Monks and shaving

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Monks and shaving

Postby Still Searching » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:30 pm

This might sound gross but do monks/nuns also shave their underarms, pubic region and legs as well as head and eyebrows? I'm just curious. Would men have to shave their chests too?
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby appicchato » Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:43 pm

Some do, some don't... :popcorn:
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Oct 15, 2013 1:44 am

I wouldn't want to try to find out!!!!
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Oct 15, 2013 2:19 am

Note that eyebrows is a specifically Thai thing. My understanding is that Thai monks started doing it during one of the many Thai-Burma wars supposedly to stop infiltration by Burmese dressed as monks, but I have no reliable reference.

I believe trimming pubic areas is not allowed by the Patimokkha, but I can't locate where it is mentioned:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... index.html

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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby appicchato » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:41 am

...Thai monks started doing it during one of the many Thai-Burma wars supposedly to stop infiltration by Burmese dressed as monks...


True that is...although the logic, reasoning, and instigation of such seems to discount the idea that the Burmese would/could take a blade to their own brows...then there's me, an American Caucasian whacking mine every full moon...go figure...
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby dagon » Tue Oct 15, 2013 3:56 am

mikenz66 wrote:
I believe trimming pubic areas is not allowed by the Patimokkha, but I can't locate where it is mentioned:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... index.html

:anjali:
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I would be thinking that even under the 8 precepts such an action would be questionable :shrug:

7. Nacca-gita-vadita-visukkadassana mala-gandha-vilepana-dharana-mandana-vibhusanathana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from dancing, singing, music, going to see entertainments, wearing garlands, using perfumes, and beautifying the body with cosmetics.

http://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=8_precepts
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby daverupa » Tue Oct 15, 2013 4:08 pm

Dressing the chest-hair was a popular beautification back in the day, and I seem to remember Vinaya about how shaving was prescribed down to the collarbone, but naught else. Nothing about eyebrows either, which seems to be a Thai innovation.

One monk I spoke with at Santi Forest Monastery mentioned being with another monk when they fetched up somewhere in Thailand for the rains, and the community there asked them to shave their eyebrows. They said there was no such Vinaya, but ultimately the 'local practices' argument won him over. His companion yet refused.

Interesting mannerisms.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby Jayantha-NJ » Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:46 am

I could possibly see the shaving of pubic hair for health reasons in certain situations (did you know that the lice in head hair is actually a different species then the lice in pubic hair?).. but other then that the only reason to shave would be related to sexual reasons, what other reason would there be?
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby ArkA » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:14 pm

Still Searching wrote:This might sound gross but do monks/nuns also shave their underarms, pubic region and legs as well as head and eyebrows? I'm just curious. Would men have to shave their chests too?


As the Buddha's words are the only authority, I hope that these references will help to answer your questions.

Attached images are from the pages 144, 185, 186, and 187 from the volume 5 of "The Book of the Discipline" by I.B. Horner, which is the English translation of the 4th book (Cūḷavagga Pāḷi) of the Vinaya Piṭaka.

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Page 144.
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185.jpg
Page 185.
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Page 186-187.
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"Bhikkhus, there are these three things that shine when exposed, not when concealed. What three? (1) The moon. (2) The sun. (3) The Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata."
- Anguttara Nikaya, 3.131, Paticchanna Sutta

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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:44 pm

They're not supposed to shave their beards? Never knew that... So why do they all shave their beards?
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby daverupa » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:04 pm

kmath wrote:They're not supposed to shave their beards? Never knew that... So why do they all shave their beards?


My understanding is that they're not supposed to trim their beards or otherwise make hair art on the face, such as shaping it into various styles. Getting rid of it all with a razor is perfectly fine, though scissors start to cause concern in that they can be used for styling.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:19 pm

daverupa wrote:
kmath wrote:They're not supposed to shave their beards? Never knew that... So why do they all shave their beards?


My understanding is that they're not supposed to trim their beards or otherwise make hair art on the face, such as shaping it into various styles. Getting rid of it all with a razor is perfectly fine, though scissors start to cause concern in that they can be used for styling.


Got it. Thanks!
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby Mkoll » Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:44 am

ArkA,

Are all those quoted passages from the minor rules? That is, those rules that the Buddha said the monks were allowed to change when he passed away?

:anjali:
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby daverupa » Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:57 am

Mkoll wrote:ArkA,

Are all those quoted passages from the minor rules? That is, those rules that the Buddha said the monks were allowed to change when he passed away?

:anjali:


Those rules can't be delineated, unfortunately, and in any event extant Vinayas contain much more material than was there when the Buddha was saying his final words, so the better approach - in my experience - is to see the purpose of the rule. Here there is a problem with beautification, and this sort of hair care (beard shaping & trimming) is akin to cosmetics and perfumes.

The things to notice, when engaged in these relatively average toiletries, are one's intentions and goals, one's attitudes and expectations about these acts and which results are hoped for.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby Mkoll » Sat Dec 14, 2013 6:32 am

daverupa wrote:
Mkoll wrote:ArkA,

Are all those quoted passages from the minor rules? That is, those rules that the Buddha said the monks were allowed to change when he passed away?

:anjali:


Those rules can't be delineated, unfortunately, and in any event extant Vinayas contain much more material than was there when the Buddha was saying his final words, so the better approach - in my experience - is to see the purpose of the rule. Here there is a problem with beautification, and this sort of hair care (beard shaping & trimming) is akin to cosmetics and perfumes.

The things to notice, when engaged in these relatively average toiletries, are one's intentions and goals, one's attitudes and expectations about these acts and which results are hoped for.

Thanks for clearing that up daverupa.

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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby ArkA » Sat Dec 14, 2013 3:50 pm

Mkoll wrote:ArkA,

Are all those quoted passages from the minor rules? That is, those rules that the Buddha said the monks were allowed to change when he passed away?

:anjali:


“After my death, Ananda, if the Sangha is willing, the lesser and minor rules may be abolished.”
- Dīgha Nikāya 16, Mahāparinibbāna Sutta


Yes, those quotes are in lesser and minor rules. The Buddha’s allowance is not to “change” but to “abolish”, and this allowance is the most used justification by the flaccid monks who don’t follow most of the Vinaya. However, it’s not new, and happened while the Buddha was alive.

Then the group of six bhikkhus considered: “At present, many bhikkhus, elders and newly ordained and those of middle standing are mastering Vinaya under the Ven. Upāli. If these become properly versed in Vinaya they will win us to [them], they will win us rounds how they like, when they like, for as long as they like. Come, your reverences, let us disparage Vinaya.” Then the group of six bhikkhus, having approached the bhikkhus, said: “On account of what are these lesser and minor rules of training recited? They only tend to remorse, to vexation, to perplexity.” Upon hearing this The Buddha, rebuked them: “How can you, foolish men, disparage Vinaya? Foolish men, it is not for the pleasing of non-believers nor believers, it is to the detriment of both, and it causes wavering in some.”

“Should any bhikkhus, when the Pātimokkhas being recited, say: 'Why are these lesser and minor training rules recited when they lead only to anxiety, bother, and confusion?' For criticising the training rules, there is an offence of expiation.”
- Pācittiya Pāḷi, Pācittiya 72

“Bhikkhus, I want to go into solitary retreat for three months. I am not be approached by anyone except the one who brings the food.” Then, an agreement was made by the bhikkhus at Sāvatthi, saying: “Whoever approaches The Buddha in these three months should be confess an offence of expiation.”

Then the Ven. Upasena approached The Buddha together with his followers. After The Buddha exchanged friendly greetings with them, asked: “Do you know, Upasena, of the bhikkhu’s agreement at Sāvatthi?” Ven. Upasena replied in negative, and after hearing it from The Buddha, said: “Venerable sir, the bhikkhus at Sāvatthi will be well-known for its own agreement, we will not lay down new rules or abolish any old rules.” “That is very good, Upasena, what has not been laid down should not be laid down, nor should abolish what has been laid down, but should dwell in conformity with and according to the rules of Vinaya which have been laid down.”
- Pārājika Pāḷi, Nissaggiya 15


Also, it's important to remember that even at the first council those Arahants didn’t abolish any rule.

Ven. Ānanda informed the elder bhikkhus that The Buddha, at the time of his attaining Nirvana said to him: “After my death, if the Sangha is willing, the lesser and minor rules may be abolished.” But Ven. Ānanda never asked The Buddha which are the lesser and minor rules. Thus, five hundred elder bhikkhus of the first council were not unanimous being on variant interpretations regarding the lesser and minor rules.

Then the Ven. Mahā Kassapa informed the bhikkhus: “Venerable sirs, there are rules for us which affect householders, and householders know concerning us: 'This is certainly allowable for the bhikkhus, this is certainly not allowable.' If we were to abolish the rules there would be those who would say: 'Rules had been laid down by The Buddha only until the smoke of his funeral pyre lasts; while The Buddha was amongst them these followed the rules, but since The Buddha has attained final Nirvana, they do not follow.' If it seems right to the Sangha, what has not been laid down should not lay down by the Sangha, nor should it abolish what has been laid down, but should dwell in conformity with and according to the rules of Vinaya which have been laid down.”
- Cūḷavagga Pāḷi, Pañcasatika Khandhaka


My take on abolishing the rules is this. The Buddha laid down Vinaya for ten reasons:
1. The well-being of the Sangha.
2. The comfort of the Sangha.
3. The restraint of bad-minded persons.
4. The comfortable living of virtuous bhikkhus.
5. The restraining of defilements pertaining to this life.
6. The warding off of defilements pertaining to the next life.
7. The inspiration of those without faith.
8. The increase of those with faith.
9. The long lasting of the True Dhamma.
10. The support of the Vinaya.

If thinking of not following a rule, then best to investigate own mind for the root of that intention (yoniso-manasikāra). As in the Vajjiputta Sutta (Aṅguttara Nikāya 3.83) http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html, see whether the intention is directed at abandoning of passion, aversion, and delusion or not. A monk I know suffered a lot by a tumor due to his unwillingness for a surgery near his genitals. However, later he pondered on this prohibition in Vinaya and decided to go through the surgery as it will help him to meditate better as a healthy person. In this case, he was neither lax in Vinaya nor disrespecting it.
I'll restart my yearlong meditation retreat on 15th June 2014, hence will not be here.

"Bhikkhus, there are these three things that shine when exposed, not when concealed. What three? (1) The moon. (2) The sun. (3) The Dhamma and discipline proclaimed by the Tathagata."
- Anguttara Nikaya, 3.131, Paticchanna Sutta

"Silence is the language of God; all else is poor translation."
– Rumi

Introduction: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=20572
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Re: Monks and shaving

Postby DM Hong Yang » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:22 pm

Still Searching wrote:This might sound gross but do monks/nuns also shave their underarms, pubic region and legs as well as head and eyebrows? I'm just curious. Would men have to shave their chests too?


While this is a Theravada forum. I can answer this from a Bhikshuni perspective and a Western woman's. You cannot generalize this minor precept. It's minor and when it is found to be violated then a confession to a good monastic (bhikshunibhikkhuni only confess to other bhikshuni and bhikshu/bhikkhu only confess to other bhikshu). Once the confession is made then is purified.

conditions of shaving non-standard body parts can be allowed for medical reasons or hygienic reasons. And it should be noted cultural reasons really impact this one. Look at the pubic shaving question, in the West, women do it for fashion but mainly keep it up for hygiene reasons since openly discussing it media in the recent 20 years. Centuries of women in the West have been doing this. so saying culturally I would not do this because I was not raised in a family with all sisters that did this, it was just pits and legs for us, my one hairier sister shaved her arms too but she hated to admit to it.

Conditions and cultures viewing sexuality and sensuality have evolved and changed over these many centuries since these precepts were laid down by Buddha.

Buddha did relieve his Sangha of the minor precepts on his deathbed. However, the remaining Sangha second-guessed itself and formed the first council and affirmed int eh second council that they would just leave everything as it was before Buddha died rather than make a mistake and be criticized by laity or more dissension from other Sangha communities regarding Buddha's last bequest. It was very controversial and schismatic in the Sangha communities that why it is being discussed to this day.

It depends also on which community you live, regarding this small issue. Some Sangha communities are very strict and enforce everything literally, and some are adaptive to their members and culture around them.

Women have to choose for themselves regarding this matter, it's an intimate choice. If it creates disharmony in their female Sangha community then it is addressed. Otherwise it's not normally an issue for us. We don't go around looking at armpits, pubs, or legs to see if adherence is observed on each others bodies, we observe modesty in our homes and rooms in Sangha communities. I am Western Scots-Irish that means leg hair, arms, and pits are visible and dark. I do not shave pits or legs unless there is a skin condition that requires treatment (as I am aging I get really dry patches of skin. on my hairy knees and pits.... don't know why but I do, that need super doses of medical grade moisturizers at times then I shave those bits but otherwise I hate to mess with it personally) And other times my pits stink too much and I shave then to remove the odor that deodorant or soap does not take care of. Recent medial research supports shaving specifically, because arm pit hair remains on human armpits biologically to hold the pheromones to attract your mate specifically to you. So bluntly I'm sorry but I share to inform.

Intention matters in respective Sangha deciding violations. If you don't intend sex, nor for doing it out of sensual desire (not necessarily for sex intent... but the sensual nature of it), then if nothing more than just for hygiene there is is no problem. For women the issue is cleanliness and our female society demands it, mine did growing up as a teenager, legs and pits clean shaven or you were seen as dirty by your family and peers. We do not have to live as ancient Indian women or men did then. We are allowed to conform to modern life and it's demands of women or men today.

Regarding our ideas of men and being clean shaven. In recent history monks were clean shaven, elderly monks were and are allowed long eyebrows, beards and women are allowed long eyebrows (wisdom hairs) but if robed women have facial hair they need to shave it off for society says so on this point. We must present ourselves in the context of today while living in ancient robes of the past. So Theravada monks and nuns shave their heads and eyebrows that makes them unique in Buddhist society and in modern life. I do notice that even more do not shave their eyebrows, that's a good trend. I do believe in environmental influences our body hair, eyebrows we need. Hair keeps our heads insulated and our ears from bending over when we sleep (yes.. mine still fold right over annoying me when I sleep). Many Asian women are hairless compared to us Western women (legs and arms)... when I was a householder I was envious of this wonderful biological tendency... true for many Asian women but not all.

It's not a gross question. It's one of many we get as monastics in robes from men and women. Thank you for asking the question. I read this thread with great interest and enjoyed all the posts so far.

For monks particularly those with Western culture, shaving has less emotional baggage with it than for women, because men are allowed to be bald or hairy in our society; it would have a great deal of impact if you were raised in an Amish family where beards had status for men or if your from a family that treasured male hair growth as manly or in some kind of status or achievement (married or single, young or elderly, poor or rich, etc.).
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