Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Sanghamitta
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:49 pm

Fede wrote:
Sanghamitta wrote:It might offend some Theravadins... :smile:
:shock:
I don't see why.
I'm Theravadin and I'm certainly not offended.....

In fact, I'm given to reciting some mantras myself, sometimes....


NB " might "........." some".
Others might of course be quite happy to perform a chant to a mythical being ( "Avalokiteshvara " ) from Hinduism given a quasi Buddhist identity.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Fede
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Fede » Tue Sep 28, 2010 12:54 pm

Well, as this is a Theravadin Forum, I'm interested to see if "some" Theravadins here are offended.

As I'm one of 'some' I'm merely saying, I'm not.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Sanghamitta
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Sanghamitta » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:01 pm

I wasn't making a serious observation.....merely pointing out that Om Mani Padme Hum is not exactly recognised as universally Buddhist. Its not Tibetan either, its Sanskrit, although it can be rendered in Tibetan script.
On the other hand I doubt that anyone would be offended by it. It was a throwaway remark.


The point of my post was to address the issue of tattoos as a bar to ordination.
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

fabianfred
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by fabianfred » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:30 pm

well I got my one...just before ordaining
it is in pali...Shan script

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davidstanley
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by davidstanley » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:39 pm

I have been practicing Dhamma for over ten years. I have been attending Thai temples for just as long. I have spent a lot of time with Thai monks from both the Dhammayut and Mahanikaya Orders. I recently met with a teacher from the Dhammayut Order and asked about ordination. I was wearing long sleeves at the time. After a brief discussion about my knowledge and practice of Dhamma he stated that he would ordain me in Thailand in December of this year. Later on during the retreat I was wearing a short sleeved shirt. He looked at the tattoos on my arm and asked "oh, are those removable?" It seems that if you wish to ordain and have any tattoos that cannot be covered (no tattoos on the right shoulder neck or forearm as this is the exposed are when wearing robes) you may not be able to ordain. He stated he would have to plead with the upajjhaya (the monks that oversee the ordination) to ordain me because I have tattoos. I will need to have a letter of recommendation from a Thai person and will have to overcome the stigma of my tattoos. It seems they have become a major roadblock for ordination at least in the Dhammayut Order. My friend here in Chicago is a monk from Thailand and when I told him about this he said that for the Mahanikaya it would not be such an issue, but for the Dhammayut it is a huge roadblock.

After thinking about this I have reconsidered my intention to ordain within the Dhammayut Order. I understand that they are cautious not to have anything to do with sak yat but at the same time it appears to be a fundamentalist, and rigid view on their part since the Vinaya only forbids those with tattoos which are given as punishment for a crime. So, if you plan to ordain in the Dhammayut Order I would advise NOT getting any tattoos which will show while wearing robes. And NEVER get any tattoos of anything remotely religious in nature. Some Thai people find this to be very offensive on farang. It's a bit of a double standard on their part.

Perhaps some day the Thai tradition will be more accepting of tattoos as more westerners convert to Buddhism. It has been my experience that many punk rockers like myself get tuned into Buddhism and have an earnest desire to practice Dhamma, but the Sangha has not been flexible in accepting these converts when they have permanent marks of their past interests. So, my practice recently has been to work with my disappointment and aversion that has arisen in response to the rigid and inflexible nature of the Dhammayut Order. It seems to me that this order speaks of letting go and accepting what is, but acts in the opposite manner. Their adherence to their own constructed rules (rules not in the Vinaya Pitaka) and their interpretation of Vinaya is a form of fundamentalism that is in direct contradiction to the Buddha's teachings of letting go and lacks compassion, one of the most important aspects of the Lord Buddha's teachings.

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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Jhana4 » Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:27 pm

Hi davidstanley;

There may be more of a culture shock waiting for you. This thread could give you some things to think about.

I am under the impression that laser surgery can remove many tattoos these days.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

rowyourboat
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by rowyourboat » Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:02 pm

puthujjana wrote:
Mexicali wrote:I understand that there's no explicit instruction not to do it in most traditions, but it seems like such an unwise use of resources, unnecessary harm to one's own body, and affected.
I thought about getting "This too will pass" (just these few words) tattooed on the back of my hand or somewhere else where I will have to see it the whole day...

That would be a good reminder.

with metta
:anjali:
I thought this was brilliant! The Buddha had monks memorise the dhamma-'tattooed' into the mind, - why not the body!?

With metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

unspoken
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by unspoken » Sun Jun 19, 2011 12:24 pm

Come on, it's just word on skin. The point is what word/picture you are going to tattoo on

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icyteru
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by icyteru » Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:26 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Fede wrote:You do know that a swastika is an ancient Buddhist symbol?
I've seen a few Thai people to swastika tattoos. It's also easy to find Thai (and presumably other Asian) shirts with swastikas on them. When I've pointed out that some people in the West might mistake them for a Nazi symbol they don't have any idea what I'm talking about.

Which, in my opinion, is a good thing --- it's sad that a small group has made the swastika (in the non-Nazi context) something of a taboo to western eyes... Periodically, someone complains about the swastika symbols in our central Cathedral (which have been there since before the Nazis as part of a multi-cultural mural).

Metta
Mike
Swastika

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Inkredible
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Inkredible » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:29 am

Yes I am New to the Path and am still learning with joy.
at the moment I have one tattoo which is off a Flame.
I plan on getting more but so far I decided they
will be of the other elements including Void.
would that cause a Issue?

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Kim OHara
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:47 am

Inkredible wrote:Yes I am New to the Path and am still learning with joy.
at the moment I have one tattoo which is off a Flame.
I plan on getting more but so far I decided they
will be of the other elements including Void.
would that cause a Issue?
Welcome to DW, Inkredible.
This is an old thread but if you read it from the beginning I think you will find your answer.

:namaste:
Kim

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Cittasanto
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Cittasanto » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:05 pm

Inkredible wrote:Yes I am New to the Path and am still learning with joy.
at the moment I have one tattoo which is off a Flame.
I plan on getting more but so far I decided they
will be of the other elements including Void.
would that cause a Issue?
no, but there are 6elements in Theravada the great 4, consciousness and space.

the only time tattoos are an issue is if they are brandings as a punishment of law.
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He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
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Inkredible
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Inkredible » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:05 pm

Thank you for clearing up my concern. and Thank you as well for the welcome.

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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Yana » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:10 am

Inkredible wrote:Yes I am New to the Path and am still learning with joy.
at the moment I have one tattoo which is off a Flame.
I plan on getting more but so far I decided they
will be of the other elements including Void.
would that cause a Issue?
Hi Inkredible,

Welcome to Dhammawheel,I think training the mind has got nothing to do with whether one has a tattoo or not. :anjali:
Life is preparing for Death

Raksha
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Re: Tattoos in Buddhism, Acceptable or not???

Post by Raksha » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:26 pm

I've heard of Westerners covering over small tattoos on their exposed arm during ordination with a large pink sticky plaster :smile:

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