A Buddhist Perspective

                         Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda

                              Published by
                    The Buddhist Missionary Society
                 123 Jalan Berhala, 50470 Kuala Lampur

                          All rights reserved.
                      Copyright 1987 by the Author
                           ISBN 967-9920-33-X

                                 * * *

                         DharmaNet Edition 1995

                     Transcription: Mark Blackstad
                Proofreading & Formatting: John Bullitt

        This electronic edition is offered for free distribution
            via DharmaNet by arrangement with the publisher.

                        DharmaNet International
                 P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley CA 94704-4951

                            * * * * * * * *


                The Buddha's Explanation
             Sharing and Trust
             Blinded by Emotions
             Material Needs
             Pre-marriage Advice
             Role of Religion
             Individual Rights
             Post-marriage Blues
             The Ceremony
             Sense of Insecurity
             Husband and Wife
             The Past
             Modern Society
             Responsibility towards the Children
             Buddhist Views
             Family Planning
             Test-tube Babies
        9. MORALITY
             Premarital Sex
             Sexual Misconduct
             Irresponsible Sexual Behavior
        11. CELIBACY
             What is Celibacy?
             Significance of Celibacy
             Celibacy versus Responsibility
             The Buddha's Experience
        12. SUMMARY
             I -- The Affectionate Mother
             II -- Moral Code

                            * * * * * * * *


  From time immemorial, man has been preoccupied with the pursuit of
  happiness in life, from the cradle to the grave.  He works and
  struggles very hard to attain happiness, very often without knowing
  exactly what happiness means because of his ignorance of the nature of
  life.  Although all religions provide advice and guidelines for their
  adherents to practice in order to attain happiness in life, more often
  than not, these advices and guidelines are ignored owing to man's
  craving, hatred and illusion.  Many people who experienced
  frustrations and sufferings hope and pray to find happiness for
  present life and here after; others, though enjoying a large measure
  of happiness on earth, are still not contented and crave for eternal
  bliss in heaven after leaving this world.  For the ordinary man, as
  for the child, it is difficult to make a distinction between happiness
  and pleasure. To him, that which gives pleasure give happiness, and to
  be happy is to experience pleasure.

    Very often, we consider childhood days to be a period of happiness.
  In reality, as children we do not understand what happiness is.  Under
  the protection of our parents, we pass our days in a perpetual round
  of enjoyment which undoubtedly gives us pleasure.  As we enter
  adolescence, changes take place in the mind and physical body causing
  us to become aware of the existence of the opposite sex and we begin
  to experience a new kind of attraction giving rise to disturbing
  emotions.  At the same time, curiosity drives us to find out about the
  fats of life, through peer discussion and book reading.  Before long,
  we find ourselves on the threshold of adulthood, the crucial time in
  our life when we look for a suitable life-partner to begin a
  relationship that will put to the test all the qualities that we have
  acquired earlier in life.  Love, sex, and marriage then become matters
  of great importance that will determine the quality of the married
  life we will have.

    Young people today are exposed to a large variety of "Western"
  influences which are disseminated through the mass media such as books
  and magazines, television, video cassettes and movies, resulting in
  the acquisition of distorted ideas regarding love, sex, and marriage.
  The age-old "Eastern" moral virtues and values are being gradually
  eroded in the face of these influences.  Practices unheard of and
  never carried out by the older generation have become common place
  among young people today.  Are the "Western" influences really
  responsible for this state of affairs or should the parents be blamed
  for the misdeeds of their children for not exercising proper control
  and supervision over them? In this book, it is explained that most
  television programs and movies do not represent the way most decent
  people in the West think or behave and that there is a vast "silent
  majority" of decent couples who are as deeply religious and
  "conservative" about love, sex and marriage as any "Eastern" couple.
  If young people want to ape the West, they are advised to ape this
  "silent majority" who are no different from their decent neighbor who
  lives next door to them.

    Modern life is fraught with all kinds of tension and stress.
  Doubtless, very often it is tension and stress that creates problems
  in many a marriage.  If a proper analysis is made into the root causes
  of such social problems as pre-marital sex, teenage pregnancies,
  unhappy marriages and divorces, child-abuse and wife-battering, we
  inevitably discover that it is due mainly to selfishness and lack of
  patience, tolerance and mutual understanding. In the //Sigalovada
  Sutta//, the Buddha gives good advice on how to maintain peace and
  harmony in the home between husband and wife in order to achieve a
  happy married life. Parental responsibilities for children and the
  children's duties toward parents are also clearly mentioned in the
  Sutta as useful guidelines for the attainment of a happy home.  In
  this book, the Ven. Author stresses the important point that marriage
  is a partnership of two individuals and that this partnership is
  enriched and enhanced when it allows the personalities involved to
  grow.  In the Buddhist perspective, marriage means understanding and
  respecting each other's beliefs and privacy.  The present time is most
  opportune for a book of this nature to be published to provide the
  followers of the Buddhist religion, in particular the young, with a
  clear understanding of life's important matters like love, sex and
  marriage which will not only help them to live a happy married life
  but also assist them to lead peaceful and contented lives.

    On behalf of the Buddhist Missionary Society I wish to express our
  sincere gratitude and appreciation to many of our devoted members for
  all the help and services rendered in the preparation of this book.
  Our special thanks are due to: Mr. Vijaya Samarawickrama for
  undertaking the editorial work, Mr. Teh Thean Choo, Miss Quah Pin Pin
  and Mrs. Chong Hong Choo for their valuable assistance and Mr. Paw Oo
  Thett of Burma for the cover design.
                     Tan Teik Beng
                     JSM, SMS, KMN, PKT
                     Vice President, Buddhist Missionary Society
                     Former Director, Department of Education, Selangor.
                     20 December 1986
                            * * * * * * * *

                            1.  INTRODUCTION
  From the Buddhist point of view, marriage is neither holy nor unholy.
  Buddhism does not regard marriage as a religious duty nor as a
  sacrament that is ordained in heaven.  A cynic has said that while
  some people believe that marriage is planned in heaven, others say
  that it is recorded in hell also!  Marriage is basically a personal
  and social obligation, it is not compulsory.  Man and woman must have
  freedom either to get married or to remain single.  This does not mean
  that Buddhism is against marriage. Nobody in this world would say that
  marriage is bad and there is no religion which is against marriage.
    Practically all living things come into being as a result of sex
  life.  Among human beings, the institution of marriage has come about
  so that society guarantees the perpetuation of the human species and
  also ensures that the young would be cared for.  This is based on the
  argument that children born through the pleasure of sex must be the
  responsibility of the partners involved, at least until they have
  grown up.  And marriage ensures that this responsibility is upheld and
  carried out.
    A society grows through a network of relationships which are
  mutually inter-twined and inter-dependent.  Every relationship is a
  whole-hearted commitment to support and to protect others in a group
  or community.  Marriage plays a very important part in this strong web
  of relationships of giving support and protection. A good marriage
  should grow and develop gradually from understanding and not impulse,
  from true loyalty and not just sheer indulgence. The institution of
  marriage provides a fine basis for the development of culture, a
  delightful association of two individuals to be nurtured and to be
  free from loneliness, deprivation and fear.  In marriage, each partner
  develops a complementary role, giving strength and moral courage to
  one another, each manifesting a supportive and appreciative
  recognition of the other's skill in caring and providing for a family.
  There must be no thought of either man or woman being superior -- each
  is complementary to the other; marriage is a partnership of equality,
  gentleness, generosity, calm and dedication.
    In Buddhism, one can find all the necessary advice which can help
  one to lead a happy married life.  One should not neglect the advice
  given by the Enlightened Teacher if one really wants to lead a happy
  married life.  In His discourses, the Buddha gave various kinds of
  advice for married couples and for those who are contemplating
  marriage.  The Buddha has said, "If a man can find a suitable and
  understanding wife and a woman can find a suitable and understanding
  husband, both are fortunate indeed."

                                 * * *

                  2.  THE NATURE OF LOVE AND PLEASURE
  There are different kinds of love, and these are variously expressed
  as motherly love, brotherly love, sensual love, emotional love, sexual
  love, selfish love, selfless love and universal love.
    If people develop only their carnal or selfish love towards each
  other, that type of love cannot last long.  In a true love
  relationship, one should not ask how much one can get, but how much
  one can give.
    When beauty, complexion and youth start to fade away, a husband who
  considers only the physical aspects of love may think of acquiring
  another young one.  That type of love is animal love or lust.  If a
  man really develops love as an expression of human concern for another
  being, he will not lay emphasis only on the external beauty and
  physical attractiveness of his partner.  The beauty and attractiveness
  of his partner should be in his heart and mind, not in what he sees.
  Likewise, the wife who follows Buddhist teachings will never neglect
  her husband even though he has become old, poor or sick.
        "I have a fear that the modern girl loves to be Juliet to have a
         dozen Romeos.  She loves adventure . . . . . The modern girl
         dresses not to protect herself from wind, rain and sun, but to
         attract attention.  She improves upon nature by painting
         herself and looking extraordinary."

                                        -- Gandhi

  Sex by itself is not "evil," although the temptation and craving for
  it invariably disturbs the peace of mind, and hence is not conducive
  to spiritual development.
    In the ideal situation, sex is the physical culmination of a deeply
  satisfying emotional relationship, where both partners give and take
    The portrayal of love by commercial groups through the mass media in
  what we call "western" culture is not "real" love.  When an animal
  wants to have sex, it shows its "love," but after having experienced
  sex, it just forgets about love.  For animals, sex is just an
  instinctive drive necessary for procreation.  But a human being has
  much more to offer in the concept of love.  Duties and
  responsibilities are important ingredients to maintain unity, harmony
  and understanding in a relationship between human beings.
    Sex is not the most important ingredient for happiness in a married
  life.  Those who have become slaves to sex would only ruin love and
  humanity in marriage.  Apart from that, a woman must cease to consider
  herself as the object of a man's lust.  The remedy is more in her hand
  than in a man's.  She must refuse to adorn herself simply to please a
  man, even if he is her husband. If she wants to be an equal partner
  with a man, she should dress so that her dignity is enhanced, and she
  does not become a sex symbol.  Marriage for the satisfaction of the
  sexual appetite is no marriage.  It is concupiscence. (Gandhi)
    Love may indeed be a product of sex, but the reverse is likewise
  true: sex is an expression of love.  In the ideally happy married
  life, both love and sex are inseparable.

  The Buddha's Explanation
  We can study the Buddha's teaching regarding the feelings that man and
  woman have for each other.  The Buddha says that he had never seen any
  object in this world which attracts man's attention more than the
  figure of a woman.  At the same time the main attraction for the woman
  is the figure of a man.  It means that by nature, woman and man give
  each other worldly pleasure.  They cannot gain happiness of this kind
  from any other object.  When we observe very carefully, we notice that
  among all the things which provide pleasure, there is no other object
  that can please all the five senses at the same time beside the male
  and female figures.
    The ancient Greeks knew this when they said that originally man and
  woman were one.  They were separated and the two parts that were
  divided are constantly seeking to be re-united as man and woman.

  Young people by nature like to indulge in worldly pleasures which can
  include both good and bad things.  Good things, like the enjoyment of
  music, poetry, dance, good food, dress and similar pursuits do no harm
  to the body.  They only distract us from seeing the fleeting nature
  and uncertainty of existence and thereby delay our being able to
  perceive the true nature of the self.
    The faculties and senses of young people are very fresh and alert;
  they are very keen to satisfy all the five senses.  Almost everyday,
  they plan and think out ways and means to experience some form of
  pleasure.  By the very nature of existence, one will never be
  completely satisfied with whatever pleasure one experiences and the
  resultant craving in turn only creates more anxieties and worries.
    When we think deeply about it, we can understand that life is
  nothing but a dream.  In the end, what do we gain from attachment to
  this life?  Only more worries, disappointments and frustrations.  We
  may have enjoyed brief moments of pleasure, but in the final analysis,
  we must try to find out what the real purpose of our lives is.
    When one ceases to crave for sensual pleasure and does not seek to
  find physical comfort in the company of others, the need for marriage
  does not arise.  Suffering and worldly enjoyment are both the outcome
  of craving, attachment and emotion.  If we try to control and suppress
  our emotions by adopting unrealistic tactics we create disturbances in
  our mind and in our physical body. Therefore we must know how to
  handle and control our human passion.  Without abusing or misusing
  this passion, we can tame our desires through proper understanding.
                                 * * *

                    3.  THE REALITY OF MARRIED LIFE

  John J. Robinson in his book "Of Suchness" gives the following advice
  on love, sex and married life.  "Be careful and discreet; it is much
  easier to get married than unmarried.  If you have the right mate,
  it's heavenly; but if not, you live in a twenty-four-hour daily hell
  that clings constantly to you, it can be one of the most bitter things
  in life.  Life is indeed strange.  Somehow, when you find the right
  one, you know it in your heart.  It is not just an infatuation of the
  moment.  But the powerful urges of sex drive a young person headlong
  into blind acts and one cannot trust his feelings too much.  This is
  especially true if one drinks and get befuddled; the most lousy slut
  in a dark bar can look like a Venus then, and her charms become
  irresistible.  Love is much more than sex though; it is the biological
  foundation between a man and a woman; love and sex get all
  inter-twined and mixed up."

  Almost everyday we hear people complaining about their marriages. Very
  seldom do we hear stories about a happy marriage.  Young people
  reading romantic novels and seeing romantic films often conclude that
  marriage is a bed of roses. Unfortunately, marriage is not as sweet as
  one thinks.  Marriage and problems are interrelated and people must
  remember that when they are getting married, they will have to face
  problems and responsibilities that they had never expected or
  experienced hitherto.
    People often think that it is a duty to get married and that
  marriage is a very important event in their lives. However, in order
  to ensure a successful marriage, a couple has to harmonize their lives
  by minimizing whatever differences they may have between them. Marital
  problems prompted a cynic to say that there can only be a peaceful
  married life if the marriage is between a blind wife and a deaf
  husband, for the blind wife cannot see the faults of the husband and a
  deaf husband cannot hear the nagging of his wife.

  Sharing and Trust
  One of the major causes of marital problems is suspicion and mistrust.
  Marriage is a blessing but many people make it a curse due to lack of
    Both husband and wife should show implicit trust for one another and
  try not to have secrets between them.  Secrets create suspicion,
  suspicion leads to jealously, jealousy generates anger, anger causes
  enmity and enmity may result in separation, suicide or even murder.
    If a couple can share pain and pleasure in their day-to-day life,
  they can console each other and minimize their grievances.  Thus, the
  wife or husband should not expect to experience only pleasure.  There
  will be a lot of painful, miserable experiences that they will have to
  face.  They must have the strong will power to reduce their burdens
  and misunderstandings.  Discussing mutual problems will give them
  confidence to live together with better understanding.
    Man and woman need the comfort of each other when facing problems
  and difficulties.  The feelings of insecurity and unrest will
  disappear and life will be more meaningful, happy and interesting if
  there is someone who is willing to share another's burden.

  Blinded by Emotions
  When two people are in love, they tend to show only the best aspects
  of their nature and character to each other in order to project a good
  impression of themselves.  Love is said to be blind and hence people
  in love tend to become completely oblivious of the darker side of each
  other's natures.
    In practice, each will try to highlight his or her sterling
  qualities to the other, and being so engrossed in love, they tend to
  accept each other at "face value" only.  Each lover will not disclose
  the darker side of his or her nature for fear of losing the other. Any
  personal shortcomings are discreetly swept under the carpet, so to
  speak, so as not to jeopardize their chances of winning each other.
  People in love also tend to ignore their partner's faults thinking
  that they will be able to correct them after marriage, or that they
  can live with these faults, that "love will conquer all."
    However, after marriage, as the initial romantic mood wears off, the
  true nature of each other's character will be revealed. Then, much to
  the disappointment of both parties, the proverbial veil that had so
  far been concealing the innermost feelings of each partner is removed
  to expose the true nature of both partners.  It is then that
  disillusion sets in.

  Material Needs
  Love by itself does not subsist on fresh air and sunshine alone.  The
  present world is a materialistic world and in order to meet your
  material needs, proper financing and budgeting is essential.  Without
  it, no family can live comfortably.  Such a situation aptly bears out
  the saying that "when poverty knocks at the door, love flies through
  the window."  This does not mean that one must be rich to make a
  marriage work.  However, if one has the basic necessities of life
  provided through a secure job and careful planning, many unnecessary
  anxieties can be removed from a marriage.
    The discomfort of poverty can be averted if there is complete
  understanding between the couple.  Both partners must understand the
  value of contentment.  Both must treat all problems as "our problems"
  and share all the "ups" and "downs" in the true spirit of a
  long-standing life partnership.

  Pre-marriage Advice
  The Anguttara Nikaya contains some valuable advice which the Buddha
  gave to young girls prior to their marriage.  Realizing that there
  could be difficulties with the new in-laws, the girls were enjoined to
  give every respect to their mothers-in-law and fathers-in-law, serving
  them lovingly as their own parents.  They were expected to honor and
  respect their husband's relatives and friends, thus creating a
  congenial and happy atmosphere in their new homes.
    They were also advised to study and understand their husbands'
  natures, ascertain their activities, characters and temperaments, and
  to be useful and cooperative at all times in their new homes.  They
  should be polite, kind and watchful of their husbands' earnings and
  see to it that all household expenditures were properly administered.
  The advice given by the Buddha more than twenty five centuries ago is
  still valid even today.
                                 * * *


  In view of what has been said about "birth and suffering," some people
  have criticized Buddhism saying that is against married life.  They
  are wrong.  The Buddha never spoke against married life.  However, he
  pointed out all the problems, difficulties and worries that people
  would have to face when they take on the responsibility of marriage.
  Just because he warned one against problems in marriage does not mean
  that the Buddha condemned marriage.
    The act of marriage itself implies that a person is still more
  attached to the physical world and since our mental faculties are
  influenced by craving, attachment and human emotions, it is but
  natural that problems would arise.  This happens when we have to
  consider the need of others and to give in to what others need.

  Role of Religion
  A deep analysis of the nature of self is important to help us to
  understand the origin of our problems, worries, miseries and how to
  overcome them.  Here, religious advice is important for maintaining a
  tranquil life.  However, a man should not become a slave to any
  religion.  Man is not for religion, religion is for man.  That means
  man must know how to make use of religion for his betterment and for
  his happiness in a respectable way.  Simply by following certain
  religious vows, precepts or commandments with blind faith or by force,
  thinking that we are duty-bound to observe them will not develop
  proper understanding.
    One important aspect of Buddhism is that the Buddha did not impose
  any religious laws or commandments.  The Buddha was a unique teacher
  who had set out a number of disciplinary codes for us to uphold
  according to our way of life.  Those who follow the precepts observe
  them voluntarily but not as obligatory religious laws.  It is up to us
  to follow the advice through our own understanding and experience of
  what is good for us and for others.  Through trial and error, we will
  learn to follow the advice which will give us just peace and
    One should try to understand the nature of the worldly life. By
  knowing that you have to face problems, you will be able to strengthen
  your mind and be more prepared to face the problems that could arise
  if you get married.  Religion is important to help you overcome your
  problems.  Whatever you learned about religious principle when you were
  young can be adopted to avoid misunderstanding, disappointment and
  frustration.  At the same time, certain good qualities such as
  patience and understanding which we learned through religion are
  important assets to help us to lead a peaceful married life.
    Normally, it is due to a lack of mutual understanding that many
  married couples lead miserable lives.  The result of this is that
  their innocent children also have to suffer.  It is better to know how
  to handle your problems in order to lead a happy married life.
  Religion can help you to do this.
                                 * * *

                       5.  THE RELIGIOUS DILEMMA

  Individual Rights
  One of the causes of greatest concern among those who do not belong to
  the non-semitic religions is the problem of conversion before
  marriage. While Buddhists and Hindus never demand that a couple must
  belong to the same religion before a marriage can be solemnized, many
  others tend to take advantage of this tolerance.

    Marriage, contrary to what many romantic novels say, does not mean
  the total and absolute merging of two people to the extent that each
  loses his or her own identity. When a religion demands that both
  partners must have the same religious label, it denies the basic human
  right of an individual to believe what he or she wants. Societies
  throughout history have proved that "Unity in Diversity" is not only
  possible but desirable. Out of diversity comes greater respect and
  understanding. This should apply to marriage also. There are many
  living examples all over the world where the husband and wife maintain
  their own beliefs and yet are able to maintain their happy married
  life without confronting each other.
    Buddhists do not oppose the existence of other religions even within
  the same household.  Unfortunately this generous attitude has been 
  exploited by unscrupulous religionists who are out to gain converts by
  all means.
    Intelligent Buddhists must be aware of this stratagem. No self-
  respecting intelligent human being who really understands what he 
  believes according to his own conviction should give up his beliefs 
  merely to satisfy the man-made demands of another religion. Buddhists
  do not demand that their partners embrace Buddhism. Neither should
  they surrender their own beliefs.

  Post-marriage Blues
  When young people are in love, they are prepared to make many
  sacrifices so long as they can get married. But after a few years,
  when the real task of building a successful marriage begins, 
  frustrations begin to set in. When a partner who had given up his 
  deep-seated religious beliefs for "love" begins to regret having done 
  so, unnecessary misunderstandings arise. These provide added tensions
  at a period when there is boredom in a marriage. There will be
  quarrels. And normally, one of the main causes of these quarrels will 
  be the question of which religion the children should belong to.
    Therefore, it is most important for one to know that if there is a
  process of conversion involved, it must be based on true conviction
  and not mere convenience or compulsion. Buddhists maintain the freedom
  of the individual to choose. This principle should be respected by

  The Ceremony
  There is no specific Buddhist ritual or procedure to conduct a 
  marriage. Buddhism recognizes the traditions and cultures practiced by
  people in different countries. Hence, Buddhist religious ceremonies
  differ from one country to another.
    In general practice, a religious service for blessing and to give
  advice to the couple is customarily performed either in the temple or
  at home to give a greater significance to the marriage. Nowadays, in
  many countries, besides the blessing service, religious organizations 
  also have been given the authority to solemnize and register marriages
  together with the issuance of legal marriage certificates.
    By and large, the most important point is that the couple should be
  utterly sincere in their intention to cooperate with and understand
  each other not only during times of happiness but also whenever they
  face difficulties.
                                 * * *


  Sense of Insecurity
  In the past, there was no such thing as a legal registration of
  marriages. A man and woman mutually decided to accept each other as
  husband and wife and thereafter they lived together. Their marriage
  was carried out in the presence of the community, and separation was
  rare. The most Important thing was that they developed real love and
  respected their mutual responsibilities.
    A legal registration of marriage is important today to ensure
  security and to safeguard property and children. Due to the sense of 
  insecurity, a couple performs legal marriages to ensure that they are 
  legally bound not to neglect their duties and not to ill-treat each 
  other. Today, some couples even draw up a legal contract on what would
  happen to their property if they are divorced!
  Husband and Wife
  According to Buddhist teaching, in a marriage, the husband can expect
  the following qualities from his wife:
         -- love
         -- attentiveness
         -- family obligations
         -- faithfulness
         -- child-care
         -- thrift
         -- the provision of meals
         -- to calm him down when he is upset
         -- sweetness in everything
  In return, the wife's expectation from husband is:
          -- tenderness
          -- courtesy
          -- sociability
          -- security
          -- fairness 
          -- loyalty
          -- honesty
          -- good companionship
          -- moral support
    Apart from these emotional and sensual aspects, the couple will have
  to take care of day-to-day living conditions, family budget and social
  obligations. Thus, mutual consultations between the husband and wife
  on all family problems would help to create an atmosphere of trust and
  understanding in resolving whatever issues that may arise.

  The Buddha's Advice to a Couple
  I. The Wife
  In advising women about their role in married life, the Buddha
  appreciated that the peace and harmony of a home rested largely on a
  woman.  His advice was realistic and practical when he explained a
  good number of day-to-day characteristics which a woman should or
  should not cultivate. On diverse occasions, the Buddha counseled that
  a wife should:
     a) not harbor evil thoughts against her husband;
     b) not be cruel, harsh or domineering;
     c) not be spendthrift but should be economical and live within her
     d) guard and save her husband's hard-earned earnings and property;
     e) always be attentive and chaste in mind and action;
     f) be faithful and harbor no thought of any adulterous acts;
     g) be refined in speech and polite in action;
     h) be kind, industrious and hardworking;
     i) be thoughtful and compassionate towards her husband, and her
        attitude should equate that of a mother's love and concern for
        the protection of her only son;
     j) be modest and respectful;
     k) be cool, calm and understanding -- serving not only as a wife
        but also as a friend and advisor when the need arises.
    In the days of the Buddha, other religious teachers also spoke on
  the duties and obligations of a wife towards her husband -- stressing
  particularly on the duty of a wife bearing an off-spring for the
  husband, rendering faithful service and providing conjugal happiness.
    Some communities are very particular about having a son in the
  family. They believe that a son is necessary to perform their funeral
  rites so that their after-life will be a good one. The failure to get
  a son from the first wife, gives a man the liberty to have another
  wife in order to get a son. Buddhism does not support this belief.
    According to what the Buddha taught about the law of Karma, one is
  responsible for one's own action and its consequences. Whether a son
  or a daughter is born is determined not by a father or mother but the
  karma of the child. And the well-being of a father or grandfather does
  not depend upon the action of the son or grandson. Each is responsible 
  for his own actions. So, it is wrong for men to blame their wives or
  for a man to feel inadequate when a son is not born. Such Enlightened
  Teachings help to correct the views of many people and naturally
  reduce the anxiety of women who are unable to produce sons to perform
  the "rites of the ancestors."
    Although the duties of a wife towards the husband were laid down in
  the Confucian code of discipline, it did not stress the duties and
  obligations of the husband towards the wife. In the //Sigalovada
  Sutta//, however, the Buddha clearly mentioned the duties of a husband
  towards the wife and vice versa.
  II. The Husband
  The Buddha, in reply to a householder as to how a husband should
  minister to his wife declared that the husband should always honor and
  respect his wife, by being faithful to her, by giving her the
  requisite authority to manage domestic affairs and by giving her
  befitting ornaments. This advice, given over twenty five centuries
  ago, still stands good for today.
    Knowing the psychology of the man who tends to consider himself
  superior, the Buddha made a remarkable change and uplifted the status
  of a woman by a simple suggestion that a husband should honor and
  respect his wife. A husband should be faithful to his wife, which
  means that a husband should fulfill and maintain his marital
  obligations to his wife thus sustaining the confidence in the marital
  relationship in every sense of the word. The husband, being a
  bread-winner, would invariably stay away from home, hence he should
  entrust the domestic or household duties to the wife who should be
  considered as the keeper and the distributor of the property and the
  home economic-administrator. The provision of befitting ornaments to
  the wife should be symbolic of the husband's love, care and attention
  showered on the wife. This symbolic practice has been carried out from
  time immemorial in Buddhist communities. Unfortunately it is in danger
  of dying out because of the influence of modern civilization.
  The Past
  In the past, since the social structure of most communities was 
  different from that we find today, a husband and wife were 
  interdependent on each other.  There was mutual understanding, and the
  relationship was stable because each knew exactly what his or her role
  was in the partnership. The "love" that some husbands and wives try to
  show others by embracing each other in public does not necessarily
  indicate true love or understanding. In the past, although married
  couples did not express their love or inner feeling publicly, they had
  a deep even unspoken understanding and mutual respect for each other.
    The ancient customs which people had in certain countries that the
  wife must sacrifice her life after her husband's death and also the
  custom which prevents a widow from remarrying is foreign to Buddhism.
  Buddhism does not regard a wife as being inferior to a husband.

  Modern Society
  Some women feel that for them to concentrate on the upbringing of the
  family is degrading and conservative. It is true that in the past
  women had been treated very badly, but this was due more to the 
  ignorance on the part of men than the inherent weakness in the concept
  of depending on women to bring up children.
    Women have been struggling for ages to gain equality with men in the
  field of education, the professions, politics and other avenues. They
  are now at par with men to a great extent. The male generally tends to
  be aggressive by nature and the female more emotional.  In the
  domestic scene, particularly in the East, the male is more dominant as
  head of the family whilst the female tends to remain as passive
  partner. Please remember, "passive" here does not mean "weak." Rather
  it is a positive quality of "softness" and "gentleness." If man and
  woman maintain their masculine and feminine qualities inherited from
  nature and recognize their respective strengths, then, that attitude
  can contribute towards a congenial mutual understanding between the
    Gandhi's remarks:
        "I believe in the proper education of woman. But I do believe
         that woman will not make her contribution to the world by
         mimicking or running a race with man. She can run the race, but
         she will not rise to the great heights she is capable of by
         mimicking man. She has to be the complement of man."

  Parental Responsibilities
  The basis of all human society is the intricate relationship between
  parent and child. A mother's duty is to love, care and protect the
  child, even at extreme cost. This is the self-sacrificing love that
  the Buddha taught. It is practical, caring and generous and it is
  selfless. Buddhists are taught that parents should care for the child
  as the earth cares for all the plants and creatures.
    Parents are responsible for the well-being and up-bringing of their
  children. If the child grows up to be a strong, healthy and useful
  citizen, it is the result of parents' efforts. If the child grows up
  to be a delinquent, parents must bear the responsibility. One must not
  blame others or society if children go astray. It is the duty of
  parent to guide children on the proper path.
    A child, at its most impressionable age, needs the tender love, care
  and attention of parents. Without parental love and guidance, a child
  will be handicapped and will find the world a bewildering place to
  live in. However, showering parental love, care and attention does not
  mean pandering to all the demands of the child, reasonable or
  otherwise. Too much pampering would spoil the child. The mother, in
  bestowing her love and care, should also be strict and firm in
  handling the tantrums of a child. Being strict and firm does not mean
  being harsh to the child. Show your love, but temper it with a
  disciplined hand -- the child will understand.
    Unfortunately, amongst present-day parents, parental love is sadly
  lacking. The mad rush for material advancement, the liberation
  movements and the aspiration for equality have resulted in many
  mothers joining their husbands, spending their working hours in
  offices and shops, rather than remaining at home tending to their
  off-spring. The children, left to the care of relations or paid
  servants, are bewildered on being denied tender motherly love and 
  care. The mother, feeling guilty about her lack of attention, tries to 
  placate the child by giving in to all sorts of demands from the child. 
  Such an action spoils the child. Providing the child with all sorts of 
  modern toys such as tanks, machine guns, pistols, swords and such like
  equipment as an appeasement is not psychologically good.
    Loading a child with such toys is no substitute for a mother's
  tender love and affections. Devoid of parental affection and guidance,
  it will not be surprising if the child subsequently grows up to be a
  delinquent. Then, who is to be blamed for bringing up a wayward child?
  The parents of course! The working mother, especially after a hard
  day's work in an office to be followed by household chores, can hardly
  find time for the child that is yearning for her care and attention.

    Parents who have no time for their children should not complain when
  these same children have no time for them when they are old. Parents
  who claim that they spend a lot of money on their children but are too
  busy should not complain when their "busy" children in turn leave them
  in expensive Homes for the Aged!
    Most women work today so that the family can enjoy more material
  benefits. They should seriously consider Gandhi's advice for men to
  seek freedom from greed rather than freedom from need. Of course,
  given today's economic set-up we cannot deny that some mothers are
  forced to work. In such a case, the father and mother must make extra
  sacrifices of their time to compensate for what their children miss
  when they are away.  If both parents spend their non-working hours at
  home with their children, there will be greater understanding between
  parents and children.
    In his discourses, the Buddha has listed certain primary duties and
  functions as essential guidelines for parents to observe. One of the
  primary guidelines is, by precept, practice and action, to lead the
  children away from things that are evil and through gentle persuasion,
  to guide them to do all that is good for the family, for society and
  for the country. In this connection, parents would have to exercise
  great care in dealing with their children. It is not what the parents
  profess but what they really are and do, that the child absorbs
  unconsciously and lovingly.  The child's entry to the world is molded by
  emulating parental behavior.  It follows that good begets good and
  evil begets evil. Parents who spend much time with their children will
  subtly transmit their characteristics to their offspring.
  Duties of Parents
  It is the duty of parents to see to the welfare of their children. In
  fact the dutiful and loving parents shoulder the responsibilities with
  pleasure. To lead children on the right path, parents should first set 
  the example and lead ideal lives. It is almost impossible to expect 
  worthy children from unworthy parents. Apart from the Karmic 
  tendencies children inherit from previous births, they invariably
  inherit the defects and virtues of parents too. Responsible parents
  should take every precaution not to transmit undesirable tendencies to
  their progeny.
    According to the //Sigalovada Sutta//, there are five duties that
  should be performed by parents:
  1. The first duty is to dissuade children from evil
  Home is the first school, and parents are the first teachers. Children
  usually take elementary lessons in good and evil from their parents.
  Careless parents directly or indirectly impart an elementary knowledge
  of lying, cheating, dishonesty, slandering, revenge, shamelessness and
  fearlessness for evil and immoral activities to their children during
  childhood days.
    Parents should show exemplary conduct and should not transmit such
  vices into their children's impressionable minds.

  2. The second duty is to persuade them to do good
  Parents are the teachers at home; teachers are the parents in school.
  Both parents and teachers are responsible for the future well- being
  of the children, who become what they are made into. They are, and
  they will be, what the adults are. They sit at the feet of the adults
  during their impressionable age. They imbibe what they impart. They 
  follow in their footsteps. They are influenced by their thoughts,
  words and deeds. As such it is the duty of the parents to create the
  most congenial atmosphere both at home and in the school.
    Simplicity, obedience, co-operation, unity, courage, self-sacrifice,
  honesty, straightforwardness, service, self-reliance, kindness,
  thrift, contentment, good manners, religious zeal and other kindred
  virtues should be inculcated in their juvenile minds by degrees. Seeds
  so planted will eventually grow into fruit-laden trees.

  3. The third duty is to give the children a good education
  A decent education is the best legacy that parents can bequeath to 
  their children. A more valuable treasure there is not. It is the best 
  blessing that parents could confer on their children.
    Education should be imparted to them, preferably from youth, in a
  religious atmosphere. This has far-reaching effects on their lives.

  4. The fourth duty is to see that they are married to suitable
  Marriage is a solemn act that pertains to the whole lifetime; this
  union should be one that cannot be dissolved easily. Hence, marriage
  has to be viewed from every angle and in all its aspects to the
  satisfaction of all parties before the wedding.
    According to Buddhist culture, duty supersedes rights. Let both
  parties be not adamant, but use their wise discretion and come to an
  amicable settlement. Otherwise, there will be mutual cursing and other
  repercussions. More often than not the infection is transmitted to
  progeny as well.

  5. The last duty is to hand over to them, at the proper time, their
  Parents not only love and tend their children as long as they are
  still in their custody, but also make preparations for their future
  comfort and happiness. They hoard up treasures at personal discomfort
  and ungrudgingly give them as a legacy to their children.

  The Religion of Compassion
  Buddhism is the religion of compassion, and the parents should never 
  forget to present it to the children as such. The Buddha taught the 
  Dhamma out of compassion for the world. Parents should practice the 
  "Four Sublime States of Mind" taught by the Buddha in raising their 
  children. They are:
      Metta   -- loving kindness or goodwill
      Karuna  -- compassion
      Mudita  -- sympathetic joy
      Upekkha -- equanimity or "even-mindedness"
  These four states, well practiced will help parents remain calm 
  throughout the difficult period of child-rearing.
    This is the right or ideal way of conduct towards living beings.
  These four attitudes of mind provide the framework for all situations 
  arising from social contact. They are the great removers of tension,
  the great peacemakers in social conflict, the great healers of wounds
  suffered in the struggle for existence; levelers of social barriers,
  builders of harmonious communities, awakeners of slumbering
  magnanimity long forgotten, revivers of joy and hope long abandoned,
  promoters of human brotherhood against the forces of egotism.
    Perhaps the greatest challenge that a married couple has to face is
  the proper upbringing of a child. This is another aspect which 
  distinguishes us from animals. While an animal does care for its 
  offspring with great devotion, a human parent has a greater
  responsibility, which is the nurturing of the mind. The Buddha has
  said that the greatest challenge a man faces is to tame the mind. Ever
  since a child is born, from infancy through adolescence to maturity, a
  parent is primarily responsible for the development of a child's mind.
  Whether a person becomes a useful citizen or not depends mainly on the
  extent to which its mind has been developed. In Buddhism, a good
  parent can practice four great virtues to sustain him or her and to
  overcome the great frustrations which are so closely related with
    When a child is yet a toddler, unable to express its needs, it is
  quite prone to indulge in tantrums and crying. A parent who practices 
  the first virtue of loving kindness can maintain peace within herself
  or himself to continue to love the child while it is being so
  difficult. A child who enjoys the effects of this loving kindness will
  himself learn to radiate it spontaneously.
    As the child becomes more mature as an adolescent, parents should
  practice //karuna// or Compassion towards him.  Adolescence is a very
  difficult time for children. They are coming to terms with adulthood
  and therefore are rebellious, with a great deal of their anger and
  frustrations directed at their parents. With the practice of
  Compassion, parents will understand that this rebelliousness is a
  natural part of growing up and that children do not mean to hurt their
  parents willfully. A child who has enjoyed loving kindness and
  compassion will himself become a better person. Having not had hate
  directed at him, he will only radiate love and compassion towards
    Just before he becomes an adult, a child will probably meet with
  some success in examinations and other activities outside the home. 
  This is the time for parents to practice sympathetic joy. Too many 
  parents in modern society use their children to compete with their 
  associates. They want their children to do well for selfish reasons;
  it is all because they want others to think well of them. By
  practicing sympathetic joy, a parent will rejoice in the success and
  happiness of his or her child with no ulterior motive. He is happy
  simply because his child is happy! A child who has been exposed to the
  effects of sympathetic joy will himself become a person who does not
  envy others and who is not overly competitive. Such a person will have
  no room in his heart for selfishness, greed or hatred.
    When a child has reached adulthood and has a career and family of
  his own, his parents should practice the last great virtue of
  equanimity (//upekkha//). This is one of the most difficult things for
  Asian parents to practice. It is hard for them to allow their children
  to become independent in their own right. When parents practice
  equanimity, they will not interfere with the affairs of their children
  and not be selfish in demanding more time and attention than the
  children can give. Young adults in the modern society have many
  problems. An understanding parent of a young couple should not impose
  extra burdens by making unnecessary demands on them.  Most
  importantly, elderly parents should try not to make their married
  children feel guilty by making them feel that they have neglected
  their filial obligations. If parents practice equanimity they will
  remain serene in their old age and thereby earn the respect of the
  younger generation.
    When parents practice these four virtues towards their children, the
  children will respond favorably and a pleasant atmosphere will prevail
  at home. A home where there is loving kindness, compassion,
  sympathetic joy and equanimity will be a happy home. Children who grow
  up under such an environment will grow up to be understanding,
  compassionate, willing workers and considerate employers. This is the
  greatest legacy any parent can give to his child.
  Parents in Modern Society
  One of the saddest things about modern society is the lack of parental 
  love which children in highly industrialized countries suffer from.
  When a couple gets married, they usually plan to have a number of
  children. And once the child is born, parents are morally obliged to
  care for him to the best of their ability.  Parents are responsible to
  see that a child is not only satisfied materially; the spiritual and
  psychological aspects are very important too.

    The provision of material comfort is of secondary importance when
  compared to the provision of parental love and attention. We know of
  many parents from the not-so-well-to-do families who have brought up
  their children well and with plenty of love. On the other hand, many
  rich families have provided every material comfort for their children
  but have deprived them of parental love. Such children will just grow
  up devoid of any psychological and moral development.

    A mother should consider carefully whether she should continue to
  be a working mother of a housewife giving all the affection and care
  for the well-being of her child. (Strangely, some modern mothers are
  also being trained to handle guns and other deadly equipments when
  they should be cuddling their children and training them to be good
  and law-abiding citizens.)

    The modern trend and attitude of working mothers towards their
  children also tends to erode the time-honored filial piety which
  children are expected to shower on their parents. The replacement of
  breast-feeding by bottle feeding could also be another factor which
  has contributed to the erosion of the affection between mother and
  child. When mothers breast-feed and cuddle babies in their arms, the
  tender affection between mother and child is much greater and the
  influence the mother had on the child for its well-being, is much more
  pronounced. Under such circumstances, filial piety, family cohesion
  and obedience are invariably present. These traditional traits are for
  the good and well-being of the child. It is up to the parents,
  especially the mother, to provide them. The mother is responsible for
  the child's being good or wayward. Mothers can reduce delinquency!

  Parental Control
  Many parents try to keep their married children under their control.
  They do not give due freedom to them and tend to interfere with a
  young married couple's life. When parents try to control their married
  son or married daughter and want them to follow their way of life
  strictly, this will create a lot of misunderstanding between the two
  generations as well as unhappiness between the couple. Parents may be
  doing it in good faith due to love and attachment towards the
  children, but in so doing, they are inviting more problems to 
  themselves and to the children.
    Parents must allow their children to shoulder the responsibilities
  of their own lives and families. For example: if some seeds are
  dropped under a tree, plants might grow after sometime. But if you
  want those plants to grow healthy and independent you must transplant
  them to open ground somewhere else to grow separately, so that they
  are not hampered by the shade of the parent tree.
    Parents should not neglect the ancient wisdom based on advice given
  by religious teachers, wise people and elders who have developed a 
  knowledge of the world through their own trial and errors.

  Divorce is a controversial issue among the followers of different
  religions. Some people believe that marriage is already recorded in
  heaven, thus it is not right to grant a divorce. But, if a husband and
  wife really cannot live together, instead of leading a miserable life
  and harboring more jealousy, anger and hatred, they should have the
  liberty to separate and live peacefully

  Responsibility Towards the Children
  However, the separation of the couple must be done in an atmosphere of
  understanding by adopting reasonable solutions and not by creating
  more hatred. If a couple has children, they should try to make the
  divorce less traumatic for the children and help them to adjust to the
  new situation. And it is most important to ensure that their future
  and welfare will be taken. care of. It is an inhuman attitude if the
  couple desert their children and allow them to lead a miserable life.

  The Buddhist View
  In Buddhism, there is no law stating that a husband and wife should
  not be separated if they cannot live together harmoniously. But, if
  people follow the advice given by the Buddha to fulfill their duties
  towards each other, then, such unfortunate occurrences like divorce or
  separation will never happen in the first place.
    In the past, where religious values were highly respected, there
  were greater efforts on the part of married couples -- in the east as
  well as in west -- to reach an amicable understanding to develop happy
  relationships based on respect, love, and regard for one another. 
  Couples developed and made their marriages an important feature which
  they cherished in their hearts. Divorce cases were very rare, and were
  considered a disgrace because they indicated the selfishness of one
  party or the other.
    It is a fact that until recently divorce cases were still rather
  rare in Buddhist countries. This is mainly because couples considered
  their duties and obligations towards each other, and also basically
  divorce is not approved by the community as a whole. In many cases,
  when married couples were in trouble, the community elders usually
  rallied round and played an important role to improve the situation.
    Unfortunately, in the modern society of today, divorce has become
  such a common practice. In certain countries it has even become
  fashionable. Instead of regarding divorce as shameful or a failure to
  order their lives, some young couples seem to be proud of it. The main
  cause of the failure in marriage in modern society is the abuse of
  freedom and too much independence and individualism on the part of the
  partners. There must be a limit to their independent lives, or else
  both husband and wife will go astray very easily.
                                 * * *

                        7. POLYGAMY OR MONOGAMY
  To the question of whether Buddhists can keep more than one wife, the
  direct answer is not available in the Buddha's teaching, because as
  mentioned earlier, the Buddha did not lay down any religious laws with
  regard to married life although he has given valuable advice on how to
  lead a respectable married life.
    Tradition, culture and the way of life as recognized by the majority
  of a particular country must also be considered when we practice
  certain things pertaining to our lives. Some religions say that a man
  can have only one wife whilst others say a man can have more than one
    Although the Buddha did not mention anything regarding the number of
  wives a man could have, he explicitly mentioned in His discourses that
  should a married man go to another woman out of wedlock, that could
  become the cause of his own downfall and he would have to face
  numerous other problems and disturbances.
    The Buddha's way of teaching is just to explain the situation and
  the consequences. People can think for themselves as to why certain
  things are good and certain things are bad. The Buddha did not lay
  down rules about how many wives a man should or should not have which
  people are forced to follow. However, if the laws of a country
  stipulate that marriages must be monogamous, then such laws must be
  complied with, because the Buddha was explicit about His followers
  respecting the laws of a country, if those laws were beneficial to
                                 * * *

                           8.  NEW TECHNOLOGY
  Family Planning
  Some religions are not in favor of family planning. They say it is
  against the will of God. Buddhism does not interfere in this personal
  choice. Man is at liberty to follow any method in order to prevent 
  conception. According to Buddhism, certain physical and mental 
  conditions must be present for conception to take place. When any one
  of these conditions is absent (as when family planning is being
  practiced), no conception takes place, therefore a life does not come 
  into being. But after conception, abortion is NOT acceptable in 
  Buddhism because it means taking away a life that is already present 
  in the form of fetus.

  Test-tube Babies
  Some people are interested in the moral implication or religious 
  attitude with regard to test-tube babies. If a woman is unable to 
  conceive a baby in the normal way, and if she is anxious to have a 
  baby by adopting modern medical methods, there is no ground in 
  Buddhism to say that it is either immoral or irreligious. Religions 
  must give due credit to man's intelligence and to accommodate new 
  medical discoveries if they are harmless and beneficial to mankind. As
  was mentioned earlier, so long as the conditions are right, conception
  can be allowed to take place, naturally or artificially.
                                 * * *

                              9.  MORALITY
  Premarital Sex
  Premarital sex is a problem which is much discussed in modern society.
  Many young people would like to know the opinion regarding this
  sensitive issue. Some religionists say it can be considered as
  committing adultery, while others say it is immoral and unjustifiable.
    In the past, young boys and girls were not allowed by their parents
  to move around freely until they were married. Their marriages were
  also arranged and organized by the parents.  Of course, this did cause
  unhappiness in some cases when parents chose partners on the basis of
  money, social status, family obligations and related issues. But
  generally, the majority of parents did try very hard to choose
  partners who would be acceptable to their children.
    Today, young people are at the liberty to go out and find their own
  partners. They have a lot of freedom and independence in their lives.
  This is not a bad thing in itself, but some of these people are just
  too young and too immature to see the difference between sexual 
  attraction and true compatibility. That is why the problem of pre-
  marital sex arises.
    Too much laxity in matters concerning sex has also given rise to
  social problems in modern society. The sad part is that some societies
  do not express liberal attitudes towards unmarried mothers,
  illegitimate children and the divorcees while they are quite liberal
  about free sex. As a result, young people are being punished by the
  same society which encourages free mixing of the sexes. They become
  social outcasts and suffer much shame and humiliation. Many young
  girls have become victims of their own freedom and have ruined their
  future by violating age-old traditions which were valued in the east
  as well as in the west.
    Pre-marital sex is a modern development which has come about as a
  result of excessive social freedom prevalent amongst present day young
  people. Whilst Buddhism holds no strong views either for or against
  such action, it is thought that all Buddhists, particularly people of
  both sexes in love and contemplating marriage, should adhere to the
  age-old traditional concept that they maintain chastity until the
  nuptial date. The human mind is unstable and forever changing, with
  the result that any illicit action or indiscretion may cause undue
  harm to either party if the legal marriage does not take place as
  expected. It must be remembered that any form of sexual indulgence
  before a proper marriage is solemnized will be looked down upon by the
  elders who are the guardians of the young people.
  Sexual Misconduct
  Laymen are advised in the Buddha's Teaching to avoid sexual 
  misconduct. That means, if one wants to experience sex, he must do so 
  without creating any violence or by using any kind of force, threat or 
  causing fear. A decent sex life which respects the other partner is
  not against this religion; it accepts the fact that it is a necessity
  for those who are not yet ready to renounce the worldly life.
    According to Buddhism, those who are involved in extra-marital sex
  with someone who is already married, who has been betrothed to someone
  else, and also with those who are under the protection of their
  parents or guardians are said to be guilty of sexual misconduct,
  because there is a rupture of social norms, where a third party is
  being made to suffer as a result of the selfishness of one or the
  other partner.

  Irresponsible Sexual Behavior
  The Buddha also mentioned the consequences that an elderly man would
  have to face if he married without considering the compatibility of
  age of the other party. According to the Buddha, irresponsible sexual 
  behavior can become the cause of one's downfall in many aspects of
    All the nations of the world have clearly defined laws concerning
  the abuse of sex. Here again, Buddhism advocates that a person must 
  respect and obey the law of the country if the laws are made for the 
  common good.
                                 * * *

                       10.  THE EAST AND THE WEST
  The following are extracts from a book by the celebrated Japanese
  author, Dr. Nikkyo Niwano. In his book "The Richer Life," Dr. Niwano
  deals with matters relating to love and marriage, both from the
  Eastern and Western points of view.
        "In the West, marriage on the basis of romantic love has often
        been considered natural and sometimes ideal. In Asia, in recent
        years, the number of young people who abandon the traditional
        arranged marriage and select partners out of romantic
        consideration has been growing. But in some cases, romantic
        marriages lead to separation and unhappiness within a short
        time, whereas the arranged marriage often produces a couple who
        live and work together in contentment and happiness.
          In spite of its emotional appeal, all romantic marriages
        cannot be called unqualified successes. Romantic love is like
        the bright flame of a wood-fire that leaps up and burns clear,
        but lasts only a short time. Love between man and wife burns
        quietly and slowly like the warming fire of burning coal. Of
        course, bright flaming Love can -- and ideally ought to --
        eventually become the calm, enduring fire of mature affection.
        But too often the flame of romantic love is quickly
        extinguished, leaving nothing but ashes, which are a poor
        foundation for a successful married life!"

        "Young people in love think of nothing but their emotions. They
        see themselves only in the light of the feeling of the moment.
        Everything they think and do is romantic and has little bearing
        on the practical affairs of the life they must lead after
        marriage. If the lovers are fortunate enough to have compatible
        personalities, to have sound and similar ideas about life, to
        share interests, to enjoy harmonious family relations on both
        sides and to be financially secure even after the first passion
        has calmed down, they will still have a basis for a good life
        together. If they are not so blessed, they may face marital

        "When the time of dates, emotional pictures, dances, and parties
        has passed, the young married couples will have to live together,
        share meals, and reveal to each other their defects as well as
        their merits. They will have to spend more than half of their
        life each day together; this kind of living makes demands that
        are different from the less exacting needs of dating and first

        "Family relations become very important in married life. It is
        necessary to think about the personalities of the mother and
        father of the prospective marriage partner. Young people
        sometimes think that the strength of their love will enable them
        to get along well with the most quarrelsome, difficult in-laws;
        but this is not always true. In short, romance is a matter of a
        limited time and does not become rooted in actualities and must
        be regulated to conform to the needs of work and environment in
        order to bind the couple together in lasting devotion. The two
        kinds of love are different. To mistake one for the other
        invites grave trouble."

        "Giving serious, dispassionate thought to the nature of the
        person one contemplates marrying, lessens the likelihood of
        failure. To prevent romance from vanishing after marriage,
        mutual understanding between the couple is indispensable. But
        the percentage of successful marriages is higher among young
        people whose choice of a partner agrees with the opinions of
        their parents. To live peacefully, it is necessary to realize
        the difference between romance and married love."
                                 * * *

                             11.  CELIBACY
  What is Celibacy?
  Celibacy is refraining from the pleasure of sexual activity. Some
  critics of Buddhism say that The Teaching goes against Nature and they
  claim that sex life is natural and therefore necessary.
  Buddhism is not against sex, it is a natural sensual pleasure and very
  much a part of the worldly life. One may ask, why then did the Buddha
  advocate celibacy as a precept? Is it not unfair and against Nature?
  Well, the observance of celibacy for spiritual development was not a
  new religious precept at the time of the Buddha. All the other
  existing religions in India at that time also had introduced this
  practice. Even today, some other religionists, like the Hindus and
  Catholics do observe this as a vow.
  Buddhists who have renounced the worldly life voluntarily observe this
  precept because they are fully aware of the commitments and
  disturbances which come along if one commits oneself to the life of a
  family person. The married life can affect or curtail spiritual
  development when craving for sex and attachment occupies the mind and
  temptation eclipses the peace and purity of the mind.

  Significance of Celibacy
  People tend to ask, "If the Buddha did not preach against married
  life, why then did He advocate celibacy as one of the important
  precepts to be observed and why did He advise people to avoid sex and
  renounce the worldly life?"
    One must remember that renunciation is not compulsory in Buddhism.
  It is not obligatory to renounce the worldly life totally in order to
  practice Buddhism. You can adjust your way of life according to your
  understanding by practicing certain religious principles and
  qualities. You can develop your religious principles according to the
  needs of a lay life. However, when you have progressed and attained
  greater wisdom and realize that the layman's way of life is not
  conducive for the ultimate development of //spiritual values// and
  //purification of the mind//, you may choose to renounce the worldly
  life and concentrate more on spiritual development.
    The Buddha recommended celibacy because sex and marriage are not
  conducive to ultimate peace and purity of the mind, and renunciation
  is necessary if one wishes to gain spiritual development and
  perfection at the highest level. But this renunciation should come
  naturally, and must never be //forced//. Renunciation should come
  through a complete understanding of the illusory nature of the self,
  of the unsatisfactory nature of all sense pleasures.

  Celibacy versus Responsibility -- The Buddha's Experience
  The Buddha experienced his worldly life as a prince, husband and a
  father before his Renunciation and he knew what married life entailed.
  People may question the Buddha's renunciation by saying that he was
  selfish and cruel and that it was not fair for him to desert his wife
  and child. In actual fact, the Buddha did not desert his family
  without a sense of responsibility.
    He never had any misunderstanding with his wife. He too had the same
  love and attachment towards his wife and child as any normal man would
  have, perhaps even greater.  The difference was that his love was not
  mere physical and selfish love; he had the courage and understanding
  to detach that emotional and selfish love for a good cause.  His
  sacrifice is considered all the more noble because he set aside his
  personal needs and desires in order to //serve all of mankind for all
    The main aim of his renunciation was not only for his own happiness,
  peace or salvation but for the sake of //mankind//.  Had he remained
  in the royal palace, his service would have been confined to only his
  own family or his kingdom. That was why he decided to renounce
  everything m order to maintain peace and purity to gain Enlightenment
  and then to enlighten others who were suffering in ignorance.
    One of the Buddha's earliest tasks after gaining his Enlightenment
  was to return to his palace to enlighten the members of his family. In
  fact, when his young son, Rahula asked the Buddha for his inheritance,
  the Buddha said that Rahula was heir to the richest wealth, the
  treasure of the Dhamma. In this way, the Buddha served his family, and
  he paved the way for their salvation, peace and happiness. Therefore,
  no one can say that the Buddha was a cruel or selfish father. He was
  in fact more compassionate and self-sacrificing than anybody else.
  With his high degree of spiritual development, the Buddha knew that
  marriage was a temporary phase while Enlightenment was eternal and for
  the good of //all mankind//.
    Another important fact was that the Buddha knew that his wife and
  son would not starve in his absence. During the time of the Buddha it
  was considered quite normal and honorable for a young man to retire
  from the life of a householder. Other members of the family would
  willingly look after his dependents.  When he gained his
  enlightenment, he was able to give them something no other father 
  could give -- the freedom from slavery to attachment.

                                 * * *

                              12.  SUMMARY
  Marriage is a partnership of two individuals and this partnership is
  enriched and enhanced when it allows the personalities involved to
  grow.  Many marriages fail because one partner tries to "swallow"
  another or when one demands total freedom.  According to Buddhism,
  marriage means understanding and respecting each other's belief and
  privacy. A successful marriage is always a two-way path: "humpy,
  bumpy" -- it is difficult but it is always a mutual path.
    Young people in this country and elsewhere sometimes think that "old
  fashioned ideas" are not relevant to modern society. They should be
  reminded that there are some eternal truths which can never become
  out-of-date. What was true during the time of Buddha still remains
  true today.
    The so-called modern ideas we receive through the highly glamorous
  television programs do not represent the way most decent people in the
  west think or behave. There is a vast "silent majority" of decent
  couples who are as deeply religious and "conservative" about marriage
  as any Eastern couple. They do not behave in the manner that the mass
  media has portrayed them. Not all the people in the west run off to
  get a divorce or abortion after their first quarrel or dispute.
    Decent people all over the world are the same; they are unselfish
  and care deeply about those whom they love. They make enormous
  sacrifices and develop love and understanding to ensure happy and
  stable marriages. So, if you want to ape the west ape the "silent
  majority": they are no different from your decent neighbor who lives
  next door to you.
    Young people must also listen to their elders because their own
  understanding about married life is not mature. They should not make
  hasty conclusions regarding, marriages and divorces.  They must have a
  lot of patience, tolerance and mutual understanding. Otherwise, their
  life can become very miserable and problematic. //Patience, tolerance
  and understanding// are important disciplines to be observed and
  practiced by all people in marriage.
    A feeling of security and contentment comes from mutual
  understanding which is the SECRET of a HAPPY MARRIED LIFE.
                                 * * *

  In the Buddhist Jataka story -- Sonadanda, the Bodhisatta sings the
  virtues of a mother in the following strain:
        Kind, Pitiful, our refuge she that fed us at her breast. A
           mother is the way to heaven, and thee she loveth best.
        She nursed and fostered us with care; graced with good gifts is
        A mother is the way to heaven, and best she loveth thee.
        Craving a child in prayer she kneels each holy shrine before.
        The changing season closely scans and studies astral lore.
        Pregnant in course of time she feels her tender longings grow,
        And soon the unconscious babe begins a loving friend to know.
        Her treasure for a year or less she guards with utmost care,
        Then brings it forth and from that day a mother's name will
        With milky breast and lullaby she soothes the fretting child,
        Wrapped in his comforter's warm arms his woes are soon beguiled.
        Watching o'er him, poor innocent, lest wind or hear annoy,
        His fostering nurse she may be called, to cherish thus her boy.
        What gear his sire and mother have she hoards for him "May be,"
        She thinks, "Some day, my dearest child, it all may come to
        "Do this or that, my darling boy," the worried mother cries,
        And when he is grown to man's estate, she still laments and
        He goes in reckless mood to see a neighbor's wife at night,
        She fumes and frets, "Why will he not return while it is light?"
        If one thus reared with anxious pains his mother should neglect,
        Playing her false, what doom, I pray, but hell can he expect?
        Those that love wealth o'er much, 'tis said, their wealth will
           soon be lost
        One that neglects a mother soon will rue it to his cost.
        Those that love wealth o'er much, 'tis said, their wealth will
           soon be lost.
        One that neglects a father soon will rue it to his cost.
        Gifts, loving speech, kind offices together with the grace
        Of calm indifference of mind shown in time and place --
        These virtues to the world are as linchpin to chariot wheel.
        These lacking, still a mother's name to children would appeal.
        A mother like the sire should with reverent honor be crowned,
        Sages approve the man in whom those virtues may be found.
        Thus parents worthy of all praise, a high position own,
        By ancient sages Brahma called. So great was their renown.
        Kind parents from their children should receive all reverence due,
        He that is wise will honor them with service good and true.
        He should provide them food and drink, bedding and raiment meet,
        Should bathe them and anoint with oil and duly wash their feet.
        So filial services like these sages his praises sound
        Here in this world, and after death in heaven his joys bound.

                          -- Jataka translation Vol. V pp. 173, 174

                                 * * *


  1. Social and Moral Code
        The most important element of the Buddhist reform has always
        been its social and moral code. That moral code taken by itself
        is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known. On
        this point all testimonials from hostile and friendly quarters
        agree; philosophers there may have been, religious preachers,
        subtle metaphysicists, disputants there may have been, but where
        shall we find such an incarnation of love, love that knows no
        distinction of caste and creed or colour, a love that overflowed
        even the bounds of humanity, that embraced the whole of sentient
        beings in its sweep, a love that embodied as the gospel of
        universal "Maitri" and "Ahimsa."
                        -- Prof. Max Muller, A German Buddhist Scholar

  2. Morality is based on freedom
        Buddhist morality is based on freedom, i.e., on individual
        development. It is therefore relative.  In fact there cannot be
        any ethical principle if there is compulsion or determination
        from an agent outside ourselves.
                        -- Anagarika B. Govinda, A German Buddhist Scholar
  3. Knowledge and Morality
        In Buddhism there can be no real morality without knowledge, no
        real knowledge without morality; both are bound up together like
        heat and light in a flame. What constitutes "Bodhi" is not mere
        intellectual, enlightenment, but humanity. The consciousness of
        moral excellence is of the very essence of "Bodhi."
                        -- Bhikkhu Dhammapala, A Netherland Buddhist Scholar
                            * * * * * * * *

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