Living in Tune
President Obama recently announced his full support for marriage equality. This is an historic event for LGBT rights advocates, and for human rights in general. Hopefully, people will finally realize that marriage is really all about love – regardless of gender, race, religion, etc.
A long time ago – that is, thousands of years ago when the Buddha was still around, arranged marriages were still very much a part of tradition and culture of the time. However, despite this archaic arrangement, in the Samajivina Sutta we find a couple (who happen to be the parents of the Arhat Nakula) who are still deeply in love and wish to be with each other in the future – that is, to be reborn together in the next life. Therefore, the Buddha gives advice to Nakula’s parents on how they can still be in union, knowing and rejoicing with each other, in the realm of devas in the next life. This is timeless advice that can apply to any couple – not just to arranged heterosexual marriages.
Lay Buddhists still very much live within the sensual world, and are therefore subject to rebirth in the rounds of Samsara. Buddha is very considerate of that and as this Sutta makes apparent, he never expected householders to follow the Vinaya (monastic codes of conduct) and practice as renunciate Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis (i.e. monks and nuns). However, as a result of present kusala kamma (wholesome actions), householders can again be in union with their loved ones in the realm of devas.
“Both husband and wife,
Having faithfulness, conviction, and virtue,
Being generous and responsive,
Being restrained and living righteously by the Dhamma –
They are the couple who addresses each other lovingly.
Their beneficial results will be abundant;
Their living together would be meaningful.
When they are in tune with equal virtues, their enemies will be dispirited.
Having followed the Dhamma here in this world,
The couple will not only lead a happy life here and now,
But they will also delight in the realms of the devas,
Enjoying heavenly sensual bliss in the life to come.”