If there are no restrictions in Buddhism then why do they not want to get married?

2 Answers 2


Of course there are restrictions!

Abrahmacariya veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami (I will refrain from sexual activity)

If you can't have sex, your spouse probably won't be too pleased. Having a family of your own will also prove slightly more difficult. Besides, the whole point of forgoing the householder life for homelessness is to pursue enlightenment with the minimal amount of obstacles possible. Supporting a family is quite a large responsibility to undertake!

(Note: this does not apply to all Buddhist schools. Zen monks often marry. But if you are looking for the strict, scholastic answer, see above.)

  • Then does it make enlightenment harder to achieve for the Buddhists who are married? Isn't enlightenment their goal aswell?
    – Hari
    Dec 11, 2017 at 20:31
  • 1
    It may not make it harder, but it definitely doesn't make it easier. It's like working two full time jobs. It's possible, but it's not going to be fun; you also just wouldn't have the time necessary to truly succeed at both. And not all Buddhist have enlightenment as their goal. In fact, at the time of the Buddha, only monks meditated! Householders were more often concerned with generating merit and a better rebirth. Having lay people take a run at enlightenment is a very recent development (the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra aside- and you can't tell me that his looks like a modern lay practice!)
    – user698
    Dec 11, 2017 at 20:38
  • "Zen monks often marry." should be only Japanese monastery life by/after Meiji Modernization, when Western ideologies introduced after the defeat of East in war. Should refer to history. Monk = Bhiksu/Bhikkhu means celibacy, renunciated from household life incl. marriage Dec 12, 2017 at 2:45
  • See also What's the difference between monks and priests? (for further info about monastics in Japan).
    – ChrisW
    Dec 12, 2017 at 13:47
  • My own Obaku lineage technically comes from China. Some of our Chinese monks are married, but then again, there is a huge Japanese influence in our school. Believe it or not, there are some examples of married monks prior to the Meiji. There is some evidence of married monks going back to the Kamakura (~1100-1300)! And IDK. What one tradition calls a monk is really up to that tradition; no sense in arguing the point as they are the ones writing the definition.
    – user698
    Dec 12, 2017 at 14:18

Some do get married! It just depends on the tradition.

In the 2005 article "I married a monk" the excerpt below speaks of some notable examples

Finally, the master spoke in a sermon-like tone, looking off into the distance. “There are precedents and justifications for marriage in Buddhism,” he said. “A famous monk, Manhae, was known for his love poems, which many say could not have been written had he not loved a woman deeply. Then there is the seventh-century monk Wonhyo, the most famous monk in Korean Buddhism. It’s said that the king asked him to sleep with his daughter, the princess, to console her. Wonhyo saw this as skillful means. In the Tripitaka, there are examples of the Buddha in dialogue with householders. He teaches how householders can live a pious life.”

If you read the entire article you will find the master struggled to come to this view, and at first was opposed to the marriage. A typical battle of tradition vs modern life.

This case was a Korean Zen monk but other traditions have a place for marriage for those that want it.

In Tibetian Buddhism Monks and lamas don't necessarily have to be celibate, and sometimes get married.

In Japan monks and nuns can marry as well.

Different Traditions and vow sets have different rules. I believe that the other traditions all have a vow of celibacy, but please correct me if I am wrong.

One interesting thing to note, for those who do take the vows, is that sexual misconduct for monks and nuns holding the vows includes masturbation.

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