Sunday, January 19, 2003

Is Child-bearing Natural?

Knowing that I personally do not wish to have any children after marriage, Von, who is a non-Buddhist remarked that married folks should see child-bearing as natural. I replied that saying so is tricky. If child-bearing is considered natural, can we say for instance, that rebirth is natural? Given the fitting efforts and karmic conditions, one might conceive a child just as one might be reborn. The process is natural, yes, but it is not exactly natural when we speak in terms of the highest spiritual goals, which are to attain Enlightenment and to help others do the same. When one is very much bent on attaining Enlightenment and is given the choice, one usually cuts down actively building attachments to kin and things, especially new ones. Likewise, one who is determined to liberate himself sees rebirth as somewhat unnatural and that it is only natural to go against the stream of ignorance to be free from it. Saying rebirth as natural would be equivalent to saying practice to free ourselves from rebirth to be unnatural. Child-bearing is spiritually unnatural on the parental side in the sense that we usually conceive with attachment to sexual pleasure playing a big role. It is spiritually unnatural on the child'[s side as we are all reborn due to our craving for Samsara. Yes, other than disguised Bodhisattvas among us, we are all children of Samsara, born out of the three poisons, born with the three poisons, born by parents with the three poisons, born into this world with the three poisons. Yet it is with this precious human rebirth that we can eradicate the three poisons- be we parents or children.

Von added that we should give opportunities for beings to be reborn as humans to practice the Dharma. Obviously she does not understand the workings of karma- which will find its way despite ourselves and our preference. Whoever deserves the precious human rebirth will definitely receive it somehow. It's not a case of, "Sorry, no vacancy in the human realm on Earth!" Sometimes I hear the perspective of actively giving birth so that we can help bring up many wonderful Buddhist babies, while giving ourselves the golden opportunity to practise being bodhisattvas to the bodhisattva children we have, who continually "test" us. This is very noble indeed. But how far can we extend this nobility? To three children? Five? Ten? So far, I have not heard of anyone giving birth to a dozen children in order to "save" them. Should we all extend this noble action as far as we can?

We have to be honest to ourselves. Do we want children to extend our ego? Do we want children for company and future support? Do we really want children for children's sake? I am not saying this to discourage child-bearing, but to encourage honesty to ourselves and our children. It is also useful to note that the world is facing the problem of over-population. With faith that babies being born according to the law of karma (with us only being birth conditions), plus my personal belief that there are human realms beyond Earth, I do not worry about not actively being part of the process of creating "more" humans. Who knows, I might "accidentally" conceive a child!The main reason I do not wish to have children is because I already find myself a tricky sentient being to take care of. Hey! My hands are full already! But once again, to balance perspectives, it is praiseworthy to have children out of good intention for the children and not for selfish reasons. May you and your children lead spiritually fruitful lives which benefit each other and others, and their children and children's children. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

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