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Spiritual Practice During "That Time" of the Month

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  • NamoAmituofo
    ... For www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com ... Spiritual Practice During That Time of the Month There is a prevalent misconception that women during their
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2007
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      Spiritual Practice During "That Time" of the Month


      There is a prevalent misconception that women during their menstrual cycles should refrain from all Buddhist practices. This arises from the erroneous idea that as the blood is "foul", it is capable of defiling religious practices or one's spiritual purity. It is seen also mistakenly thought to be disrespectful to pray to the enlightened during these seasons. Those who subscribe to this belief even refrain from stepping in Buddhist places of worship.

      Menstruation is a perfectly natural bodily process, just as urination or defecation is. If visiting a Buddhist temple while menstruating is seen as "dirty" both physically and spiritually, isn't the clearing of one's bowels in the restroom of a temple much worse – even more foul and disgusting? Personal hygiene is of course important for common sense. The Buddha reminded us that our whole body is filled with physical impurities. If we are totally impure physically, and that no one impure should practise the Dharma, no"body" would be able to at all!

      If those menstruating cannot participate in Buddhist practices or enter Buddhist places, many nuns all over the world would need to vacate them on a monthly basis, forced to take holidays, so as to stay clear of their spiritual routines! Obviously, this is ridiculous. The practice of the Dharma with our mind and/or via our speech and action, in whatever ways we choose, should ideally be a constant task, despite the state of our body. But of course, if one feels unwell or tired, it might be wise to take a break from physical practices. 

      To postpone spiritual practice because the body is not "clean" is to see the state of the body as more important than the state of the mind. While appropriately conscious of the importance of how physical health aids spiritual health, Buddhism does not focus on physical purity being a higher priority - especially not to the extent that it renders spiritual purity or purification secondary.

      There is also no Buddhist teaching that if the body is "pure", the mind will be pure. If so, the most deluded male would automatically be spiritually more advanced than all females. Of course, this isn't true. In fact, it is a spiritual challenge that despite the many impurities of our body, we still do our best to purify our mind. It's a matter of mind over matter!

      - Shen Shi'an

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