Shaving, a craving?


I am wondering why shaving every day is not considered an attachment since one could argue that it’s done out of a certain degree of vanity, the desire to demonstrate one’s belonging to the Buddhist community and it uses a lot of material resources.

A well kept beard could be tended to once every 3 weeks or so.

Why is shaving not considered an attachment?

You could ask the same question about robes, walking without shoes, using an alms bowl etc. You can be a person who uses these items to demonstrate to the world that you belong in the Buddhist community.

But, I think that’s not the point. Shaving your head everyday seems to me like a daily practice to abdicate vanity. The same for going for alms, using especific robes etc. But, I would love to hear a debate about it.

Technically, the Buddha allowed us to shave every 2 months or when our hair is 2 finger-breadths long; whichever is first. In the Buddha’s time long hair was a sign of status/fashionable for both men and women, and it was an insult to call someone a ‘shaveling’. These days it is normal for a lay person to have short or even shaved hair, which is why you are unlikely to see monastics with hair as long as 2-finger-breadths.

I shave my head every 2 weeks or so and it’s a bother! It’s certainly not about vanity.
As a lay person I would cut my hair to a few inches, once a year, and let it grow down my back.


I always thought it was a practical thing for the benefit of monastics. Protection against ticks, unavailability of regular bathing, less need for grooming, etc.

One could argue anything. That is the problem with arguing, lol.

Monastics shave because the Buddha tells them to. It’s not complicated.


Slight correction: Monastics shave because tradition tells them to. :wink:

Ah, temptation. Here I go again.

I have been shaving my head for more than 20 years now, simply because i look better with my head shaved. It can be fashionable especially to those who have baldness genes like myself. If monastics happened to shave their heads, then it is a plus.

With a stretch of imagination, everything can be the product of vanity. How about we get out of our ways to look ugly and to appear quite modest?

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There are indeed traditions around shaving. For example it is the tradition in some communities in Sri Lanka that the face should never be shaved without shaving the head. Or in Thailand there is a tradition that everyone shaves their head before the Patimokkha recitation. Neither of these are rules laid down by the Buddha.

However, shaving the head and face is a rule given by the Buddha. If you don’t believe that then I don’t know what to say. I mean, I guess we could agree on “Monastics shave their heads because they believe this is a rule given by the Buddha.” But then you would have to phrase everything that way. Including giving up craving.


I am not questioning the authenticity of this rule. Nor do I dislike it.

I am just wondering if there is no contradiction between the need of the monks to have shaving blades and shaving cream at their permanent disposition and the general goal to reduce attachment to worldly items.

:rofl: Not every blade is as overpriced as your Swiss contraptions! Here in Thailand we use shaving blades that cost 100 THB for a pack of 100. And there’s no need for cream. Many monks shave with soap, which yes we also use. And we even eat real food too! :joy:


You shouldn’t worry about soap being an attachment. It just slides right off. :pray:


I doubt it is related to vanity. However, it may certainly be related to maintaining a pleasant public appearance for the sake of the public. Unshaven monks looks sloppy & disheveled. Good grooming is often done in life out of respect for others. :slightly_smiling_face:

To add, Buddhadasa said about physical appearance:

Our second condition is clothing. Please wear clothing that fulfills the real meaning and purpose of clothing: good health, protection against annoyances and discomfort, convenience and simplicity, expression of culture.

Please wear clothing that is convenient, simple, and a sign of culture. Please do not wear clothing that destroys the culture of oneself or of others. That would lead to inappropriateness within oneself and would be an enemy of mental tranquility. Please give some consideration to clothing, the second paccaya also

Bhikkhu Buddhadasa - Anapanasati Mindfulness with Breathing

In fact, I recall once reading a Buddhadasa booklet that mentioned a monk’s daily routine, which included plucking long hairs out of one’s nostrils. Therefore it sounded like Buddhadasa thought the public appearance of a monk was important. :slightly_smiling_face:



Shaving daily in warm tropical climates greatly increases heat dissipation. It’s amazing how much heat even short hair grown over the course of a few days retains heat. Conversely cold climates are better tolerated with less shaving. Maybe why Tibetan monks and nuns are often seen with longer hair.

it’s done out of a certain degree of vanity

Action does not imply one specific possible intention. Attachment happens separately from the actual object, depending on if there is avijja. One can shave their head without getting attached to the vanity of it, and if they notice that there is actually a bad intent or attachment towards it, then they can aim to give that up.

I love reading these threads!!