father-son relationship in Buddhism

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father-son relationship in Buddhism

Postby shinetrough » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:16 pm

Hello to everyone. I have a question, how do Buddhists view father-son relationship? Or parent-child in general? Does the father required to provide and take care of his child? Let's say a man who is an avid follower of Vajrayana Buddhism fathered a son outside of his marriage, he then explains that he can't be in this child's life because of his religious beliefs. He says that he doesn't want to create an attachment to a child. Is he following the path of dharma or does he create the negative karma?
Could anyone comment on the issue, I'm lost.
Thank you
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Re: father-son relationship in Buddhism

Postby ground » Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:34 pm

shinetrough wrote:I have a question, how do Buddhists view father-son relationship? Or parent-child in general?

The child should honor and pay respect to her/his parents regardless of the parents actual behaviour.

shinetrough wrote:Does the father required to provide and take care of his child?

Depends what "taking care" in this context stands for. Love and support, yes.

shinetrough wrote:Let's say a man who is an avid follower of Vajrayana Buddhism fathered a son outside of his marriage, ...

This indicates a misconduct in the first place.

shinetrough wrote:he then explains that he can't be in this child's life because of his religious beliefs. He says that he doesn't want to create an attachment to a child. Is he following the path of dharma or does he create the negative karma?

It seems he has already created negative karma due to misconduct in the first place. From misconduct no happiness can arise.
Again "love and support" may be expected anyway but that does not necessarily mean "to be in this child's life" ... the circumstances have to be considered.

Kind regards
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Re: father-son relationship in Buddhism

Postby shinetrough » Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:28 pm

thank you so much for your response. By "to be in this child's life" I meant being responsible for a child. Communication, love, support are as a result of responsibility. What would be the circumstances preventing from being in touch with the child considering that mother always encouraged it and kept positive attitude towards the father? Does Buddhism justify an abandonment of a child in certain cases?
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Re: father-son relationship in Buddhism

Postby Huifeng » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:42 am

Hi Shinetrough

shinetrough wrote:Hello to everyone. I have a question, how do Buddhists view father-son relationship? Or parent-child in general? Does the father required to provide and take care of his child?


Although this is a "mahayana" buddhism forum, the answer is pretty much the same for all forms of buddhism.

The first questions, maybe a quote of a well known sutra is in order:

"In five ways, young householder, a child should minister to his parents as the East:

(i) Having supported me I shall support them,
(ii) I shall do their duties,
(iii) I shall keep the family tradition,
(iv) I shall make myself worthy of my inheritance,
(v) furthermore I shall offer alms in honor of my departed
relatives.[9]

"In five ways, young householder, the parents thus ministered to as the East by their children, show their compassion:

(i) they restrain them from evil,
(ii) they encourage them to do good,
(iii) they train them for a profession,
(iv) they arrange a suitable marriage,
(v) at the proper time they hand over their inheritance to them.

"In these five ways do children minister to their parents as the East and the parents show their compassion to their children. Thus is the East covered by them and made safe and secure.


So yes, the parents are responsible to look after the children when the children are young, but the children are responsible for the welfare of the parents in their old age, too. The relationship works both ways.

Let's say a man who is an avid follower of Vajrayana Buddhism fathered a son outside of his marriage, he then explains that he can't be in this child's life because of his religious beliefs.


If the father was a practitioner of Vajrayana (or any form of) Buddhism when he "fathered a son outside of his marriage", then the father has transgressed one of the basics of Buddhist ethics, that against sexual misconduct. Such an explanation that he therefore cannot help that child is a load of nonsense. He has done the deed, which was bad enough in the first place, but to then neglect the child is just making more bad karma. Perhaps he doesn't want to admit that he made the mistake in the first place, so there may also be some covering up of the original transgression, which is also not good. Best to come clean, painful though it may be.

If the father had the child before he practiced Buddhism, well still not so good. He should also have the courage and compassion to look after his own child. If the parents don't look after children, who will?

Citing he cannot as against "religious beliefs" is just hypocrisy!

He says that he doesn't want to create an attachment to a child. Is he following the path of dharma or does he create the negative karma?
Could anyone comment on the issue, I'm lost.
Thank you


Sounds like he is using certain Buddhist phrases like "no attachment" as an actual excuse to not be responsible. If he was really interested in non-attachment, he wouldn't be engaging in the actions that would lead to children in the first place. Now that he has done it, best to take responsibility for those actions.

If it is possible that the child can be well looked after, while the father practices the Dharma, and this is the real reason for the father's actions (rather than just an excuse), then some good may come of it. However, the father as a full time Dharma practitioner should also still be a spiritual father, and be able to guide the child on the path. (This is basically what Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha, did.) If one neglects the child's physical and mundane welfare, as well as spiritual welfare, then that is shirking responsibility.

Karmic results tend to be like their causes, though this is very general and so complex that it is impossible for regular people to predict at all. For instance, the actions of the father may mean that he will be neglected by his own children during this life, and may be without a father in future lives. Not the best way to start a happy life in this world as a child.
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Re: father-son relationship in Buddhism

Postby ronnewmexico » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:57 am

To add to all the excellent responses and to the last particularly in depth assessment...

in another direction, and this is personal opinion though founded.

The responsibility of those in a, royal lord king context, is to provide a heir if one does not desire to themselves rule. Quite often is one of royal lineage found not suitable for rule, due to personality, desires, or other issue, such as spiritual consideration. So if that is the situation one must before they engage a other occupation provide a lineage heir. One was provided, but he of course eventually became a buddhist himself, and the clan was destroyed by army anyway so a mote point.

So in that context that is what happened, and the royal court was not left until such was done.
It in that context, was not a abandonment, but a proper way of doing things in that circumstance.

A misread on the history may lead to a unintended conclusion. That coupled with the life style componant of many early american buddhist converts such as Jack Kerouac who certainly did abandon a child...may lead some to think it is a incorporation into buddhism.

As shown by the earlier posters it is not, and things written speak against that. But it may be easy how one could misread it as by the superficial a abandonment did occur with the initiator. That never happened to my view...responsibility was fulfilled. Thusly why the leaving did not occur prior.

In the circumstance initially offered....yes that person would be generating negative karma to my opinion. ONce engaged as a householder(by fathering child)..one can't just forget about it and move on even for spiritual purpose. A action has occured. Many with sons and daughters (in some buddhist faiths) have advanced to great spiritual states in history. Not all were monastics. Some had family. One does not prohibit the other necessarily.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: father-son relationship in Buddhism

Postby 5heaps » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:23 am

Hi shinetrough

i too will insist that nonattachment does not mean that we can avoid or give up our responsibilities in a harmful and destructive way.

nonattachment doesnt mean we cant become invested in a thing either, either emotionally through our very identity. nonattachment means not to becomes invested ignorantly, with ignorance, with grasping to solid appearances. Buddhas for example are defined as being full of compassion and love, and hate our suffering even more than we do. they are "attached" to us and to seeing us free from suffering. however, because Buddhas are said to be free of ignorance, their minds are not troubled by deceptive appearances about us or themselves, and therefore they are free of attachments.

in this way, attachment has mostly to do with deceptive appearances (ignorance) and nothing to do with avoiding emotional investment.
as one of the main western scholars of buddhism, Dr Berzin, says, “Attachment” means that we exaggerate its good qualities and then don’t want to let go

in our mahayana tradition for example we teach bodhichitta, which is a special kind of mind full of love, compassion, and personal responsibility for every individual's future happiness. there is no state of mind more emotionally invested in other people than this mind. how then could nonattachment possibly mean to not deeply care about other people or to not be involved with other people? that is just an unfortunately common misunderstanding.
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