Whose Proverbs Covered a Broader Range of Topics: Buddha or Solomon? (What About Family?)

The following is a continuation in the series which began with: Whose Proverbs Covered a Broader Range of Topics: Buddha or Solomon? (What About Women?)

When Solomon taught on something, an amazing 48% of the time the Buddha was silent! Interestingly, those topics on which the Buddha was silent are totally predictable and expected. The Buddha was raised as a prince and totally renounced his wealth, status and family to give up everything in search of wisdom. So on what matters was the Buddha nearly silent? All the things he renounced: wealth, government, power, business, women, family, and children!

Let’s look at some topics on which the Buddha was silent, or nearly so. Of the 423 proverbs of the Buddha, the following ones pertain to family:

Mind Over Family

Not a mother, not a father will do so much, nor any other relative; a well-directed mind will do us greater service. (Dhammapada 43)

No Help at Death

Sons are no help, nor a father, nor relations; there is no help from kinsfolk for one whom death has seized. (Dhammapada 288)

A True Brahmana

A man does not become a Brahmana by his platted hair, by his family, or by birth; in whom there is truth and righteousness, he is blessed, he is a Brahmana. (Dhammapada 393)

A true Brahmana goes scatheless, though he have killed father and mother, and two valiant kings, though he has destroyed a kingdom with all its subjects. (Dhammapada 294)

A true Brahmana goes scatheless, though he have killed father and mother, and two holy kings, and an eminent man besides. (Dhammapada 295)


Pleasant in the world is the state of a mother, pleasant the state of a father, pleasant the state of a Samana, pleasant the state of a Brahmana. (Dhammapada 332)

For the most part, the Buddha takes a very negative view of family. He states a “well-directed mind” will do a person greater service than any family member. That family is useless at death. That becoming a Brahmana has nothing to do with family, and that a true Brahmana would be untouched even if they killed their parents. In only one proverb does he talk about anything positive with regards to being a parent, and then he goes only as far as to call it pleasant.

Consider these proverbs of Solomon:

Heed Parent’s Teaching

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. (Proverbs 1:8, NIV)

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding. (Proverbs 4:1, NIV)

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes. (Proverbs 13:1, NIV)

Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.  (Proverbs 23:22, NIV)

A discerning son heeds instruction, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father. (Proverbs 28:7, NIV)

The Wise Bring Joy

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son brings grief to his mother. (Proverbs 10:1, NIV)

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother. (Proverbs 15:20, NIV)

The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. (Proverbs 23:24, NIV)

A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth. (Proverbs 29:3, NIV)

The Foolish Bring Ruin and Grief

Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise. (Proverbs 11:29, NIV)

A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the mother who bore him. (Proverbs 17:25, NIV)

A foolish child is a father’s ruin, and a quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof. (Proverbs 19:13, NIV)

Don’t Steal from Family or Curse Them

Whoever robs their father and drives out their mother is a child who brings shame and disgrace. (Proverbs 19:26, NIV)

Whoever robs their father or mother and says, “It’s not wrong,” is partner to one who destroys. (Proverbs 28:24, NIV)

If someone curses their father or mother, their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness. (Proverbs 20:20, NIV)

Better a Prudent Servant than a Disgraceful Son

A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son and will share the inheritance as one of the family. (Proverbs 17:2, NIV)

Solomon’s teaching on family definitely covers a much broader scope. He admonishes children to be obedient to their parents. He then contrasts the joy of having wise children with the ruin and grief of having foolish children. Solomon teaches not to steal from family or to curse them. He also states that a prudent servant might displace a disgraced son to the point of having a share in the inheritance. While the Buddha predominantly has a negative take on family, Solomon has a broader range of teaching on the topic, and illustrates the positive as well as the potential negatives of family life.