Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nip, Tuck, Chop, Hack

Yesterday’s post led me to give some thought to some of the things humans do to their bodies apart from being so disgusted with them that they would kill them. It certainly is a rich field for contemplation. Mother Nature in her wisdom (and she is a wise old gal) has provided us with a body pretty much perfectly designed for the task it is meant to do. But then, because of vanity, stupidity, feelings of inferiority, the need to stand out, the desire not to be noticed, greed, etc, we cut bits off it, insert things into it, stretch it, compress it, dye it, deprive it of sustenance, over-feed it, poke holes in it, scar it, etc. I could have included photos of a few other things such as male and female genital mutilation, penis enlargement and vaginal ‘tightening’ but decided that the images might be inappropriate or a bit too harrowing. And I couldn’t find any images of living persons with head binding or the scars German students used to cut into one of their cheeks. What is it with we human beings?!! The Buddha had little time for body vanity but he certainly encouraged a sensible and respectful attitude towards the body (deha, kaya or sarira). This is why he criticized the body-unfriendly austerities practiced by some of the sects of his time. He asked us to look upon our body as if it were a sore (ganda, A.IV,386). You look after a sore or wound with care, apply the appropriate medicine to it, cover it properly and try to protect it from knocks and blows. He referred to the body as a little hut (kuti, Sn.19), something you live in, and as a chariot (ratha, S.IV,292), something that helps you get around. To me, being respectful to the body would mean not putting any foreign object into it or cutting any living tissue off it, other than for reasons of health or to rectify a deformity i.e. one of the mistakes Mother Nature sometimes made.
All November will be Tibet Month on my blog and will include articles about and images related to the Dhamma in that country.


dchongkit said...

Thanks for the compilation Bhante. I just lost my appetite. As for the title... ouch!

David said...

Now how am I suppose to sleep tonight?

As I often tell my students- They should not fear that common science fiction theme of outer space aliens going from planet to planet looking to exploit intelligent life.

If true, they have little reason to visit this planet.

Be well and happy in your constantly changing (but less drastically than some) vessel.

yuri said...

My wife refused to see the photos after a brief glimpse. Same reason as David's - she wanted to sleep peacefully. :)

gustav said...

What do you think of another modern phenomenon, the Al Burj in Dubai, and other such buildings ?

I think that the famous tower of Babel in Babylon was shattered because of Shakyamuni's enlightenment, what do You think?
I think that is the original and true cause of this building collapse event.

trudy said...

Dear Bhante,

the scars German academics 'wore' with pride were actually not self-inflicted, but received in mock battles in fraternities. Not that this fact makes it less stupid... I am told my grandfather had one. It's called Schmisse in German.

Here is a good photo (not my grandfather):

The tradition pretty much ended in the 1930s.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Trudy,
Thanks for the comment and the link. My understanding is that those who couldn’t get a scar while dueling would cut their cheek to give the impression that they had been. It was sort of like getting a tan in a tanning clinic in the hope that people would think that you'd been lying on the beach all day.
My favorite ‘impression obsession’ is wearing sun glasses at 11 o’clock at night.