Birth control and Buddhism

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
D1W1
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Birth control and Buddhism

Post by D1W1 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:48 pm

Hi all,

There is no doubt that the most acceptable birth control from Buddhism perspective is the one that doesn't prevent the implantation of fertilized egg in uterus. "Contraception" that prevents implantation of fertilized egg in the uterus can be considered early abortion from Buddhism perspective, therefore it's the violation of the first precept.

Birth control pill prevents conception but some of them can also act as abortifacient, in case the prevention is failed. When someone uses birth control before they have intercourse, their intention is to prevent conception and intention is karma. If Buddhists do not have intention to kill then why do they choose not to accept all birth control methods?

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salayatananirodha
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by salayatananirodha » Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:37 pm

Yes, it is an offense entailing expulsion for a monk to help procure birth control. This shows that it is a serious offense, with reason not without
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

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Dhammanando
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by Dhammanando » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:44 pm

D1W1 wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:48 pm
Birth control pill prevents conception but some of them can also act as abortifacient, in case the prevention is failed. When someone uses birth control before they have intercourse, their intention is to prevent conception and intention is karma. If Buddhists do not have intention to kill then why do they choose not to accept all birth control methods?
Perhaps because the Buddha taught that one should "see danger in the slightest fault". If a birth control pill might act as an abortifacient, then in taking it one might end up killing a human being.

dharmacorps
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by dharmacorps » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:05 am

I also wonder if the intention factors in here, because do most women know that a birth control pill will cause the demise of a embryo if one does begin to develop? I am no so sure. They probably would understand the pill prevents you from getting pregnant to begin with (also true). If their intention was not to kill, then is it breaking the precept?

Sorry if I am muddying the waters here. I know we had the same discussion on here some time ago about whether sperm was "alive" and if masturbation amounted to killing (!). I don't want to resurrect that bizarre discussion! :anjali:

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salayatananirodha
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by salayatananirodha » Thu Oct 11, 2018 1:47 am

There is not conception until the mother and father have coitus. And intention is kamma, not otherwise.
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

TRobinson465
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by TRobinson465 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:28 am

salayatananirodha wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:37 pm
Yes, it is an offense entailing expulsion for a monk to help procure birth control. This shows that it is a serious offense, with reason not without
Is it really?
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

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pitakele
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by pitakele » Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:32 am

TRobinson465 wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:28 am
salayatananirodha wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:37 pm
Yes, it is an offense entailing expulsion for a monk to help procure birth control. This shows that it is a serious offense, with reason not without
Is it really?
I think the offence is for a monk who facilitates an abortion, not birth control (I don't remember seeing this term mentioned in the Vinaya).
now here = nowhere

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by AgarikaJ » Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:36 pm

There is a nice blog post detailing several case studies from the Suttas, where a monk performed an abortion.

https://essenceofbuddhism.wordpress.com ... -expelled/

From those case studies it is clear, that we are not talking about birth control as we understand it, but the women were recognizable pregnant and there was a defined fetus that had to be killed.
As always, not just the act, but also the intention/motivation behind it must be considered; a monk purely advising how to best abort a living fetus was also expulsed, even though he did nothing further to actively assist the mother in carrying out her abortion.

In cases, where an abortion was tried by a monk but was unsuccessful and both baby and mother survived, there was no expulsion, it was only a misdemeanor.

Finally, the last case study in the blog post, Case 9, specifically talks about a monk providing a contraceptive. This was deemed an offense of Wrong Conduct by the monk. No expulsion followed.
On one occasion a fertile woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, please find me some medicine to help me not get pregnant.” “All right,” he said … “There’s no offense entailing expulsion, but there’s an offense of wrong conduct.”
In a second train of thought, I am -- as so often -- completely amazed how far the brotherhood of monks already dared to transgress at the time of the Buddha. We have (or I had) this picture in mind, where the Buddha sits surrounded by Stream Enterers, peacefully listening to his Dhamma talks.
Instead we have here alone multiple occurrences of abortions, while in other Suttas we hear of (not all that infrequent) rape, murder, theft, etc., all that perpetrated by a community that cannot have been larger than a few thousand people.
While this might sadden some, to me it is actually a beacon of light, showing me that while human nature is beastly, full of strong delusions and is very difficult to change, we in our modern times with all those perceived weaknesses really cannot be so different to these people from the past, who were able to become truly enlightened by the Dhamma.
The teaching is a lake with shores of ethics, unclouded, praised by the fine to the good.
There the knowledgeable go to bathe, and cross to the far shore without getting wet.
[SN 7.21]

TRobinson465
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by TRobinson465 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:58 pm

AgarikaJ wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:36 pm
There is a nice blog post detailing several case studies from the Suttas, where a monk performed an abortion.

https://essenceofbuddhism.wordpress.com ... -expelled/

From those case studies it is clear, that we are not talking about birth control as we understand it, but the women were recognizable pregnant and there was a defined fetus that had to be killed.
As always, not just the act, but also the intention/motivation behind it must be considered; a monk purely advising how to best abort a living fetus was also expulsed, even though he did nothing further to actively assist the mother in carrying out her abortion.

In cases, where an abortion was tried by a monk but was unsuccessful and both baby and mother survived, there was no expulsion, it was only a misdemeanor.

Finally, the last case study in the blog post, Case 9, specifically talks about a monk providing a contraceptive. This was deemed an offense of Wrong Conduct by the monk. No expulsion followed.
On one occasion a fertile woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, please find me some medicine to help me not get pregnant.” “All right,” he said … “There’s no offense entailing expulsion, but there’s an offense of wrong conduct.”
In a second train of thought, I am -- as so often -- completely amazed how far the brotherhood of monks already dared to transgress at the time of the Buddha. We have (or I had) this picture in mind, where the Buddha sits surrounded by Stream Enterers, peacefully listening to his Dhamma talks.
Instead we have here alone multiple occurrences of abortions, while in other Suttas we hear of (not all that infrequent) rape, murder, theft, etc., all that perpetrated by a community that cannot have been larger than a few thousand people.
While this might sadden some, to me it is actually a beacon of light, showing me that while human nature is beastly, full of strong delusions and is very difficult to change, we in our modern times with all those perceived weaknesses really cannot be so different to these people from the past, who were able to become truly enlightened by the Dhamma.
Oh okay. That makes more sense.
"Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism" - the 14th Dalai Lama

"At Varanasi, in the Deer Park at Isipatana, the Blessed One has set in motion the unexcelled Wheel of Dhamma that cannot be stopped by brahmins, devas, Maras, Brahmas or anyone in the cosmos." -Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta

"Go forth, monks, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the welfare, the good and the happiness of gods and men. Let no two of you go in the same direction." - First Khandhaka, Chapter 11, Vinaya.

justindesilva
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:04 am

To what ever extents we discuss birth control , no buddhist couple will refrain from controlling births as it has become a social need to cut down on population.
Yet we can discuss on methods of not going in to abortions. Even abortions ( as heard on a sermon) can be a karmic effect of the foetus to be born.
Lord budda probably did not advise exclusively on birth control but emphasised heavily on illcit sex. Parabhava sutta and sigalovada sutta explain the result of wrong sex as going around with others wives and engaging in sex with women who are being under the observance of adults and also with women unwillingly.
The governments openly encourage birth control.

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salayatananirodha
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by salayatananirodha » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:06 am

TRobinson465 wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 6:28 am
salayatananirodha wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 5:37 pm
Yes, it is an offense entailing expulsion for a monk to help procure birth control. This shows that it is a serious offense, with reason not without
Is it really?
AgarikaJ wrote:
Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:36 pm
There is a nice blog post detailing several case studies from the Suttas, where a monk performed an abortion.

https://essenceofbuddhism.wordpress.com ... -expelled/

From those case studies it is clear, that we are not talking about birth control as we understand it, but the women were recognizable pregnant and there was a defined fetus that had to be killed.
As always, not just the act, but also the intention/motivation behind it must be considered; a monk purely advising how to best abort a living fetus was also expulsed, even though he did nothing further to actively assist the mother in carrying out her abortion.

In cases, where an abortion was tried by a monk but was unsuccessful and both baby and mother survived, there was no expulsion, it was only a misdemeanor.

Finally, the last case study in the blog post, Case 9, specifically talks about a monk providing a contraceptive. This was deemed an offense of Wrong Conduct by the monk. No expulsion followed.
On one occasion a fertile woman said to a monk who was supported by her family, “Venerable, please find me some medicine to help me not get pregnant.” “All right,” he said … “There’s no offense entailing expulsion, but there’s an offense of wrong conduct.”
In a second train of thought, I am -- as so often -- completely amazed how far the brotherhood of monks already dared to transgress at the time of the Buddha. We have (or I had) this picture in mind, where the Buddha sits surrounded by Stream Enterers, peacefully listening to his Dhamma talks.
Instead we have here alone multiple occurrences of abortions, while in other Suttas we hear of (not all that infrequent) rape, murder, theft, etc., all that perpetrated by a community that cannot have been larger than a few thousand people.
While this might sadden some, to me it is actually a beacon of light, showing me that while human nature is beastly, full of strong delusions and is very difficult to change, we in our modern times with all those perceived weaknesses really cannot be so different to these people from the past, who were able to become truly enlightened by the Dhamma.
oh, whoops
well, i was wrong
16. 'In what has the world originated?' — so said the Yakkha Hemavata, — 'with what is the world intimate? by what is the world afflicted, after having grasped at what?' (167)

17. 'In six the world has originated, O Hemavata,' — so said Bhagavat, — 'with six it is intimate, by six the world is afflicted, after having grasped at six.' (168)

- Hemavatasutta


links:
https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/index.htm
http://thaiforestwisdom.org/canonical-texts/
http://seeingthroughthenet.net/
https://www.dhammatalks.org/index.html

justindesilva
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Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:38 pm

Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by justindesilva » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:22 am

justindesilva wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:04 am
To what ever extents we discuss birth control , no buddhist couple will refrain from controlling births as it has become a social need to cut down on population.
Yet we can discuss on methods of not going in to abortions. Even abortions ( as heard on a sermon) can be a karmic effect of the foetus to be born.
Lord budda probably did not advise exclusively on birth control but emphasised heavily on illcit sex. Parabhava sutta and sigalovada sutta explain the result of wrong sex as going around with others wives and engaging in sex with women who are being under the observance of adults and also with women unwillingly.
The governments openly encourage birth control.

D1W1
Posts: 443
Joined: Sat May 30, 2015 5:52 am

Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by D1W1 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 4:53 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:44 pm
D1W1 wrote:
Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:48 pm
Birth control pill prevents conception but some of them can also act as abortifacient, in case the prevention is failed. When someone uses birth control before they have intercourse, their intention is to prevent conception and intention is karma. If Buddhists do not have intention to kill then why do they choose not to accept all birth control methods?
Perhaps because the Buddha taught that one should "see danger in the slightest fault". If a birth control pill might act as an abortifacient, then in taking it one might end up killing a human being.

It's not to abort the developing of fertilized egg because nothing to abort. AFAIK, birth control pills work in three ways, stopping sperm and egg from meeting, stopping the ovulation and they thin the inner lining of the uterus in case the first and second method fail. Other form of birth control such as IUD makes sperm difficult to reach and fertilized the egg. if it's fertilized, the egg will stop from developing because the uterus is inhospitable. We only know pregnancy does not happen but we can't really tell if the abortion is happening in the body or not. If the intention to prevent conception is danger and the intention to kill is also danger, then there is no difference. There is no good or neutral kamma, the existence of kamma or intention, which is the source of suffering and happiness is not important.

bksubhuti
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by bksubhuti » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:34 am

Well, I never suspected that The Pill would cause post-fertilization-abortions. I just read this from two web pages, one that was pro-life and one that was pro-abortion.

Luckily, my abortion post was right on the money. No need to edit it. I was a little concerned. However, if one has no intention, one is never guilty of a defeat offense. Below is my post on abortion which also explains the rule.
https://americanmonk.org/buddhism-and-abortion/

Does anyone know the monk who says that if you poke an Embryo and it does not move or shake then there is no consciousness? (most monks know who it is :smile: ). However, because this monk does not believe there is life, he is not guilty. You must perceive life. I once asked Ven Pa-Auk Sayadawgyi about this. He said,
Vinaya is one thing and kamma is another. While he is not guilty of defeat, he is not exempt from kamma by teaching ignorant and wrong beliefs, based on wrong view.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Birth control and Buddhism

Post by retrofuturist » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:04 am

Greetings,

Please do your best to keep this topic specific to birth control in the context of Theravada Buddhism.

Comments such as the following are veering away from practice of Theravada Buddhism and into politics...
To what ever extents we discuss birth control , no buddhist couple will refrain from controlling births as it has become a social need to cut down on population.
The governments openly encourage birth control.
To the extent you want to discuss the crossover between birth control, Buddhism and politics, that would be best done at Dhamma Wheel Engaged.

:thanks:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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