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Lions Roar : March 2016
WHAT DOES IT MEAN to have a Bud- dhist wedding? It’s hard to say. As far as we know, the Buddha didn’t take a posi- tion on marriage. The most we have from him are a few comments about some of the difficulties of marriage, and his reminders to be kind and generous. As to same-gender marriage, since you ask, the Buddha had nothing to say about that at all. He also didn’t have anything to say about monogamy, polygamy, or polyan- dry. (Some find references to a “third sex” interesting, but these were always made in regard to monastic life, not marriage.) Back then, Buddhists hoped that more and more people would turn from the householder life, embrace celibacy, and follow the great quest for liberation. This has continued to be a strong current within many forms of Buddhism today. A consequence is that, unlike the other great religions, Bud- dhism does not have traditional reli- gious marriage ceremonies. Each culture within which Buddhism has found a home deals with marriage in its own way. For the most part, Buddhist clerics have not traditionally officiated at weddings; although monks or nuns might attend a wedding, their presence is seen as a blessing. Or the couple might visit their home temple after the wedding for a brief formal blessing. Today in the West, many convert Bud- dhists, as well as immigrant and birth- right Buddhists, want marriage vows that both express their Buddhist values and respect of Western cultural norms. Often, HEART & MIND How to Have a (More) Buddhist Wedding It’s your special day, so why not bring some dharma to the proceedings? JAMES ISHMAEL FORD shares tips on how to do it—while not weirding anyone out. GERARDSPERRY JAMES ISHMAEL FORD is the author of several books, including Zen Master WHO? and If You’re Lucky, Your Heart Will Break. As a Zen priest and Unitarian Universalist minister, James Ishmael Ford has officiated weddings for all kinds of folks, including our own deputy editor, Rod Meade Sperry, and his wife, Maura, in 2002. LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2016 21 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE