Buddhism has some of the most liberal views of any religion or life philosophy. The teachings of the Buddha are not long lines of hard and fast rules to follow.
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Teachings of Buddha
The teachings of the Buddha encourage individual independence through a process called non-attachment.
For Buddhists, attachment is one of the leading causes of suffering people experience in life.
People build attachments to physical things like material possessions as well as spiritual things like beliefs and assumptions.
Buddhism encourages people to let these things go to become physically and mentally free and independent.
Buddhism promotes detachment as an essential virtue. Defined as a state in which a person overcomes their attachment to desire, it allows people to attain a heightened perspective on the world.
This heightened perspective is an integral part of following the path to wisdom and enlightenment and is a crucial tenet of Buddhism.
When it comes to relationships, Buddhism remains relatively liberal, especially compared to other religions. Buddhism isn’t full of formal ceremonies and law-like vows that tell followers what they need to do.
Instead, Buddhism encourages people to have realistic views when it comes to their partners, as well as accepting their partner for who they are.
People can apply detachment, or non-attachment, to others as well as things and concepts. Buddhism encourages the practice of detachment, even when it comes to relationships.
But isn’t that antithetical to the idea of romantic love? How can we detach from our soulmate? Can we really let go of the most important person in our life?
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the questions surrounding the teachings of the Buddha and romantic relationships.
For example, what does love mean in Buddhism? Can Buddhists marry a person who isn’t a Buddhist? And what does a Buddhist wedding look like?
By the end, you’ll have everything you need to know about love, Buddhism, and a relationship with one.
What is True Love in Buddhism?
In Buddhism, love is unconditional. Four virtues make up love in Buddhism and these are Maitri, Karuna, Mudita, and Upeshka. Let’s take a closer look at the Four Virtues of Love.
The common translation of Maitri is love or loving-kindness, and it’s the foundation of the four virtues.
The most common definition of Karuna is compassion. Karuna is the understanding of suffering and the desire to help remove harm and suffering from ourselves and others.
Mudita is a pure joy unadulterated by self-interest, in contrast to envy.
Upeshka means equanimity, non-attachment, or even-mindedness. Upeshka is the most important virtue when it comes to letting things go.
Buddhism encourages practitioners to let go of the idea of a perfect partner and accept their romantic partner, faults, and all.
While there isn’t much in Buddhist about organized marriage, Buddha’s teachings do include some salient advice on romantic relationships.
In the Sigalovada Sutta, for example, the Buddha gives practical advice and guidelines for a person who’s in love. Partners are encouraged to be attentive and courteous, as well as faithful.
Buddhism advises people to not look down on each other as this leads to resentment, pain, and suffering.
The Buddha encourages partners to share authority, balance their household duties, and be welcoming to each other’s families.
In general, the teachings of the Buddha advise people in romantic relationships to try not to be harsh or oppressive towards one another.
You can achieve this by trying to be calm and compassionate, while always trying to practice letting things go.
In general, it’s teachings encourage both partners to dedicate themselves to grow as individuals and to grow their love in a reciprocal, balanced way.
Do Buddhists Believe in Soulmates?
Buddhism doesn’t give many rules to its followers. Buddhists are free to fall in love, marry, or cohabit. Buddhists don’t believe in a soul, so, technically they don’t believe in soulmates.
However, companionship and romantic relationships are by no means forbidden or frowned upon in the teachings of the Buddha.
In Buddhism, people believe they don’t only live one life but many, before and after the one right now.
In the Samajivina Sutta, the Buddha advises that, if two people want to see each other in the present life and the life to come, they should be ‘in tune in convictions, in tune in virtue, in tune in generosity, and in tune in discernment.’
Buddhism offers advice to give soulmates the best chance of being in a happy, long-lasting relationship in their present life.
The teachings of Buddha encourage followers to accept their soulmate for who they are, no matter what happens through the practice of forgiveness, understanding, and commitment.
Buddhists believe that a good life is a life following the teachings of the Buddha and trying to stay the path to wisdom and enlightenment.
In a relationship, this means soulmates should try to make the best of every situation to progress along their journey to personal fulfillment.
Can Buddhists Get Divorced?
While Buddhism encourages lifelong partnerships, nothing is banning or prohibiting divorce if both partners would be better off separating.
However, by following the teachings of the Buddha, you should, in theory, never have to get divorced.
On the other hand, Buddhists believe its better for people to separate if they need to.
For example, people should divorce if staying together does more harm than good in the long run.
The Five Precepts of Buddhism are five moral principles that practitioners live by. The third Precept offers advice for a healthy and successful marriage, instructing
Buddhists not to commit adultery or ‘sexual misconduct.’ Buddhism also advises that men shouldn’t marry women a lot younger than them, saying that the difference in age might lead to problems of incompatibility and divorce.
Can Buddhist Monks Have Relationships?
In most religions, the monks are the most devoted worshippers, dedicating their whole lives to secluded, sometimes silent prayer and minimal lifestyles.
However, in Buddhism, someone who becomes a monk is under no obligation to spend their entire life in the monastery.
Many monks may spend only a year or so living the monk lifestyle before going back into mainstream society
Some monks do stay in the monastery for their whole lives, though. While living in the monastic community, Buddhist monks do forego relationships.
They are celibate, which means they don’t have romantic partners, marry, or have children.
Be remaining celibate, Buddhist monks can focus entirely on continuing on the path to enlightenment.
Marriage, having kids, raising a family, and working can distract someone dedicating their entire life to following the teachings of the Buddha.
Can Buddhists Marry Non-Buddhists?
In short, yes, a Buddhist can marry a non-Buddhist. Marriage in Buddhism is a lot more like marriage in a civil partnership than many other organizes religions where spiritual leaders often lead large, elaborate ceremonies.
In Buddhism, marriage is a civil ceremony that legally unites the two people marrying.
Buddhist monks can bless the wedding, but they do not conduct the service. The marriage ceremony itself usually reflects the culture of the people marrying, and there isn’t one traditional or formal Buddhist wedding ceremony.
Buddhists regard marriage as a social construct. There also isn’t much about marriage in Buddhist texts. The decision to marry is very much left up the individual.
Practitioners of Buddhism decide if they want to mary or not, who they want to marry, and whether or not they want to have children.
They might get married for numerous reasons that are often similar to other religions and philosophies.
Some Buddhists marry to unite with the person they love and believe is the right partner, while others choose marriage to provide a stable groundwork for a family.
Living, Loving, and Letting Go
Buddhism has helped millions of people live better lives for thousands of years and continues to help people every single day.
The virtues encouraged in the teachings of the Buddha can help people improve their lives and the lives of people around them.
Falling in love can be one of the most exciting, unpredictable times in our life. The last thing we want is a complicated set of rules making things complicated or even impossible.
Buddhism is one of the most generous of all the world religions in the way it encourages without admonishing.
So, whether you’re a Buddhist, in a relationship with one of them, or just interested, read the Buddhist texts and take the teachings on board.
Not only can they help you grow as an individual, but they’ll undoubtedly help your relationship grow into higher levels of compassion and love.