Having children - affect on practice

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Having children - affect on practice

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:31 pm

Dear Dhamma friends,

I would like to hear from those of you who have had children, the effect it had on your practice. We commonly hear about the problems it brings and hear about the positives as well. But rather than be theoretical or speculate, I want to know from those of you who have children, how it has affected your practice. I suspect it cannot be completely positive or negative. On the balance is it more negative than positive (for example 60% vs 40%) or vice versa?

with metta

RYB
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:42 pm

Hi RYB

Great question. For me personally, definitely very positive for my practice and my development as a practitioner. But I should also point out that spiritual development as a layperson bringing up children is a little bit different than if one were a layperson without children or a monastic. And that is because of the difficulty of maintaining one's practice in the face of constant and ever-changing adversities. Not that I am equating having children as adversity, but with kids comes the fact that one's available time to practice, study, attend retreats is somewhat diminished. Maintaining daily practice can involve creative ways to keep some time free for bhavana and pariyatti. Not only is there an available time to practice issue, but with kids comes an ever increasingly more complicated and complex daily life dealing with the minutae of providing for and looking after children and maintaining a relationship with children and spouse (and/or ex-spouse in many cases). So from time to time, I felt as though I had to 'dig deep' and bring to the fore some of those qualities that are mentioned in the Commentarial literature. Strong determination, renunciation, metta, dana, patience,tolerance & etc. Not only does one draw on those for support and strength, one actively develops them in daily life.
While it is difficult, I have found the experience of bringing up children and practicing Dhamma extraordinarily rewarding. And I feel privileged to having come into contact with such incredible (and admittedly at times incredibly hard) opportunities to grow.
I can't quantify the benefit of having kids has had on my practice. It's just different. What I do tell people is that lay-life is not second rate by any means.
I hope that's given you one perspective. And if you have any further questions, I'm only too happy to assist.
Metta

Ben
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:51 pm

Greetings,

I've never known a Buddhist practice without children, so it's hard to say. The biggest downside is, without a doubt, the difficulty in finding time to do meditation retreats. The biggest upside is probably the cultivation of brahma-viharas in daily life.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby fabianfred » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:27 am

Having children certainly brings more suffering into one's life. Of course there are good things too.... :anjali:
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:31 am

Having children and being a husband and the sole bread winner have definitely made finding time for the practice of formal sitting difficult. Nonetheless, its been doable since I've been willing to sleep less and readjust my expectations in terms of the results of formal meditation. Being a parent has helped me to cultivate many a good quality (oodles of khanti, karuna, viriya, and all the other paramis to boot) but I can understand why the Buddha recommended going forth.
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby AdvaitaJ » Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:03 am

RYB,

I'd like to offer a different perspective: My child was in her early twenties when I began my studies and practice. I deeply wish I had started before she was born. Improvement in the parent creates a direct improvement in the child's environment. The wisdom that I've obtained is wisdom I would have imparted to her. Even now, at this late stage in her development, I"m occasionally able to offer a key bit of dharmic wisdom that helps her through a tough spot. To the point, I think the way in which my Buddhist practice would have improved my child's life is a much more important consideration than how her existence would have made my practice more difficult. I am convinced that she would suffer less now if I were more knowledgable then.

:anjali: Jim

P.S. Don't let me give you the wrong idea, she had a very nice, stable home with way too many toys and gadgets. :tongue:
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Aug 07, 2010 2:15 am

Greetings Jim,

That reminded me of this, from the Itivuttaka...

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .irel.html

Mother and father are called
"Brahma," "early teachers"
And "worthy of veneration,"
Being compassionate towards
Their family of children.

Thus the wise should venerate them,
Pay them due honor,
Provide them with food and drink,
Give them clothing and a bed,
Anoint and bathe them
And also wash their feet.

When he performs such service
For his mother and his father,
They praise that wise person even here
And hereafter he rejoices in heaven

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby curiousgeorge » Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:10 am

Agreed - time constraints are one of the biggest drawbacks. Personal time is a premium. I'm thankful to have my parents provide all the help they are. There are many times when the lack of time leads to frustration- especially when young reticence that amplifies the problem.

My marriage provided far more frustration and bewilderment than I had imagined possible, although that is pretty well settled now that I have learned a few life lessons about it ... i.e. it doesn't matter how hard you push or how patiently you wait, you cannot cause another person to desire to change. Now that I've accepted that, my own practice is far better off than it was before. That lesson never would have been learned without a child involved, so I feel its all par of the package. Just this here makes children a huge plus, overall. A painful lesson, but one well learned and appreciated.

The frustrations etc also provide many opportunities for learning. Parents-as-teachers also applies. Teaching another is a great way to learn material one's self. Its one of the reasons I enjoy forums - I'm a think-talker and I sort things out for myself as I write.

Then there are the pleasures of parenthood. They can be awfully cute sometimes, and really sweet. At least, until they get to Jr High.
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Having children - affect on practice

Postby GrahamR » Sat Aug 07, 2010 8:52 am

Hello
We have two children aged 1 and nearly 4. They take up a lot of time, so meditation falls off. They are something we love and care about, so that leads to attachment and suffering.

On a positive side they do help us to consider our own beliefs and way of life. We enjoy taking them to the temple and make more friends with them than without.

Overall we all have the choice to be monastics or lay people. I enjoy my family even though it affects my practice, perhaps I will be able to take it more seriously as they grow older and need less care.
With metta :bow:
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby rowyourboat » Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:30 pm

Thanks for the responses everyone. I guess a lot depends on how established a person is in the practice, what areas that are needed to develop and his her or her kamma as well.

with metta

RYB
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby pariyatti » Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:10 pm

:rofl: "All through the day, I Me Mine, I Me Mine, I Me Mine. All through the night, I Me Mine, I Me Mine, I Me Mine." :rofl:

Kids teach you day to day the truth of Dukkha and the origin of Dukkha. 18 years gives you plenty of time to practice the Noble Eightfold Path as a living experience! :tongue:
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby Rui Sousa » Mon Aug 09, 2010 9:23 am

rowyourboat wrote:Dear Dhamma friends,

I would like to hear from those of you who have had children, the effect it had on your practice. We commonly hear about the problems it brings and hear about the positives as well. But rather than be theoretical or speculate, I want to know from those of you who have children, how it has affected your practice. I suspect it cannot be completely positive or negative. On the balance is it more negative than positive (for example 60% vs 40%) or vice versa?

with metta

RYB


Hi RYB,

I have a 3 years old son and to be honest I can't say that it has affected greatly my practice.

On the other hand I believe my practice has helped me being a better parent.
With Metta
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Re: Having children - affect on practice

Postby nyanasuci » Mon Aug 09, 2010 1:20 pm

I just came across this article http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/67024/
Bhikkhu Hiriko - Ñāṇasuci

The experts do not say that one is a sage in this world because of view, or learning, or knowledge, Nanda.
I call them sages who wander without association, without affliction, without desire.

The Buddha, Sn.V.8.2 (1078)


http://pathpress.org | http://nanavira.org | http://ajahnchah.org
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