Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book
Family & Relationship :
Having a Baby
The Purpose of Having a Baby
|Whether to Have Children|
|A student wrote asking what she could do in order to meet a husband and have children.|
My very dear Nina,
Regarding your question about marriage, I checked, and it would be bad for you to get married. It would be best for you not to get married. Also, I checked regarding children, and it was the same: bad for you to have children and best for you not to have children.
If you have children then your life is doubly, triply busy. You have to think about the financial side of things and what the child would need. Then, regarding having a husband, there is the possibility that in the future you may leave him, or your husband may leave you. Maybe you will have a disagreement with your husband, and then after a child is born all the attention is put on the child, and then the wife feels that the husband is no longer interested in her, or the wife is actually not interested in the husband any more. The child may turn out differently to the kind of child you want and then you may have emotional problems, sadness, disappointment, and depression. You have already had depression, so you know what I mean.
A child can be beneficial for world peace and for him or herself. Even if a child can’t benefit others, it can have a meaningful, good, happy life, not harming itself and not harming others. However, often a child does harmful things, and does not listen to its parents. Even if a parent is giving the child advice, the child thinks its parents are the enemy, and only makes the parents angry, disturbs their minds, rather than giving them peace. If a child meditates, practices and learns the Dharma, that’s different, but if a child doesn’t want to do that, or has a different view and way of thinking, then it can cause great suffering.
Many people think how wonderful life would be, how it would be like a pure land if they had children, but then when they have children they have no time at all to meditate or to practice. They can’t sleep at night because the child wakes up and during the day it’s the same. In the end they have no time to practice.
Many times we think things will happen the way we want them to, but that doesn’t mean that will actually happen. Often, it’s not like that, it’s totally opposite to our dream, it is suffering. I am just letting you know so you can be careful. This is what I saw in my observations: it would be best for you not to get married. Of course, there may be some karma that you can’t control. Anyway I just wanted to let you know. This way you have so much freedom to meditate to benefit sentient beings, to deepen your practice to benefit others.
If you have a child it is just one sentient being, so you benefit just that one sentient being, but it’s not of so much benefit for others. What I am telling you is not always the case for everyone, but this is what I saw in my observations for you. It doesn’t mean it is the same for everyone.
With much love and prayers...
|How to Raise a Child
|Rinpoche gave the following advice to a married couple. The wife had become pregnant by somebody else.|
The baby is a sentient being who needs a human body, the body of a happy migratory being. This being created good karma and practiced morality in the past, and now is able to be born as a human being. You are helping with the condition for the child to obtain a human body. Whether the child comes from you, Bin Laden, Mao Tsetung, or Saddam Hussein, it is the same. Every day when you pray and recite OM MANI PADME HUM, you dedicate each recitation to all sentient beings. That includes this sentient being, the baby. All the malas of mantras you recite in Vajrasattva retreat, and each time you generate bodhicitta, is for all sentient beings, including this sentient being. Every sadhana you recite with the correct motivation includes this sentient being. At the end, when you dedicate the merits, you dedicate them to all sentient beings, and you also dedicate them to this sentient being. Dedicating all these merits, meditations, sadhanas, deities, mantras, generosity, charity, mandala offerings, preliminary practices, and prostrations to the 35 Buddhas, with a bodhicitta motivation, as a lam-rim practitioner, means that all these things are performed for all sentient beings, including this sentient being.
This being has a karmic connection to both of you; it has past karma with your whole family. That is why this child is being born to you. On the child’s side there is karma with you, and you have karma with the child. It is like that. So, now you have a new responsibility. You also have a responsibility to every sentient being. You have a responsibility toward every hell being to liberate them from the lower realms, from samsara, and not only from samsara but even from lower nirvana and to bring them to enlightenment. You have the responsibility to cause happiness for every single hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human being, asura, sura, and intermediate state being. So, you see, you have a responsibility for every human being that you see on the road, in airplanes, in cars, etc. You have a responsibility for their happiness, to free them from suffering and cause them happiness. We have a responsibility for every single person that we see in restaurants, at home, in the office, in the city, in the shops, at the airport, and in the train station. Whatever nationality they are, however they are dressed, whether they are Black or white, from the East or West, we have a responsibility to free everyone from suffering and its causes and to bring them to enlightenment. It is not just this child. Here, due to past karma, there is a connection, so the child is born to you. But we have a responsibility for every sentient being.
This particular sentient being is born to you, which means you have the responsibility to take care of it. Taking care doesn’t mean only taking care of the child’s body. Most people think only of the body, they don’t think of the mind. Since this child is fortunate to be born to a Buddhist family, it has the opportunity to be Buddhist and to meet the Dharma. This is not just Dharma to achieve happiness in future lives, but to be free from samsara by actualizing the three higher trainings and the whole path and achieving enlightenment by meeting the Mahayana teachings and practicing tantra. You two have discovered Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, the complete Buddhism, so this child is very fortunate to be born to a Buddhist family with the opportunity to meet the Dharma. Therefore, this child becomes more precious than if it were born to a non-Buddhist family, because there are no obstacles from the parents’ side for the child to practice Dharma, to learn Buddhism, practice Buddhism, actualize the path, and attain liberation and enlightenment. Because it is born to you, you can give him or her special help. This time, this sentient being received a human body, so you should rejoice and be so happy to be able to give a human body to a sentient being. Why? Because it allows a sentient being to practice Dharma. It is your job to take care of the child’s mind. Besides taking care of the body, the most important thing is to take care of the mind by educating the child in Dharma, step by step. As the child grows up, give him or her the opportunity to listen to Dharma, and to practice as much as possible to attain realizations. It should be a great joy that you have the opportunity to give one sentient being the conditions to practice Dharma, to learn not only about liberation but to achieve enlightenment.
Also, the most important motivation for you is to let the child grow up with a universal education, and with a good heart. The child should grow up with compassion and loving kindness, practicing kindness in everyday life toward animals, human beings, to anybody. The child can practice rejoicing whenever he or she sees good things happen to others and aim to fulfill others’ wishes to achieve happiness. Also, the child should learn tolerance and forgiveness. This brings peace to oneself and others. That is how you bring about world peace. If you cannot bring peace to one person, you cannot bring peace to the world. So, you have to start with the people nearest to you and animals. Then, one by one, that is how you can bring about world peace. When you bring peace to ten people, you bring that much greater peace to the world. Then, you can bring peace to 100 people, everyone in the world, and then all sentient beings. We develop our minds and bring peace to all sentient beings. Finally, we can bring all sentient beings to enlightenment.
It is very important for world peace to practice forgiveness and also to apologize. If one has harmed others, hurt others, then apologize. If others give you harm, practice forgiveness. Bring peace to yourself, in your life, in your heart, in others’ lives, and others’ hearts. You should aim to bring up the child this way. First, you train in teaching a universal education to your child, then you can be a teacher for others. When you have a child you should think positively, then everything becomes positive and the child will have a good life. I am not talking about a good worldly life, with a nice house, good money, job, lots of friends and children, not just that.
When the child grows up and becomes a parent, then it sets the same example for its children, your grandchildren. Then, the grandchildren also become parents and educate their children, your great grandchildren. You should plan in this way from generation to generation. The time and effort you put into education helps future generations to actualize a good heart.
Whatever you give the child in order to take care of it, such as education, is Dharma practice, charity. The child gives you the opportunity to practice charity and morality, to not harm others and only benefit others. Also, the child gives you the opportunity to practice the paramita of many years of patience. You become the teacher of patience. The child came especially to teach you patience. Buddha Shakyamuni practiced patience by sacrificing his life for sentient beings, for example, offering his limbs, eyes, and body to a tiger. Not only that, he offered his body to thousands of ants. He cut off his limbs and what was left was thrown in the garbage dump. Then, what was left over was cherished by the ants.
Buddha practiced the six paramitas not just for one year, two years, or one or two lifetimes, but for three countless great eons. Now, this child is giving you the opportunity to practice charity, offering it food, shelter, clothes, and money, also to practice the paramitas of morality, patience, perseverance, and concentration (always keeping your mind virtuous when dealing with the child). Then, there is also wisdom and emptiness. The child is giving you the opportunity to practice the six paramitas so you can achieve enlightenment quickly.
|Whether or Not to Have a Baby
|Rinpoche gave the following advice to a couple who were trying to decide whether to have a baby.|
It makes life so complicated! If your plan is to give a human body to a sentient being who is looking for a human body, and you know how to bring it up in a way that would make its life most beneficial for the world, and you have a good, clear plan – that is different. With that plan, you can manage well. But if you don’t have that plan, then having a child is just for one’s own pleasure, like keeping a dog. However, if your attitude is according to that plan from the beginning, and the material part can be managed, it’s OK. Otherwise, if you have a child, and you don’t have that plan, instead of increasing kindness, patience, tolerance, peace, and happiness in the world, there would only be more trouble. I think whether or not to have a child very much depends on what kind of life the child is going to have.
Whether to Have a Child
A student asked Rinpoche about whether to have a child or not.
A mother has to bear great hardships for her child. She has to sacrifice many things. She has a lot of pain during childbirth, and she has to make many sacrifices day and night to look after the child. She can’t rest, cleaning poo-poo and pee-pee; bearing so many hardships. As the child grows up, there are many disturbances for the parents. They put many years of their lives into the child’s education and job. The parents give food, clothing, and education. So, if children take these inspiring beings as their role models, then all the parents’ work will have been worthwhile.
I advise people to plan well before having a child. By making a plan for the child’s life, then the child can bring the most benefit to the world.
Whether Or Not to Have a Child
A student in Hong Kong was wondering whether to have a child or not.
You should have a clear goal as to your purpose in having a child. The purpose to have a child is to raise him or her with a good heart. You have to cause love and compassion, kindness to others, generosity, and universal responsibility, feeling responsible for all living beings’ happiness. Then there will be so much peace and happiness in your own life and fulfillment in your heart. You will be able to bring great peace and happiness to all other living beings, to the whole world, to this country, and to your family.
When a person is generous and kind to others and good hearted, then all the good things in life come from that: prosperity, health, and along life. Such a person will receive all of those things. If those good qualities are within a person’s mind, even if they live in poverty they will experience peace and happiness, and there will be satisfaction and fulfillment in the heart of that person.
I mentioned to him the violence in Colombia, where there has been so much killing and fighting for many years. I visited Colombia and the members of our center there mentioned to me that their family members can be killed any time. There is so much violence that people can be killed any time.
One of the most important things in life, which is missing from the schools and universities, is education in the practice of transformation of mind and actions. This would bring more peace and happiness to the country. Since the future peace and happiness of the world and of the country depends on the children, even if only 90 percent, 50 percent, or even a quarter of the children practice, that will help very much to bring peace in the world and in their own country.
Historically, there are individuals who have been responsible for the torture and killing of many millions of people. From this, you can see that if even one child or one person develops a good heart, that precious quality of the human mind, then when that one person gains influence or power, they can bring so much peace and happiness to many millions of people just by having trained their mind in the good heart. So, it is very important to educate children in having a good heart, feeling kind and generous toward others, and feeling responsible for all living beings’ happiness. This education is important in school and also at home, from the parents, because children spend more time at home than at school. That is why parents also should be educated in this way and should practice a good heart, loving kindness, and compassion. They should be kind and generous to others, have a sense of universal responsibility, and feel that they are responsible for all living beings’ happiness.
I have done a divination and, for you, it is better to have children than not, but it has only a small benefit. Parents suffer so much for their children. They sacrifice their life from the time of conception for so many years, giving them physical and material support, their means of living, education, and so on. If the child grows up with a selfish attitude, with anger and bad thoughts, and performs selfish actions, then instead of bringing peace to the world, they only bring harm to others. It can turn out that they only bring harm to this world and unhappiness to the family, by creating problems and fear, causing worry, anger, and loss to their parents. This can happen.
Of course, each child has its own karma. How this life will turn out depends on their previous karma and on the conditions they meet in this life. Parents are a condition, an example, and an influence on children. Many children follow their parents’ ideas, their behavior, and their life style, so parents have a great responsibility. Those who would like to have children should be aware of this. They should have think about these things before they rush to have children.
Not Able to Have Children
A Taiwanese student had been married more than 12 years, but had not been able to have any children. She told Rinpoche that she and her husband loved each other very much, and had been examined and tested, and, according to Western medicine, there seemed to be no biological problem. According to Chinese medicine, there was something cold in her physiology, and she had been taking Chinese medicine to address this. She felt that by correcting the physical side of the problem, conception should have happened naturally. She asked Rinpoche to help her understand why children were not coming to them.
Besides the physical conditions, there is karma. You can be physically OK, but there is still some other cause. Without karma—which is a thought, an intention, a mental phenomenon—without having created this, you cannot conceive. Everything depends on karma. The existence of the whole world depends on having created the cause before. Even the physical factors are just a condition.
It is not enough to fix the body. One has to have the karma to have a child. Sometimes, too, from the child’s side, the living being who is going to be born to you has to have the karma, and you have to have the karma, too. From both sides, you need to have the karma. Normally, the gathering of a family is based on having created karma in the past. Anyway, I’ll check. Maybe it’s due to not working hard. (I’m joking.)
It may be good to keep a Dzambala statue in your house. I will ask Roger to offer one to you. The deity called Dzambala is an embodiment of the Compassion Buddha. You need to make a wealth vase. Then you put the statue in the vase, together with many jewels, money, precious things, and medicines. The vase and deity need to be blessed. Then you request the deity to give you a child. Do this every day for some time. That’s one technique. You can start first with that. If conception doesn’t take place within six months, then there are many other techniques you can try.
The other thing that is common among Tibetans in this situation is to sponsor a monastery to perform Green Tara practice.
Rinpoche sent the following letter to a student who had recently had a baby.
My very dear Gina,
How are you? I am sure you are in bliss all the time, ecstatic. I hope you, John, and baby James are well. I hope you are having a great time with your Buddha baby, who you gave birth to. How is he doing?
I am sure you are learning a lot from him, all the time, every day, learning about life, learning about the mind, learning about samsara and the nature of samara, learning the importance of liberation, nirvana, and enlightenment, learning about compassion for all sentient beings, learning how sentient beings are suffering.
Since you gave birth to this precious living being, who is one, among numberless beings, who is the most kind, precious sentient being, from whom one receives all one’s past, present, and future happiness, realizations, and enlightenment. Of course, the child has his own karma, but both of you have full responsibility as parents to bring up the child as a very good human being, full of compassion for all human beings, full of Dharma wisdom, all these precious qualities of the mind, universal responsibility, forgiveness, tolerance, etc.
The more the child develops his mind on the path, not harming living beings, bringing happiness to all living beings, he will have not only temporary happiness but ultimate happiness—everlasting happiness, liberation, peerless happiness, and full enlightenment.
Even it is not possible to bring this to everyone, at least he must not harm others and bring happiness to others. That would be so good. Dear Gina, you are a very good human being, so I am sure your child will easily become like that, due to your example, inspiration, and blessing, your model.
I will pray for his long life and health and for him to have a most beneficial life.
Thank you very much.
With much love and prayers...