Buddhist view of marriage

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The Buddhist view of marriage considers marriage a secular affair[1] and as such, it is not considered a sacrament.[2] Buddhists are expected to follow the civil laws regarding marriage laid out by their respective governments.[2]

While the ceremony itself is civil, many Buddhists obtain the blessing from monks at the local temple after the marriage is completed.[1]


Gautama Buddha never spoke against marriage[3] but instead pointed out some of the difficulties of marriage.[3] He is quoted in the Parabhava Sutta as saying

Not to be contented with one's own wife, and to be seen with harlots and the wives of others -- this is a cause of one's downfall.

Being past one's youth, to take a young wife and to be unable to sleep for jealousy of her -- this is a cause of one's downfall.[4]


The Pali Canon - the scriptures of the modern Theravada School - acknowledges homosexuality at some length in the Vinaya, or monastic code, which bars both male and female monastics ("Bhikkhus") from both heterosexual and homosexual activities. Although this clear and quite detailed acknowledgement of homosexuality exists in the monastic discipline (Vinaya), there is not one instance in which homosexuality is condemned or spoken of as evil or unskillful (Pali, "akusala") in the voluminous recension of discourses and teachings given by the Buddha and his disciples (the Suttas). All schools, including the Dalai Lama's Tibetan Buddhism, consider compassion, love and kindness at the centre of Buddhist practice and therefore love of all kind is seen as accepted.

The Dalai Lama has spoken of the merits of (heterosexual) marriage:

Too many people in the West have given up on marriage. They don't understand that it is about developing a mutual admiration of someone, a deep respect and trust and awareness of another human's needs...The new easy-come, easy-go relationships give us more freedom -- but less contentment.[5]

While Buddhism neither encourages nor discourages marriage, it does offer some guidelines for it.[6][7] While Buddhist practice varies considerably among its various schools, marriage is one of the few concepts specifically mentioned in the context of Śīla (Buddhist behavior discipline).

The fundamental code of Buddhist ethics, the Pancasila (or five precepts), contains an admonishment of sexual misconduct, though what constitutes such misconduct from a Buddhist perspective varies widely depending on the local culture.

The Digha Nikaya 31 (Sigalovada Sutta) describes the respect that one is expected to give to one's spouse.[8]


Since marriage is secular,[1] Buddhism has no restrictions on divorce.[9] Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda has said "if a husband and wife really cannot live together, instead of leading a miserable life and harboring more jealousy, anger and hatred, they should have the liberty to separate and live peacefully."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Personal Ceremonies: Marriage / Funeral Rites". Buddhanet.net. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  2. ^ a b "A Basic Buddhism Guide: Buddhist Ethics". Buddhanet.net. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  3. ^ a b "A Happy Married Life: A Buddhist Perspective". Accesstoinsight.org. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  4. ^ "Parabhava Sutta". Buddhasutra.com. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  5. ^ "HH Dalai Lama". Khandro.net. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  6. ^ "Buddhist view on marriage". Purifymind.com. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  7. ^ "Buddhist practices". Londonbuddhistvihara.org. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  8. ^ "Sigalovada Sutta". Accesstoinsight.org. 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  9. ^ "Divorce". Guide to Buddhism A to Z.
  10. ^ "A Happy Married Life A Buddhist Perspective". Access to Insight.

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