyes or that there is some kind of "Ritually clean" & "Unclean" person.

We all have physical and mental problems. It's what it means to be alive and what the Buddha so thankfully provided his instruction to develop through. No one in this world should feel ashamed or of less value because they have a genetic condition, virus, bacteria, ethnicity, physical appearance, etc. And with any actual practice you learn to see these things very neutrally very fast. It's probably one of the first steps when you start progressing and applying the eight fold path in your life.

Always makes me think of the Buddha. If he was pressed with these questions in today's context I think his answer would be quite witty and surprising. Much like how then Ajahn Chah was questioned about sex and he started picking his nose lol ;)

P.s. I am commenting on the situation of how people view themselves and how the buddhist community (sangha) interacts with it's lay followers. Your right unfortunately in the practical sense we have a lot of way to go before the infrastructure catches up with the cultural progression.
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Re: Eczema

Postby manas » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:56 am

Hi Lonesome,

I used to suffer from eczma, but a combination of eating more natural foods, drinking properly purified water, and applying chickweed ointment on the affected parts, has virtually eliminated it for me, and I would recommend any or all of these.

kind regards
manas
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Re: Eczema

Postby dharmagoat » Thu Jun 05, 2014 4:30 am

My eczema was caused by a range of food allergies. By going on an elimination diet I was able to determine which foods were responsible and could then exclude them from my diet. My eczema went from chronic (always present) to very occasional and mild, even without the use of hydrocortisone cream. Using the cream was useful in ensuring that any minor episodes cleared up quickly.
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Re: Eczema

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Thu Jun 05, 2014 7:27 am

Christopherxx could I ask, do you smoke, or do you have a respiratory condition?

It sounds weird to ask, but bear with me....
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Eczema

Postby Christopherxx » Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:51 pm

TNBB: Nope, far as I know healthy as a horse and don't drink or smoke.

Though you do have me curious lol
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Re: Eczema

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:03 am

Oh goodness... stupid, stupid me.... I should have addressed that question to the OP....

I do apologise....

I'm hoping the OP can actually answer that, though....

Lonesome, Yogurt, could I ask, do you smoke, or do you have a respiratory condition?
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Eczema

Postby Christopherxx » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:37 pm

TNBB: You had me so curious!

Lol
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Re: Eczema

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:47 pm

I promise I will explain - but when Lonesome Yogurt responds. I'd rather await a concrete reply than make a total idiot of myself twice in one thread! :rolleye:

:jumping:
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Pay attention, simplify, and (Meditation instruction in a nutshell) "Mind - the Gap."
‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Eczema

Postby dharmagoat » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:17 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:I promise I will explain - but when Lonesome Yogurt responds.

LonesomeYoghurt's last visit was on the 10th of February, so we may be waiting a while.

I get itchy when I wait.
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Re: Eczema

Postby Christopherxx » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:26 pm

He's probably ordained ;) lol
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Re: Eczema

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:56 pm

Well, if the OP cannot respond for whatever reason, I will expand:

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are 5 elements, or transformations, which denote specific qualities, moods, energies, emotions and the like.
The element of Metal, has, as its representative Yin and Yang organs, the Lungs and Large Intestine, respectively.
There is also an associated additional 'organ' which is affected primarily by this specific element, but is also influenced by other factors. In the case of Metal, it is the skin.

The three may seem illogically connected, until you consider that the lungs are large, and if one were to take all the capillaries, and lay them end to end, they would be very long, and cover a large area. They're also very moist and inhale, and exhale, and take in 'pure' air and give out 'impure' air.
Affiliate this, then, with the Large Intestine, and it could almost be described in the same way. And the same goes for the skin, too.

So if we smoke, it affects both the large intestine, which may go unseen and undetected; but it also affects the skin.
This is why, all too often, those who have asthma, also have eczema, and those who smoke, can be prone to dry skin.

Even if people don't smoke, secondary smoking can affect a sensitive system in the same way.

I study TCM (not to practise it, but simply because it is a most fascinating subject) and I never stop learning something new. it is profoundly logical and absolutely spot-on, in far too many cases for it to be dismissed as hokum....
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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‘Absit invidia verbo’ - may ill-will be absent from the word. And mindful of that, if I don't respond, this may be why....
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Re: Eczema

Postby Christopherxx » Sat Jun 07, 2014 2:47 am

Hopefully LY will see this and from all the posts both feel more at ease and see a bettering of his condition :)
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