On the Merits of Hair or Hairlessness

According to the Tipitaka 
and other accounts, the Buddha
was handsome, of fine appearance,
pleasant to see, with a good
complexion and a beautiful form...

But there's so much divergence
in the matter of whether he was bald
or wore his hair in a man bun, whether
he was clean-shaven or had a beard
or mustache, hair being such a touchy

subject wherever you go. Having
too much hair or hair in the wrong
places, or conversely no hair at all;
waxing your legs or eyebrows, never
plucking what nature meant to grow

in the hollows of the human
body— And where is the follicle
connecting flesh to the soul, that
luxuriant strand our grandmothers
sought as they parted our hair with

the patience of fine-toothed, bone-
handled combs? One psalm says my iniquities
have overtaken me, they are more numerous
than the hairs of my head; another says
I shouldn't worry, for every hair

on my head is already accounted for. Before
the Buddha's enlightenment, it's said he
pulled out each of the hairs from his beard
and head. If it's true we're going to come
back again and again until we finally

get it, it could be as a phoenix eternally
rising from the flames; as the carnival's
bearded lady with the most marvelous strength,
or the only unshaven suspect in the police lineup
the witness is absolutely sure wasn't the one.

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