If life is suffering, then wouldn't it be unethical to have children?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Re: If life is suffering, then wouldn't it be unethical to have children?

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Dec 09, 2017 3:44 am

pilgrim wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 10:25 pm
Yes, you are right. Perhaps I should word it the other way - Having children cannot be an unskillful act. :D
It could be if the parents happen to have no sense of irony and are inspired to procreate after reading Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal:
"A young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout."


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Re: If life is suffering, then wouldn't it be unethical to have children?

Post by Digity » Mon Jan 01, 2018 6:46 pm

Do you think all the people in third world countries having kids is unethical? They tend to have a lot of kids too. If you live in an affluent society then you can bring up a child with a decent lifestyle, but if you live in poverty stricken Ethiopia and decide to have kids...is that wrong?

I personally don't want to have kids. I never felt I could handle such a big responsibility. Also, the thought of having kids just never interested me much. I've always seen having kids as a lifestyle choice, rather than a moral decision. I think the moral issue comes into play when you know that you're bringing the child into the world in a less than ideal scenario. Like living in a poverty stricken country, not being mentally/emotionally ready to raise a child, etc.

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Re: If life is suffering, then wouldn't it be unethical to have children?

Post by manas » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:58 pm

mddrill wrote:
Fri Dec 08, 2017 3:36 am
Wouldn't that be bringing a child into an existence which is suffering?
In case it's not been pointed out already, the Buddha didn't phrase it like that. He didn't say 'life is suffering', he said, 'there is (this noble truth of) suffering'. He then lists all the stressful things beings can experience. Do we want these things? No. What can we do about it? Develop the Noble Eight-fold Path to completion. Then, no more suffering.

It can take a while to grasp the subtlety, but there is a difference between these two statements, 'life is suffering', and 'there is (this noble truth of) suffering'. They are not the same.

In goodwill :anjali:

NB: 'suffering' as a term, does not fully express what is meant by the Pali term, 'dukkha', which (as I understand it) encapsulates not just obvious, gut-wrenching instances of pain or distress, but also milder experiences such as irritation, dissatisfaction, or even just disturbance (lack of peace).
Knowing this body is like a clay jar,
securing this mind like a fort,
attack Mara with the spear of discernment,
then guard what's won without settling there,
without laying claim.

- Dhp 40

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