In Buddhism having a rebirth is itself a origin of all the Dukhhas. Doesn't it imply that Buddhist laymen who are married should not have children to stop this cycle of rebirth. This leads to a more generic hypothetical question as to what happens if all people in the world stop having children?

I would like to have the answer in the Buddhist perspective.

  • I don't think that if you cannot be reborn as a human here on Earth (because all people in the world have stopped making babies), that means you won't be reborn at all.
    – THelper
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 13:00
  • 1
    Original question is similar to buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/2352/…. The follow up question may not be a good fit for this Q & A site as answers are likely to be speculation or primarily opinion based.
    – Robin111
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 13:16
  • Yes, it's similar but it's not the same as I'm specifically asking about bearing children after marriage.
    – gaj
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 6:02

5 Answers 5


rebirth is itself a origin of all the Dukhhas.

Not quite. Birth has a requisite condition as well. It's not the case that our birth was the ultimate origin of our suffering.

Doesn't it imply that buddhist laymen who are married should not have children to stop this cycle of rebirth.

Not having children will not stop those beings from being reborn. There are plenty of other organisms to be reborn as on Earth and there are other realms like the Deva world as well.

what happens if all people in the world stop having children?

The entire population of humans could all die and be reborn as insects today and it wouldn't appreciably increase their overall number: adding six billion to 10 quintillion doesn't even amount to a tenth of a percent.

So removing the human path as a rebirth target does nothing in the way of removing suffering.

  • 1
    I have set this response as an "answer". I would add that my understanding is that once the karma exists (the cause), a condition (your next rebirth, etc.) will occur no matter what you do or do not do subsequently. Buddhist pretty much use the Hindu Cosmology, which posits an infinite number of universes, realms, worlds, etc., so your "implication" would not be valid. That action (or lack of action) simply would not have the desired effect.
    – PFS32
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 14:19
  • Does this mean that the outer form or realm or roopa in the next life doesn't depend ONLY on the Karma of a person?
    – gaj
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 6:05
  • Would really appreciate a response on above question. Thank you.
    – gaj
    Commented Feb 17, 2017 at 7:21

From the child standpoint:

A human life is considered very precious in Buddhism as it provides a great opportunity for liberation, the human realm is the best of all realms to practice Dhamma, the Buddha attained enlightment in this realm. Dukkha is found in all realms with different intensities.

From the Buddhist (parents) standpoint, there is a related question:

Buddhist path X Romantic Relationships and Sons


Birth is not the cause of suffering.

Birth is a symptom of suffering.

One person preventing birth does not actually prevent birth or suffering. It's like if you block a river, the water flows elsewhere and forms a new stream or river.

To end suffering, one has to end craving by following the Noble Eightfold Path.


“Bhikkhus, considering five prospects, mother and father wish for a son to be born in their family. What five? (1) ‘Having been supported by us, he will support us. (2) Or he will do work for us. (3) Our family lineage will be extended. (4) He will manage the inheritance, (5) or else, when we have passed on, he will give an offering on our behalf.’ Considering these five prospects, mother and father wish for a son to be born in their family.”
AN 5.39


There is also the Buddhist perspective that everything that will happen (physically) in your life has already been determined by your past actions. Your question is not a simple question. It indirectly invokes the questions of free-will, determinism, etc.

Buddhists believe in neither absolute free will, nor determinism. It preaches a middle doctrine, named pratitya-samutpada in Sanskrit, which is often translated as:

So, "dependent arising" and "interdependent arising" mean the same thing. Funny. Hope that helps.

  • You could use the same answer for any question asking what a person should do, but Buddhism has clear answers for some of them (e.g. the precepts).
    – Max Nanasy
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 1:14
  • You are absolutely right. To make the discussion even more interesting, there are the two truths, the conventional and the ultimate. [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_truths_doctrine]
    – PFS32
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 17:12
  • I'll have to disagree here: 'Then in that case, a person is a killer of living beings because of what was done in the past. A person is a thief... unchaste... a liar... a divisive speaker... an abusive speaker... an idle chatterer... covetous... malevolent... a holder of wrong views because of what was done in the past.'... AN 3.61
    – bot1131357
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 0:01

One misconception that I often encounter is that all Buddhists have a single mold that needs to be followed. From this misconception, it's easy to form misleading questions in the form of "Should Buddhists do X?"

I disagree with this line of thought. The Buddha recognised that while all individuals seek to liberate themselves from suffering, the immediate objective that they strive for can vary.

Just as you cannot teach the concept of impermanence to a devotee who has starving parents and children at home, you cannot expect one teaching to fit the needs of all beings. This is also why you can never measure someone else with your own standards. Buddhism is an introspective practice.

As such, asking "Why do I want to have children?" instead of "Should a Buddhist have children?" would encourage more answers of practical value. If I want to have children because it will bring me and my family joy, then yes, it's something I can consider.

Or, if I am someone who likes to inspect further I might ask, "How long will this joy last? What happens if things don't go as planned (illness, accident, conflict, etc.)?" And even then, I might decide that the joy outweighs the risk and go ahead with it. And nobody can fault me. I have carried out my due diligence in weighing the pros and cons, and decided that this is the best path I can take given my present circumstance. And that's okay too.

What I wanted to say is this: being a Buddhist isn't about subscribing to a set of "should-dos" and "should-not-dos". It's about recognising where your present circumstance; where you spiritually want to be in the immediate and long-term; and deciding on the best way to achieve that.

Being a Buddhist means that you are accountable for your own actions. There's no arguing with some deity when you get into trouble even when you followed instructions to a tee.


Q: Should you have children?

A: Are you sure you should let others tell you what you should do? ;-)

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