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Is hair, in fact, a sign of vanity?

I have shoulder length hair and I wouldn't cut it off (unless necessity arrives) because I would rather let it grown than short or shaved. It's a preference issue. However, I don't use expensive shampoo or brush it all.

However, I've been told countless times that hair is a sign of vanity, it dosen't matter what length but at the same time, my hair isn't a example of beauty and I couldn't care less about using products or combing it just to make it gorgeous. It dosen't seem natural to me. I just wash it with whatever shampoo that is available. Period.

But, sometimes, I ask to myself if the fact that having hair on your head is a kind of attachment or not. I know that only monks have to shave their heads but why do the lay people not? BTW, why do the lay people isn't obliged to have the same restrictions that monks have to avoid attachment and practice detachment (I'm not referring to aversion) ?


  • 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
    edited June 2017

    @Nehan said:

    But, sometimes, I ask to myself if the fact that having hair on your head is a kind of attachment or not.

    No. Hair is attached to you, not the other way around. But it changes as you grow older. Some people lose theirs, other people go grey to varying degrees and shades.
    Like everything else, it's impermanent.

    I know that only monks have to shave their heads but why do the lay people not?

    Because we're laypeople, not monks.
    Presumably you're not celibate? If monks have to be celibate and eat only once a day, and wear specific robes, and rise early for meditation, why don't you?
    Answer? because you haven't taken the decision or vow to devote yourself to such a vocational life.
    It's not just shaved heads, it's everything else too. So if you want to do as monks do - then do so. But make sure it covers all the bases, not just hair....

    BTW, why do the lay people isn't obliged to have the same restrictions that monks have to avoid attachment and practice detachment (I'm not referring to aversion) ?

    You practise in whichever way you want. If you want to adopt the same restrictions as those imposed upon monks, then adopt them. There's nothing stopping you - well, other than daily life, work, mixing with the public and your peers, being married/engaged/with a partner or someone else, going to school, wearing normal clothes.... other than those things, it should be easy for you to live like a monk and be restricted in the same way...

    As a Layperson, you have choice.
    As a Monk you have duty.

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    It's only vanity if you allow it to control you.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Laypeople are not subject to rules that apply to people who choose the renunciation path, @Nehan, simply because we are still with one foot in worldy concerns, have families, work, interact with people who follow other paths.

    I have the longest hair imaginable and have no intention to get it cut, no matter how many comments of attachment or vanity are bandied out by anyone.
    You don't have to justify why you carry your hair long, and since you carry it long, you'd better take good care of it.

    Anything in life can be a source of attachment, but I bet having a heart where defilements run rampant is far worse than considering one's hair a source of vanity.

    As is said in the Dhammapada (verse 264):

    "His shaven head makes not that man an ascetic
    who is undisciplined and deceitful"

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited June 2017

    @Nehan said:

    However, I've been told countless times that hair is a sign of vanity ...

    Hello welcome to Newbuddhist. B)
    By vain baldies perhaps? Wearing hair removal as a sign of sanctity or purity is like wearing a fish bone on your head and pretending you are a lobster [ahem] ...

    ... It fools the superficial ... o:)

    Next ... we won't be able to wear trees on our head because it is a sign of being green ... 🤦🏽‍♀️

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @Nehan said:
    However, I've been told countless times that hair is a sign of vanity

    This is more redolent of an old Catholic pronouncement than something the average Buddhist person, even monk, would say.
    If you have the chance to be to a Buddhist country, you will notice how women carry long and beautiful hair.

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    I have had all different hairstyles from Mohawk, to dishevelled to Krusty The Clown.
    Currently I'm shaving it all off with a zero blade...but not because this makes me any more "buddhist" but because I have really thick hair and in the summer I find it really convenient to have a shaved head.
    Have your hair whatever way you like! And be happy!
    @DhammaDragon Your hair is Awesome. Shaving it would be a crime.

  • I suppose coiffing certain hairs could be considered vanity......

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Is hair, in fact, a sign of vanity?

    In some cases I would have to say Yes

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 2017

    I don't think there is a fact that it is vanity but each person can say for themselves if there is vanity about their hair. For me I am happy to have short hair that doesn't take much care but I guess that is because I am lazy to bother with hair haha and not because of lack of vanity.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Why do monks wear robes and we don't? Why do they avoid music and dance and we don't? Why do they do any of the 200+ things they do but we mostly don't? Because they devote their entire lives, mind, body and spirit, to the dharma in a way the rest of us do not (and usually can not).

    My hair is currently long but I hate it. I yank it so hard to comb it that I am always breaking it. I really need it cut. I have had everything form shaved (I'm female) to down to my butt. It's currently about mid-back and driving me insane. It's about to go very soon. I have no attachment to my hair. It's just an annoyance to me. But I admit I run into an issue where I do want my husband to find me attractive and don't want my children to be horrified to be seen in public with me (anymore than they already are :lol: ) My husband would never, ever tell me he doesn't want me to do X or Y to my hair. He just says to do what makes me happy. But it's clear he says that to please me and has his preferences like we all do. But he concedes that he'd rather have me happy in my hair than miserable to make him happy at least.

    I seriously have been happiest with the shortest cuts-very short pixie cuts. But my oldest son and I look almost identical and people often confuse us which makes him uncomfortable. So I tend to go with undercuts then.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited June 2017

    @karasti said:
    My hair is currently long but I hate it. I yank it so hard to comb it that I am always breaking it. I really need it cut.

    Men have a hard time accepting short hair in women, @karasti.
    Three years ago I cut it shoulder-length and hubby threatened with divorce, and my son did not want me to show up at school because he was ashamed of me.

    Don't yank and don't comb, please.
    Get a layered cut which adds volume but keeps the length, and only untangle it with conditioner when you wash it, using your fingers.
    The rest of the time, simply spray some leave-in conditioner and massage a bit with your fingers to give it some shape, but don't untangle.
    Only in very bad-hair days, use a wide-thonged wood comb, but just superficially.

    And that's much it: no fuss, no vanity, but sensible hair care.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited June 2017

    Two rounds of chemo in my 20's have made it impossible to grow my hair past my jaw. So I wear it short. Yesterday I had it cropped short again because it's thinning on top. Pre cancer my hair was much like @DhammaDragon 's hair. But it's only hair. And I am healthy, so it's all about perspective for me.

    I agree with @vinlyn - it's only vanity if you let it control you. Don't stress about it.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited June 2017

    @DhammaDragon .... I've had short hair all my life and it never stopped me from getting chased. I've never had a man ask for 'a piece' of hair.. I got what brings the boys to the yard...and it ain't no hair, haha. Divorce and shame by the kids must be a cultural thing there. Personal preferences and taste, I can see....but sounds like a serious pressure to conform.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran
    edited June 2017

    @Vastmind said:
    @DhammaDragon .... I've had short hair all my life and it never stopped me from getting chased. I've never had a man ask for 'a piece' of hair.. I got what brings the boys to the yard...and it ain't no hair, haha. Divorce and shame by the kids must be a cultural thing there. Personal preferences and taste, I can see....but sounds like a serious pressure to conform.

    Actually no, @Vastmind.
    I love long hair.
    I would keep it long even if nobody liked me that way.
    And now, as it turns grey, I will be an old grey-haired witch... with long hair.

    The extreme example I gave was just meant to be a humourous proof of how much my beloved ones have come to identify me with long hair.
    I have no idea what pressure to conform means...
    Have yet to fit into any box.
    Especially other people's boxes.

  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran

    Gotcha 👍🏻

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I pretty much do what I feel like doing, despite complaints from the kids because they always complain about something, whether it's the music I play when I pick them up, my constantly bare feet or my hair :lol: My problem is that I like to change my hair frequently. Much more drastically and frequently than spending 2 years growing it out allows. Because it is long right now, my "style" is ponytail. I don't do anything else with it. But it's been growing for more than 2 years now, which leaves me thinking "Sigh. All this time and now I'll cut it off for a while only to start growing it out all over again" and nothing is worse than growing out short hair! :wink: I've not had problems finding or keeping boyfriends due to my hair. My husband has seen it all on me, hasn't divorced me just yet! But I do know he has preferences, just like I do.

    To stay topical (which I did poorly at yesterday!) I guess I don't know if keeping hair a certain way because others prefer it falls under vanity or something else. I am probably the opposite of vain on the other extreme end. I seriously don't care what I look like most of the time but that presents other problems in itself. I guess I can't say I don't care what I look like. I mean I shower and make sure I am presentable and that I can't pass for a People of Walmart meme. But I don't care what others think of me or my clothing/hair/etc choices and sometimes that presents problems. Problems I am willing to accept but others find uncomfortable (not my husband but just in general). Being 41, I sometimes feel caught in the "I should dress my age" but doing so I feel awful. So sometimes people like to point out that I still dress like I"m 25, LOL. But, truthfully that is how I feel most of the time. I do not feel remotely like the middle aged woman my mom was at 40. I still skateboard! I guess I just get a bit of internal conflict for not "playing the part" of 40 year old mom of 3 boys even though I mostly don't give a flying hoot what anyone thinks a 40 year old mom should look like.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    As an aside note: it would be naif to believe a mane could be the only thing to attract men, as it would be to believe it can do anything to retain a man or push him away.
    Anyone in their forties with enough mileage in the love department will know that.
    But silly me, apparently my skills for humour and linguistic overdramatization are as good as my right speech.
    (Deep sigh)

    To stay in track, as Fede rightly stated above, we as laypeople have a choice.
    And coming from a Jew-Christian background, I personally find Buddhism extremely open and liberating in comparison.
    I have never been to a sangha or retreat where I was made to feel that my hair or the way I dress were out of place, nor reeling of attachment and craving and defilements and sin and vice.

    So I am really intrigued, and I say it with all due respect, why someone who has not chosen the renunciation path would choose to live as a monk/nun, without the need to do so.
    To me it feels like choosing to swim in a glass of water when I have been presented with the ocean.
    I understand it all comes down to personal choices, and I am only seeking to understand a point of view that I do not share.

  • HozanHozan Veteran
    edited June 2017

    I can't help you @DhammaDragon . I can understand a monk living as a monk and a non monk living as a non monk.
    Like you I cannot understand why a person who is not a monk or a nun would choose to live as one.
    I am grateful for my buddhist practise but a monk I most certainly am not.

  • HozanHozan Veteran

    I appreciate your skills of humour and linguistic over dramatization!! I get you @DhammaDragon.
    We Irish have a skill for it. 👍👍❤❤

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    @DhammaDragon I wasn't taking it overly seriously, more so just commenting on what someone else had said about not having issues finding mates due to hair. I think your claim that most men tend to prefer long hair is true. Relationships go far beyond that, of course they do. Which is why I am comfortable cutting my hair even if it might not be my husband's preference. But in the dating world it can be harder because even while one might believe they should be themselves to find the right person, dating, at least to start, is always a game of appearances and initial attraction. Actually, when I was in my 20s I shaved my head bald, and mostly did it to try to push away my partner at the time. It didn't work though :lol: If I were dating and seriously looking for a partner my hair choices might come more into play. I'm not sure at this point, and I"m ok if I never have to enter the dating world again. I'm not sure I would even if something happened to my marriage or husband!

    I can understand why people become monastics. But indeed, I don't understand why someone would take on attempting to live as one without all the rest that goes along with it. It doesn't make you somehow a better Buddhist to take on monastic precepts when you don't have the foundation for it already established. But I think a lot of people have a tendency to like rules. Especially early on. They read about what monks due, and think "Oh, if I do that, then I'll be seriously Buddhist!" but obviously that doesn't work well in the long run. Buddhism is a lot more than just following rules in an attempt to get somewhere.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Remember this :)

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    Thank you for the clarification, @karasti.

    As to @Nehan's original comment, I don't feel that we should look for in Buddhist teachings reasons to berate ourselves unnecessarily or carry leftovers from religions that instil guilt or notions of sin on their followers.
    Buddhist practice, especially for laypeople, is meant to broaden our viewpoint on life and help us make proper use of our reasoning faculties.

  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Hozan said:

    Hair today. Gone tomorrow.

    /channeling my best Scottish brogue

    That's dead sexy

    /end brogue


  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    My seriously hipster crop. (And it's 8:45am too so no smiles til the caffeine be kicks in :awesome: )

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    We are laypeople, and honestly, I see no vanity in trying to look our best, nor do we have to justify our choices.
    At 46 going 47, I wear my skirts far shorter than I should (in other people's books, obviously), my hair longer than I should (ditto) and a dozen bracelets more than the average woman my age.
    And I don't give a damn.
    I feel well, I feel free, I feel myself.
    I don't have to be any other person's watered down copy, nor live like a nun, since I am not.
    Buddhism has set me free.
    Had I wanted to lead a repressed life, full of repentance and contriction, I would have stayed Catholic.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    It has been a long journey, and continues to be, to feel comfortable in my own skin. I am much better now than when I was younger, but grew up in a family that placed heavy expectations on everyone to fulfill proper roles. To not do so, we were taught, made one "wrong" and uncooperative. Even at 40, I still deal with some of that and letting go of it. It still comes from my parents who are very straight-laced conservative folks. Not politically or socially. But for their own lives. They are very conservative in how they live and dress and so on, and it's distressing to them when others are not. Letting go of not meeting their expectations and the idea that doing so is incorrect has been quite difficult. I appreciate your post @DhammaDragon. I am glad you are well and free, and I hope to feel that 100% myself one day.

    Growing up, my sister was the one who rocked the boat all the time. She still does. So I took on a role of being the one to keep things steady and never rock the boat and do what was expected of me no matter how much I was screaming on the inside that it wasn't who I was. Forcing myself into that role and now trying to get out of it has been hard because now the family sees me as being someone I am not, when it is the opposite.

  • 33_333_3 Veteran

    It was The Beatles and Stones fault that I became obsessed with my hair and style. Growing up my step father demanded I cut my hair. I was under his roof and would look the way he wanted. Really? I ended up quitting high school and became a roadie in a band for a year...
    Here is a brief time line.





    I was the "real me" form 99-12 thus I decided to grow my hair out for the last time.

    I calculated I have 17.8 years in this body. At 1/4 " a month I will be 70 to get it back.


  • KundoKundo Sydney, Australia Veteran

    I LOVE your ink too 👌👌👌 I only have three but am dreaming of more.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    I agree with @dhammachick Love! I love to check out people's artwork and talk about it (when they are willing). My sister and I got tats in Hawaii last week, we try to get one whenever we travel. My next one will be the velveteen rabbit. On my list yet is a no mud no lotus tattoo that'll go up my inner calf/ankle, a snapping turtle, and my kids newborn footprints. I never tire of getting new ink, I really need more $$, :lol:

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