Can Buddhists Get Tattoos?

Tattoos used to be seen as a rebellious act, and they often brought about judgment by people who didn’t understand the art form.

Now, tattoos are much more appreciated, though some religions have rules about tattoos.

One might wonder, can Buddhists get tattoos?

Yes, Buddhists are allowed to get tattoos and they won’t violate religious doctrine.

There is no clear-cut rule or teaching within Buddhism that is for or against getting tattoos.

Since there is nothing tangible to look to in terms of tattooing within Buddhist doctrine, it’s ultimately up to the interpretation of what does exist within the core beliefs and each individual practicing Buddhism. 

Most Buddhists would likely agree that the reason for getting the tattoo and what it means to the person is the most important component of making that decision. 

Are Buddhists Allowed To Have Tattoos?

A Buddhist can have tattoos and still practice the Buddhist faith. Buddhists have different feelings about tattoos, their purpose, what they represent, and whether or not it’s considered to be a desecration of the physical body.

Since a person’s body is not considered their permanent state of being, it’s not considered a violation of the body to get a tattoo based on most interpretations. 

Some Buddhists don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with having tattoos that are chosen carefully.

For instance, a tattoo that tells a story or part of a teaching from the Buddhist faith can be acceptable.

Tattoos that may bear offensive language or imagery will likely not be received well. 

Can Buddhist Monks Get Tattoos?

Buddhist monks have been known to get tattoos. In fact, there is even a lesser-known tattooing practice that some Buddhist used to practice called Yantra.

This was done by using a metal rod on the skin, but this form of tattooing was only allowed to be performed by Buddhist monks. 

Some Buddhist monks will still give each other Yantra tattoos, and Buddhists will even travel to get one of these Yantra tattoos completed by a monk.

There are usually only certain things that are tattooed with this method, and often these types of tattoos will revolve around Buddhist teachings. 

What About Getting Tattoos Of Buddha?

It’s not considered appropriate to have a tattoo that is meant to depict Buddha or any Buddhist deity.

This is regardless of whether you practice Buddhism or not.

The image of a Buddha deity or Buddha himself is not meant to be interpreted for artistic expression and is considered to be extremely sacred. 

When it comes to a piece of Buddhist scripture, a sutra that is meaningful, or another type of Buddhist symbol, it may or may not be considered appropriate to have it tattooed.

If you’re not a practicing Buddhist, it’s possible that some Buddhists may find it disrespectful for you to use their religion for aesthetic purposes. 

Are There Any Beliefs Around Buddhists Having Tattoos?

There are some shared beliefs within Buddhism around the respectful way to have a tattoo, especially if the tattoo itself is related to the faith.

These rules may not be observed by all. 

Before making the decision to get a tattoo featuring something related to Buddhism, one should reflect upon what that tattoo means.

It’s important for Buddhists to ensure they respect the symbolism of the tattoo they choose as they continue through life with that symbolism on their body. 

One such belief is that a tattoo related to Buddhism should be higher on the body.

In Buddhism, it’s common to have artistic symbols of the faith sitting at the highest point in the home in order to show them proper respect, so it would make sense that tattoos are seen in the same regard. 

Final Thoughts 

There isn’t anything in the Buddhist faith that teaches that tattoos aren’t allowed.

One should be cognizant of the type of tattoo they get and how it could be interpreted.

As a Buddhist, one shouldn’t get something considered disrespectful in the faith tattooed on the body, and shouldn’t get sacred depictions of Buddha or other deities on their bodies. 

For those who aren’t Buddhists but want to get a Buddhist-inspired tattoo, it’s not advised that this is done without seeking out guidance from a Buddhist or getting a Buddhist tattoo artist to assist.

Otherwise, it could be seen as offensive to take important components of the Buddhist faith and use it as inspiration for a tattoo.