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How do monks shave?

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:02 am
by rolling_boulder
Hi

This is kind of a silly and lighthearted question, but an honest one!
If monks only own a bowl and robe how do they keep themselves so hairless?

Thanks!

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:11 am
by Anagarika
rolling_boulder wrote:Hi

This is kind of a silly and lighthearted question, but an honest one!
If monks only own a bowl and robe how do they keep themselves so hairless?

Thanks!
One of the allowed requisites is a razor. Monks can shave with a razor, but not with an electric shaver.

"A razor is one of a bhikkhu’s eight basic requisites. He is also allowed a whetstone, a razor case, a piece of felt (to wrap the razor in), and all razor accessories (such as a strop). At present, this allowance would cover all types of safety razors as well. The Commentary to Pr 2 insists that the razor case not be multicolored." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, Buddhist Monastic Code

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 4:50 am
by acinteyyo
Anagarika wrote:One of the allowed requisites is a razor. Monks can shave with a razor, but not with an electric shaver.
It's not allowed to use scissors to cut the hair of the head for Bhikkhus, that's why they use razors, as explained in the Buddhist Monastic Code II
However it is allowed to use scissors for the Beard.
TBMCII wrote:The beard should not be grown long, although—unlike the hair of the
head—there is no explicit maximum length, unless the two month/two fingerbreadth
rule is meant to apply here as well. One may not dress the beard as a goatee, a
rectangle, or in any other design. The moustache may not be dressed, e.g., by making
its ends stand up. Because there is no prohibition against using scissors to cut the beard,
electric razors are clearly allowed in shaving the face.
It is also allowed to use tweezers for nasal hair as well as scissors.

best wishes, acinteyyo

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:30 am
by Mkoll
What kind of razor do they use? A straight razor? Safety razors didn't exist hundreds of years ago.

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:13 am
by lyndon taylor
I'd like to see where in the vinaya it prohibits electric razors. Seems like that's strictly an interpretation by one sect or another!!

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:55 am
by Anagarika
lyndon taylor wrote:I'd like to see where in the vinaya it prohibits electric razors. Seems like that's strictly an interpretation by one sect or another!!
It's an interpretation, as of course there were no electric appliances at the time of the Buddha. Devadatta had an espresso machine, but he used this only to cause dissent by making tasty evening lattes.

From Ven. Thanissaro, as I recall, he interprets the Vinaya as disallowing an electric shaver for the head, but that an electric shaver may be used for the beard. His reasoning is that as scissors are allowed for the beard, the action of an electric shaver is like a scissors, and thus allowable.

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:33 pm
by lyndon taylor
Well then that would be a Forest Tradition interpretation, not an all of Buddhism interpretation, I'm pretty sure the Cambodian temple I ordained at used electric razors followed by regular razors for the close shave.

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:50 pm
by Anagarika
It may be that at the time of the Buddha, that a scissors was a grooming tool, for styling or shaping. As monks were not to groom themselves, a scissors was disallowed for the head, but allowed for the beard, as a matter of necessity.

You're right, Lyndon, I have seen shavers used in Thailand to get the hair cut close to the head before using the razor. As will all of these things, the intention is important and if a city monk or nun uses an electric shaver to keep the head shaved, and to be mindful of one's renunciation, using an electric shaver on the head is hardly a serious offense. I still use the razor when in Thailand, but that's only my ego at play as I like the "old school" sense of shaving my head with soap, and being mindful of the razor. It is to me, like mindfully cleaning the bowl, or sweeping, to do it mindfully and to try to do it without nicking and cutting ( a byproduct of carelessness).

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:27 pm
by Mkoll
Anagarika wrote:It may be that at the time of the Buddha, that a scissors was a grooming tool, for styling or shaping. As monks were not to groom themselves, a scissors was disallowed for the head, but allowed for the beard, as a matter of necessity.

You're right, Lyndon, I have seen shavers used in Thailand to get the hair cut close to the head before using the razor. As will all of these things, the intention is important and if a city monk or nun uses an electric shaver to keep the head shaved, and to be mindful of one's renunciation, using an electric shaver on the head is hardly a serious offense. I still use the razor when in Thailand, but that's only my ego at play as I like the "old school" sense of shaving my head with soap, and being mindful of the razor. It is to me, like mindfully cleaning the bowl, or sweeping, to do it mindfully and to try to do it without nicking and cutting ( a byproduct of carelessness).
Do you use a straight razor?

Image

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:42 pm
by Anagarika
James, if I used a straight razor, I wouldn't have any ears left. :)

Image

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:46 pm
by Mkoll
:lol:

I've never used a straight razor, only safeties and electrics. I only ask because I know monks during the Buddha's time didn't have safeties or electrics. So the only thing I can think of is that they used a straight razor. But that's because that's the only other kind of razor type I know...

So what did monks during the Buddha's time use to shave?

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:50 pm
by Anagarika
James, thanks to google, I found an Iron Age razor ( 500 BCE) that was on auction:

Image

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:23 pm
by Mkoll
Also found this on Wikipedia's history of razors:
Razors have been identified from many Bronze Age cultures. These were made of bronze or obsidian and were generally oval in shape, with a small tang protruding from one of the short ends.[3]

Various forms of razors were used throughout history, which are different in appearance but similar in use to modern straight razors. In prehistoric times clam shells, shark teeth, and flint were sharpened and used to shave with. Drawings of such blades were found in prehistoric caves. Some tribes still use blades made of flint to this day. Excavations in Egypt have unearthed solid gold and copper razors in tombs dating back to the 4th millennium BC. The Roman historian Livy reported that the razor was introduced in ancient Rome in the 6th century BC. by legendary king Lucius Tarquinius Priscus. Priscus was ahead of his time because razors did not come to general use until a century later.[4]
I'd bet monks didn't always have access to soap or lubricant so they must have had to shave with just water as well. Some monks must still do so today, no?

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:18 pm
by appicchato
...shave with just water as well. Some monks must still do so today, no?
Your use of 'must' may be construed as ambiguous...but yes, commonly...

Re: How do monks shave?

Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:08 am
by Mkoll
Is a mirror an allowable "razor accessory"?