General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:20 pm


Postby whitegrass » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:24 pm

What does the Buddha say about incest? Is incest morally permissible in Buddhism?

User avatar
Former staff member
Posts: 6284
Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:22 pm
Location: Budapest

Re: Incest

Postby Astus » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:44 pm

Incest is an immoral act in Buddhism, and it is part of the third lay vow that one does not engages in such an act.

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "There are these two bright qualities that safeguard the world. Which two? Conscience & concern (for the results of unskillful actions). If these two bright qualities did not guard the world, there would be no recognition of 'mother' here, no recognition of 'mother's sister,' 'uncle's wife,' 'teacher's wife,' or 'wife of those who deserve respect.' The world would be immersed in promiscuity, like rams with goats, roosters with pigs, or dogs with jackals. But because these two bright qualities guard the world, there is recognition of 'mother,' 'mother's sister,' 'uncle's wife,' 'teacher's wife,' & 'wife of those who deserve respect.'"

Those in whom concern & conscience are not always found have strayed from the bright root, are headed to birth & death. But those in whom concern & conscience are rightly established always, who are mature in the holy life: they are calm, their further becoming ended.

(Iti 42)
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.

1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

User avatar
Posts: 2837
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Incest

Postby LastLegend » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:07 pm

Don't do it.

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

Posts: 2933
Joined: Thu Feb 25, 2010 10:41 am

Re: Incest

Postby plwk » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:19 pm

What about the Lord's former wife, Yasodhara, who was His own cousin, daughter to Pamita, King Suddhodana's sister?
That's incestous marriage by today's standards in some cultures (but allowable in some others) ?

An interesting excerpt I found...
Incest (agammagamaṇa, literally ‘going to what should not be gone to,’ or adhamma raga, ‘wrong desire’), is sexual behaviour between close relatives. Incest is sometimes thought of as sexual contact between a parent and child or between siblings, but many cultures consider even sex between second or third cousins to be incestuous. Incest between parents and children and between siblings existed in ancient India. The Vedas include several myths in which the gods commit incest; e.g. Agni, Brahma and Prajāpati. It is occasionally mentioned in Buddhist literature too.

In the Udaya Jātaka the Bodhisattva is a prince who is compelled to marry his half-sister. Although the two sleep in the same room for many years they remain celibate (Ja.IV,105). In the Dasaratha Jātaka the princes Rāma and Lakkhaṇa marry their sister (Ja.IV,130).

As with many ancient peoples the Sākyans, the tribe the Buddha belonged to, had a myth about their origins which included brother-sister incest. When the Koliyans were involved in a dispute with the Sakyans they taunted them by sayings that they ‘cohabited with their sisters like dogs, jackals and other animals’ (Ja.V,413).

During the Buddha’s life there was an incident where a nun became infatuated with her son who was a monk and had sex with him, an offence entailing expulsion from the Saṅgha (Vin.III,35). When this was brought to the Buddha’s attention He said,
‘Does not this foolish man know that a mother shall not lust after her son or a son after his mother?’ (A.III,67-8).
Perhaps referring to this incident the Buddha also said, ‘Shame and fear of blame, are the two states that protect the world.
If they did not protect the world it would not be clear who was one’s mother or mother’s sister, one’s uncle’s wife and the world would fall into confusion. The promiscuity seen amongst goats and sheep, chickens and pigs, dogs and jackals would prevail.’ (A.I,51).

User avatar
Former staff member
Posts: 1739
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:53 am

Re: Incest

Postby Seishin » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:16 pm

I think it's worth noting here that what Buddha did before and after enlightenment are different things. Before enlightenment he was very much part of samsara and wrapped up in it.


Former staff member
Posts: 8196
Joined: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:04 pm

Re: Incest

Postby DGA » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:43 pm

Seishin wrote:I think it's worth noting here that what Buddha did before and after enlightenment are different things. Before enlightenment he was very much part of samsara and wrapped up in it.


Indeed. It's also important to define carefully what is meant by the term incest. In some cultures, relations between first cousins (for instance) are not considered taboo.

Posts: 1568
Joined: Thu Jan 07, 2010 6:44 pm

Re: Incest

Postby Josef » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:48 pm

whitegrass wrote:What does the Buddha say about incest? Is incest morally permissible in Buddhism?

I would love to know why you ask.

If you are concerned with the karma of Jamie and Cersei Lannister, I assure you they are in more trouble for other deeds.

(Sorry, my nerdery would not permit me to leave a thread about incest without a Game of Thrones reference.)

Return to “Dharma in Everyday Life”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 26 guests