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Thread: anti-natalism

  1. #11
    Forums Member ancientbuddhism's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    Antinatalist points of view may also be practical rather than specifically moral. I know a Planned Parenthood GYN that has counseled women on contraception for the past 50 years. Her personal reasons are aimed at the burden on individuals, families and communities put by unwanted and un-cared for children; what to say of the suffering those children endure.

    But with only a moments thought that view seems rather simplistic.

  2. #12
    Forums Member
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    Nov 2017
    Antinatalism is a new concept for me, and the first thing to say is that I think we can be fairly confident the Buddha wasn't advocating a program of forced-sterilisation with his perfect Dhamma, (not that I'm saying anyone was specifically suggesting that).

    Personally, I regard even the idea Buddha might have classed procreation as "immoral" as most likely a flawed logical conclusion, and I notice this was addressed at the beginning of the Religion section in the wiki link the OP provided. Same goes for "assigning a negative value to birth", where I feel the situation is likely subtler, and perhaps a bit more complex than that. In fact, somewhat conversely I'm sure I've seen mention the Buddha taught that raising a family was actually one of the more virtuous things we could do with our time here, and which would result in the production of good kamma leading to positive rebirth. He also taught liberation can only be attained from this precious human rebirth, and these things seem to sit in opposition to the notion of assigning a negative value to birth.

    However, on the flip side, considering the position 'life is dukkha', and the fact that the Buddha's teaching is supposedly geared toward the cessation of rebirth and accordingly the liberation from suffering of all sentient beings, of course, taken to the extreme this does beg the question, what would happen if humans ceased to be born entirely. Surely there would be no opportunity (SN 35.135) for a Tathagata to arise in this world, furthermore no arising of the conditions conducive to the bound being able to attain liberation, period. Then what about those currently in unfavourable rebirths (for example, animal), would they not be trapped in samsara perpetually without the possibility of liberation.

    And so on the face of it, ultimately these positions do seem to result in apparent contradiction or paradox, conjuring issues such as the whole 'will the last one out, please turn the lights off' scenrio, which has come up already, plus indirectly tie in with other such questions as, can there really be any true and lasting peace while beings remain in bondage (also known as the 'personal liberation vs the Bodhisattva ideal' conundrum).

    It's an interesting subject, and there's certainly lots to ponder. I for one shan't claim to have all the answers. What I would say is that I have a suspicion much of the confusion arises due to an unconscious mixing of subtle contexts, and that if you watch closely there's a golden opportunity within such considerations to notice the depth to which certain (commonly unconscious) conditioned preconceptions run, and how even having momentarily seen through them, they can often unwittingly re-establish themselves during the transition of ideas.

    I'm talking about noticing both the limited nature of many of the conventional terms, conceptualities, and paradigms we tend to work with, and even of the conceptualising mind itself in action, and its inability to process such considerations to any lasting satisfaction. I guess I'm saying that for me, this level of apprehension verges panna, and perhaps even abhinna, and that it's likely to prove the answers won't lie solely in one or other of the extremes, but rather will be encompassed by a middle way.

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