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I know there are clear explanations of cause and effect for things like the 5 precepts whereby;

Killing is the cause for short live, stealing is the cause for being poor etc...

But did our Lord Buddha or in any Sutta mentioned what is the cause for having romantic partners / marriage? Why do some people have lots of relationship, gets married and able to establish a family at a young age while some people might doesn't even have a lover?

This is aside from worldly conditions such as being good looking or rich. We all have seen some people whom might not be good looking or rich but was always attached while the good looking and rich lived a lonely life.

I'm not asking is it due to sexual misconduct whereby a relationship is broken due to adultery etc but rather the cause (Karma) for having a partner.

Thank you.

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  • Largely, the cause of two people coming together is biological along with a desire for sensuous experience. Another cause is societal conditioning. However, one can be drawn to another without the that biological and sensual desire aspect and at the absence of conditioning. I'd say that karma works across the entire field of those areas for which specific situational causes are extremely wide, varied and unique to an individual.
    – Max
    Feb 26 at 21:41
  • Thank you very much NeuroMax for taking the effort to reply. However i am still looking for the answer to my question because frankly speaking, my intention is such i've found difficulty in wishing for a partner to settle down. I hope to find the cause of it so i can cultivate the cause for the effect. Thank you. Feb 27 at 8:29
  • It's difficult for me to understand you here, because Buddism seems to only have one primary function: the understanding of a liberated mind. One of the ways we come to that understanding is by looking at how we interface with form using our repetitious behaviour which is fuelled by tanha. There's nothing wrong in wanting companionship but when the tanha aspect is removed, the function of relationships become pure and unconditional. Here, there's no need to scrutinise karmic formations, but play around with them instead.
    – Max
    Feb 27 at 9:20
  • @NeuroMax I wonder if the basis of the question is something like, maybe there's an idea (or a sutta reference saying) that if you kill someone then you'll have a short life yourself -- conversely if you have a short life perhaps that's because you killed someone, perhaps in a previous life -- so what's the cause of having or not having a relationship?
    – ChrisW
    Feb 28 at 8:04
  • @ChrisW - precisely what I was referring to, but I've always found it problematic to speculate about how karma shapes our experience in this world and to verify this there's a sutta that discourages such contemplations. However, insight about these things can occur in such a way that one is able to think, "ah, I'm experiencing this now because I did that or those things in the past". These things don't come about through speculative thinking. It might be helpful to conglomerate these comments into an answer. I'll see what I can do.
    – Max
    Feb 28 at 13:27
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Geshe Michael Roach taught that the cause for finding a companion was to give companionship. He recommended nursing homes as one place to go and offer companionship to others to create the cause for relationship. He also said that there is a text that did list "deeds" and the "consequences". I am not sure if it is words of the Buddha. Unfortunately, I don't know the name and I don't think it has been translated into English. When someone wanted to change something that was sticking them, he would go into the book and find out exactly what they needed to do.

I have used the basic ideas of cause and effect to find a spiritual partner. I was looking for someone to share my spiritual journey with me and support my practice. Knowing the general idea is to do to others what you would like to have or have done to you, I figured out a way to do this. I located a person in long term retreat and set up a monthly donation to their practice. I don't think they even knew. I then dedicated my practice to their enlightenment. My current partner and I met soon after I started this, although it was a few more years before we became a couple. I am essentially a hermit, so finding a partner really is a miracle. We've been together 5 years.

To leverage cause and effect, simply find ways to help people have relationships or encourage people to stay in relationships or improve their relationships. Be creative. Offer what you would like to receive. Get detailed about what you would like to receive, do those actions, and dedicate what you do to your goal.

I was taught about a sutra called The Teaching of the Four Practices that teaches how to purify karma. Perhaps you already know a purification practice that you can undertake to clear your obstacles. You can create new causes, but always good to get rid of old causes for not being in relationship.

The four practices (or powers) in brief are:

  1. Foundation power - this is simply Buddhist refuge
  2. Destruction power - recognizing what you did will come back to hurt you (if you don't have a memory of it, just realize that in some life you harmed relationships - your own or others)
  3. Power of restraint - resolve never to harm relationships again
  4. Power of antidote - studying and understanding emptiness and karma as well as undertaking action to undo what you did (in this case, helping people stay in relationship and/or being a nice companion)
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  • It can't be possible to list deeds and their consequences as a universal guide for people. Given the extraordinary complexity of karma/vipaka it's impractical and silly to make a guide. Karma/vipaka doesn't always follow the conventional thought of this will cause that. There is only one way to navigate through karma and that is to not navigate through it; there is only one way to navigate through vipaka and that is to navigate through it, manage it, embrace it. Seen from this wise perspective they are organic, personalised and create unique path for each practitioner.
    – Max
    Mar 7 at 8:05
  • As lay followers, approaching relationships from a kalyāṇa-mittatā perspective is the next best thing. Your answer does this beautifully.
    – Max
    Mar 7 at 8:12
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The most important causes for lasting relationships are listed by the Buddha in AN 4.55 & AN 4.53.

Also DN 31 says:

A husband should serve his wife as the western quarter in five ways: by treating her with honor, by not looking down on her, by not being unfaithful, by relinquishing authority to her and by presenting her with adornments.

A wife served by her husband in these five ways shows compassion to him in five ways. She’s well-organized in her work. She manages the domestic help. She’s not unfaithful. She preserves his earnings. She’s deft and tireless in all her duties. A wife served by her husband in these five ways shows compassion to him in these five ways.

And that’s how the western quarter is covered, kept safe and free of peril.

You may also read the Mātugāma Samyutta, which is about women; and SN 7.63, which is about seven types of wife.

Other relevant teachings of the Buddha are listed here: The Partner (A Constitution for Living ).

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  • 1
    Excellent answer about how it is bad qualities in people that cause them to misbehave and not have good relations
    – user8527
    Feb 26 at 22:46
  • 1
    The more we wake up, the more we realised how amazing & clear the Buddha was! Feb 26 at 23:54
  • 1
    Thank you Dhammadhatu for the reply. I will look into the links of Sutta you've provided. To be very frank my intention is such i've difficulty in finding a partner to settle down in life. I am hoping to find the cause of it so i can cultivate the cause for it's effect. And i am still trying to find an answer. Thank you. Feb 27 at 8:32
  • @Dhammadhatu. Couldn't agree more - this really is a practice in waking up.
    – user19910
    Feb 27 at 18:36
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Romance can be understood by observing as the Buddha did:

AN1.1:2.1: “Mendicants, I do not see a single sight that occupies a man’s mind like the sight of a woman.
...
AN1.6:1.1: “Mendicants, I do not see a single sight that occupies a woman’s mind like the sight of a man.

Indeed, similar observations also hold true for transgender people. In other words, romance occupies a mind. It is a feeling that leads to craving. And the Buddha explains how craving leads to seeking gain. Romance leads to the seeking and gain of romantic partners.

DN15:9.1: So it is, Ānanda, that feeling is a cause of craving. Craving is a cause of seeking. Seeking is a cause of gaining material possessions. Gaining material possessions is a cause of assessing. Assessing is a cause of desire and lust. Desire and lust is a cause of attachment. Attachment is a cause of possessiveness. Possessiveness is a cause of stinginess. Stinginess is a cause of safeguarding.

In particular, the Buddha talks about "assessing", which can apply to "counting romantic relationships."

Notably, whether one has many, one or no romantic partners, all romantic relationships have a beginning. And anything that has a beginning has an end. So if one assesses, craves and seeks romantic relationships, those exciting beginnings are bound to be followed by wrenching ends.

DN14:3.15.7: ‘Everything that has a beginning has an end.’

In contrast, giving up assessing, giving up craving, mindful of the infinite, our hearts can be released.

SN46.54:12.9: The apex of the heart’s release by love is the beautiful, I say, for a mendicant who has not penetrated to a higher freedom.

Assessing also impedes relationships. We look for partners who meet certain arbitrary criteria--we assess them and reject others. Mindful of love, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity for one and all, our hearts open to all sentient beings. We will always feel happiest around good spiritual friends. And some spiritual friends will become closer than others. I met my wife through a stranger simply because of a warm greeting. And she became my closest spiritual friend.

Note that the above is not advice to seek a relationship In fact, the Buddha specifically warns against the unworthiness of matchmaking:

DN1:1.26.2: This includes making arrangements for giving and taking in marriage; for engagement and divorce; and for scattering rice inwards or outwards at the wedding ceremony. It also includes casting spells for good or bad luck, curses to prevent conception, bind the tongue, or lock the jaws; charms for the hands and ears; questioning a mirror, a girl, or a god as an oracle; worshiping the sun, worshiping the Great One, breathing fire, and invoking Siri, the goddess of luck.

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  • Dear Oyamist, thank you for taking the effort to reply. I understand that romance might not be the most wholesome thing in our Dharma journey. But i've come to realize that i would very probably be a layman for the rest of my life. To be frank my intention is such i have found great difficulty in searching for a partner to settle down in life. I am trying to find out the cause of it so i can cultivate the cause for it's effect. Thank you. Feb 27 at 8:34
  • Thank you, George, I've updated my answer to reflect your clarification. Perhaps it may be of some use. May you find peace with others.
    – OyaMist
    Feb 27 at 13:41
  • Dear Oyamist thank you very much once again. I'm not sure if my question is not clear enough or it is merely too shallow to be asked here. Allow me to be frank, i am getting older and if i do not find a partner i may just live and die alone rest of my life. I am not forsaking the dharma part of the religion. I still keep my precepts and meditation. But i am still a layman afterall. I seek a partner to form a family. I am thinking simply if there's a cause such as "dana is the cause of wealth" for seeking a partner. Like if being friendly is the cause of having a relationship. Thank you. Feb 28 at 14:02
  • Georg, yes, I understand your question. Unfortunately, the good kamma of ethical people is not guaranteed to ripen in this particular life. AN8.35: “Mendicants, there are these eight rebirths by giving.". Simply be a good person, generous, kind, ethical, content and grateful. The good kamma will ripen.
    – OyaMist
    Feb 28 at 14:27

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