Should women shave their legs and underarms?

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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Nicolas » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:57 pm

This old post by ArkA references the Vinaya: "you should not have the hair of your bodies removed" [except in case of illness].
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Mkoll » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:58 pm

culaavuso wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Ben wrote:Hair is repulsive.

Sure, from a Buddhist perspective, the entire body is repulsive.


SN 46.54: Metta Sutta wrote:In this case, monks, a monk cultivates the enlightenment-factor of mindfulness accompanied by loving-kindness and similarly the enlightenment-factors of investigation-of-states, energy, rapture, tranquillity, concentration, equanimity, accompanied by loving-kindness which is based on detachment, dispassion, leading to maturity of surrender. If he wishes to dwell perceiving the repulsive in what is not repulsive, he dwells thus perceiving the repulsive. If he wishes to dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in what is repulsive, he dwells thus perceiving the unrepulsive. If he wishes to dwell perceiving the repulsive both in what is repulsive and what is not repulsive, if he wishes to dwell perceiving the unrepulsive in both..., he dwells thus. If he wishes, avoiding both the repulsive and unrepulsive, to dwell equanimous, mindful and clearly aware, he dwells thus, equanimous, mindful and clearly aware, or, attaining the heart's release called 'beautiful' he abides there. I declare that the heart's release by loving-kindness has the beautiful for its excellence. This is the attainment of a wise monk who penetrates to no higher release.

A really advanced practitioner could possibly train themselves do that; it sounds like the sutta is talking about a non-returner.

Here's another sutta:

Dighanaka Sutta, MN 74 wrote:Now, Aggivessana, this body — endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother & father, nourished with rice & porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion — should be envisioned as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. In one who envisions the body as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self, any desire for the body, attraction to the body, following after the body is abandoned.
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby culaavuso » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:10 pm

Mkoll wrote:Here's another sutta:

Dighanaka Sutta, MN 74 wrote:Now, Aggivessana, this body — endowed with form, composed of the four primary elements, born from mother & father, nourished with rice & porridge, subject to inconstancy, rubbing, pressing, dissolution, and dispersion — should be envisioned as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self. In one who envisions the body as inconstant, stressful, a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction, alien, a disintegration, an emptiness, not-self, any desire for the body, attraction to the body, following after the body is abandoned.


Practicing so that such perceptions arise in regard to the form of the body appears to be a recommended way to reduce desire for the body. A similar teaching can be found in MN 119:

MN 119: Kāyagatāsati Sutta wrote:Just as if a sack with openings at both ends were full of various kinds of grain — wheat, rice, mung beans, kidney beans, sesame seeds, husked rice — and a man with good eyesight, pouring it out, were to reflect, 'This is wheat. This is rice. These are mung beans. These are kidney beans. These are sesame seeds. This is husked rice'; in the same way, the monk reflects on this very body from the soles of the feet on up, from the crown of the head on down, surrounded by skin and full of various kinds of unclean things: 'In this body there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine.' And as he remains thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, any memories & resolves related to the household life are abandoned, and with their abandoning his mind gathers & settles inwardly, grows unified & centered. This is how a monk develops mindfulness immersed in the body.


These seem to be related to the second method of relaxing distracting thoughts

MN 20: Vitakka­saṇṭhāna Sutta wrote:Just as a young woman — or man — fond of adornment, would be horrified, humiliated, and disgusted if the carcass of a snake or a dog or a human being were hung from her neck; in the same way, if evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion, or delusion — still arise in the monk while he is attending to this other theme, connected with what is skillful, he should scrutinize the drawbacks of those thoughts: 'Truly, these thoughts of mine are unskillful, these thoughts of mine are blameworthy, these thoughts of mine result in stress.' As he is scrutinizing the drawbacks of those thoughts, those evil, unskillful thoughts — imbued with desire, aversion, or delusion — are abandoned and subside. With their abandoning, he steadies his mind right within, settles it, unifies it, and concentrates it.


Relating back to the OP, contemplating body hair as unclean is recommended as part of a practice to reduce desire for the body. This might be related to the popularity of the practice of removing body hair among individuals interested in encouraging desire for the body and inappropriate attention to the theme of beauty as discussed in SN 46.51.
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Mr Man » Tue Aug 05, 2014 8:52 pm

culaavuso wrote:
Relating back to the OP, contemplating body hair as unclean is recommended as part of a practice to reduce desire for the body.
Was it recommended as part of a practice for householders?
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Mkoll » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:23 pm

Mr Man wrote:
culaavuso wrote:
Relating back to the OP, contemplating body hair as unclean is recommended as part of a practice to reduce desire for the body.
Was it recommended as part of a practice for householders?

Though this doesn't answer your question, I imagine a lifelong celibate householder who was very serious about the practice could use it effectively.

:shrug:
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby culaavuso » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:27 pm

Mr Man wrote:
culaavuso wrote:
Relating back to the OP, contemplating body hair as unclean is recommended as part of a practice to reduce desire for the body.
Was it recommended as part of a practice for householders?


It appears that for some audiences of householders practicing for the disenchantment and dispassion towards all forms was encouraged, while for other householders the enjoyment of sensuality was set aside to focus on other aspects of the path.

MN 60: Apaṇṇaka Sutta wrote:"There are some contemplatives & brahmans who hold this doctrine, hold this view: 'There is no total formlessness.' Some contemplatives & brahmans, speaking in direct opposition to those contemplatives & brahmans, say this: 'There is total formlessness.' What do you think, householders? Don't these contemplatives & brahmans speak in direct opposition to each other?"

"Yes, lord."
...
"With regard to this, an observant person considers thus ...
Reflecting thus, he practices for disenchantment toward forms, for dispassion toward forms, and for the cessation of forms.


AN 8.54: Byagghapajja Sutta wrote:As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One, "We are lay people enjoying sensuality; living crowded with spouses & children; using Kasi fabrics & sandalwood; wearing garlands, scents, & creams; handling gold & silver. May the Blessed One teach the Dhamma for those like us, for our happiness & well-being in this life, for our happiness & well-being in lives to come."

[The Blessed One said:] "There are these four qualities, TigerPaw, that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in this life. Which four? Being consummate in initiative, being consummate in vigilance, admirable friendship, and maintaining one's livelihood in tune.
...
"There are these four qualities that lead to a lay person's happiness and well-being in lives to come. Which four? Being consummate in conviction, being consummate in virtue, being consummate in generosity, being consummate in discernment.
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:31 am

It is interesting (or at least I find it interesting) that the shaving of the hair, especially on the head is used for renunciation and to have one less thing to identify with, but in some times and cultures, it is seen as a form of beauty. It depends on the time and culture of course, but in the 1990s basketball players and others were all shaving their heads out of fashion or to look cool. Still today many men shave their heads even though they could still grow hair on top. Some men shave their underarms, their legs and chests too, again for beauty, not really renunciation.

Personally I prefer to shave as much hair off as possible, but that is because I am balding anyway and also to keep cool in the Vegas heat (which actually works pretty good; I don't mind the heat as much).
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby No_Mind » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:03 am

David N. Snyder wrote:It is interesting (or at least I find it interesting) that the shaving of the hair, especially on the head is used for renunciation and to have one less thing to identify with,


I wonder if monks shaved their head at time of Buddha or it was a later addition. I do not see how they could have shaved, since anything as sharp as a straight razor is a very difficult instrument to manufacture and grows dull very easily.

It is quite impossible such technology was widely available anywhere in the world till 18th century. Razor like artifacts have been discovered in Egyptian ruins but that does not mean it was used to shave the head; it could have been used to cut flesh to extract an arrowhead i.e it was a surgical implement rather than a shaving implement.

Nothing can possibly be more painful than shaving with a dull bronze razor.
Last edited by No_Mind on Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby SarathW » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:06 am

My grandfather was a hairy man like a gorilla like the man in the link.
He was very proud of it and thought it was a sign of real manhood!
Surprisingly I am the opposite completely.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWwhN79W1gI
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Kusala » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:12 am

Mkoll wrote:
Ben wrote:Hair is repulsive.

Sure, from a Buddhist perspective, the entire body is repulsive.


Context is important... "Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care."
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The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; to be seen here and now; not delayed in
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby SarathW » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:16 am

I don't think that Buddha shaved his head.
He must have cut it short using his sward.
Long hair for men was a sign of beauty those days.

:)
By the see the above picture. Buddha got hair in his head!
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:35 am

Kusala wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Ben wrote:Hair is repulsive.

Sure, from a Buddhist perspective, the entire body is repulsive.


Context is important...


Exactly. Repulsion in the Buddhist sense is not aversion.
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:42 am

SarathW wrote:By the see the above picture. Buddha got hair in his head!


Nearly all images of Buddha are mistaken. The Buddha was bald.

In the Sutta Nipata (Sn. 142) there is a story of a brahmin angry at the presence of a shaved monk, he told him, "Stay there, you shaveling, stay there you wretched monk, stay there you outcast." In another passage, "One day the potter Ghatikara addressed the brahmin student Jotipala thus: 'My dear Jotipala, let us go and see the Blessed One Kassapa, accomplished and fully enlightened. I hold that it is good to see that Blessed One, accomplished and fully enlightened.' The brahmin student Jotipala replied: 'Enough, my dear Ghatikara, what is the use of seeing that bald-pated recluse?'" (Ghatikara-sutta, MN 81).
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby culaavuso » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:43 am

No_Mind wrote:I wonder if monks shaved their head at time of Buddha or it was a later addition.


Some of the Vinaya rules around hair are discussed in the thread Monks and shaving. The text quoted there only says that it should not be worn longer than two months growth or two finger breadths. The last post in that thread discusses shaving from a Bhikshuni's perspective.
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Mkoll » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:46 am

Kusala wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Ben wrote:Hair is repulsive.

Sure, from a Buddhist perspective, the entire body is repulsive.


Context is important... "Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care."

Of course. There are lots of caveats to what I wrote.
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 06, 2014 4:51 am

Kusala wrote:
Mkoll wrote:
Ben wrote:Hair is repulsive.

Sure, from a Buddhist perspective, the entire body is repulsive.


Context is important... "Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care."
Do you have a source for that quote?

Context is always important. I am not in the camp of looking at the body as being repulsive just because it is a body. There is a danger in viewing the body as being replusive.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Modus.Ponens » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:38 am

With the arising of hair, disenchantment arises. With the fading of hair, disenchantment fades.

With the detruction of hair, ultimate atraction is attained. The unborn atraction, the blissful atraction, the exquisite atraction. These are the women well gone, from the bounds of hairiness to the unbound hairlessness.

:mrgreen:
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"
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Re: Should women shave their legs and underarms?

Postby Mr Man » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:54 am

culaavuso wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
culaavuso wrote:
Relating back to the OP, contemplating body hair as unclean is recommended as part of a practice to reduce desire for the body.
Was it recommended as part of a practice for householders?


It appears that for some audiences of householders practicing for the disenchantment and dispassion towards all forms was encouraged

I meant specifically the practice of reflecting on the 32 parts of the body.

If I remember it is incorporated in the Bhikku ordination ceremony.
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