(Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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Griffin, modified 8 Months ago at 10/24/21 7:41 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/24/21 7:33 PM

(Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Metaphysical topics are usually irrelevant from Pragmatic Dharma perspective. However, there is an exception, when it comes to rebirth and children:

Is it unethical to make a child (instead of adopting one), thus bringing more unnecessary suffering into this world? OR - in case the rebirth is ontologically real and the child's karma is going to be reborn somewhere anyway - you actually wouldn't prevent any suffering by not having a child?
 
Any thoughts?


PS
Out of 4 of my favorite prag dharma teachers, 3 don't have children, while the one who did advised against it. That is one the reasons that motivated me to post this unusual question.
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 8 Months ago at 10/24/21 10:16 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/24/21 10:09 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

Posts: 110 Join Date: 9/12/18 Recent Posts
I´m not enlightened yet so i can´t fully discern the reason for why those masters don´t reproduce.7
However i think nowadays the people that reproduce the most is the people that shouldn´t, and the smarter, wise and loving people is not reproducing enough. In other words, i think you are making a favor unto the world by passing on those enlightened genes if you know what i mean.

My intuition is that is because enlightenment makes you more sensible to suffering, and this makes you more compassionate but at the same time it´s a shame because suffering is a neccesary evil for beautiful things to arise.
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Siavash ', modified 8 Months ago at 10/25/21 6:11 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/25/21 6:10 AM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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 I think there is a simple and ethical consideration for anyone who decides to bring another mouth to this earth:
There aren't much resources left!  
George S, modified 8 Months ago at 10/25/21 9:06 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/25/21 9:06 AM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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My opinion - it can feel like an important decision or issue for the individual, but our species as a whole is very likely to keep reproducing and trying to survive because that's what species are "designed" to do from a biological/evolutionary perspective. Whatever anyone thinks about the ethics of having children, there's going to be plenty of humans and suffering around until the species dies out or evolves into something less prone to suffering. I have two kids and I would neither advise for it nor against it. It's one of those things that may or may not happen and presents its own challenges and rewards, but they are unrelated to "enlightenment". Just my opinion.
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David Matte, modified 8 Months ago at 10/25/21 7:25 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/25/21 1:01 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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Disregarding the metaphysical question of rebirth: O​bviously if there wasn't experience, there wouldn't be any suffering. There also wouldn't be any good or pleasurable things to experience either. So it really comes down to a question of whether or not the good in life outweighs the bad.  

​​​​​​​  ​​​​Some people like the philosopher David Benatar make the argument that there's an asymmetry between pain & pleasure; that the experience of pain has much more ethical weight than the experience of pleasure. This is a sort of negative utilitarian position, meaning the ethics of an action is judged more on the resulting negative utility (suffering/pain) than positive utility (pleasure).  From reading the old texts, it's hard to not believe that this was also the Buddha's stance on things. 
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Stefan Stefan, modified 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 7:10 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 7:05 AM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

Posts: 238 Join Date: 3/28/21 Recent Posts
I wouldn't base such an important decision on metaphysical rigamarole but instead focus on how the body/mind push/pull toward the feeling, the notion, the urge of wanting children or not. you'll find an answer there -- it's not deduced from premises.. you've attained some form of insight, surely you'd see past simple notions such as birth and death to reach your own conclusions about your desire to have children or not. I wouldn't use prajna as a cudgel against your common sense; that's the very antithesis of what it's for. stay with what you know for certain. no teacher, forum, sage, or wise discussion will ever get the true answer for everyone. find what is right for you!

however, let's play the speculation game; if rebirth is true, you're also giving a being a chance at attaining liberation -- with fertile conditions. you, with insight, could help them self-liberate and that's a gift. adopting a child may not have those same conditions. not having children also denies a potential being from liberation too. regardless, suffering is never unnecessary -- it always happens for a reason. and it's not an inherent part of our experience unless it is cultivated and habituated. however, if rebirth is also true, why the hell do you care either way? things are simply happening -- a continual unfolding. an infinite regress toward no known goal or end point. again, nothing beats your common sense. metaphysics is a dead end. 

I'll give you another example. let's say materialism is right. okay so everything is just chemicals and atoms. sounds pretty nihilistic, right? no point of being a nice guy, just do whatever. there's justification for that. but, on the other hand, it also supports the fact that life is precious here and now because there'll be no do-over, no way to get it back. materialism, prima facie, seems like a very intuitive support for existential nihilism, however, one can also make the case for positive existential conclusions too. metaphiscs means jack shit compared to your direct experience
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 7:43 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 7:43 AM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

Posts: 110 Join Date: 9/12/18 Recent Posts
"if rebirth is also true, why the hell do you care either way? things are simply happening -- a continual unfolding. an infinite regress toward no known goal or end point. "

Why should this be the case? Why should we restrict ourselves to this nihilistic theravadan view of rebirth?. Metaphysics was not the main strength of this school.

There is rebirth, and there is an end goal... Buddhahood.
Ben Sulsky, modified 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 7:55 AM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 7:55 AM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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I'd be careful of that dharma teacher who's advising you not to have babies
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Griffin, modified 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 5:10 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 12:48 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
To be fair, the reason behind his stance was his conviction that the Earth is soon going to become a very bad place to live in (overpopulation, climate change etc.).
​​​​​​​
(I am talking about Culadasa.)
shargrol, modified 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 3:53 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 3:53 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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Here's some fun stuff:

https://vividness.live/charnel-ground
https://vividness.live/pure-land

It's important to understand both views. And live YOUR life.

 
Jake Frankfurt Middenhall, modified 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 4:21 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 4:21 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

Posts: 110 Join Date: 9/12/18 Recent Posts
I think it was Vince Horn who said that most people (enlightened or not), are naturally inclined to either existence or non-existence. i do put myself in the first bucket, that´s one of the reasons i find Mahayana more compelling, and the whole "All beings are ultimately destined to buddhahood" stuff, which for some people it sounds like eternalism bullshit and wishful thinking.<br />Something important to note tho, is that it seems having a optimistic mindset is psychologically more beneficial for the individual, is just that some people can´t get into it, for whatever reasons.<br />For example, Daniel Ingram mentioned in some podcasts, that he had a past live experience when he was some massive god that could see all the outcomes of his future lives and choose the best possible pathway, so he lives in the best possible timeline. He said that he found it incredibly beneficial from a psychological point of view. Some people have gotten there without the past live experience. (IE: Leibniz, who affirmed we live in the best of possible worlds).&nbsp;<br />I do believe that there is value in metaphysics, but to each his own.
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Stefan Stefan, modified 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 4:46 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/26/21 4:46 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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The point I was making is that it doesn't matter. Metaphysics is speculative. Any ethics derived from metaphysical premises is speculative too. Not grounded in insight, common sense, and wisdom.<br /><br />And yes, you raise a good point..lots of westerners get into Buddhism then overlay the Christian Original Sin dogma into the Buddha's first noble truth, and then ignore the other 3. Suffering is not inescapable. It is entirely founded on conditions within our reach to see and change.&nbsp;<br /><br />I do not share the common Therevadins' subtle inclination towards aversion in life. Total and utter seclusion is not the middle way. Indulging is not the middle way.
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Jim Smith, modified 8 Months ago at 10/28/21 4:14 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/28/21 2:56 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

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Griffin
Metaphysical topics are usually irrelevant from Pragmatic Dharma perspective. However, there is an exception, when it comes to rebirth and children:

Is it unethical to make a child (instead of adopting one), thus bringing more unnecessary suffering into this world? OR - in case the rebirth is ontologically real and the child's karma is going to be reborn somewhere anyway - you actually wouldn't prevent any suffering by not having a child?
 
Any thoughts?


PS
Out of 4 of my favorite prag dharma teachers, 3 don't have children, while the one who did advised against it. That is one the reasons that motivated me to post this unusual question.

My grandfather advised me not to get married (among his generation that also meant not having children). I didn't ask him if he thought his own parents should have followed that advice.

Not having children might be a karmic thing for non-returners. Having children creates a lot of karma. If you don't want to come back, it might be better not to risk generating a lot of karma that you might have to deal with by another turn of the wheel. I am hoping that is the explanation for my own childishness childlessness. 

I used to be younger, now I'm older. When I was younger I saw that having kids was not very well thought out for most people. They just did it based on their own and their mate's personal desires, or it was sometimes just an accident. Now that I am older I think this is very selfish. The decision should not be made based on selfish desires or left to chance, it should be made based on an assessment of whether it is a good thing to bring a sentient being into existence on the earth. Is life joyful and rewarding and beneficial, or is a temporary damnation in a kind of hell? I believe from a spiritual perspective life is beneficial but as an incarnated human I would be reluctant to create a sentient being to suffer through life. I would have a hard time looking my child in the face knowing what I know about life and how hard and painful it can be, especially old age, suffering, and death. I am pretty sure that is why life is designed so that the younger people have the children. If we incarnates were mature about reproduction, the species would die out and the spirits would have to incarnate somewhere else in the universe. Maybe that is why more educated societies have fewer children? So I have mixed views on the subject, as an incarnate I think it is a pretty mean and selfish dirty trick to create a sentient being to come to earth and suffer, but as a spirit I suppose I should know better. I see how suffering has cause my own personal growth, but I would have a hard time inflicting it on someone else.

I don't agree that spiritual questions are irrelevant to pragmatic dharma. As far as I know no one ever came back from an NDE and said, "the best part of my life review was when I achieved an attainment through meditation". They are much more likely to say something like, "The best part of my life review was when I went out of my way to help someone and made a difference in their life through love." So meditation is not really very important, in my own opinion, unless it is performed because you want it to help you be more loving and helpful to other people.

My web site describes my spiritual beliefs:

Eminent researchers
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/eminent_researchers

Evidence for the afterlife.
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/summary_of_evidence

My own experiences:
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/psi_experience
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Griffin, modified 8 Months ago at 10/28/21 3:29 PM
Created 8 Months ago at 10/28/21 3:28 PM

RE: (Anti)natalism: metaphysics & pragmatism

Posts: 218 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
- "I think it is a pretty mean and selfish dirty trick to create a sentient being to come to earth and suffer"

​​​​​​​But, if the rebirth is real, then you wouldn't prevent any suffering by not having a child, because that sentient being would just be reborn somewhere else.

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