Maybe I'll get enlightened instead of having kids.

One question with undertaking a quest like “get enlightened” is: how do I plan to do this? I’m not prepared to give up my career. A healthy social life is, well, healthy, and I’m not prepared to give that up either. I’d like to get married someday. How will I find time to do all the things that everyone else does, and also get enlightened?

Here’s an idea: not have kids.

Kids don’t make you happier, for any definition of happier. I particularly don’t think kids would make me happier. And one more enlightened being in the world is probably more beneficial in a grand sense than 2 or 3 more confused small people. I don’t see much of a downside here.

(I want to put some disclaimer here that I know enlightenment is not a panacea, and then go on to describe all the ways that people who have achieved enlightenment are not automatically perfect radiant superman buddhas, but I said I’d stop blogging, so I’ll have to save that for another time.)


helicopter -

This is a funny thing to argue with you, but here goes:
That’s quite a statement, and I wholeheartedly disagree.
Kids made us happier.

Until you have one, you can’t know the joy they bring.
And a great deal of enlightenment.
They help you experience the joy of discovery all over again, which is no small feat for a jaded adult.
And they help you lose yourself in the boundless love for someone else.
I’m just sayin.

Mr T -

I thought I was happy. My two kids have been in the center of my universe for 25 years. I loved every minute of it. Like Cat Stevens, I am old, but I’m happy.
On the other hand, without them I would have more money and more stuff. I could have gone more places. To think of all the extra clients and cases to remember in my dotage.
I guess I’m not enlightened.

Dan -

Hmm, in retrospect, the most likely way a reader will interpret this post is not the way I intended it. I think I made a few main mistakes.

First thing: I said “kids don’t make you happier” when I should have said “on average, kids don’t make people happier.” The latter statement is pretty well supported by the evidence provided in the link, and I’m not aware of opposing evidence. I think of it kinda like playing one hand of blackjack: some parents win, some lose, but on average if you have kids you will probably end up slightly less happy (/life-satisfied/maritally-satisfied/etc).

Second thing: I didn’t mean this post to be prescriptive at all! I’m trying to figure out what I should do; I’m not telling other people what they should be doing, or saying that their choices were wrong. I’m rather glad that certain people have decided to have kids :)

Third thing: by “get enlightened instead of having kids”, I didn’t mean that having kids makes you any less enlightened, or that the two are opposed. I meant that I could put the time and energy that I would have spent on kids into meditation instead.

Anyway, I’m happy to discuss this here or offline. But don’t read too much into it or worry too much- this is one late-night speculation of a kid who’s gone off to India. I’m not making any permanent life decisions here.

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