Some folks have written recently to ask,
Hey, Jundo! What's with all the hair & the beard? I thought Zen monks are supposed to shave?
Well, many Zen teachers of old had hair and/or beards ...
... and even recent Ch'an monks ... and Western women (though usually not the beards) ...
... Master Dogen had a five-o'clock shadow some days ...
... and Zen immortals ... and Bodhidharma (with an earring, no
less) ... and even the Bossman, Shakyamuni Buddha, had a gorgeous head
of hair ...
Even in Southeast Asian traditions, where things are rather strict, the Rules state ...
Hair of the head.
The hair of the head should not be worn long. It should be shaved at
least every two months or when the hair has grown to a length of two
fingerbreadths -- whichever occurs first, says the Commentary. In
Thailand there is the custom that all bhikkhus shave their heads on the
same day, the day before the full moon, so that the Community can
present a uniform appearance. Although this is not obligatory, a
bhikkhu who does not follow the custom tends to stand out from his
The beard should not be grown long, although -- unlike the hair of the
head -- there is no explicit maximum length, unless the two month/two
fingerbreadth rule is meant to apply here as well. One may not dress
the beard as a goatee, a rectangle, or in any other design. The
moustache may not be dressed, e.g., by making its ends stand up.
Because there is no prohibition against using scissors to cut the
beard, electric razors are clearly allowed in shaving the face.
Oh, and did I mention the deep philosophical reasons for being hirsute? (I will in a minute).
As the song goes (for those old enough to remember) ...
Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair A home for fleas, a hive for bees A nest for birds, there ain't no words For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my Hair! (hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair)
Flow it, Show it;
Long as God can grow it, My Hair!
(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)