Shaving the Buddha

Categories: Buddhism
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Published on: September 17, 2011

I like shaving. A lot.

This might be surprising to friends and family because I frequently sport a day or two’s growth. You’d expect that as my favorite grooming activity I’d do it as frequently as possible but there’s a cap on how often you can reasonably pick up a razor without going after other parts of your anatomy.

Quite a lot of meditation is wrapped up in focus and, at least in some traditions, mindfullness. There are entire traditions based almost entirely in simply paying attention to what is going on, what you’re doing, what you’re thinking and being focused on what is as opposed to what was or might be.

I don’t think there is any other activity that so absolutely focuses the mind as drawing a piece of incredibly sharp metal across your throat. When sitting my mind wanders and drifts. When shaving there is only the blade. Lack of attention or attempting to hurry is rewarded with immediate correction. When I think about it, I’ve picked up a razor and put it to my throat far more times than I’ve sat on a cushion and attempted to train my wandering mind which is probably why, in those few moments, I have what I struggle for the rest of the day: presence and patience.

For one minute, a few times a week, everything falls away and I’m absolutely connected to what is happening. I’m not worried, I’m not afraid, all the mental static goes silent. A tool designed to divide what is one instead unites what is divided.

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