Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Buddhism & Tattoos

vlroxvlrox Explorer
edited August 2012 in Diet & Habits
Just wandering, yes or no? Why or why not?


  • evolveevolve Explorer
    depends on the intention ultimately. some people can use tattoos as a style thing, or some people use it as reminders for compassion or mindfulness or something. maybe a tattoo can work in the same way as prayer beads, it might just depend on the person. like anything, tattoos can be a stem from somewhere not so good, like what's the intention? then again a tattoo can be compared to putting on a particular outfit for the day, i don't usually pick out my outfit for the day thinking, HMM what's my intention???
    but maybe i do subconsciously? maybe i should? i dont know ahh.. so i guess it's all in dependence of the person, their intentions and how the tattoo affects them, maybe it helps maybe it hinders or maybe it doesn't matter at all, like what pair of socks you prefer.
  • Nothing specifically says you can't but it could be viewed as an attachment.
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    absolutely anything you do, every single decision you make, can stem from attachment and aversion. For most people, it likely does. Most people get tattoos because they hold a specific meaning to them. I have tattoos, I will probably get more. Once I take my refuge vows I will probably have them tattooed somewhere for me, and to me it's much the same as why monks and nuns shave their heads. As a reminder of their vows. (at least that's how I understand it). If you have to ask yourself if it's ok, then for it perhaps it's not. Or maybe you just need to investigate it further.
  • I only have one tattoo.. so far. Got it when I turned 50, six years ago. It has very special meaning to me and represents many many years on the Pagan path.
    It was a tatt I designed and carried around in my head (with drawing tucked in a drawer) for more than 30 years before I got it put on my inner left wrist.

    Talk about thinking things over, huh? LOL

    My next -and last- Tattoo will be Buddhist related and I hope to get it before the end of this year. It will be a Lotus flower, (I know, so typical, right?) probably in pink and red tones, rising out of dark waters, which to me represents my commitment to the Buddhist path a couple years ago -- and far into the future. It will go on my inner right wrist, or maybe my lower right calf above the ankle.
    The inner wrist area really, really hurts! :eek:

  • vlroxvlrox Explorer
    I have my sons name on my wrist and yes it does hurt lol
  • It's your life.

    Do what you want.

  • I have a tattoo of three birds in flight across my upper back. To me, it is a tribute to the beauty of the world, life, and my body. I suppose this could be viewed as an attachment to my body itself, but I don't feel that it inhibits my spiritual growth and, if anything, it strengthens my awareness of the beauty in the present moment. I saw this tattoo online one day and knew that this is what I would paint my body with. So I got my first tattoo at 28 years old.

    As far as Buddhism goes, I see nothing wrong with having tattoos as long as they mean something to you. I look at mine and I'm reminded of beauty. Yours can remind you of something else, as long as they resinate with you that is all that matters.
  • BonsaiDougBonsaiDoug Simply, on the path. Veteran
    edited September 2012

    As far as Buddhism goes, I see nothing wrong with having tattoos

    Agree. And they're probably as good an example of impermanence as anything. They're here today, and gone with our next rebirth. What moves on is far more important than what's left behind.
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    edited September 2012
    My friend wants to get a tatoo on the small of his back of an exact photo realistic rendering of his belly button. It's a half inny-outy type. He is Buddhist and I don't see anything there that conflicts with his approach of loving kindness and inward investigation. :)
  • i dont see any wrong in tattoos ? ,ive seen a monk, give a dhamma talk with tattoos ,im covered in tattoos ,also alot of people have lived different lives, before even thinking about budhism :)
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    I got 8.... ;)
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless in a dry wasteland Veteran
    @federica You're always surprising me, haha.

    I still haven't gotten one... keep thinking about it... but commitment is hard. Right now, I really want a Zelda related one that has hearts across my chest. 4 heart containers, two full, one half full, one empty. Pretty much just means... I'm a n00b. Hah.

    I probably do need something to keep me humble though... hm.
  • I have three tattoos. I got them all before I was 18, none of them mean anything and they all look stupid.

    True story.
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    I have 2 real tattoos, and 2 that I did myself when I was 15 with a bottle of India Ink and a safety pin. Those I will cover up eventually with something better. Those are on my inner ankle and inner wrist. The real ones, one is a lizard on the back of my neck reflecting a big time of change in my life, and the other is a Columbine flower with 15 tears of blood for the kids who died in the Columbine massacre. That's between my shoulder blades. I got it in Boulder when I was visiting my sister there. Even though I was not in HS at the time (I graduated in 1994) the Columbine tragedy resonated very deeply with me. It was a turning point in society that we've never been able to get back to the time before Columbine.

    I have been debating getting the refuge vows tattooed eventually but I'll see how I feel about it after I take them in November.
  • I have no tattoos but have been thinking of getting one lately. I've never had anything I thought was worthy of getting one for before now.

    After finding buddhism and realising my life is already entwined in the Noble Eightfold Path I feel like I want to get a tattoo of the dharmachakra, on my left inside forearm. It would be a symbol to me of the good path I have spent my life following and the strength I have shown to make it to where I am now, where I have discovered inner peace by finding buddhism and a place where I belong.
  • PrairieGhostPrairieGhost Veteran
    edited September 2012
    Depends if you want to enter a Japanese onsen on your zen pilgrimage...

    People with tattoos can't enter because in Japan, yakuza have tattoos, the bath owners don't want yakuza coming in and starting trouble, and the only way to single them out is by using the tattoo rule. Something to bear in mind if you visit Japan, in case of embarrassment.

    I don't really have an opinion on the O.P. but I thought this might be useful info anyway.
  • I have thought about getting a tattoo and haven't found anything that sits well enough to move forward with doing it . Wanted one when I turned 30, then 40 and now nearly 50 and it still hasnt happened.
  • I have a dragon Down my back , I had that.done as I was born yr of the dragon and I have a band of hearts around my right ankle , I would like more but as an aging woman I should maybe not lol .....
  • I am a Dragon too and I agree maybe the time has passed !
  • How about a Buddhist self-portrait tattoo ? It requires no ink.
  • i have a tattoo but i got it just before i turned to buddhism. Tattoos are very addictive soon as i got the first one i wanted a second one, some may say this is a kind of attachment. Now i still like my tattoo but budhism seems to be offering sich a great deal more than any physical thing could hope this helps.
  • I started this a little while ago and it ties in with my forum names. I started it before following my path into Buddhism, I'm not sure when I'll get round to finishing it.
  • federica said:

    I got 8.... ;)

    Any pics?

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    I got mine on my 18th birthday and right after I started actually getting in to Buddhism. It just represents seeing through illusion. I still like it though and am happy the ink stayed so black after 22 years.
  • I served for many years in the army and never got tattooed, which is unusual for the circles I mixed in, but I was a drinker, and I kept my money for booze!

    But now, Mrs Tosh wouldn't let me have a tattoo. :(
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited December 2012
    vlrox said:

    Just wandering, yes or no? Why or why not?

    huH! you have tatoos! that is so naughty you could never be a good buddhist with your body all marked up like that.. shame on you :P.

    lol.. while I don't like tattoos personally, there is nothing that even remotely comes close to saying " ooh tatoos are bad"... there is no guilt and condemnation in Buddhism. You can be mindful and observe your reasons why you'd want to get a tatoo.. like pretty much every other action you do on a daily basis.

    also.. since you are supposed to dress modestly when going to monasteries and retreats, no one will most likely ever see them anyways even if they are judgemental about them, like I admit I am.

    also you may notice something in this picture of one of my online monastic teachers, Ajahn Phra :P

  • having a sleeve done at the moment i got tribal tattoos done when i was 18 regretted ever since so decided to get a cover up its costing me a small fortune but well worth it.
  • Do you wear jewellery, make up, designer clothes?
    You can do all those. You can decorate your skin too, or paint it blue and change your name to Krishna.
    Why not shave your head and wear a saffron sari . . .
    So expected. So traditional . . . so . . . so . . . what is the word . . .

    Why not? I can think of several reasons . . .
  • Do I have any? No. Will I be getting some? Maybe. I've been contemplating a Japanese style tattoo. Maybe something zen.
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    lobster said:

    . . . so . . . so . . . what is the word . . .

    . . .

    Actually the word is irrelevAnt.

  • I will tattoo it on my irrelevant consciousness . . . many thanks . . .
  • Got my first and only tattoo at 50 yrs old. It's on my left inner wrist. I designed it myself and it's pagan in nature: Triple moon representing the three phases of a woman's life - with 3 drops from a crescent moon to represent Blessings of Love, Health and Wisdom.
    I've been thinking of getting another one now for the last year and a half. I probably will. I designed a bit of a stylized lotus flower rising from dark waters. I will most likely put it on my inner right wrist, or perhaps on my right leg outer side a few inches above the ankle. The only reason I'm hesitating is because I really want to find a true 'artist', and not some tattoo hack. I've seen plenty of bad lotus tattoos and I don't want one of those!

    I don't have a picture of my first one, but this is a drawing of the one I want to get:

  • I found a pic of my first one.... never was very happy with the way it was done. Love the design though! (mine)
    006.JPG 997.9K
  • BonsaiDougBonsaiDoug Simply, on the path. Veteran
    Jayantha said:

    also you may notice something in this picture of one of my online monastic teachers, Ajahn Phra :P


    From photos I've seen, it's not unusual for Thai monks to be tattooed.

    Also, may I inquire where online Ajahn Phra can be found? TIA

  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran

    Jayantha said:

    also you may notice something in this picture of one of my online monastic teachers, Ajahn Phra :P


    From photos I've seen, it's not unusual for Thai monks to be tattooed.

    Also, may I inquire where online Ajahn Phra can be found? TIA

    I know him from "The Buddha Center" , a virtual Sangha in the program Second Life. He is a teacher there and helps run it. He hasn't been around much these days though, been very busy.
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    @MaryAnne, take your idea (and a rough drawing, not like a google image drawing) and ask the artist to draw it out for you. He/she should be willing to do so before they agree to do the tattoo. Some of them might charge a small fee to do the drawing to cover their time but it's worth it. Word of mouth is the best way to get referrals, and many artists have their portfolios on FB now. Many artists are great, but they also are only great in certain areas. Those amazing in portraits can't do a skull to save their souls (as an example) so make sure you look at their work that is similar to what you want.
  • Thanks @karasti

    That's what I did with the first one, brought my drawing into the tattoo shop, it was even the exact size I wanted, too. The design was so simple, that I figured 'what could go wrong?' But when all was said and done, the lines were too thick, and when a tattoo is that simple, even the tiniest mistakes are really noticeable. I see at least three little mistakes in mine and two are really just errors in technique, IMO.

    The tattoo artist that did mine had done very nice work on a few people I knew... so you are absolutely right- he was good at some things, not so good at others. Like I said, I've looked through literally hundreds of lotus tattoos online and in shops and some of them you can't tell if it's a rose, a carnation, tulip, or just a fuzzy blob of color that was supposed to be a flower or some sort! I'm very wary....

  • i've been thinking about a tattoo for ages but i was told that if i wanted tantric initiations in future, tattoos could disturb the winds and drops and thus the advanced meditations required. Is this true?
  • A picture from when I visited Kusinagar on pilgrimage this year... The last words of the Buddha, on the spot that he uttered them... So special... So special... Every day in the shower, I start my day grateful of my fortunate and temporary conditions, and how quick they will dissipate.... If it leads you closer to enlightenment and transcendental morality, then go for it, but it has to be about intention, intention, intention, and aware that because of conditionality, your relationship with that tattoo is always going to change, hopefuly for the better...

    Tomorrow, I am booked in for a tattoo on my left forearm... I am having the word "Impermanent".... ;-)

    Metta and love to the Mahasangha the world over! Be the change you want to see...

    Jay x
  • Oh, and @wisdombeing - I have absolutely no idea, but the cynic in me balks... I hope you find your answer both grounding and testable... :-)
Sign In or Register to comment.