Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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DooDoot
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Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by DooDoot » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:57 am

Dear forum

I read the following in a book:
Theravada certainly has a marked negative outlook, negativity being the tendency to consider only the bad, the ugly or the deficient side of things. Traditionally, Theravadin monks will attend funerals but none of life’s joyful or happy rites of passage. They can see the spiritual significance in
sickness, decay and death but nothing positive about a wedding, a birth or a coming of age.
What do we think of this? Please discuss. Thanks :smile:

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SarathW
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by SarathW » Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:26 am

I think lay people should spare monks from these type of rites and rituals.
However, it is ok for a newlywed couple to invite monks for a Dana to the house.
I am not sure whether both can be mixed considering the chaotic situation of a wedding ceremony.
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Sam Vara
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by Sam Vara » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:30 am

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:57 am
Dear forum

I read the following in a book:
Theravada certainly has a marked negative outlook, negativity being the tendency to consider only the bad, the ugly or the deficient side of things. Traditionally, Theravadin monks will attend funerals but none of life’s joyful or happy rites of passage. They can see the spiritual significance in
sickness, decay and death but nothing positive about a wedding, a birth or a coming of age.
What do we think of this? Please discuss. Thanks :smile:
I think it is a wrong view, at least today. At the monastery depicted in the video, I've often seen monastics celebrate and bless marriages, new babies, and participate in the taking of refuges and precepts. It seems to be a place and a practice very conducive to the expression of joy.

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Polar Bear
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by Polar Bear » Sun Nov 04, 2018 8:20 am

I think that there’s a danger in using rituals as a means of currying favor with the laity.
There are some ascetics and brahmins who, while enjoying food given in faith, still earn a living by unworthy branches of knowledge, by wrong livelihood. This includes making arrangements for giving and taking in marriage; for engagement and divorce; and for scattering rice inwards or outwards at the wedding ceremony.

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Volo
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by Volo » Sun Nov 04, 2018 11:07 am

Agree with previous posts. Also:
Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins feeding on the food of the faithful, remain addicted to attending such shows as dancing, singing, music, displays, recitations, hand-music, cymbals and drums...

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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by justindesilva » Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:54 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 4:57 am
Dear forum

I read the following in a book:
Theravada certainly has a marked negative outlook, negativity being the tendency to consider only the bad, the ugly or the deficient side of things. Traditionally, Theravadin monks will attend funerals but none of life’s joyful or happy rites of passage. They can see the spiritual significance in
sickness, decay and death but nothing positive about a wedding, a birth or a coming of age.
What do we think of this? Please discuss. Thanks :smile:

The duty of monks has been specified by lord buďda as to go and preach the damma to people. The duty of monks is not social duty in marriages and other social needs of people except at funerals which ee can understsnd. The fulfilling of socisl needs is ones duty as explained in parabava and sigalovada sutta.

dharmacorps
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by dharmacorps » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:25 pm

Whoever wrote that excerpt you quoted probably is unfamiliar with Buddhism, or if they are familiar with it, don't understand it very well.

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AgarikaJ
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by AgarikaJ » Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:39 pm

SarathW wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:26 am
However, it is ok for a newlywed couple to invite monks for a Dana to the house.
I am not sure whether both can be mixed considering the chaotic situation of a wedding ceremony.
I think we should be very specific if this scenario would involve a monk mediating a marriage or simply providing a Paritta chanting as a blessing for something already decided.

The first would actually be a serious offense; as I am being a little bit lazy today, let me simply re-quote what @Culaavuso wrote, in full, here:
viewtopic.php?t=19651
culaavuso wrote:
Fri Jan 17, 2014 8:26 pm
From Early Buddhist Ceremonies by Sayadaw Bhaddanta Silanandabhivamsa:
Sayadaw Bhaddanta Silanandabhivamsa wrote: For Buddhists, marriage is totally secular and has nothing to do with religion. No Bhikkhus in Theravada countries officiate at marriage ceremonies. Neither are marriage ceremonies performed at Buddhist Viharas, Temples or Pagodas. They can be done at any convenient place other than the places already stated.

Ways of ceremony may differ with the place where the individual concerned lives. As marriage is secular in its nature, the individual is free to follow the custom of the place or country in so far as the tenets of Buddhism are not impaired. It is, therefore, not allowable for the marriage to be held. e.g., in a Christian Church, or to have it been officiated by a Christian. The best place to have a marriage ceremony performed is at one's own house, or if the house is not big enough for the gathering, the town hail or some other suitable place. Marriage can be conducted by the parents of both sides, or by an elderly man respected by both families, or any other person whom the two sides choose. There will, no doubt, be rejoicings and feasts, which can be done freely.

But if the individual is desirous of having some religious flavour in marriage, he can do no better than invite some Bhikkhus, a day or two after the ceremony, and offer them food and requisites and request them to give advice or admonition to the newly-wedded couple. The Bhikkhus will recite some Parittas and one of them will give advice to the husband and wife. Buddha Himself gave advice to the maidens who were about to be married.
Also notable is The Bhikkhu's Rules: A Guide for Laypeople by Bhikkhu Ariyesako
Bhikkhu Ariyesako wrote: The major issue today seems more to center around divorce and the breakdown of marriage rather than arranging marriages. However one should note how these affairs can involve the bhikkhu and how he should guard against becoming too drawn in. (It is also noteworthy that this is considered one of the most serious offences.)

Ven. Udaayin caused this rule to be set down because he involved himself in arranging many marriages and liaisons. When some of these failed, they blamed him for the failure. The offence is summarized:

"Should any bhikkhu engage in conveying a man's intentions to a woman or a woman's intentions to a man, proposing marriage or paramourage — even if only for a momentary liaison — it entails initial and subsequent meetings of the Community. (Sangh. 5; BMC p.117)
A bhikkhu should not officiate at weddings,[48] except perhaps to chant a blessing afterwards and encourage the newly married couple to lead virtuous and faithful lives together based in generosity, virtue and meditation. He also has to be circumspect when counselling couples. (There is no offence in reconciling a married but estranged couple as long as they are not yet divorced.)

[48]: "It is mainly as a result of this guideline that bhikkhus do not perform marriage ceremonies, that is, a bhikkhu should not in any way be instrumental in actually formalizing the relationship. There is, however, no fault in blessing the couple after they are formally married or in reconciling an undivorced couple who have separated (Vin.III.144)." (HS ch.13)
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]

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Goofaholix
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by Goofaholix » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:01 pm

I think it's inappropriate to expect a celibate person to be involved in weddings and births etc.

In Thailand it's common for the couple to give dana to monks around the time of the wedding but I've never heard of monks officiating at a wedding, if someone does officiate in that way sometimes it's a hindu priest.
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Bundokji
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Re: Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

Post by Bundokji » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:02 pm

I think the question as you framed it in the title of this thread and what you have read in the book are two different things and can be answered differently.

Should monks provide ceremonies at weddings, births, etc ?

It depends on why they would do it.
Theravada certainly has a marked negative outlook, negativity being the tendency to consider only the bad, the ugly or the deficient side of things. Traditionally, Theravadin monks will attend funerals but none of life’s joyful or happy rites of passage. They can see the spiritual significance in
sickness, decay and death but nothing positive about a wedding, a birth or a coming of age.
I think the above is viewing Buddhist practices as a position, not as skillful means.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

This was the last word of the Tathagata.

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