Buddhist Views on Marriage
The institution of marriage according to Buddhist teachings is considered an individual and personal issue. It is not seen as a sacrament or a religious duty ordained in heaven. It is rather a social convention tailor made to promote individual happiness and general well being of two people. Based on Buddhist views on marriage, marriage is aimed at distinguishing human beings from animal life.
Buddhists accept other religions even in the same household with no religious laws that need both individuals in a marriage to be of a religious convention or Buddhist religion. Despite the fact that Buddha did not express any specific regulations and rules governing marriage, important advice that would lead to a happy marriage was offered. Such advice suggested that loyalty and fidelity are the most essential attributes to a happy and fulfilling marriage.
Other attributes to a happy marriage based on Buddhists views on marriage
Apart from loyalty and fidelity, Buddhists also believe that
- Supporting the parents of a spouse enhance good relations
- Loving one’s children and spouse
- Being generous
- Having a sense of responsibility and of duty
- Acting blamelessly towards each other and helping relatives enhance marital relationships
Humility, contentment, reverence, gratitude and listening to Dharma teachings are important features that all Buddhist believers are urged to stick to for a fulfilling marriage institution. However, they are enhanced by the Five Precepts of the religion because they are a focal point of Buddhism and offer a basis or rather a framework for a successful union.
Buddhist views on marriage and The Five Precepts
Refrain from harming or destroying living things
The actions of a partner should not cause emotional suffering to all living things. All actions in regards to a partner or a spouse should be based on Buddhist teachings of respect and love.
Refrain from taking anything that is not given
in regards to marriage, this precept emphasizes on the need to maintain a respectful and equal relationship and to share responsibilities and duties of a married life as well as family.
Abstain from sexual misconduct
All parties should be faithful in marriage. No one should engage in any adulterous activity or relationship. Additionally, there should be respectful attention to the sexual desires and needs of one’s partner as it is a very important and crucial part of refraining from sexual misconduct.
Refrain from false talk or false speech
Marriage institution should be based on faithfulness and truthfulness. It is a significant aspect and component of this precept as a way of creating and maintaining an open communication channel between spouses.
Refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs that could cloud the mind
Based on this precept; a clear mind is very important in living an individual’s life. Similarly, clear thinking and headedness is an essential aspect in married life.
According to Buddhist teachings and its religious set up regarding significance and necessity of marriage, there are no clear laws on having children.
Buddhist monks and marriage
Buddhist monks that renounce worldly existence are celibate and do not marry. Monks are not allowed to attend ceremonies therefore; they do not carry out any wedding services. However, they can bless married couples.
According to Buddhists, there is no official marriage ceremony. Regional practices and ceremony often offer a wide range of ceremonial elements and wedding customs . It is usually common to include Homage to Buddha, Homage to the Exalted One, The Fully Enlightenment or The Liberated One. It also includes The Three Refugees, I seek refuge in the enlightened one, Buddha, I seek refuge in the Way to Enlightenment, Dharma, I seek refuge in the Enlightened Community, Sangha and finally, the recitation of the five Precepts as stated above.
From Sigalovada Sutta, the responsibilities and roles for couples are presented and offer a good structure for married life
In 5 ways shall a wife be ministered to by a husband?
- by being gallant to her
- by not scorning her
- by being faithful to her
- by trusting her
- by providing her with adornments
The wife on the other hand thus will be ministered to by her husband will show compassion in five ways by
- she performs her duties well
- she is hospitable to relations and attendants
- she is faithful
- she protects what he brings
- She is skilled and industrious in discharging her duties.”
According to Buddha, “If a man can find a suitable and understanding wife and a woman can find a suitable and understanding husband, both are fortunate indeed.”
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