Genetically speaking producing your own children perpetuates your own genes.

Buddha spoke at length about the 31 Planes of Existence.

What is Buddhism's (not just Theravada) position on having children? Namely the benefits of producing and caring for children?

Or does Buddhism mostly see them as a constraint (i.e. Rahula "chain") and there is no connection between between your own progeny and the afterlife?

  • 1
    It has now come to pass that fertility has fallen below the replacement rate in 97% of the countries on Earth, so the question of whether to have children (at least 2.1 per woman on average) is probably the most important and "non-self-interested" question on this site. So let us have some real answers! If a woman has only one child, then some other woman must have three, because babies only come in whole numbers. Many women choose to have none, so an equal number must have 4 or twice as many have 3. This is a physical fact, unless we want the population to drop precipitously.
    – user2341
    Jun 25, 2017 at 15:02
  • Yes indeed this is true. This may be due to all the terrorism, resource shortages around the world, and general question about mankind's future... On a totally different tangent related to this... I was wondering if there is any validity to this idea conveyed in this one book about how when producing children they are like experiences of yourself (across time and space) just like how a Buddha emanates so many different nirmanakaya manifestations..
    – Ahmed
    Jun 26, 2017 at 16:50
  • Mundanely, the world population has more than doubled in the last 50 years; it sounds questionable to me to hear that "many other women must have 3 or 4 children"; I also find dubious the proposition that a question of of children is "most non-self-interested".
    – ChrisW
    Jun 26, 2017 at 19:10
  • @ChrisW if no children were born for the next 50 years, that would be the end of the human race. People choose based on values, desires, etc, but from our perspective, continuing the race has to factor in, it is not just a given. I see raising a child as the most demanding and risky thing a person can possibly do. An increasing proportion of women are choosing to have few or none. Age pyramids only shrink as people age, they do not grow. Fewer born today means fewer alive for a long time. Does Buddhism say anything about this? Since this is the first question with this tag, apparently not.
    – user2341
    Jun 26, 2017 at 21:00
  • Related question: Should a Buddhist have Children?
    – ChrisW
    Jun 26, 2017 at 21:24

3 Answers 3



From "Living in the World" in Awareness Itself by Ajaan Fuang Jotiko:

§ Once, when one of Ajaan Fuang's students was being pressured by her parents to look for a husband so that she could settle down and have children, she asked him, "Is it true what they say, that a woman gains a lot of merit in having a child, in that she gives someone else the chance to be born?"

"If that were true," he answered her, "then dogs would get gobs of merit, because they give birth to whole litters at a time."

How ever, once you have organiced your "Rahulas" production, you have certain duty out of you "linga"-worshiping (bhava-tanha) or craving after sensuality (kama-tanha) to care for it and get rightously ride of it (tanha). That starts with not harming it right from the moment of conception. "This has come into beeing."

So seeing such, the burdens and sacrifies other need to bear, one does no more desire for birth and a womb but tries to pay ones last dept of gratitude, giving all back and maybe even share the highest gift, once then made his own.

If you would not have been father, mother, son, daughter once, if not having Upanissaya to the Dhammas father, how could this seed possible cause a conception of light, here and now?

Its good to celerbrate the fathersday, and getting the lessons of gratitude understood rightly by performing.

Nobody called you to come.

(Note: This is a seed of Dhamma and not meant for commercial puposes or other wordily gains.)


Buddhism holds a favorable view on having children because only a human can become a fully enlightened Buddha, and being born as a human is a rare occurrence.

I know you asked for a general Buddhist perspective, not just Theravada, but the Chiggala Sutta does a great job of illustrating how rare a human birth is.

"Monks, suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water, and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole there. A wind from the east would push it west, a wind from the west would push it east. A wind from the north would push it south, a wind from the south would push it north. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface once every one hundred years. Now what do you think: would that blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?"

"It would be a sheer coincidence, lord, that the blind sea-turtle, coming to the surface once every one hundred years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole."

"It's likewise a sheer coincidence that one obtains the human state. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, arises in the world. It's likewise a sheer coincidence that a doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world. Now, this human state has been obtained. A Tathagata, worthy & rightly self-awakened, has arisen in the world. A doctrine & discipline expounded by a Tathagata appears in the world.

The Wikipedia page Human beings in Buddhism states the same thing from a general Buddhist standpoint.

  • Being born is unlikely. Yet, if none were born, none would need enlightenment. Surely the best answer is simply to not have any more children, and bring the human race to an end? No more suffering. (In other words, I do not see how your quote answers the question.)
    – user2341
    Jun 25, 2017 at 14:52

There's a Zen story that may be topical, here: Is That So?

Not producing, but at least caring for children.

I suppose the children benefit (from your care), and you get to do the right (caring, virtuous) thing.

I suppose there may be down-side to it too: if that circumstance prompts you to be selfish, aversive, grasping, cruel, etc.

  • 1
    Of course we must care for those who are alive. But need we produce any more? Is there a responsibility to have children and that not to is selfish, as I have been told many times? That is the root of the question.
    – user2341
    Jun 25, 2017 at 14:55
  • That ("being told") sounds like a social pressure/responsibility. It's not for everyone.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 25, 2017 at 16:36
  • Having reread the Question, I now have no idea what is being asked. I further think the the other Answers do not address it. There is a good question in there, but it is not clear yet, at least to me.
    – user2341
    Jun 26, 2017 at 1:32
  • I think it's a personal question (see e.g. here for a related question from the same OP). Also I suspect that the canonical Pali position is obvious to the OP, and that they are (he is) asking for references to canonical positions on the subject from non-Theravada schools.
    – ChrisW
    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:58
  • Yes no comprende understands the heart of the question... the story Chris shares I like and is suggesting "it is not important important to have your own child, there are plenty of parent-less children that need our help"... that brings the second part of my question if there is some esoteric connection (31 planes of existence) to having children--some sort of afterlife connection/benefit...
    – Ahmed
    Jun 26, 2017 at 16:52

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