Shaving the head

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

Shaving the head

Postby 5Khandas » Wed May 05, 2010 6:52 am

Hello everybody,

I'd like to ordain as a monk at Wat Pah Nanachat some day. But now I became a bit anxious, because...

I went to a dermatologist, and it turned out, that I have several birthmarks on my head (naevus pigmentosus). There is no problem with them, there is no sign that they will turn into melanoma.
But it is definitely not advisable to shave my head, because if they injured it can be dangerous. So I can’t shave my head completely, not even with a hair clipper, because it can injure them too.

What can I do now? Is it an obstacle to my ordination? Or is it possible to cut my hair to a minimum size with a hair clipper or something like that?
I’ve read this in the Buddhist Monastic Code:
(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch01.html)

Unless ill — e.g., he has a sore on his head — a bhikkhu may not use scissors to cut his hair or have it cut. The question of using electric razors to shave the head is a controversial one. Because their cutting action — even in rotary shavers — is like that of scissors, many Communities will not allow their use in shaving the head.


Is it possible to take it as a ‘sore’, so I can use scissors? What does the Community of Wat Pah Nanachat think about that (I mean do they use electric razors)?

Please help, because I’m getting a bit mad with it... :rolleye:

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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Ben » Wed May 05, 2010 7:18 am

Hi 5K
Have you tried contacting Wat Pah Nanachat? That might be the way to go.
And I'm sure there will be a solution to your situation.
All the best,

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Re: Shaving the head

Postby cooran » Wed May 05, 2010 7:37 am

Hello 5Khandas,

I was talking to Ajahn Jac (an Aussie monastic - not sure of his full name) at the Mitra Conference - I went to ask him why his head appeared to have a very short growth of hair and why he seemed to have an equallly short beard. His reply was that the Vinaya allows two knuckles length of hair on the head and face. He reminded me that in the Buddha's time hair-cutting implements were rather crude and couldn't get much shorter than that.

with metta
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby 5Khandas » Wed May 05, 2010 9:04 am

Yes, I'll soon send a letter to WPN, in which I mention that, but you know they answer very slowly...

Ben wrote:And I'm sure there will be a solution to your situation.

I hope so too! :D

I know that the Vinaya allows some hair, but as it is in the Buddhist Monastic Code:
The hair of the head should not be worn long. It should be shaved at least every two months or when the hair has grown to a length of two fingerbreadths — whichever occurs first, says the Commentary.

So this two fingerbreadhts is just the maximum length, nevertheless they have to shave it regularly.

OK, anyway, thank you, I calmed down a bit :)

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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Alexei » Wed May 05, 2010 3:35 pm

5Khandas wrote:I went to a dermatologist, and it turned out, that I have several birthmarks on my head (naevus pigmentosus).

Hello 5Khandas,

Is it possible to ablate them? It's probably good way out.
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby 5Khandas » Wed May 05, 2010 7:15 pm

I'm not sure, but I'll go to the dermatologist again anyway, so perhaps I'll ask her. But for all I know, they don't like to ablate birthmarks, if not necessary (if they don't seem to turn into melanoma, for example). Also there are about 9 on my head - I don't know what the doctor would say, if I'd like to have all of them ablated.
Anyway, thanks for your idea!

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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Goofaholix » Wed May 05, 2010 9:35 pm

I would think this almost certainly rules out wat Pah Nanachaat, and possibly Theravada ordination in general.

You could try asking at different monasteries, you'd probably get better advice contacting one of the western branch manasteries.

I'd think about going Mahayana, or looking for a way to practice long term as a laymen rather than at wat Pah Nanachaat.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Kenshou » Thu May 06, 2010 12:46 am

Someone would be denied ordination for not being able to shave the head quite completely bald?

Really?
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby adosa » Thu May 06, 2010 1:20 am

Kenshou wrote:Someone would be denied ordination for not being able to shave the head quite completely bald?

Really?



My thoughts exactly. Talk about clinging to rites and rituals.


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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Goofaholix » Thu May 06, 2010 1:29 am

adosa wrote:My thoughts exactly. Talk about clinging to rites and rituals.


Indeed.

Luckily ordination as a Theravadin Monk is not necessarily a prerequisite for enlightenment.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby appicchato » Thu May 06, 2010 1:37 am

Even the casual observer will see that, with the rarest of exceptions, we're (humans) not anything to write home to mom about...
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Wind » Thu May 06, 2010 1:41 am

cooran wrote:Hello 5Khandas,

I was talking to Ajahn Jac (an Aussie monastic - not sure of his full name) at the Mitra Conference - I went to ask him why his head appeared to have a very short growth of hair and why he seemed to have an equallly short beard. His reply was that the Vinaya allows two knuckles length of hair on the head and face. He reminded me that in the Buddha's time hair-cutting implements were rather crude and couldn't get much shorter than that.

with metta
Chris


Really? Two knuckles length of hair on the head and face? Which means you can basically grow a beard.
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Goofaholix » Thu May 06, 2010 1:47 am

I found this on Access to insight http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .ch01.html

Hair of the head. The hair of the head should not be worn long. It should be shaved at least every two months or when the hair has grown to a length of two fingerbreadths — whichever occurs first, says the Commentary. In Thailand there is the custom that all bhikkhus shave their heads on the same day, the day before the full moon, so that the Community can present a uniform appearance. Although this is not obligatory, a bhikkhu who does not follow the custom tends to stand out from his fellows.


In thailand you're up against local custom more than the Vinaya in this regard.

And this

Unless ill — e.g., he has a sore on his head — a bhikkhu may not use scissors to cut his hair or have it cut. The question of using electric razors to shave the head is a controversial one. Because their cutting action — even in rotary shavers — is like that of scissors, many Communities will not allow their use in shaving the head.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby retrofuturist » Thu May 06, 2010 1:52 am

Greetings,

That's odd... why on earth would electric razors be taboo?

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Re: Shaving the head

Postby appicchato » Thu May 06, 2010 4:27 am

It's a crazy world Paul...as I'm sure you're aware of...or scissors? (as opposed to an electric razor)...why no scissors?...and (in Thailand) shaving your eyebrows?...eyebrows?...I 'trim' mine, to keep the peace, but don't shave them...
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Ben » Thu May 06, 2010 4:42 am

Hi Bhante

your comment about shaving/trimming eyebrows reminded me that Quinn decided to shave his eyebrows off about a week ago. We found out after the fact. Previously he told me, one day out of the blue, that he wanted to become a monk. I'm just wondering how much of it is my influence or something deeper.
Who knows!
kind regards

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Re: Shaving the head

Postby 5Khandas » Thu May 06, 2010 8:51 am

Goofaholix wrote:Unless ill — e.g., he has a sore on his head — a bhikkhu may not use scissors to cut his hair or have it cut.

Yes, I've already quote that, and I'm hoping that birthmarks can take as 'illness' (a sore is just an example, so there have to be other cases), so I'll be able to use scissors and cut my hair to a minimum lenght.

Goofaholix wrote:I would think this almost certainly rules out wat Pah Nanachaat, and possibly Theravada ordination in general.

I hope this is not true - it would be a nonsense. To turn someone down from ordination, and ruin a potantially fruitful holy life, just because of a few millimeter hair! :cookoo:

I just cannot imgaine that the Buddha would have done such a thing. And because the monks at Wat Pah Nanachat are good disciples of the Buddha, I'm still hoping...

(Or the monks became so rigid about the Vinaya, and they cling so much to rites and rituals - no, no, no, I can't believe that.)

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Re: Shaving the head

Postby appicchato » Thu May 06, 2010 9:00 am

If I were asked, I would say that it's all a game...a crazy, crazy, game...the holy life takes place between our ears, not wrapped in a sheet (like I am)...I wish you well in your endeavor, but I would also like to say that the holy life can be led in, or out of, the robes...
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby Goofaholix » Thu May 06, 2010 9:04 am

5Khandas wrote:I hope this is not true - it would be a nonsense. To turn someone down from ordination, and ruin a potantially fruitful holy life, just because of a few millimeter hair!

I just cannot imgaine that the Buddha would have done such a thing. And because the monks at Wat Pah Nanachat are good disciples of the Buddha, I'm still hoping...

(Or the monks became so rigid about the Vinaya, and they cling so much to rites and rituals - no, no, no, I can't believe that.)

Metta :anjali:


If ordaining at Wat Pah Nanachat were the only way to get enlightened then what you say would be true, there are other options you could consider there are other ways to lead the holy life.

I might be wrong about this it might not be a big deal so it's worth asking them, but remember this is a place that asks male visitors to shave their head after 3 days and they get a lot of people who rock up there wanting to ordain but find they can't fit in for one reason or another.

Just consider if you do find a place to ordain then want to travel around different wats as monks usually do you'll need to keep explaining your situation again and again with the language barrier also
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Shaving the head

Postby 5Khandas » Thu May 06, 2010 11:39 am

Goofaholix wrote:Just consider if you do find a place to ordain then want to travel around different wats as monks usually do you'll need to keep explaining your situation again and again with the language barrier also

I think I would get along with it somehow ;)

Yes, it is possible to live some kind of 'holy life' without ordaining, but that is not enough for me. I keep complete celibacy, for example, so I try to do that as much as I can now.
But I can't imgaine to live my whole life as a layman... I just can't do that; I don't have the vaguest aspiration for anything you can get in/from the lay life. It is really very hard to live a lay life, when wherever you see, or whatever you do, just one thought come up your mind again and again: it's useless. It's impermanent, it's no me or mine, so why should I 'have' or 'get' it ? (I know what you'll think/reply: then live your lay life without clinging. But if you see deeply into that, it'll become clear that the whole lay life is about clinging.)

OK, I can't explain it better...

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