There’s a real “less is more” overtone in religion and it’s becoming pretty clear that Jains take that concept a bit further than most others. As you know, I’m not spending money or purchasing anything for myself this month. That means no food, gas, gifts (sorry wife) or clothes. I actually need a new pair of pants as the seat is becoming a little too worn to stand in front of a class and my flip-flops--while having weathered the claws of my college cat, Snipes--seem to have met their match with my dog who has charged himself with the task of evenly consuming the toe and heel of each thong. I certainly need many things, but I must resist the urge to purchase.
I’ve never been a big fan of clothes anyways. Growing up (and by that I mean until my marriage) purchasing threads was the sole responsibility of my mother. Honestly though, my taste has always been simple enough that anyone could manage to throw a few items together and I’d sport it. She just knew that I wouldn't ever do it myself. High-fashion—to me—looks like Euro-trash or a small town person trying too hard to impress their classmates. When I first arrived in Korea, I couldn't believe how tacky the fashion was. It took me a few months to realize that my 1995 Phish tee-shirt, old packing shorts and Chacos weren’t all that hip. Still, I rock what’s comfortable and confidently strut my college-era style.
This month, however, comfort isn't the name of the game. Detachment is and following suit, I must live as a lay Jain. Of course, this is my project and I am free to alter the rules as I so please as long as I’m not violating the tenets or rituals. Some Jain monks choose to remain naked at all times. Jain scripture doesn't condemn clothing, but it does say that "prohibiting nudity is not proper because preoccupation with clothes weakens right conduct." As I’ve said many times before, I don’t have the stomach (or lack thereof) to be a Jain monk, but I like their reasoning behind their choice of nudity. I'm not so sure my elementary school would agree that right conduct and nudity go hand-in-hand.
You never know what might happen tomorrow and I could find myself in need of some new clothes. What would I do? Well, there are ways for me to get clothes. Unfortunately, clothing rules are very complex and awkward. Here is rule one:
A monk or a nun may beg for clothes specifying (their quality), viz. wool, silk, hemp, palm-leaves, cotton, Arkatûla. If they beg for them, or the householder gives them, they may accept them; for they are pure and acceptable.
I'm kind of like that. I indirectly begged my mother for clothes and typically wanted them to be cotton, wool or hemp. Silk doesn't do it for me. I had a pair of silk boxers in middle school, but they bunched up way too often. It was an awful experience.
Rule number two:
A monk or a nun may ask for clothes which they have well inspected, from the householder or his wife. After consideration, they should say: 'O long-lived one! (or, O sister!) please give me one of these clothes!' If they beg for them, or the householder gives them, they may accept them; for they are pure and acceptable.
O sister! Please give me some new sandals! Next:
A monk or a nun may beg for an under or upper garment.And the final rule:
A monk or a nun may beg for a left-off robe, which no other Sramana or Brâhmana, guest, pauper or beggar wants
That's a lot of work for clothes this month. I can hold out.So, while I am at home, I've decided that being nude will further help me detach from the material world. Today I was finished with work early, so I went home, exercised with my dog, showered and air dried. After drying, I stayed nude. Now, Ive been doing this for the entire week and I can’t lie, it’s been weird. In fact, I’m at home right writing. The wife is reading, my dog is chewing on a leftover bone from one of my wife’s meal, The Seldom Scene is playing and I am sitting in front of the computer naked as we came.
Do I feel more detached? Not really. I’m actually more concerned about my dog trying to get something going at the wrong time and near the wrong place on my body. A visit to the hospital is one thing, but a visit with a mangled piece of junk is another.
How do you explain that?
It did make me think, how many articles of clothing do I actually need? I have so many pieces that are essentially the same thing, just different colors and styles. We don't need that much. My wife dragged me to the new Sex and the City movie a month or two ago and I was honestly disgusted by the volume of clothes not only characters wore, but that the movie spent on that sort of thing. I get the whole status marker thing, but seriously, enough is enough. This week, even though I actually need clothes, I'm going to donate twenty articles of clothing.
Less is more...or so I've heard.