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Buddhism has anti-natalist overtones according to the writings of Hari Singh Gour below. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antinatalism

Buddha states his propositions in the pedantic style of his age. He throws them into a form of sorites; but, as such, it is logically faulty and all he wishes to convey is this: Oblivious of the suffering to which life is subject, man begets children, and is thus the cause of old age and death. If he would only realize what suffering he would add to by his act, he would desist from the procreation of children; and so stop the operation of old age and death.

How does this view of the Buddha reconcile with the fact that the Buddha had a son named Rahul?

  • This may be a duplicate of Should a Buddhist have Children? – ChrisW Oct 18 at 12:29
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    @user17144 Hi! Remember that (if we are to believe the narrative told by texts and tradition) Gotama had its son before leaving it's lay life behind. Therefore, I'm not sure if it's correct to say "The Buddha had a son". Gotama was not born as the Buddha. Kind regards! – Brian Díaz Flores Oct 18 at 17:32
  • Did he see the old man, the diseased man, and the corpse before or after he had his son? – user17144 Oct 19 at 18:58
  • Wasn't it after? If I remember, he saw the messengers, decided to leave home, looked in to see his wife and son sleeping in their bedroom for the last time, and left quietly. Some people view whole story as a fable, though, even though it's famous -- it's from the introduction to the Jataka, sacred-texts.com/bud/bits/bits006.htm – ChrisW Oct 21 at 15:58
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    So was he unaware that people grow old and die before he had his son because he was kept in a sheltered atmosphere? Seems a little far-fetched but could be true. – user17144 Oct 21 at 18:36
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While the Buddha later taught procreation of children can be burdensome & confining, thus previously calling his son "Rahula", this is unrelated to ending suffering.

Keep in mind, when unenlightened Gotama (not yet a Buddha) had a son, Gotama was not yet a Buddha. He was not enlightened. Therefore, Gotama calling his son "Rahula" was not related to being a Buddha.

Like most people, Hari Singh Gour did not understand Buddhism, which is shameful for a highly educated Indian.

In India, today, as always, the word "jati" does not necessarily mean "physical birth" or "procreation". I expect Hari Singh Gour should have understood this.

The Buddha taught suffering ends by ending "jati" ("self & social identity"). When there is no conceiving of "identity", there is no reference point for the conceiving of "aging & death".

When the mind suffers about aging & death, it does not suffer over the aging & death of a physical body or corpse. Instead, the mind suffers over the loss an "identity" or "jati", such as "myself", "my mother", "my father", "my wife", "my daughter", "my son", "my friend", "my computer", "my wealth", etc.

Please read the Pali sutta paragraphs below and try to understand:

Bhikkhu, ‘I am’ is a conceiving; ‘I am this’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall not be’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be possessed of form’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be formless’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be non-percipient’ is a conceiving; ‘I shall be neither-percipient-nor-non-percipient’ is a conceiving. Conceiving is a disease, conceiving is a tumour, conceiving is a dart. By overcoming all conceivings, bhikkhu, one is called a sage at peace. And the sage at peace is not born, does not age, does not die; he is not shaken and does not yearn. For there is nothing present in him by which he might be born. Not being born, how could he age? Not ageing, how could he die? Not dying, how could he be shaken? Not being shaken, why should he yearn? When the tides of conceiving no longer sweep over him he is called a sage at peace.’

MN 140


And what may be said to be subject to birth? Spouses & children are subject to birth. Men & women slaves... goats & sheep... fowl & pigs... elephants, cattle, horses, & mares... gold & silver are subject to birth. Subject to birth are these acquisitions, and one who is tied to them, infatuated with them, who has totally fallen for them, being subject to birth, seeks what is likewise subject to birth.

And what may be said to be subject to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement? Spouses & children... men & women slaves... goats & sheep... fowl & pigs... elephants, cattle, horses, & mares... gold & silver are subject to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement. Subject to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement are these acquisitions, and one who is tied to them, infatuated with them, who has totally fallen for them, being subject to birth, seeks what is likewise subject to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement. This is ignoble search.

MN 26

If you struggle to understand MN 26, then SN 12.66 clearly says the cause of aging & death is acquisition (upadhi) or attachment. SN 12.66 does not mention "birth" ("jati"; apart from a general meaning of "cause" or "jatika"), as follows:

Here, bhikkhus, when engaged in inward exploration, a bhikkhu explores thus: ‘The many diverse kinds of suffering that arise in the world headed by aging-and-death: what is the source of this suffering, what is its origin, from what is it born (jātika) and produced? When what exists does aging-and-death come to be? When what does not exist does aging-and-death not come to be?’

As he explores he understands thus: ‘The many diverse kinds of suffering that arise in the world headed by aging-and-death: this suffering has acquisition as its source, acquisition as its origin; it is born (jātika) and produced from acquisition. When there is acquisition, aging-and-death comes to be; when there is no acquisition, aging-and-death does not come to be.’

SN 12.66

  • If the Buddha felt that his son was a fetter, why did he have him? I am confused by the inconsistency between the rules he laid down for his monastic order and his own actions. Are you saying that the Buddha did not imply that if man did not have children he would end suffering, that he actually meant that ending "Jati" or "self-identification" would end suffering, and that Gour took Jati to mean procreation? That Gour took Jati to mean procreation seems to be highly unlikely. Jati means caste or a clan and Hari Singh Gour would definitely have know that. – user17144 Oct 18 at 14:59
  • I read MN26 and think it is consistent with Gour's interpretation. Indeed, what else could the following mean? ""Monks, there are these two searches: ignoble search & noble search. And what is ignoble search? There is the case where a person, being subject himself to birth, seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to birth. Being subject himself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, he seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement." MN140 discusses self-identification as a disease, and I think this is different from MN26. – user17144 Oct 18 at 15:25
  • MN 26 is not consistent with his interpretation. You did not read it. You do not understand it. Read SN 12.66. SN 12.66 says, the same as MN 26, that aging & death come from ACQUISITION (UPADHI). ACQUISITION MEANS ATTACHMENT. MN 26 says " acquisitions, and one who is tied to them, infatuated with them, who has totally fallen for them,". You did not read it. You did not understand it. MN 26 says: " acquisitions, and one who is tied to them, infatuated with them, who has totally fallen for them," " acquisitions, and one who is tied to them, infatuated with them, who has totally fallen for them," – Dhammadhatu Oct 18 at 21:04
  • Why do you keep ask questions rather than merely obediently listen to my answers? Liberation in the suttas as as follows: " This, friend Visakha, is the way of practice leading to the cessation of self-identification described by the Blessed One....Precisely this noble eightfold path — right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration: This, friend Visakha, is the way of practice leading to the cessation of self-identification described by the Blessed One." accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.044.than.html – Dhammadhatu Oct 18 at 21:10
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    Liberation again is as follows: " I say, a Tathagata — with the ending, fading away, cessation, renunciation, & relinquishment of all construings, all excogitations, all I-making & mine-making & obsessions with conceit — is, through lack of clinging, released." accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.072.than.html – Dhammadhatu Oct 18 at 21:11
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Buddha's son was born and named before Buddha was Buddha. Back then Sidhartha was just a guy seeking solution to the problem of death.

What he then discovered is that our "notion" of individual death hinges on the "notion" of individual existence. If we think in naive terms, we think in terms of separate things: this THING is born, now the SAME THING lives, now the SAME THING changes, ages, deteriorates, now the SAME THING dies and is gone. This is an identity-based thinking. Even though nothing in the person stays the same from birth to death, we think it is the same person. Even though everything in that person, from food, to air, to thoughts, to impressions, to active impulses, is in continuous exchange with the environment - we still keep thinking in terms of a separate entity born, living, and dying by itself. This primitive way of seeing things is why we experience death as (bad) ending.

That the Buddha's teaching is about notions, the problems the notions create, and liberation from notions - is a standard interpretation of Buddha's teaching that was confirmed and not disproved by every new generation of Mahayana Buddhists studying Dharma from scratch for over 2600 years.

  • It means little that Dharma was not disproved for 2600 years or for 10000 years for Dharma to be valid. There are many ideas that were held dear for millenia and which were eventually found to be wrong or flawed (geocentric theory of the universe, for instance). Of course, our confidence in any idea grows as it repeatedly clears any attempts to verify it. That is not the case with religion but I digress. When did Gotama see the sights of the old man, the man afflicted with disease, and the corpse? Was it after he had Rahula or before? – user17144 Oct 19 at 7:34
  • By the way, I agree with this "That the Buddha's teaching is about notions, the problems the notions create, and liberation from notions -". These teachings make perfect sense to me. I was only saying that any idea needs to stand on its own merit and not on the merit of its being around for n number of years. And this idea does stand on its own merit - at least so far as I can see. My main question was about the Buddha's life in relation to his having a child when there are statements in the scriptures such as the one in the next comment box. – user17144 Oct 19 at 7:49
  • "Monks, there are these two searches: ignoble search & noble search. And what is ignoble search? There is the case where a person, being subject himself to birth, seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to birth. Being subject himself to aging... illness... death... sorrow... defilement, he seeks [happiness in] what is likewise subject to illness... death... sorrow... defilement." – user17144 Oct 19 at 7:49
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The Buddha didn't have a son, the Bodhisattva did.

It may not seem simple but it is very simple. If you want to understand what is at the root of truth, if you want to find out how tangled the mind is then what is born and what dies is to be witnessed moment by moment. The reaction to what is born and dies proliferated mindlessly is a distraction from the truth, another tangle in the mind, another brick in the wall.

  • What would happen to a Buddhist monk if he had a kid? What would the Sangha do to him? Would the monk be able to get away by saying that he temporarily ceased to be a monk when he conceived? That it was not him but a man driven by passion who did what he did. – user17144 Oct 19 at 11:35
  • Bhikkhus can get away with a lot of things but that isn't one of them. Should any bhikkhu participating in the training, without having declared his weakness, engage in sexual intercourse, they are defeated and no longer in affiliation. – Lowbrow Oct 19 at 13:07
  • Why not? Why can't he argue that when he engaged in sexual intercourse it was not him but another person at another time and place? You write above "The Buddha didn't have a son, the Bodhisattva did." Conventionally, the Buddha and the Bodhisattva are the same person but not so according to Buddhism. – user17144 Oct 19 at 16:08
  • Because the monastic was never a person or another person or anything. It isn't a matter or right or wrong. It's a matter of causes and conditions that either lead to suffering or don't lead to suffering. Conventional reality isn't bad or not useful but the confusion between concepts and what actually is, leads to suffering. – Lowbrow Oct 19 at 16:50
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    I understand your frustration but if you just witness the moment by moment experience as it comes through the senses instead of getting tangled up in ineffable words then your question will eventually be answered by your own direct knowing. It's so simple and obvious but we complicate it with our shortcut concepts. This is an approach to objectively witnessing the subjective wilderness of the rise and fall of one's own experience. What don't you understand? – Lowbrow Oct 19 at 20:55

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