Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:10 am

Firstly it needs to be said: I do not feel a 'Buddhist' baby naming or dedication ceremony makes any sense. I don't see there being any benefit.

My wife and I have been discussing some of the details about how we will raise our children. She isn't pregnant yet, were are just preparing for what will likely happen in the future. Despite not being a Christian, she wants our children to be Christened because she feels it is traditional. I have real reservations about it. The whole thing feel very false. She has said to me that if I can find a secular 'naming ceremony' or even a 'Buddhist' one she would be happy to go along with it. Does anyone know how I can compromise to keep with tradition but not be a hypocrite?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:26 am

Hi Mawk,
Is your wife a Christian? If not, why the insistence on a christening?
It seems a bit bizarre.
Empty ritual and all that stuff.
kind regards,

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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:35 am

Ben wrote:Is your wife a Christian?
Nope.
Ben wrote:If not, why the insistence on a christening? It seems a bit bizarre. Empty ritual and all that stuff.
I whole-heartedly agree. I could dig my heals in and refuse to comply, but that would just cause problems. For whatever reason, my wife wants the bizarre empty ritual. If I cannot come up with a secular or 'Buddhist' alternative, it will be a Christian ritual. Sorry this doesn't make much sense, it makes little sense to me too.
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:38 am

Greetings Mawkish,

Not quite a naming ceremony, but what about one of these?

Not Theravadin, but not quite "empty" either...

Blessingway
http://www.bellybelly.com.au/pregnancy/ ... lessingway

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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby imagemarie » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:40 am

Hi Mawk

Quite by accident, I attended a baby naming ceremony at a vihara which serves the Sri Lankan community in my home town. I had asked the resident monk if I could call by with some requisites.
When I arrived, a couple with their new baby were about to have the monks perform the ceremony. No one else was in attendance. I was delighted to be invited to sit in with them. The "service" included a reading, some chanting (I recognised the Metta Sutta) and the joining of all participants (including the baby), with thread.
It was quite brief and there was much smiling and a relaxed communal vibe.
I don't know if this helps Mawk, but I'm not big on rites and rituals. It was a very pleasant occasion.

:namaste:
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:43 am

No, that's ok.
I grew up in a staunch Catholic family. I have a distate for ritual for its own sake - or to give a respectable facade for an excuse to hit the grog.
Sometimes its best to pick your battles. And strategically concede defeat on issues which would only give you a Pyrrhic victory.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 11:59 am

retrofuturist wrote:Not quite a naming ceremony, but what about one of these?
Blessingway
Hmmm, interesting. I'm not sure if this would meet her needs though, she wants an opportunity to present the baby post-birth (she isn't even pregnant yet and we are not trying for a baby for a while!)
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:02 pm

imagemarie wrote:...a baby naming ceremony at a vihara which serves the Sri Lankan community in my home town
Oooh, thank you imagemarie, that sounds like the sort of thing she'd like. I'll have to investigate some Sri Lankan customs then.
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:05 pm

Ben wrote:I have a distate for ritual for its own sake - or to give a respectable facade for an excuse to hit the grog.
Absolutely. Ironically, neither my wife nor I drink, and yet I am sure the party is part of the 'tradition' she'd like. You may be right about picking my battles; I might just have to stand there and lie through my teeth about raising the child in a 'Christian' household just to appease her sensitivities. Seems wrong me having to lie though. It's not something I am comfortable with.
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:19 pm

Hi Mawk,
I'm not advocating that you should lie!! Just pick your battles and compromise on stuff that;s not that important.
As far as bringing kids up in a (non)christian household...
You might be interested to know that we send our kids to an exclusive independent school that is aligned with one of the churches. And the reason we do that is because:
1. the school is one of the best in the country (academically)
2. we get a healthy discount on fees as a result of working for the school which makes it affordable.
3. the school's christian focus is very light.

There are a lot of kids at the school who come from non-christian families who send their kids to the school for the same reasons. There is no requirement that we should belong to the Presbyterian or Uniting Church for our kids to go to the school.
kind regards,

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:24 pm

Ben wrote:I'm not advocating that you should lie!! Just pick your battles and compromise on stuff that's not that important.
I've been told that, "if you don't believe in Christianity, where is the harm in pretending, you won't go to hell for it!"... but that sort of misses the point and makes a mockery of both Christianity and my own beliefs! Hmmm. This has all come to light because I have been asked to be the Godfather for my nephew and niece, who are being Christened in two weeks time. I cannot think of a respectful way to pull out, but I cannot see me being able to go through with the ceremony. The idea of having to repeat the ceremony again with my own children fills me with dread.
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:27 pm

Ben wrote:There are a lot of kids at the school who come from non-christian families who send their kids to the school for the same reasons. There is no requirement that we should belong to the Presbyterian or Uniting Church for our kids to go to the school.
That's interesting. The school I work at is 'secular'... but there are hymns sung in assemblies. I refuse to sing them (even though staff are expected to) because I feel it is wrong to force students from all sorts of backgrounds to sing Christian hymns under fear of detention... it all seems wrong.
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:34 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Hmmm. This has all come to light because I have been asked to be the Godfather for my nephew and niece, who are being Christened in two weeks time.

That happened to me.
My brother asked me be a godfather to his kids some years ago. I told him "Do you realize that I am a practicing Buddhist" to which he said that was more meaningful to him than a disinterested Christian. Look at it this way - its about establishing or confirming familial bonds. Its about standing up and saying that you'll look out for the welfare of the children.

I refuse to sing them (even though staff are expected to) because I feel it is wrong to force students from all sorts of backgrounds to sing Christian hymns under fear of detention... it all seems wrong.

Wow! That;s the sort of compulsory christian indoctrination that I grew up with. These days, it could be grounds for legal action (in Australia).
kind regards

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:13 pm

Ben wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:I refuse to sing them (even though staff are expected to) because I feel it is wrong to force students from all sorts of backgrounds to sing Christian hymns under fear of detention... it all seems wrong.

Wow! That's the sort of compulsory christian indoctrination that I grew up with. These days, it could be grounds for legal action (in Australia).
I imagine is is also grounds for legal action here, but even though the school is secular it is seen as 'traditional' and part of the 'school ethos'.

Did you decide to be Godfather for your brother? How did you get on with the oaths specifically relating to Christianity?
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Ben » Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:18 pm

Yeah, I did. i flew up to Sydney and attended the ceremony which was very relaxed.
I didn't actually recite some of the oaths that I was uncomfortable with. Fortunately with the structure of the ceremony nobody knew that I didnt recite some of the oaths. It was also worthwhile catching up with family members I hadn;t seen in years.
It worked out well.
kind regards,

Ben
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:40 pm

Ben wrote:It worked out well.
Hmmm, it's probably worth me checking with my brother to see what he expects of me. Hopefully things will be as relaxed here. If this Christening goes okay, it paves the way for the Christening of my own children I suppose, so let's see.

Thanks for your advice (Ben, Imagemarie and Retro)
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:51 pm

Ritualsl are only meaningless (to you) if you don't know the meaning behind them. So do some research of the texts or talk to some Asian Buddhists.

You can probably get a blessing quite easily at the Sri Lankan Ketumati Vihāra in Manchester, or the Burmese Saraniya Dhamma Meditation Centre, or one of several other Buddhists centres in your area.

The Story of Āyuvaddhana is a baby blessing performed by the Buddha and the Sangha, by reciting Paritta Suttas for his protection.
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Re: Baby naming, dedication ceremony?

Postby Hickersonia » Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:22 am

I might just have to stand there and lie through my teeth about raising the child in a 'Christian' household just to appease her sensitivities.

My wife is Christian and recently insisted that our children be baptized. I've always been reluctant on the matter, but our son actually wanted to do it (he's seven) and I didn't feel like arguing with my wife on the matter.

Of course, her pastor insisted I be present, but understood and respected me for my choice to uphold the 4th precept and not lie. I stood up front at the altar, quietly, and just smiled. My son and wife were happy, and the fact of the matter is, I was happy too. Our Daughter being baptized was, quite frankly, not a big deal because she'll choose her own path as she grows up, and so will our son, regardless.

Just my own [recent] experience with it. Maybe it isn't really as big of a deal as you "think" it is? Maybe you can offer alternatives to the Christian ritual, but ultimately, there is no reason to break precepts just to "appease" her -- if your lady cannot understand that, perhaps that also isn't as big of a deal as you "think" it is.

:-/ Good luck with it, and be well, friend.
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