Buddhists - why have children?

IowaGuy

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I'm exploring some Buddhist beliefs, which at times seem a little nihilistic to me. For example, why would a person that truly believed in the Buddhist teaching of the Four Noble Truths ever bring children into this world? Wouldn't that be knowingly inflicting suffering on another sentient being?

#1 of the Four Noble Truths: Suffering Exists. So, by having kids and exposing them to inevitable Dukkha (and also the suffering of subsequent rebirths depending which strain of Buddhism one believes in), how is this ethical from a Buddhist standpoint?

Even if they eventually attain Nibbana, isn't that basically the same as if they'd never been born; both states are eternally free from suffering? So why birth them in the first place and expose them to Dukkha? Wouldn't "not having kids" be a way to eliminate the suffering of a few sentient beings in this world?

Does the Buddhist answer to this question depend on whether one believes in rebirth?
 

seattlegal

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I'm exploring some Buddhist beliefs, which at times seem a little nihilistic to me. For example, why would a person that truly believed in the Buddhist teaching of the Four Noble Truths ever bring children into this world? Wouldn't that be knowingly inflicting suffering on another sentient being?

#1 of the Four Noble Truths: Suffering Exists. So, by having kids and exposing them to inevitable Dukkha (and also the suffering of subsequent rebirths depending which strain of Buddhism one believes in), how is this ethical from a Buddhist standpoint?

Even if they eventually attain Nibbana, isn't that basically the same as if they'd never been born; both states are eternally free from suffering? So why birth them in the first place and expose them to Dukkha? Wouldn't "not having kids" be a way to eliminate the suffering of a few sentient beings in this world?

Within Buddhism, being born as a human is considered to be very lucky, as you then have the opportunity to learn the Dhamma.
 

IowaGuy

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Within Buddhism, being born as a human is considered to be very lucky, as you then have the opportunity to learn the Dhamma.

How is birth "lucky" if suffering is inevitable? Even though you learn the Dhamma you are suffering (Dukkha), which in the end outweighs the learning part unless you attain Nibbana, does it not?

Otherwise, if being born as a human is very lucky, why would Buddhists ever want to put an end to their rebirths?
 

seattlegal

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How is birth "lucky" if suffering is inevitable? Even though you learn the Dhamma you are suffering (Dukkha), which in the end outweighs the learning part unless you attain Nibbana, does it not?

Otherwise, if being born as a human is very lucky, why would Buddhists ever want to put an end to their rebirths?
In order to put an end to rebirths, you must first learn how to abstain from
that which causes them, no?

I don't think you will have to worry about the ones working to obtain nibbana, the celibate monks and nuns, bringing more children into the world.
 

IowaGuy

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In order to put an end to rebirths, you must first learn how to abstain from that which causes them, no?

You seem to be coming from a belief in rebirth with this statement. However, many Buddhists don't believe in so-called literal rebirth, so your statement would not apply in that case, correct?

If indeed SG believes in so-called literal rebirth, do you think each human birth is actaully a rebirth? i.e. every baby born tomorrow is actually a rebirth of a previous life?


I don't think you will have to worry about the ones working to obtain nibbana, the celibate monks and nuns, bringing more children into the world.

Do you think being celibate makes it more likely that one attains Nibbana?
 

seattlegal

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You seem to be coming from a belief in rebirth with this statement. However, many Buddhists don't believe in so-called literal rebirth, so your statement would not apply in that case, correct?

If indeed SG believes in so-called literal rebirth, do you think each human birth is actaully a rebirth? i.e. every baby born tomorrow is actually a rebirth of a previous life?
I am just relating my understanding of Buddhism. :)

Do you think being celibate makes it more likely that one attains Nibbana?
I wouldn't know, but you can check out what the Buddha had to say about it in the Water Snake Simile. He argued that for a person to engage in sensual pleasures without sensual passion, sensual perception, and sensual thinking is not possible.
 

IowaGuy

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Am I the only one that struggles with the (apparent) existential nihilism of Buddhism?


"Why have children?"

--> To give them opportunities to progress towards enlightenment.

OK, let's say my children attain enlightenment someday. How is that end-state of Nibbana (freedom from suffering) any different than if they had never been born in the first place?

i.e. why should they go through all the suffering to reach Nibbana, when I could have alleviated their suffering by never having birthed them in the first place?
 

seattlegal

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Am I the only one that struggles with the (apparent) existential nihilism of Buddhism?




OK, let's say my children attain enlightenment someday. How is that end-state of Nibbana (freedom from suffering) any different than if they had never been born in the first place?

i.e. why should they go through all the suffering to reach Nibbana, when I could have alleviated their suffering by never having birthed them in the first place?

See this thread:
http://www.interfaith.org/forum/the-two-nibbanas-13849.html
 

Nick the Pilot

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"OK, let's say my children attain enlightenment someday. How is that end-state of Nibbana (freedom from suffering) any different than if they had never been born in the first place?"

--> My answer to this question is different than the traditional Buddhist answer. If you would like, we can start a new thread in the Alternative Religion section.
 

Vajradhara

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Namaste all,

the implication is that those sentient beings which take rebirth as human babies would not take rebirth elsewhere, this is not the Buddhadharma view. those beings that take rebirth in the human realm are, indeed, the most fortunate of all beings for we experience dukkha (whereas some beings reborn in the so-called heavenly realms do not) and we have the opportunity to learn the Dharma (whereas some beings reborn in the so-called hellish realms do not) and we have the leisure to put the Dharma into practice and this is unique to the human condition, in the narrow confines of this discussion.

as for the four schools being nihilistic, this is frequently a concern which arises from viewing a philosophical system from within the confines of a different system. it is, however, incorrect and the Buddha specifically makes that point clear... on a technical point, the Dharma cannot be nihilistic for, if it were, it would not be the Dharma.

metta,

~v
 

Bhaktajan II

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Only drunk people should conceive, esp, in the age of Aquarius!

That way there will be only of race!

ROTFLOL as foreplay.

Now the serious Tough-Love:


What Srila Prabhupada Swami said about sex:
http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/...-samskara-what-prabhupada-said-about-sex.html

or
What Srila Prabhupada Swami said about duties of a son:
http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/vedic-verses/453221-putra-dharma-duties-son.html


versus:
What Srila Prabhupada Swami said about Fools:
http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/vedic-verses/446260-what-prabhupada-said-about-fools-1-4-a.html

BTW, What Srila Prabhupada Swami says is always citations from the Vedas.
 

IowaGuy

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as for the four schools being nihilistic, this is frequently a concern which arises from viewing a philosophical system from within the confines of a different system. it is, however, incorrect and the Buddha specifically makes that point clear...

Hi Vaj, thanks for the insight. Do you have any particular suttas or other literatre that are a good reference for the Buddha teaching not to take the nihilistic view? It is indeed challenging to view Buddhism from within the confines of a different system (Christianity, which I no longer follow but it does form some structure of my philosophical thought process). I'm trying to work through this and "empty my mind" but it is difficult at times... By and large I really like the Buddhist teachings, just trying to make sense of what on the surface sometimes seems like existential nihilism.

Thanks,
IG
 

seattlegal

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Hi Vaj, thanks for the insight. Do you have any particular suttas or other literatre that are a good reference for the Buddha teaching not to take the nihilistic view? It is indeed challenging to view Buddhism from within the confines of a different system (Christianity, which I no longer follow but it does form some structure of my philosophical thought process). I'm trying to work through this and "empty my mind" but it is difficult at times... By and large I really like the Buddhist teachings, just trying to make sense of what on the surface sometimes seems like existential nihilism.

Thanks,
IG
The Water Snake simile I linked to in post #6 is one.

Here's another translation if it.
Alagaddupama Sutta: The Snake Simile
 

wmw111

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Our children who have a tendency to be born as a human, will find a suitable vessel to be born in the 3 billion worlds described by Buddha. If we are good buddhists we can bring up our children to be good Buddhists and in the Buddha's mother's case or Lama tsongkhapa's case they brought children into the world who gave so much benefit to all beings. Why have children, if you think as a family unit its more complete to have children and that you do want to bring children into the world and would like to be responsible for them.
 

Justlooking

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Within Buddhism, being born as a human is considered to be very lucky, as you then have the opportunity to learn the Dhamma.
I means does that not make the relationship between mother and off-springs meaningless. in the end, the mom does not have to really take care of the child in anyway, because the favor she does to the child is too good already (you get to ascend). Also, should all scientific discoveries humans have brought about as well as economic development have no reason to continue to exist.

All the people on earth just have to practice Buddhism to ascend and not have to worry about other souls for they risk not getting the chance to ascend by the burden of others who are not willing to. Also, should they be willing to give up their lives in the events of covids and other pandemics, as well as natural disasters in the case that medical practices just stop evolving due to the lack of need for a longevity, the longer you live (the more you have to work to provide yourself meals and needs).

Also, the world will devolve and no one will really care to exceed in their work for they are here to ascend, not to help further the suffering of this world (they would probably live a basic life standard, which will be enough to sustain life but at the expense of any new or great discovery for the world). I mean there are people who choose not to have babies already and it would not affect their chances of ascending, then why do we have to bother. Also, how many souls are their in the universe that can ascend and what awaits us all above there.

Like one every single soul in this universe ascend to greater planes, would this planet be as dead as the ones around it (like turning into another Mars). Would there be any meaning behind that greater existence, like would that be eternal happiness for souls and is that the purpose of our existence, which is to past the test and ascend for eternal happiness. Can we really achieve that or we just end up being material for this universe invisible forces to manipulate. Humanity would descend for sure for souls to ascend spiritually.

(Edited by moderator: paragraph spaces and capitalization added for readability)
 
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Cino

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I means does that not make the relationship between mother and off-springs meaningless. in the end, the mom does not have to really take care of the child in anyway, because the favor she does to the child is too good already (you get to ascend)

What do you mean by ascend? Birth in some heavenly existence?

The Buddhist goal is not to be reborn at all.

The Buddhist mothers I met all were very concerned with the welfare of their children, just like any other mother across all faiths.
 

Nick the Pilot

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What do you mean by ascend? Birth in some heavenly existence?

The Buddhist goal is not to be reborn at all.

The Buddhist mothers I met all were very concerned with the welfare of their children, just like any other mother across all faiths.

The goal of Buddhism is to achieve enlightenment and then move on to nirvana. Achieving enlightenment means never being required to be reborn again. In this way, the Buddhist goal is not to be reborn at all.
 
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Aupmanyav

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Not every Buddhist has that goal. That goal undertaken by some people. Of course, removal of Duhkha is the goal of all Buddhists, Samata is the goal of all Buddhists. Metta is the goal of all Buddhists. Brahmaviharas:
  1. loving-kindness or benevolence (maitrī/metta)
  2. compassion (karuna)
  3. empathetic joy (mudita)
  4. equanimity (upekṣā/upekkha)
 
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