You Sure Don’t Look Like a Buddhist

Everyone seems to have their own preconceived ideas of what Buddhism is and what Buddhists are. I mean, if you saw some punk rocker or even someone from Uganda, you probably wouldn’t think they look like the “typical Buddhist”. But what is a “typical” Buddhist supposed to look like? What’s a “typical Buddhist”, anyways?

There was one time this monk by the name of Bhaddiya. He sure didn’t look anything like all of the other monks. He was dwarfish in that he was shorter but not really proportioned, and he also happened to have a pretty bad complexion. Some of the other monks seemed uncomfortable by his appearance, and upon seeing this the Buddha told them that:

“Monks, that monk is of great power, of great eminence. There is no well-gained attainment that has not already been attained by that monk. For that benefit, for which sons of good lineage rightly go forth from home into homelessness, that ultimate conclusion of the holy life, even in this very life, by himself, having seen with his own eyes the higher knowledge, and having attained, he abides.”

This is because one’s outward appearance is in no way related to their inner wisdom. It doesn’t matter what we look like, or who we are – regardless of our class, gender, color, etc. – we all have the potential to realize full enlightenment. In terms of gender, Ven. Soma once observed that:

“What difference does being a woman make when the mind’s well-centered, when knowledge is progressing, seeing clearly, rightly, into the Dhamma. Anyone who thinks ‘I’m a woman’ or ‘a man’ or ‘Am I anything at all?’— that’s who Mara’s fit to address.”

The Buddha was pretty radical in his time for admitting that everyone was capable of arhatship regardless of gender, caste, etc. It’s not how you are born or even how you define yourself that really matters – its what you do. The Dhamma places a higher value on a person’s ethic and virtue rather than how we were born. Buddha stated in the Vasala Sutta that, “not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahman. By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes an brahman.”

In MN 90, the Buddha explains the five factors for exertion to a king and asks him, “Lord, if these four castes were endowed with these five factors for exertion, would there be any distinction or difference among them in that respect?” The king actually wondered about this, so Buddha said “I tell you, great king, that there would be no difference among them with regard to the release of one and the release of another.”

It makes no difference how you were born, or how you define yourself. Your outward appearance or personal preferences, likewise, make no difference. We all have the potential to realize full awakening – that is, if we do our part and cultivate it with practice.


About bodhipunk

Just another anarcho-commie dhamma punk.

Posted on 05/28/2012, in dharma, enlightenment, karma, metta, nirvana, not-self, religion, sangha, stories, suttas and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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