Question: Is having children not compassionate, as it is to bring more beings into this samsaric world to suffer?
Answer: With mindful compassionate and wise upbringing, children can be nurtured to become future Buddhas too, who are in this life given conditions to have precious human rebirths to learn and practise the Dharma. The truth is, if there are beings who have the karma to have human rebirths, they will be reborn accordingly in the human realm. No parents or parents-to-be wish to ‘bring more beings into this samsaric world to suffer’, though some of their children do indeed suffer karmically, with or without adequate parental care.
Question: Would it be better to be celibate (as a layperson or monastic) or childless (if married)?
Answer: While it is alright to choose not to have children if this world is seen to be full of suffering, it is also alright to choose to have children to help alleviate their suffering, by offering them the Dharma. It might be noteworthy that the world is facing an overpopulation problem on the whole, which causes problems such as lack of global resources of food, water and land, even though some countries are having declining birth rates. The world does not ‘need’ so many people in general, though the world can do with more good people to help these many people. It is a paradox, up to the individual to resolve, personally, and/or with the help of the next generation that one might choose to nurture, be it spiritually and/or physically.
Another option is to adopt orphaned or unwanted children out of kindness, who might otherwise not be able to lead more fruitful lives. This is a wonderful way to relieve the world of some suffering too, without attachment to bloodline, since having kin does not guarantee filial piety from them anyway. In fact, there might be a stronger natural sense of gratitude from the adopted? Usually, children are wanted by parents out of attachment for company and/or care when aged. While this is understandable, children should be had for reasons as noble and unconditional as possible too, such as those above. If not, a wholly selfish attitude will surely hamper personal spiritual practice, while not benefiting one’s children much.
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