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Inquiry regarding the 7th of the 8 precepts

Greetings to all,

With my respectful salutations to the members of the Sangha :pray: :pray: :pray:
I had a question regarding the 7th precept that pertains to refraining from music, singing, entertainments and bodily adornments.
The latter are quite specific and clear, but I wonder if (e.g.) the usage of mirrors is also included in it ? I ask this as in the Sāmaññaphalasutta of the Dīgha Nikāya one can read :

There are some ascetics and brahmins who, while enjoying food given in faith, still engage in beautifying and adorning themselves with garlands, fragrance, and makeup.

This includes such things as applying beauty products by anointing, massaging, bathing, and rubbing; mirrors, ointments, garlands, fragrances, and makeup; face-powder, foundation, bracelets, headbands, fancy walking-sticks or containers, rapiers, parasols, fancy sandals, turbans, jewelry, chowries, and long-fringed white robes.

They refrain from such beautification and adornment.

This pertains to their ethics.

(the emphasis on “mirrors” in the quote was made by me).

As it is a detailed explanation of ethics, I wonder if the eight precepts purposefully leave aside the abstention of using mirrors (and the other elements) maybe for practical reasons for lay discples or if the formulation of the precepts are only the summary of these detailed explanations ?
I also understand that “refraining from injuring seeds and plants” or even to “avoid receiving gold and money” are also comprised within ethics yet aren’t found in the 8 precepts, which potentially may suggest that the details found in this sutta may apply for one renouncing diligently and go even deeper in the practice that the 8 precepts.

These are but suppositions and I would greatly appreciate and benefit in learning more on this matter.

I thank you in advance for reading me and wish you well,

With mettā.

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Hi Wheatfield,

Good question.

The injunction against mirrors comes in the khandakas in the Pali vinaya. This topic is treated in the BMC, see link. Personal Grooming | The Buddhist Monastic Code, Volumes I & II

In other schools, using a mirror is a pacittiya, and it gets a reference in the Sanskrit fragments.

Our setup with mirrors in the West today is more that they are part of the building. So almost no monastics I know care that they are there as they are just part of the furnishings. When I had a movable one once, I removed it.

The main question as to whether the mirror thing applies to laypeople observing the eight precepts to me is purpose/intention. If you are keeping the eight precepts well, you should automatically already not be using the mirror for beauty purposes by default, as you won’t have any intention to do that? It is ok to use one if you have a sore.

The vinaya mukha states it’s ok to use a mirror to shave and I don’t think it hurts to use one if it’s already installed to do your hair so it’s not messy etc (not strictly necessary though).

Ultimately the point is to not cultivate vanity. If your intention is just to be clean and tidy, irrespective of monastic or lay eight precepts, you will be fine whether there is a mirror there or not.

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Thank you very much venerable Suvira for your clear and concise answer :pray: :pray: :pray:
As I understand the importance of the intention that lies behind such usage, it clarifies this aspect in regards to incorporating the 8 precepts for a lay disciple that would still have a job and thus some basic grooming to do.
With mettā and respectful salutations to you venerable :pray:

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