Author Topic: Shaving heads  (Read 22995 times)

Jessie Fong

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 690
Shaving heads
« on: December 04, 2013, 11:46:28 AM »
Why do men and women who enter the monastic order (Sangha) shave their heads?

Do these haircuts symbolize

* religious devotion
* group identity
* humility
* renunciation of worldly things
* personal  vanity


AS explained in  https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/tonsure
In Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity, hair is often considered a vanity. Men entering a religious order choose a tonsure as a way of denouncing the vanity and worldly ways represented by hair.

brian

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 503
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2013, 01:01:56 PM »
Could it be for renunciation from worldly things? as i believe being a monk is being renounced from the worldly attachment. Shaving heads will be the sign and symbol to make a statement that he has already made a choice of shaving off his attachment, in this case his looks. And by wearing the robes also signifies the attachment of wearing other nice clothes and look attractive. I might be wrong but please correct me.

Tenzin K

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 835
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2013, 04:35:34 PM »
The main reason is that in ancient cultures, most people - men and women - have long hair. Cutting off one's hair is a drastic step away from social norms. Much identity is attached to hair and hairstyles, and so removing it also has this symbolism. Likewise for beards.

The Vinaya specifies no more than two finger widths. However, cases are known where monastics hair grew quite long. eg. one sutra in which Mahakasyapa emerges from some time in the forest with long hair and beard, other younger monks criticize him, and then the Buddha asks Mahakasyapa to share his seat and praises him. Likewise, the practice in India of not shaving or cutting fingernails during religious practice (also found in other cultures), and so monastics coming out of long retreats with long hair and beard.

buddhalovely

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 341
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 10:20:46 AM »
I personally thought it was a sign of being fully detached, that's also why they wear simple,plain clothing am I wrong? To keep their lives simple and just to focus on their vows? As well as that, it seems that our modern culture is adapting to such a trend, for the support of cancer patients and as a sign of freedom. I personally think bald people are VERY beautiful, it strips them naked (metaphorically) and exposes their natural identity. It's something about being vulnerable to things just to feel the world's most sinful beauties to the most enlightening pains, it's....beautiful.

ilikeshugden

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 181
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2013, 04:07:41 PM »
The shaving of heads for monks and such can mean that they are released from their attachments as hair is considered a worldly attachment. By cutting their hair, they are "cutting" their connection to Samsara. It is the sign of keeping life simple and easy.

metta girl

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 79
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2013, 06:13:57 PM »
People always fuss alot about their hair, spending alot of time and money to make it look good.We are always not satisfied and trying to make it  the best due to attachment. For monks and nuns ,shaving their heads is to let go of their attachments and not just concentrating on outer beauty but develope inner beauty that will  benefit others.

maricisun

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 11:19:57 AM »
Shaving heads is cutting one of our five attachment to oneself from samsara. Teach us not to be so vain.

Manisha Kudo

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2013, 11:31:52 AM »
8) Bald is bold. I think, for a lay person shaving one's head in this modern age could be related to fashion or simply an act of rebellion. Some could have spiritual connotations like detachment, letting go and a new beginning.

But if we see a shaven monk or nun in robes, it feels completely different. Rather serene, I would say. Removing of hair from the head is a sacred and holy act if done with a religious faith in mind.  :) 

RedLantern

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 758
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2013, 12:41:17 PM »
It was told that shaving their heads show their determination of casting aside their worldly attachment and of achieving Enlightenment.
It was stated during Confucian time that our body is from our parents.Even our hair is a gift from our parents which is why in the olden time,Chinese men and women did not cut their hair.Buddhist think that trouble comes from our thoughts,that is why hair is called the 'three thousand troubles strands.'So by learning Buddhism, a monk or nun has made a commitment to purify themselves and overcome all their troubles with the ambition of achieving Enlightenment.
Shaving your head does not mean that you will achieve Enlightenment but it represents one's ambition.

OMB

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 62
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2013, 12:56:14 AM »
It takes a great deal of time looking good. For the monks and nuns, shaving their heads to detach from material wants and needs, this will give themselves more time for the things that really matter.

Galen

  • Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 420
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 03:06:13 PM »
A shaved head is a clean head. Neat and do not have to worry about what hairstyle to wear everyday. This a way of letting go of the attachment to self and also the image that the person is hanging on to. Shaving is also a bold move and it is a bold step forward in the journey seeking for bliss.

kris

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 919
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2013, 04:37:14 AM »
I would agree with OMB and Galen that shaving the head bald is a way of renounce, a way to signify that look is no longer important for monks and nuns. Can we imagine if monks and nuns spent hours to "fix" their hair before the morning prayers? :o

Some/most of the mahayana monks and nuns even have incense scare on their head. It is said to remind them about the vows they hold..

Freyr Aesiragnorak

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2013, 12:11:18 PM »
In ancient India (or the region that is now known as India) there were many customs, and there still is, relating to ones hair as a a sign of religious practice. Traditionally both men and women were known to keep their hair fairly long, men of high status wore hair at least shoulder length and women, significantly longer. Well kept long hair was seen as attractive, desirous and symbols of status.

For those more religiously inclined, there came about a separation in the form of the way hair was worn. For example, if you chose to live an ascetic life-style, most probably you would grow your hair long into dreadlocks, using the sap from certain medicinal trees as the bonding agent which is a practice that is still alive in India and the surrounding regions to this day. This actually showed a complete and utter abandonment of societal life. Therefore these types of practitioners were no longer considered with the social sphere, were left alone to live in the jungle or around holy sites, they had no contact with society as they had a deep disdain for anything social. This way of live eventually evolved into communities in the woodland areas, and the setup up of what are now commonly referred to as 'Ashrams.' Actually it's quite ironic, for a group of people who tried to escape society they have actually developed a complicated hierarchical structure of living. Most commonly called a "Sadhu", these practitioners' practice involved things that were outside of the accepted range of religious practice - meditation while sitting on corpses, cannibalism (usually from un-cremated carcases, though there are reported cases of homicide), overt sexual practices, etc.   

On the other side of the coin, for those who were religiously inclined but opted to live within the boundaries of social life, there developed a tradition of shaving one's head, apart from a small tuft (that grew longer with age) at the central-back part of the head. There is a theory in traditional Indian practice that once intelligence resides in this part of the head, so it is a sign that you try to progress spiritually through study, logic and reason, rather than the more esoteric, or dare I say outlandish practices of the aforementioned sadhus. These were usually of the Brahmin castes, were well educated and provided to the religious needs of the populous.

There was yet another system, that of a complete shaved head, in these traditions it was a sign of renunciation from societal life but in a way more acceptable to the social populous that they relied on as they were more likely than not spiritual beggars or Bikkshu (the term can also be applied to non-buddhists with similar practices).

And I've realized that I am rambling on way too much and have gone somewhat off topic, so i'm going to stop here. 

Kim Hyun Jae

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 304
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2013, 07:23:09 AM »
When a person shaved their heads normally, it would mean its to conduct a religious ceremony or prayer or as an offering to the deity, like Hindus when they go on street procession. When an ordained sangha shaved their heads, it is a sign to the world that they had renounced and will hold the sangha's vows and will adorn the sangha's monks.

gbds3jewels

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 123
    • Email
Re: Shaving heads
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2013, 07:38:19 AM »
IMO the human hair has a huge significance to our attachment specially our ego. Celebrities and models change their looks by styling their hair. Every time a person look into the mirror, they adjust their hair. I have personally known many people who spent a ridiculous amount of money on their hair. There is even a saying bad hairday signifying a day where you just don't feel attractive or happy or everything just doesn't go your way.

Shaving ones head is not only a step toward renunciation but you are taking a huge unnecessary burden off your head literally. When one can overcome he initial shock of shaving ones head, it is an extremely liberating experience. When you look into the mirror it's just you, there is nothing you can play with to mask who you really are, there is nothing you can play with to pretend or to project your image as someone else. There is also a huge relief from other burdens like shampoo, conditioner, losing hair, messy hair, windy weather, needing hair dryer, brushing/combing hair, etc......the list goes on...

I speak from experience, I had long hair before that used to be high maintenance and mine fine day I decided to shave my head and I never turn back. The hair is such an unnecessary burden and attachment we put on ourselves.