Marriage or no marriage.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Marriage or no marriage.

Postby grasshopper » Sun May 09, 2010 5:19 am

Greetings folks,

I am a 29 year old guy, single and straight. I have been in love and in a relationship ages ago, that is no longer there now, so I want to have a clear mind regarding the above topic before I start and/or fall into a relationship again if at all.

Unfortunately I am in a situation where I can not ordain so the 'dao' - so to speak - is that I will have to be living the life of a lay man. If one is going to live a life as a lay man, do you think it is best to live it as a married person as opposed to an unmarried one? I definitely am spiritually inclined.

Just like all humans I too am a social animal so I'd like to have a family to come back home to after work. Spend weekends together etc etc. But I can also see what I think are 'aadinawa' of a marriage. Two individuals sharing stuff is going to create conflict at least in a few things because everyone has their own individuality. If children come alone the way, then hardly any time is left to spend on stuff I want to do you know etc etc. Childrens' issues, in-laws issues can become another headache. Also, I feel life is boring at the core but people tend to add layers on top of it by doing stuff and marriage is just another layer to mask it. If my partner dies then I am back to square one giving me a double whammy dukka as then I will have to bear the grief of the loss of my partner. And there are 101 other things that could go wrong in a marriage. Why should I knowingly put myself in such a risky situation?

But on the other hand, if u live a single life you have this truck load of time to do nothing and that can get really lonely. I have been on retreats so I know how fun and lonely it can get at the same time. If you are a monk then at least you have fellow monks and lay ppl to hang out with etc. Sure one can engage in social work in your free time but then it becomes horribly boring day in day out dont you think? I mean how much social work can you do as a lay person?

So all the married and unmarried ppl out there, what do you think? Or is this not a black or white question like most other things in life?

Thanks very much in advance :)
grasshopper
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 4:40 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby oceanmen » Sun May 09, 2010 5:51 am

marriage can give a spiritual booster to your life, at least the sexual needs(not desires) of the body are fulfilled,
and the time you spend meditating afterwards are much more powerful (thats my experience - before and after marriage)
not to mentioned how much skillful words and actions you can do within a marriage by relfecting on your disagreements should there be any
or by educating your kids about skillful and unskillful intentions, words and actions.
freedom is a state of mind - good luck with it and all the best
User avatar
oceanmen
 
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:45 am

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun May 09, 2010 5:55 am

neither one is inherently better, they both have their share of suffering, i would recommend just finding what is right for you, finding what causes you more suffering and what leads you out of that suffering. the four noble truths can be applied to pretty much any direction in life, this is stress this leads to stress this is the ending of stress this is the path to ending stress.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Ben » Sun May 09, 2010 5:56 am

Greetings grasshopper and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!

My advice to you is, and this is the advice of a married man with children, make best use of the opportunities in your current situation to practice Dhamma deeply. And don't worry about the future.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16069
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby grasshopper » Sun May 09, 2010 6:43 am

Oceanmen wrote:marriage can give a spiritual booster to your life, at least the sexual needs(not desires) of the body are fulfilled, and the time you spend meditating afterwards are much more powerful (thats my experience - before and after marriage)


Thank you :) I definitely agree with the fact that when once's sexual needs are fulfilled to a certain extent then it is easier to enter meditation. That has been my experience too 'cos I find myself concentrating easily soon after a masterbating session.

Ben wrote:Greetings grasshopper and welcome to Dhamma Wheel!

My advice to you is, and this is the advice of a married man with children, make best use of the opportunities in your current situation to practice Dhamma deeply. And don't worry about the future.
kind regards

Ben

Thanks Ben :) Mmmmmm u implying me to stay single and not marry? :tongue:
grasshopper
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 4:40 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Wind » Sun May 09, 2010 8:04 am

grasshopper wrote:
But on the other hand, if u live a single life you have this truck load of time to do nothing and that can get really lonely. I have been on retreats so I know how fun and lonely it can get at the same time. If you are a monk then at least you have fellow monks and lay ppl to hang out with etc. Sure one can engage in social work in your free time but then it becomes horribly boring day in day out dont you think? I mean how much social work can you do as a lay person?



I don't have this problem and I live quite a solitude life. I moved away from all my friends and family and have lost contact years ago. I enjoy the peace I get exploring the world by myself and I can always come up with fun things to do. I'm as they say very anti-social, although everyone who meets me get the opposite impression since I'm very friendly. I used to have a desire to have a family and be married. But I realize what I want in a spouse and how I want my kids to be is merely a fantasy that is unlikely to fit with reality. There is much burden and suffering that comes with raising a family. I see that in my friends who are married and divorced. Although there is much joy in having kids, there is also much joy in having no attachments. I live a very stress-free life because of that. I also view everyone around me as my own family so my need to have one of my own has been greatly diminished. If you believe in rebirth, it is said that it's hard to meet someone who hasn't been your brother or father or son at one point in time. With this in mind, I was able to let go of the desire to have an ideal family and put more of my effort into following the Noble Eightfold Path.
User avatar
Wind
 
Posts: 342
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:10 pm

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Ben » Sun May 09, 2010 11:13 am

grasshopper wrote:Thanks Ben :) Mmmmmm u implying me to stay single and not marry? :tongue:


No.
Take advantage of the opportunities you have in your current situation because your situation may change. You may or may not get married, you could get hit by a bus and be killed or end up in a state unable to practice. So, take advantage of the opportunities present in your current situation. As a single man your opportunities to practice Dhamma unencumbered by the responsibilities of wife and children is what you've got going for you. Take advantage of that and use your time well. As a married man with children you may not have as much time to spend in formal meditation or attend retreats. Having said that, there are opportunities to practice when you are a husband and father, and you can develop a very rich, robust and deep practice, but its a little different.
Remember also that life is fickle and can change, let alone end at any moment. Opportunities to practice Dhamma are extraordinarily rare.
Worrying about the future, however understandable, is a waste of time. And I think you know that.
So practice instead.
kind regards

Ben
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

- Hereclitus


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 16069
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Mukunda » Sun May 09, 2010 5:34 pm

oceanmen wrote:marriage can give a spiritual booster to your life, at least the sexual needs(not desires) of the body are fulfilled


I wasn't aware sex was a physical NEED like food or water. I've never heard of anyone dying or even being hospitalized from a deficiency of sexual intercourse. :shrug:
Mukunda
 
Posts: 295
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 1:54 am

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby oceanmen » Sun May 09, 2010 7:44 pm

Mukunda wrote:
oceanmen wrote:marriage can give a spiritual booster to your life, at least the sexual needs(not desires) of the body are fulfilled


I wasn't aware sex was a physical NEED like food or water. I've never heard of anyone dying or even being hospitalized from a deficiency of sexual intercourse. :shrug:



that depends on how you DEFINE need
User avatar
oceanmen
 
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:45 am

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Dhammakid » Sun May 09, 2010 9:13 pm

Sex is a need?

The definition of need is pretty straight-forward: necessary for survival. We can lie to ourselves all we want and justify fulfilling a desire by calling it a need, but the fact remains that, for the individual, sex is not necessary for survival, and therefore it is not a need.

Sex is the activity of samsara. It is the result of attachment to sense pleasure as well as an obvious representation of our craving for further becoming. The Buddha didn't command celibacy, nor did he discourage the laity from sex, but the Pali Canon is chock full of praises for the celibate, homeless life.

Keep in mind also that at a certain point in the path to liberation, one will develop a strong will to ordain.

Anjali,
Dhammakid
User avatar
Dhammakid
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:09 am
Location: Georgia, USA

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby oceanmen » Sun May 09, 2010 11:31 pm

Dhammakid wrote:Sex is a need?
The definition of need is pretty straight-forward: necessary for survival. We can lie to ourselves all we want and justify fulfilling a desire by calling it a need, but the fact remains that, for the individual, sex is not necessary for survival, and therefore it is not a need.


-according to your definition of NEED "sleep" is also not a need but a desire, correct? -

Sex is the activity of samsara. It is the result of attachment to sense pleasure as well as an obvious representation of our craving for further becoming. The Buddha didn't command celibacy, nor did he discourage the laity from sex, but the Pali Canon is chock full of praises for the celibate, homeless life.


what about wet dreams during puberty? does that not reflect the body's NEED to get rid of something? or is it desire?

Keep in mind also that at a certain point in the path to liberation, one will develop a strong will to ordain.


agreed
User avatar
oceanmen
 
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:45 am

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby grasshopper » Mon May 10, 2010 12:05 am

Mukunda wrote:
oceanmen wrote:marriage can give a spiritual booster to your life, at least the sexual needs(not desires) of the body are fulfilled


I wasn't aware sex was a physical NEED like food or water. I've never heard of anyone dying or even being hospitalized from a deficiency of sexual intercourse. :shrug:


A HUGE number of disrobings could be attributed to this need/desire! Even monks who have many years of training under their belt.

Keep in mind also that at a certain point in the path to liberation, one will develop a strong will to ordain.

But not everyone has the luxury to be a renunciate.
grasshopper
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 4:40 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon May 10, 2010 12:14 am

oceanmen wrote:
Dhammakid wrote:Sex is a need?
The definition of need is pretty straight-forward: necessary for survival. We can lie to ourselves all we want and justify fulfilling a desire by calling it a need, but the fact remains that, for the individual, sex is not necessary for survival, and therefore it is not a need.


-according to your definition of NEED "sleep" is also not a need but a desire, correct? -


um no, one will die w/o sleep, same as air or food/water those are pretty much the only needs one actually has. the human body needs sleep, food/water and oxygen, other needs depend on where you live but those don't include sex either, but rather clothing or shelter.

also on the topic of wet dreams, sex is not a solo act while wet dreams are an unconscious act. very different subjects, just because they deal with the same areas of the body doesn't mean they are interchangeable
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 10, 2010 1:00 am

Sex is not a NEED, nobody died from lack of sex.

As to whether you should marry, do you know someone you'd like to marry? would they like to marry you?

If not the answer is easy, plan your life on the assumption you'll be single but be willing to change you plans should something come up.

Thebiggest difference you'll find once you have a family is that it is very difficult to spend a lot of time on retreat, or even in formal practice at home, so make the most of the time you have now.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1924
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby plwk » Mon May 10, 2010 1:13 am

When one is single, one needs to plan for one's life.
When one is married, one needs to plan for a shared life.
Either way, it can be used as a form of skillful means to cultivate and advance in the Dhamma.
Either way, one's motivation and resolve in the Dhamma determines the direction of one's own/shared life and choices.

So whether married or single....
The Dhammapada
Wisdom never becomes perfect in one whose mind is not steadfast, who knows not the Good Teaching and whose faith wavers.
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
VSM VMM WBB TBHT WTBT My Page
plwk
 
Posts: 1141
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 5:14 am

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Anicca » Mon May 10, 2010 1:17 am

The Buddha praises dispassion and renunciation. His dhamma is for those comfortable with being alone - not those uncomfortable with being alone.

Should you marry? Gotama did in the same lifetime that he reached enlightenment. In my mind - you should only if it is a kammic requirement. How will you know? Do not seek it - if it finds you - you will not be able to resist - but try to resist anyway! When you know you can't - marry.

Enjoy what life offers. Be as monk-ish a layman as you can be. Practice - practice - practice. Find wise company to socialize.

May you have a long life empty of regret.
Anicca
 
Posts: 393
Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2010 4:11 am
Location: Edmond, Oklahoma

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby grasshopper » Mon May 10, 2010 1:41 am

Goofaholix wrote:As to whether you should marry, do you know someone you'd like to marry? would they like to marry you?


There is a girl - a couple of years younger to me - who is a very good friend of my mum and dad and my parents have known her for the last 5 years or so. They have become quite close to her and is fond of her and this girl has become close to my parents as well. I only got to know this girl very recently as I have been living away from home for the past 7 years or so. This girl's story unfortunately is a 'riches to rags' story and her father had died, her mum is living far far away and she and her other 2 siblings are all over the place and she essentially does not have a family. I can tell that deep down she is yearning for a family.

My friendship with her is very limited and I am not irresistably attracted to her but I can see that if I convert this into a relationship - for which there is room - this poor girl would once again enjoy the warmth of a loving family as she is already very close and fond of my parents and vice versa. I am an only child so I can not just drop everything and become a renunciate as I should be there to care for my parents as and when they get old. I see my parents and this girl becoming very happy if I marry this girl but I probably would suffer internally as I am not attracted to marriage as I see more drawbacks of marriage in general than its positives. But I cant leave home either as my going forth would take out the physical and financial care my parents would need later. They are doing fine now though.

Cheers,
grasshopper
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 4:40 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Goofaholix » Mon May 10, 2010 1:57 am

Being a renunciate does not prevent you looking after your parents in their old age, it can make living arrangements more complicated but it can be done.

Ajahn Viradhammo is a good example of a monk who has been looking after his mother for years.

Of course this doesn't do anything over their disappointment of not having grandchildren.

Looks like you might have a prospect worth looking into. For myself I realised that I probably would not be content as a monk unless I'd fully explored the possibility of having a married life, now it's too late.

I can't help but thinking that you are looking at all this back to front.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1924
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby grasshopper » Mon May 10, 2010 2:05 am

Goofaholix wrote:Being a renunciate does not prevent you looking after your parents in their old age, it can make living arrangements more complicated but it can be done.

Ajahn Viradhammo is a good example of a monk who has been looking after his mother for years.
Good on Ajahn V I say but he doesn't have to work to look after the financial side of things as he has other siblings etc.. But I am all alone in this game.

Goofaholix wrote:I can't help but thinking that you are looking at all this back to front.

could you pls. elaborate this part if you don't mind? Cheers.
grasshopper
 
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 4:40 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: Marriage or no marriage.

Postby Dhammakid » Mon May 10, 2010 3:45 am

I can't imagine how anyone would say that sleep is not a need. Sure, in the view of the Dhamma and the renunciate life, we probably don't need as much sleep as we currently get, but that doesn't mean we don't need sleep. Ariyans sleep. The Buddha slept. Without sleep, you will die. You need sleep.

Just as, in our practice, food is treated as a medicine for the illness of hunger, sleep is treated as a medicine for the illness of sleepiness. The patient should only take as much as needed.

Sex, on the other hand, is a sense pleasure. Attachment to sex comes from ignorance of the anicca characteristic of temporarily pleasurable phenomena. You don't need any amount of sex to survive in this lifetime. All the stress and tension released from sexual activity can be just as effectively released by other means, such as, oh I don't know, meditation.

"But not everyone has the luxury to be a renunciate."

I remember reading an article somewhere (can't remember the name or the author, sorry) stating that an Ariyan of any level will have already cultivated the good kamma to be born into a life situation favorable of the taking of robes. I have no proof or source, but if this is true, then that means my previous statement still stands: along the path to liberation, at some point one will ordain. I'm not saying one should take my word for it, but to me it makes sense: why would an Ariyan have any desire whatsoever to continue mundane lay life when they have tasted for themselves the freedom of renunciation?

I'm not dissing on lay life, but it's common knowledge among practitioners that ordaining is simply a better way to acheive the goal. This doesn't mean that all monastics are currently acheiving maximum benefit from the robes, because it definitely depends on the status of your practice. But there's no doubt that lay life presents many more obstacles to liberation than monasticism does. This is why the Blessed One spoke so highly of renunciation. He calls the Sangha the "incomparable field of merit for the world."

Again, no dogging on lay life, because I definitely enjoy the luxuries and privilege that goes along with being a householder (especially as a Westerner), but the challenges to my daily practice are too many to count. I yearn to one day take robes, even though I know it will probably never happen.

Just my thoughts.

:anjali:
Dhammakid
User avatar
Dhammakid
 
Posts: 366
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:09 am
Location: Georgia, USA

Next

Return to General Theravāda discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Yahoo [Bot] and 2 guests