Bhagat: Udasis comes from Guru Nanak Dev ji's son Sri Chand ji. In general, Sikhs hold a lot of respect for both groups.
Confused: Let’s just say that “you” respect both.
B: Let's not. C: You mean respecting both comes with being a Sikh? In other words all Sikhs are expected to acknowledge and respect the Udasi tradition?
B: I will continue to speak for other people when I wish. In general Sikhs (the ones that keep hair including myself) know how to handle hair, the ones that handle them can keep them. C: You mean there are no Sikhs who learn to handle and keep hair because they have no other choice? You mean all Sikhs who keep long hair do so willingly and with the same understanding?
B: If you cannot handle long hair you are not going to keep it, it's as simple as that. If you cannot ride a bike you are less likely to keep one around. C: Well, kids will let their parents comb and tie their hair and most of them do not like keeping it. I keep my hair and although I have no problem managing it, however do have issues with having to do so. In other words I manage my hair all by force of attachment and conceit, but at the same time wish that I did not have to be in the situation where these unwholesome tendencies are encouraged.
B: Yes knowing how to handle means you know how to solve the problems that arise. C: Well we do manage to solve most of our problems. But the real problem is that we do not realize that in all cases this is with ignorance and attachment and no wisdom involved anywhere. We are simply swinging between aversion for one object and attachment towards another. In other words, replacing aversion with attachment is how we solve our problems.
Quote: The concept of the simple life comes from seeing the danger of attachment and whatever else is associated. Why would someone who sees the dust in the household life, not also see the dust of having long hair and therefore choose to cut it off?
B: Hahaha most Indians who renounce the householder life, keep long hair. Many enlightened sages kept their hair. They just let them grow out. It is not a problem like you are making it out to be. C: From reading their teachings I am not convinced that any of them are enlightened, sorry …
Quote: Indeed people in becoming used to and learning how to handle their hair this is not the result of any wisdom, but more a reflection of the nature of attachment. And this is opposite in spirit to what we are talking in favor of, namely renunciation.
B: False. C: Not to understand the present moment reality but instead go by an “ideal”, in this case of keeping hair, cannot be the result of anything but attachment and wrong understanding. Any action which follows in relation to this over time can only be more of the same and must also involve conceit.
B: Know-how comes from wisdom. Brushing your teeth comes from wisdom. C: Please explain to me, which part of the process requires wisdom and wisdom as in understanding what? There must be wisdom associated with every mundane activity then? So wise people are everywhere, and we don’t necessarily have to look up to some religion in order to gain wisdom? Perhaps even a chimpanzee who has mastered the art of picking out lice from other chimpanzees can be said to have some level of wisdom?
B: Yes some people brush their teeth because their parents told them, but others brush them because they are wise enough to know what the consequences of not brushing once's teeth. C: So Guru Nanak could possibly have taught someone about the consequence of not brushing teeth and the art of dental hygiene? Maybe also how best to keep long hair and tie a turban?
B: "Why don't Buddhist monks remove their teeth? Because then they won't have to brush them, it will make their life even simpler. Are they attached to their teeth?" C: You are now telling me that hair has some practical purpose, therefore if I suggested cutting it off, then I should also be ready to pull my teeth out?
How can pulling the teeth make life more simple when this means that only certain foods can be eaten and therefore served? Teeth have a practical purpose and do not come in the way of anything. Nor is it an object of vanity as it is in the case of hair. Not cleaning teeth leads to problems that can be avoided by daily taking care of it. Which yes, is a problem, but not of the kind that we are talking about with regard to hair, but one related to the fact of conditioned existence and having to go through the cycle of birth and death. But this is something one comes to understand and excepts.
Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/sikh-sikhi-sikhism/32165-why-we-not-allowed-cut-hair.html
Can the same however be said about hair?
Hair when cut, not only does not cause other problems, but in fact solves a few potential ones. Indeed in more or less the same way that cleaning the teeth do. But not only this, while shaving the head is done once in every few days and in the meantime, the only time that one thinks about it is when bathing, long hair needs to be attended to very often. And given that it has to be kept a particular way, must involve conceit / vanity (unless one is fully enlightened).
So no, not removing one’s teeth does not imply attachment to them. Indeed to remove them can only come from attachment to some silly ideal.
Confused: Then keeping nails uncut but cleaning it should also be OK? According to your line of reasoning, it is not about whether to cut or keep nails, but how you deal with it. Absurd suggestion isn’t it? Think about hair in the same way and you may come to have a similar view about it.
B: Although there are some important differences between long hair and nails, namely manageability, keeping long nails is fine too. It's how you deal with it. C: And this is to be simple? A person with protruding teeth will learn how to manage them, so will someone without one or more limbs. But hair and nails can easily be removed, not to cut these must therefore amount to a more or less bull-headed attitude towards them. Anyway the point here is that if one insists on keeping long hair because it is part of nature, then one *must* also keep long nails for the same reason.
B: No long hair does not encourage conceit, no more than a shaved head. This is just a false perception you have. C: On one hand it is cutting off something with no practical purpose, but has always been an object of vanity, and now one does not have to think about it as one used to. On the other hand, it is encouragement to continue thinking about it, although in a different way. But given that it must be kept in one particular way and groomed, can vanity be avoided?
B: If you think removing parts of the body means you are living simply then you should just continue to remove parts of the body, till you are dead. That would be the simplest of living. Hahaha! C: “Removing parts of the body” is what you have reduced it to and characterized. Cutting off the hair does not involve the perception of being “part of the body” and “removed”. This idea is yours only, one which apparently comes from self-identification or self-view something which a good Buddhist monk understands as the main obstacle to wisdom. Indeed he is not even faced with the decision whether or not to shave, since to do so is simply following one of the rules laid out.
But I’m just reminded about the subtlety of the Middle Way. That without it one has no way out but to swing between two extreme positions.
B: On a serious note, that's true. To live as if you are dead is the simplest way to live. Without possessions, without the 5 thieves, without a sense of self, without an identity, without a tribe, without this and without that. When you clear your life of all the peripheral junk, all you have is life in it's simplest form. One may have those things but one must live with detachment, almost as if one didn't have those things. This is what makes for simplest living. Having hair or not is rather insignificant here. C: If you believe that you must leave your hair uncut, then the 5 thieves are not going to go away anytime soon.
Bhagat: I am sure Buddhists would also get upset if they were made to wear a wig or were forced to grow their hair by society.
Confused: How come you suddenly factor in society?
B: I didn't. I factored in change. Don't read the word society if it bugs you. C: It did not bug me, but the impression was of you having the idea that society decides the rules for monks. Why did you refer to society then?
B: The point I am making is no matter who you think you are, you are likely to get attached to that. If a Buddhist monk shaves his head and if for some reason he can't or is forced to change his image, he would be quite upset. C: The institution of the monkhood cannot exist without all the rules laid out. These rules have been laid out to be in accord with the accumulations of a certain group of people, such that these act not as commandments, but reminders as to what is and not the right attitude towards any given situation. To change any of these rules therefore can only be result of the corrupting effect of attachment and wrong understanding.
So what you suggest is a case of corruption and if made to take effect, makes no difference then whether a monk gets upset or not. Either way, the monk would not be worthy of the monkhood. Better that he stay as a layperson.
B: Images are always present. Whether you have hair or not. I am sure Buddhist monks are also motivated to a good extent by the idea of what Buddhist monks should look like. There is an image of a Buddhist monk with a bald head. Any time you have a monk and he has no hair... C: You having the particular image of him does not mean that he has the same image of himself. You have the image of him having a bald head, but he simply knows himself to be a monk. This means that he knows that he has given up the household life and is training to be rid of attachment and ignorance. Removing his hair knowing what it is to have hair may cause him to have attachment to the particular image, but this would be *in spite of* the initial motivation and not the result of it.
B: If he has orange and red robes, I think "Buddhist"
If he has white robes "a Jain monk"
If he has no robes, or long hair "could be a Hindu monk"
Image is always present. When we learn to detach ourselves from them, this is known as simplicity. C: “You” have the image. He is just following rules laid out, where it would not matter to him, what color the robe is.
Bhagat: You get upset when you are not "set" down in God.
Confused: A Buddhist monk, who believes in God, has zero understanding about the Buddha's teachings.
B: I am not talking about belief. I am talking about being rooted in God. C: What is God?!!! And if I am not rooted in God, what do you expect your communicating the idea be received by me as?
Bhagat: Hair grows regardless of what you want. Can you accept that and let them be?
Confused: Same with nails then. And same with anything that happens to the hair for example, getting dirty and having lice live in. Can you accept that and let it be? But you do comb and oil the hair right? Is this really letting it be?
B: Comb? yes. Oil? no. My scalp produces enough oils to cover the length of my hair. Though in general Sikhs do oil their hair. Either way, this is letting it be, cutting it is not. C: Letting it be the way you propose with regard to cutting hair, would include *not combing it* or tying it into a joora. And don’t you think that not putting oil and depending entirely on what the scalp naturally produces is sign of letting things be.
Shaving your head off is of course not letting it be. But this ‘letting it be’ that you propose is in fact fueled by attachment and wrong view. While shaving the head is in response to the fact that keeping hair involves attachment and conceit in order to maintain, you’re letting it be relies on following an ideal at the expense of understanding the reality that is now.
Bhagat: Can you let them do what they do and maintain your composure with them?
Confused: You're not living in a vacuum of course. There'd be times when you'd be faced with whether the hair be kept or got rid of. Can you get rid of it and still maintain your composure? Apparently not. Because you are motivated in fact not by detachment towards any situation, but attachment to not cutting the hair.
B: What's the word? When someone thinks they know how the other would respond but they just come across as ______________.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=32165 C: Well, fill the blank for me because I’m blank at this point.
Quote: A Buddhist can decide whether or not to ordain and therefore keep or not keep hair. But the only option you provide is to keep hair and then justify this with the idea that it grows naturally.
B: You are putting words in my mouth. Keeping hair is not the only option I provided. I said you may do whatever you want with it, real simplicty comes from being without the 5 thieves. On the other hand, it is you who says shaving is the only way of simplicity.
To clarify, I am not talking about what is natural. C: My mistake. But you have been making reference to Sikhs keeping their hair as well and also suggest such things as:
“Hair grows regardless of what you want. Can you accept that and let them be?”
But given your clarification here, I guess this was only in response to my own suggestion regarding shaving off the hair…?
In any case, I still maintain that shaving the head is the only correct option for those who truly want to live the simple life. And given this I maintain that to choose to keep long hair for this purpose must be due to ignorance, attachment and lack of understanding.
And btw, I think it wrong to suggest that “real simplicity comes from being without the 5 thieves” if this means coming from not knowing that in fact it is ignorance which is the root of the problem and therefore it is wisdom which should be the focus of attention. In other words, it is in understanding that simplicity manifests, therefore even when other unwholesome tendencies still exist, simplicity arises each time that wisdom is being developed.
Bhagat: The question is why are you cutting it - are you coming from a place of aversion to the lifestyle with hair or are you coming from a place of love for God, a place without the 5 thieves?
Confused: Whoa, you see only these two possibilities?! And is one even related to the other?! This is not just diversion, but bad logic.
B: Not exactly, you have not understood it. C: Then do explain some more if you can.
B: If you take God as an idea, then no doubt what you say is true. But here I am not talking about God as some sort of idea but as a reality. C: Reality which make up our moment to moment experiences or something that is outside of this? What kind of reality are you talking about?
B: In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, God is described as all-pervading, vartmaan. Vartmaan also means "present moment". C: So this is your reality?
When I talk about the “present moment”, I mean that which is defined by the reality being experienced. This would be conditioned and with the nature of rise and fall. You of course are not proposing that God is of a similar nature. You will say in fact that it lasts in time or in other words present as in “ever present”, right? My question to you then, how is this God experienced? And since it obviously must not be the five senses, through which doorway is it experienced?
Quote: For someone who sees the importance of studying the present moment reality, why would you assume that he comes from a place of aversion towards the idea of keeping hair?
B: or attachment towards the idea of not keeping it... (the flip side to aversion) C: Neither of the two, but as I said many time, it is from understanding what all that comes with having to keep hair.
The fact that you know fire to burn and therefore avoid touching it, does this mean “attachment to avoiding touching the fire or staying away from it”?!
Quote: If you wash your face because it is dirty, is this out of aversion towards the dirtiness?
B: Yes of course, why else do you wash your face? C: So according to you an enlightened person who does not have any aversion anymore, will not wash his face?
Quote: To cut the mustache in reaction to its coming in the way of eating food is common sense and not result of aversion.
B: No, it is aversion to having a moustache. C: I trim my mustache for this reason and have no aversion towards whatever is left of it.
B: Common sense dictates that you move it out of the way or simply clean it after you've had your meal. C: Common sense says that if this is the case each time, why not juts shave it off.
B: It is not common sense to walk out on your meal to go cut your moustache and return to finish the meal. C: So you resort to creating absurd alternatives in order that your position looks good!!
Confused: You had said:
“But I think shaving of hair or leaving it alone are both just ways of differentiating one's monkhood from the laymen.”
And this is what I was responding to. So what you are saying now is in effect changing the topic.
B: I was responding with regards to the practicality aspect.
With regards to attachment, it may be easy object of attachment. Any object can be an easy object of attachment, the entire world is, Maya. Marks are just part of maya like anything else. They are no more "easier". C: Marks in this case is not just another aspect of Maya, but its very creation, one which is aimed at its own perpetuation conceived of in the name of understanding. Therefore this is not just another object of attachment, but in fact an excuse for it.
Confused: What could be more symbolic? A Sikh is asked to live the life of a householder while keeping hair as mark of renunciation. If this is not symbolic then it must be a state of contradiction.
B: Mark of inner renunciation as well. (What good is outer renunciation without the inner renunciation?)
It could be a symbol I suppose but that does not mean it is there due to the lack of understanding, in fact, it could be the opposite, that once there was understanding, one adopted the symbol. C: Having understanding as a lay person and wanting to adopt a symbol of renunciation is a very odd combination. It is like trying to mix different things together hoping to get a better taste, but what you get is something that tastes very bad. Why would someone who has the understanding and already detached think to adopt symbols? Only fools do it!
Confused: Well the reason why I chose not to argue with Prakash ji on this is because I had the impression that he was giving a reason related to “identity” and not to renunciation. But I do have a problem with that other reason as well. We can therefore discuss this if you want.
B: Identity is every where. Only when one lives completely in the present moment, that there is no identity seeking. C: It is one thing to be attached to an identity due to still being generally ignorant and with lots of attachment and conceit. With the development of understanding, one gradually moves in the direction where these tendencies are dealt with. To encourage identity in the name of good is however to be on the path facing the opposite direction, hence making it impossible for such tendencies to ever lessen.
B: Let me rephrase Kabir's salok for you so that you may meditate on it.
Kabeer, when you are in love with the Present Moment (when you live in it), duality and alienation depart.
You may have long hair, or you may shave your head bald. ||25||
page 1365 C: After reading my comment about the “present moment” above, do you still think this rephrasing will change anything? Actually I would expect even you to have a problem with this part, namely “*in love* with the Present Moment”….:-/