Why Shave Your Head?
Three blogs back I mentioned that Devon and I plan to shave our heads before we step into meditation retreat for a few months in September.
Which made some folks ask: why the heck would anyone shave their head?
Or step into solitary retreat in a cabin in the mountains for three months?
Or take a vow to not have sex for a year? (yea, I'll get to that.)
I mean, why do any of this stuff?
I won't speak for Devon here, because she has her own motives and her own vision. But for me, I can say with deep conviction: "I don't really know."
Or: I do know. But that knowing is not easy to frame for other people. And it's not always easy to explain to myself.
This knowing, which is also a kind of not-knowing, is nonverbal, not-so-conceptual, a feeling that I have in my chest and belly.
It's a feeling that says, "Maybe go this way." But it doesn't say much more.
So then I try to kind of hang things on that feeling and see if they work. Maybe like an artist who has an aesthetic sense, a kind of intuition, and then starts to paint.
But instead of painting I'm giving away everything I own. Or thinking about wearing red robes. Or shaving my head.
Maybe this feeling is something like what they call "the way-seeking mind" in Zen. Maybe it's a calling, whatever that means.
Whatever it is, I find that I can't let myself get too far from it. Because if I do, I start to feel very bad.
On the other hand, when I stay with this sense of things, I feel balanced and whole.
At any rate, there's all manner of stuff I could say about why I want to shave my head and go into retreat.
I could talk about my conviction that the human heart is boundless, that clarity and love can be trained, and that giving things up, getting focused, and stepping off the grid for a while are doorways to a deeper truth.
I believe those things.
And maybe shaving my head is a nod to all that. A physical act that speaks to nonmaterial openings. Also a shout out to my time in the monastery. Also a way to align myself with some of my teachers and heroes, like Baker Roshi, Mingyur Rinpoche, Old Man Patrul, Dogen, and Ajahn Chah.
But who knows. People are strange, right? And I just get weirder every day.
Okay, next time let's talk about (no) sex.
All good things,