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Dating/Marriage within the Early Buddhist Community

earlybuddhism
marriage
dating
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#1

I find it quite difficult to get along with and feel truly at ease with anyone, including family members, to the extent that they do not “try to study, practice, and live their lives in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya as suitably as they can.”

This includes those who are born Buddhist, identify as Buddhist, interested in “cultural/sectarian” Buddhism, or even Buddhist in a sort of “faith-based” way (although this lattermost might not even be bad at all).

This makes looking for suitable mates difficult.

One possible solution that I’ve heard is not to make Buddhism a criteria - as long as partners respect each other’s religious beliefs, it should be okay.

This doesn’t seem true to me. Scientific evidence points to marriages with shared religious beliefs to be less likely to divorce and perhaps happier.

Even more importantly, the discourse by the Buddha regarding husband and wife being together in this lifetime and future lives, seems to explicitly require faith/trust in the Buddha for it to be sustained lifetime after lifetime.

A person who isn’t genuinely interested in Buddhism seems unlikely to proactively learn and apply the various discourses in the Dhamma-Vinaya in order to sustain a multi-lifetime marriage, - and I am unwilling to force Buddhism on anyone as I myself would not want any religion forced upon me.

Who is suitable for one person would likely not be suitable for another. Thus, it seems important to carefully choose suitable mates.

Even from a purely subjective standpoint, I find my attraction to be based primarily on the extent to which another “tries to study, practice, and live their lives in accordance with the Dhamma-Vinaya as suitably as they can.” Not only am I unwilling to compromise, I honestly just find myself losing interest otherwise.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any dating or matrimony sites catering to the early Buddhist community. Visiting temples or religious sites for the explicit purpose of finding a mate seems unsuitable and inappropriate as well.

Any advice, suggestions, or recommendations on where or how to look for suitable mates (who are also interested in sustaining a relationship based squarely on the Dhamma-Vinaya)?


#2

My wife is my longest and closest good spiritual friend. She also has no interest in Buddhism. This actually helps me a lot since she is razor sharp and prone to rolling her eyes at dogma. So I wouldn’t be so restrictive in looking. Look for good spiritual friends. That is enough.

Also note that my wife and I met because my neighbors washing machine broke down. My wife was the nanny for his girlfriend’s kids. Therefore a broken washing machine is really all you need. Be generous, kind, hospitable to all and somehow things work out. All I did was say “hello” to my neighbor, who had been a stranger.


#3

:heart_eyes:

Very helpful indeed!
This actually relates to what I mentioned about not being able to get along with those who are merely born, identify as, culturally, or faith-based Buddhist - come to think of it, perhaps precisely for this reason.
I don’t want others who share my own delusions and misunderstandings! :sweat_smile:

Where can I find a broken washing machine?! :rofl:

I actually agree with this in the sense that these are precisely the kinds of qualities to be developed in the course of one’s study and practice of Buddhism, though I acknowledge they can be developed independent of Buddhism too - hence why relatively happy marriages can work out between people in all sort of religions (and non-religions).

I think that your response identified a concern that I have which I hinted at in my post:
How can such a marriage be sustained into future lives if a partner does not believe in it, nor thinks it is worth taking the steps necessary to do so?

Also, in addition to this objective concern (which I am sure can be addressed in some way), I noticed that this seems to be a subjective preference of mine as well… :thinking:

Anyway, I feel very happy for you :slightly_smiling_face: Thank you for sharing!


#4

The raft is not the end goal. Perhaps reconsider a subjection to identity view? :wink:


#5

Where can I find a Buddhist mate like you to say stuff like this to me?! :upside_down_face:


#6

In the Aussie sense of “mate” we are all here your good mates.

:pray:


#7

Why does spending time at Buddhist temples have to be explicitly for the purposes of finding a mate? I don’t have any research handy, but I do seem to recall that there are studies which show that people who are part of an affinity group often end up finding spouses among individuals who share similar interests.

I started regularly attending a Buddhist wat about a year and a half ago. Once I became a regular, I started being approached by (mostly older female) laypeople at the wat who asked me if I am looking for a wife. The short answer is, not really. But the point is, once people got to know me and see that I am genuine in my interest in the Damma, I started to be seen as “marriage eligible.” I am not at a point in my life when I am interested in a long-term commitment. But spending time among other Buddhist practitioners obviously provides an opportunity to meet people, some of whom might be looking for a relationship.


#8

Well played, kalyāṇa-mitta, very well played! :raised_hands:t3::pray:t3::ok_hand:t3:


#9

Good point :thinking:

Were they asking on their own behalf? As in they themselves were interested in marrying you?

You make some very good points!

Thank you for taking the time to respond!


#10

I believe they were trying to play match maker.


#11

I’m just going to play ‘devils advocate’ :slight_smile:

Why the interest in a romantic partner ?

To begin to unravel the complex strands of identity and social expectation, and the many layers of conditioning that have gone into developing this ‘imperative’, may just take you a lot further along the path to liberation…

Of course the ‘right time’ to engage in that type of ‘work’ varies for everyone, but getting to the bottom of ones own conditioning, is a huge part of liberation :slight_smile: (and as reflected in brahmacariya)

Personally I came to see romantic attachments as a huge burden (think of Sisyphus pushing the boulder up a mountain) and have been happily celibate (as a lay person) for over a decade :slight_smile:

As Ajahn Brahm often says, there is either “couple suffering” or “single suffering”, one can’t escape suffering through being in a relationship :slight_smile:

Best of luck and happy unravelling! :slight_smile:


#12

I suggest ordaining! :joy:

Seriously!

Mara has a way of throwing great romantic prospects at those trying to elude his clutches. And if that doesn’t work out, worst case you could end up like the Buddha’s half-brother Nanda :wink:


#13

Thank you for clarifying and for all of the information in your post. Very, very helpful! So thanks again.


#14

Hi,

What a lovely set of responses you’ve received! Many different perspectives to consider.

The model for married couples in the suttas is probably Nakula’s mother and father. According to AN 4.55, they supported each other in the precepts and observances and could look forward to enjoying heavenly delights together in their next life.

Nakula’s mother and father though, had both attained to at least the first stage of awakening and at the time when the conversation in AN 6.16 took place, had been living together in celibacy for 16 years.

I imagine it was a cause of great happiness to Nakula’s father to hear the Blessed One say:

“You are fortunate householder, so very fortunate,
to have the housewife Nakula’s mother advise and instruct you out of kindness and compassion”

Marriage is a cultural phenomenon and much of what is involved with it will likely depend on your heritage. All I can say is that, if you do marry, may you and your partner support each other in the Dhamma as Nakula’s mother and father, and may your lives spent together be few on account of your both attaining full awakening :pray:


#15

If anything, I am playing devil’s/Mara’s advocate, and you are playing the Buddha’s advocate.
Let’s be clear, the Buddha did not have any sexual, romantic, nor marital partners/mates.
His life, which “began” at the ripe young age 35, speaks pretty clearly for his position on this this issue. He led by example.

So, unfortunately or fortunately, you are preaching to the choir here. You are not going find any counter-arguments from me! Sorry!

I.e. I am still under Mara’s sway. :grimacing: Might as well acknowledge that upfront…

I asked Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi about when would be the most suitable time to become a monastic.
He said something along the lines of if there are still any doubts, just keep on carefully considering.
Gradually, perhaps in accordance with the development of my perspective and behavior, the opportunity should open up in due time. He (as well as at least one other monastic) warned me about prematurely becoming a monastic. One female monastic warned me that she has come across other monastics who are unhappy - she waited until she was fully ready and has no regrets looking back.
Sometimes, I feel like I am just biding my time until I am able to leave household life.
Societal/household life is cramped and confined. Monastic/homeless life is wide open and free.
Once I am able to become a monastic in this life and/or in future lives, I do not wish to disrobe for the remainder of that lifetime - i.e. I wish to leave the household life for good at that point and not look back.

Because it is. :sweat_smile: You probably just correctly and rightly saw it as it actually is!

I value and hope to develop my celibacy skill to that point as I am (currently) no where close to being able to do so to that degree (hopefully yet).

Agreed! Brahmacariya seems to be conducive to rebirth in the Brahma realm as well as to cessation of rebirth in Nibbana. I value the development of celibacy skill, but its simply not developed to that extent yet, unfortunately… :confused:

Very true. I think this relates to me being unable to feel at ease with anyone (even family members) to the extent that they do not try to study and practice the Dhamma-Vinaya - because I think the Dhamma-Vinaya (not being in a relationship) is the only way to escape from harm/suffering/sadness/unhappines/etc. into both conditional and unconditional happiness.

Otherwise, even associating with such beings seems like it could lead to my own harm (associating with fools, one lives unhappily; associating with the wise, one lives happily). Come to think of it, this principle is probably the basis of the Sangha: gather all the wisest beings together into one single actually happy group.

So yes, I agree, I think being “in a relationship or single” is independent of dukkha (at least up to a certain point, I guess - I think there is a reason why Arahants are “single” and “never in a relationship”) - instead it seems more fundamentally dependent on contrariness/accordance with Dhamma-Vinaya.

Thank you!

And thank you for taking the time to respond and for sharing your perspective. I found it very insightful and valuable!


#16

Very good suggestion, Venerable.

Siddhartha’s father lived the lay life all the way up until Arahantship immediately before his passing away.
However, I find the societal/household life significantly less appealing than the monastic/homeless one.
If I had to choose two “spirit animals (water and land),” I would probably choose a turtle and a snail. It might sound funny, but my family and others who know me well, unfortunately, probably wouldn’t find it funny at all. Maybe ‘frustrating’ is a the more fitting f-word than ‘funny.’ The point is, I want to and I am trying…it just takes me a really long time to mentally prepare and get ready.
So yes, I’m serious too: that’s a very good suggestion, Venerable!
If I had to describe the monastic life in one f-word, I think I’d say: fun! or fulfilling…or free…:thinking: so many possibilities.
Meanwhile, I shall content myself to dreaming and counting down the moments until I can enjoy such truly fun and fulfilling freedom!

:grimacing:
:japanese_ogre::japanese_goblin::skull:

Very scary.
And very true…

:grimacing:

Not as bad, but also scary!

Bhante, thank you very much for your valuable suggestion and words. I shall think on and carefully consider them!


#17

Fantastic, fortunate, faithful, philanthropic :joy: so many!

But the best thing for a life to be is fruitful.


#18

:star_struck::star_struck::star_struck::star_struck::star_struck::star_struck:


#19

I hate to tell you, but that’s not what Buddhism and a belief in rebirth is for.

Even the greatest lovers can be seperated at death. Stories about spouses who reincarnate and marry each other again and again would be part of that “cultural” Buddhism that turns you off. No?


#20

… these statements seem a bit problematic to me. The Buddha recalled his past life & lives; while not to be emulated, there is no recommendations for revulsion, about what led to His Awakening.

Gratitude for parents is lauded, even recommended.

Tightly held views of Self can I think be poisonous.