Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why do I shave my head

For me, the shaving of the head is not just a simple cutting of the hair, but a profound act.
Before I received priest ordination from Go-Monshu-sama (our Patriarch) I had long hair and a beard. From 16 to 26 I never cut my hair for any reason, but I was very happy to abandon it for the Dharma and even now I shave regularly.

When we arrange our hair in a certain fashion it is like we say to the world: "Look at me, I am somebody, I am this or that." Our hair style represents our personality. But, in Buddhism, when we shave our head, we say :"I am nobody". No definition. Also, for me, as a Jodo Shinshu priest. shaving means "I don't play smart in regard to the Dharma". Its like refusing to put myself and my own opinions higher than Amida Dharma. Its an act of humbleness toward the Three Treasures and other beings.

Shaving of the head is usually associated with giving up of the past, and with not having fantasies for the future, because what future can we have in samsara? It means to be aware of the impermanence and of the urgency to follow the Dharma like this would be the last day and hour of my life.

Shaving of the head and wearing the kesa are the symbols of a monk or priest. The kesa is that piece of cloth which is worn over the robes and represents the transmission of the teaching from Shakyamuni Buddha to the priest, no matter he is a virtuous vessel or not.

For me, to shave my head and wear the kesa represents the highest dimension of my life. It means living in the Dharma, remembering the Dharma, returning home to the Dharma. It is like a renewal of my ordination. Every time I shave, I make a bow in front of Amida Buddha, say nembutsu, and remember my vow and dedication as a priest and disciple of Shinran Shonin: "Receive faith for yourself and help others receive it". This is the only real thing in my life, everything else is an illusion and a waste of time. Also, when I shave I remember that I must not put my ideas and my ego before Amida Dharma, that is, to transmit Amida Dharma as it was taught by Shakyamuni and the Masters of my lineage, and not my personal opinions. By shaving my head I erase any trace of wrong views and personal opinions from my Dharma mission. I put the Dharma higher than my so called ”wisdom”.

Also, because I am not a virtuous monk, I don't follow precepts, and I cannot attain Buddhahood in this present life, I don't interpret shaving of the head as cutting away of illusions or blind passions, as in other traditions, but as the abandonment of any practice based on self-power.

Shakyamuni Buddha described the monks of the last Dharma age as being monks in name only. Outwardly they resemble monks of the past, but inwardly they are ordinary people with ordinary people's attachements and delusions. They even take a wife and have children. I myself wear my priest robes at Dharma meetings and normal clothes in the rest of the day. I am in love and wish to get marry. My attachments are stronger than me. So, instead of cutting my illusions and blind passions, I renounce to any false hope that I can attain Nirvana through my own efforts. By shaving my head I abandon my bad karma and the so called "good" karma in the hands of Amida Buddha and I let myself carried by Him to His Pure Land.
Namo Amida Butsu

1 comentarii:

Anonymous said...

Yes Rev.Josho ;)
A few years ago I had a long braid of hair reaching all the way down to my waist.
Then one day I decided to devote myself to the Buddha and his dharma.
I've been shaving my hair ever since.

NEW poems by Gansen John Welch