Usually, people thought of tonsure means practicing the Way and vowing to follow the Buddha’s footsteps in order to spiritually support the Buddha Dharma and other beings for the rest of one’s life. This definition is already considered as most marvelous and generous. However, if contemplating in a deeper sense, then tonsure is a vow to renunciate the body which is also renunciating the mind because the body and mind cannot be separated. Since the body and mind are one, then:
“Tonsure means vowing to renunciate the body and mind”
Usually, the mind is the principal of the body because the mind desires to renunciate, the body follows.
The definition of renunciation does not mean trashing the body and mind, but the goal is to renunciate the delusive mind and the disturbed, ignorant body and mind so that to return to the permanent, original nature of the true mind existed within us. It is also the goal of liberation from life and death for us as well as for the entire living beings.
To comprehend the transcending true principle and to practice in achieving that profound goal, we must have a mind of affirming faith, courage, and … to progress. Because of that we must initiate vows and resolutions in the most decisive manner. This is represented by the act of tonsure, vowing to renunciate the body and mind in order to leave the family life and live the ascetic life of priesthood.
Then, in what way is renunciation of the mind? Renunciate the mind is to renunciate the delusive, ignorant mind, renunciate the conciousness of the mind that is often differentiate the duality: have and have not, real and fake, bad and good, rich and poor, birth and death. This differentiating mind cling us to the notion of we are real, people are real, external images are real. This clinging to the realness is very firm and gives rise to the thought of self benefit for the individual and the ego. Continuously so with an addition of limitless thought and delusion, such as: love and hate, jealous, competitive, greed, anger, selfish, etc… Everyone of these thoughts stems from the source of the ignorant mind. However, these ignorant mind and delusory thoughts do not have an origin. They are not truly existed, but only comparable to a dream, illusive transformation, a thick cloud. Therefore, we temporarily call it as “illusive transformation”. Once we understood that it is just the illusion of the body and mind, then what is there to be clinged to or afraid of? Anyhow, the definition of renunciation, reiterated as mentioned above, is not trashing this body and mind, but the goal is, one way or another, to enable us to completely understand the principle of our body and mind just so that we don’t cling to the realness of them. Realistically, we still have to use them to practice the Way because it is right at this body and mind that we are able to realize the genuine Dharma Body and the true nature means enlightenment.
Let’s discuss on the renunciation of the body:
How does one renunciate the body?
We should understand that every events, things, images, views, and, even our body, are empty in essence and illusorily existed because of conditions.
- With the physical eyes, we see: On the external part, our body has an image, but it is really just the conditions illusorily combined from the four elements: earth, water, wind and fire.
- With the wisdom eyes, we see on the internal part: Our mind does not have an image. And so, its essence is originally empty, illusorily existed from the combination of conditions. However, “empty” here means the nature of void (only because an ignorant thought arose, the “cause of void” creates the delusion of differentiating the “combination of illusory conditions”; once defining as delusion, it is but an illusory dream).
Let’s reiterate, when an ignorant thought arises then following that thought to create a mind based on such image: Cling to the realness of self and Dharma, and self create a conscious mind of differentiation, unknowingly, it brings forth the transformation of “wisdom” to “consciousness”.
In summary, our body and mind are delusional from the inside out. They are illusory conditions combined from seven elements: earth, water, wind, fire, void, views and consciousness. Henceforth, we temporarily call it “illusory transformation of the body and mind” which is unreal in existence. However, we must still use this illusory transformation of the body, meaning this physical body which completed with the six senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind that enable the practice until realization of the true nature or enlightenment. Once enlightened, this illusory transformation of the body is automatically transformed the seven elements into the seven jewels, that is, transforming the entirety of consciousness into the entirety of wisdom. At this moment, it is called returning to the origin. In essence, from the primal beginning, this body and mind are already perfected with wisdom. It is all because of one ignorant thought arose and, by itself, transformed complete wisdom to complete consciousness. Once awakened and renunciated ignorance, the wisdom is revealed. There is nothing to name as leaving or arriving at some place.
In conclusion, once apprehended completely the Buddha’s philosophy which points out the source of ignorance leads to the suffering of life and death and clearly understood that our body and mind are unreal, illusorily combined, there is nothing for us to be afraid of and to cling to and nothing that we have no courage to renunciate in order to return to the moon of wisdom, our inherent Buddha nature which is always pure, bright and permanent. That is the goal of the perfected practice. At this moment, the practitioner has automatically returned the piety and the grace counting from the primal time until now. Also, all the sins committed from the primal time until now are automatically eradicated. This is really complete in gratitude with all beings, all things and all of universe. This is the moment of principle and task are unified, the Way and Life are oneness and also complete the definition of the goal of tonsure.