Buddhist Views on Cohabitation
Buddhist views on cohabitation are simply the opinions or beliefs that Buddhists have about cohabitation. Cohabitation is an arrangement where a couple lives together before marriage in a long term relationship that has a marriage resemblance. Cohabitation is not something strange in the Western countries since children live away from their parents after attaining eighteen years. Children are expected to live alone and face challenges while living alone. However, things are different with Buddhists. Burmese lifestyle requires children to live close to the parents. This implies that a family has about five members. Sexual knowledge is not encouraged before marriage. High value is placed on virginity. Most young people do not engage in sexual intercourse before marriage.
What are the Buddhist views on cohabitation?
Buddhists do not have a specific view on cohabitation. This is because no rules were laid by Buddha on married life. Instead, Buddha provided advice for living a happy life in marriage. However, cohabitation is mentioned in the Buddhism scripture as a major act. The scripture says that women under the guidance of parents, relatives or brothers among others should be avoided and respected. By getting into a relationship with such women, a person commits Kamesumicchacara, which is a sexual violation or adultery.
Despite this declaration, this view is not held by all Buddhists. Some believe that there is no scriptural authority for marriage. Therefore, they engage in cohabitation without fearing sanctions or seeking blessings. Several Buddhist priests are also licensed to conduct civil ceremonies.
How Buddhists support their views on cohabitation
Those opposed to the idea of cohabiting argue that the Buddhism scripture provides advice on how to live happily in marriage and not in cohabitation. As such, marriage should be respected by the society by avoiding cohabitation. On the other hand, those supporting the idea of cohabiting argue that marriage as a conventional, social institution was created by man for his well being and happiness and to differentiate the society of humans from animal life while maintaining harmony and order in the procreation process. This is why Buddhist texts do not mention polygamy or monogamy though Buddhist laity is a common advice for limiting a man to a single woman.
Why cohabitation is common among Buddhists
Since there is no specific view on cohabitation among Buddhists and there are Buddhist priests licensed to conduct civil ceremonies, there are many Buddhists cohabiting. This is because couples can choose this course and a Buddhist priest will bless their union. The priest serves as an adjunct of a marriage choice that they choose. This ceremony becomes their declaration of the intent in front of a treasured and supportive community. This adds a responsibility and consequence to for an equivalent relationship or marriage. This touches on the three major things that Buddhists look for when determining what is right or wrong.
Opposition to Buddhist views on cohabitation
Some Buddhists consider marriage as lacking scriptural authority to determine whether cohabitation is right or wrong. These hold this position by claiming that marriage is a creation of man and it is for this reason that Buddhist texts do not say much about it.
On the other hand, one of the 5 Percepts of Buddhists requires them to undertake a training course in refraining from the wrong acts in regards to sensuality. This approach is ethical and Buddhists uphold it. It means that the behavior of a Buddhist should be grounded on grasping and clinging on anything that impedes the awakening progress towards freedom from the existential anguish. Thus, a woman or man that lets sexual desires drive them whether after or before marriage can be considered as disregarding a path that leads to awakening unskillfully. Therefore, craving for sensual pressure can be seen as a hindrance that Buddhists should avoid.
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