A Self-Respecting Naked Buddhist
Yes, Buddha, or should I say Siddhartha Gautama, would have looked like this not long after he began his journey to enlightenment. Like all those before him, that journey was marked by being skyclad, by meditation, and by deprivation. Today, Sadhu Nagas still continue this practice. Somewhere between then and now, the Digambara who stress the practice of nudity as an absolute prerequisite to the attainment of salvation.
Somewhere along his journey toward salvation, he decided that the traditional means of attaining salvation were just not enough. He abandoned the classical Hindu and Jainist rituals and carved his own path that he called the middle way. He came to reject nudity as being unseemly with the nude body being ugly and not suitable for polite company. As Buddha, he self-proclaimed as fully aware. Yet, he was still a man of his times, a time when nudity was not considered suitable in polite company. In other words, he didn’t want Buddhists to be in conflict with cultural norms. Another reason for his rejection of nudity was the fact that he was rejecting Hinduism and Jainism and he wanted his followers to be be distinctive in appearance and dress. Both reasons are sensible when the objective is to have Buddhism become mainstream. As far as nudity being objectionable in terms of ultimate moral truth, that would be a different story, one that Buddha never addressed.
Of course, Buddha also said that we each must carve our own path to enlightenment, not simply to adopt his path as our path. My path includes nude meditation and respect for the naked human body.
I want to bring in a different voice here, Radmila Moacanin who wrote in 1986 in a book that looked at Jungian psychology and Buddhism:
“the strength of Buddhism, namely the flexibility of its method s and practice, its emphasis on each individual’ s experience , not intellectual, philosophical knowledge alone , or blind faith. Nothing, no method is excluded that could lead to the ultimate goal of liberation.”
Blind faith, a rigorous following of a document as the “holy words” of a belief system, was not what Buddhism is supposed to be about.