Human Life and Problems
Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda
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Vietnamese version :
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xã hội hôm nay
human beings we have achieved a level of material progress we would not
have even dreamed of barely a century ago. The marvels of modern
technology have given us enormous power over the forces of nature. We
have conquered many disasters but the ultimate question is: 'Are we
happier than our ancestors were in the past?' The answer is: 'No'.
The abuse of women,
children and the underprivileged religious and racial discrimination,
color bar, and caste distinction continue on unabated.
Perhaps those who enjoy
material comforts suffer more acutely than their 'poor' fellow beings.
Mental illnesses, stress and loneliness are some of the serious problems
we now face in our modern society. But the vital question is: Who is
responsible for all the evils that haunt the world today?'
There are many who are
quite eager to take the credit for the progress that mankind has
achieved. Religionists, scientists, politicians and economists- are all
quick to claim that humanity is indebted to them for progress. But who
must share the blame? I believe that everyone is equally responsible.
Let us turn the spotlight on ourselves and ask ourselves to declare in
all honesty if we also have been responsible for failing to bring peace
and happiness to our fellow beings.
All of us are
responsible for some of the horrors taking place in our midst today
because we are too afraid to tell the truth. Let us take for example the
exploitation of man's desire for sensual gratification. Greed for money
and power has led some unscrupulous people to develop a multi-million
dollar industry, to providing sensual pleasures in every possible way
and young children are being trapped and victimized in the process.
Never before in the
history of the world, has the human race been in such great need to be
free from conflict, ill-feeling, selfishness, decent and strife. We are
in dire need of peace nor only in our personal life at home and work,
but also at the global level. The tension, anxiety and fear arising from
the conflict are not only disruptive but continue to exert a constant
drain on our well-being, mentally and physically. In their desire to
completely dominate everything around them, humans have become the most
violent beings in this world. They have succeeded, to some extent, but
in so doing have paid a terrible price. They have sacrificed peace of
mind for material comfort and power.
The basic problem we
face today is moral degeneration and misused intelligence. In spite of
all the advances made by science and technology, the world is far from
being safe and peaceful. Science and technology have indeed made human
life more insecure than ever before. If there is no spiritual
improvement in the way we handle our problems then humanity itself is in
danger of being wiped out.
GOING BEYOND WORLDLY
The religions of the
world have always maintained that human happiness does not depend merely
upon the satisfaction of physical appetites and passions, or upon the
acquisition of material wealth and power. Even if we have all the
worldly pleasures, we still cannot be happy and peaceful if our minds
are constantly obsessed with anxiety and hatred arising from ignorance
with regard to the true nature of existence.
Genuine happiness cannot
be defined solely in terms of wealth, power, children , fume or
inventions. These no doubt bring some temporary physical and mental
comfort but they cannot provide lasting happiness in the ultimate sense.
This is particularly true when possessions are unjustly acquired or
obtained through misappropriation. They become a source of pain, guilt
and sorrow rather than bring happiness to the possessor.
Too often we are made to
believe that pleasing the five senses can guarantee happiness.
Fascinating sights, enchanting music, fragrant scents, delicious tastes
and enticing body contact mislead and deceive us, only to make us slaves
to worldly pleasures. While no one will deny that there is momentary
happiness in the anticipation of pleasure as well as during the
gratification of the senses, such pleasures are fleeting. When one views
these pleasures objectively, one will truly understand the fleeting and
unsatisfactory nature of such pleasures. One will thus gain a better
understanding of realty: what this existence really means and how true
happiness can be gained!
We can develop and
maintain inner peace only by turning our thoughts inwards instead
outwards. We must be aware of the dangers and pitfalls of the
destructive forces of greed, hatred and delusion. We must learn to
cultivate and sustain the benevolent forces of kindness, love and
harmony. The battle-ground is within us and is not fought with weapons
or with any other sources but only with our mental awareness of all
negative and positive forces within our minds.
Mindfulness makes a full
man. A full man speaks with an open mind. And like a parachute, the mind
works better when it is fully opened. This awareness is the key to
unlock the door from conflict and strife as well as wholesome thoughts
The mind is the ultimate
source of all happiness and misery. For there to be happiness in the
world, the mind of an individual must first be at peace and happy.
Individual happiness is conducive to the happiness of society, while the
happiness of society means happiness of the nation. It is on the
happiness of nations that the happiness of this world is built. Here we
must use the image of a net. Imagine the whole universe as an immense
net and each being as a single knot in this net. If we disturb one knot,
the whole net is shaken. So each individual must be happy to keep the
From the lessons of
life, it is clear that real victory is never gained by strife. Success
is be never achieved by conflict. Happiness is never experienced through
ill-feeling. Peace is never achieved by accumulating more wealth or
gaining worldly power. Peace is gained only by letting go of our
selfishness and helping the world with acts of love. Peace in the heart
conquers all opposing forces. It also helps us maintain a healthy mind
and live a rich and fulfilling life of happiness and contentment. 'Since
it is in the minds of men that wars are fought, it is in the minds of
men that the fortresses of peace must be built'.
Today, especially in
many so-called affluent societies, people are facing more problems,
dissatisfaction and mental derangement than in under-developed
societies. This is because men have become slaves in their sensual
pleasures and crave for worldly enjoyment without proper moral and
spiritual development. Their tensions, fears, anxieties, and insecurity
disturb their minds. This state of affairs has become the biggest
problem in many countries. Since people in developed societies have not
learnt to maintain contentment in their lives hence naturally they will
There are four areas
where man is trying to find the aim of life:
- Material or
-Likes and dislikes or pleasant or unpleasant feeling;
- Studying and reasoning;
- Sympathetic understanding, based on pure justice and fair dealing,
The last one is the
realistic and lasting method which never creates disappointment. Today,
people need more wealth, not only for their living and to fulfill their
obligations, but because their craving for accumulation has increased.
It has become a sort of competition.
In experience worldly
pleasure there must be an external object or partner but to gain mental
happiness it is not necessary to such have an external object.
Many young people have
lost confidence in themselves and have to face difficulty in dealing
what to do with their lives. The main cause of this mental attitude is
excessive ambition and anxieties created by competition, jealousy and
insecurity. Such problems naturally create a very bad atmosphere for
others who want to live peacefully. It is a fact that when one
individual creates a problem, his behavior in turn effects the well
being of others.
Animal never experience
happiness but pleasure. Happiness is not based on the arbitrary
satisfaction of one's own self but in the sacrifice of one's pleasure
for the well-being of others.
USING WEALTH PROPERTY
To most people a wealthy
person, community or nation is one that is 'rich' in the sense of
possessing assets or money which constitute material gain. The word
'wealth' originally meant state of well-being (weal). The word
'commonwealth' carries this meaning. But it is now used to refer to
property which generally promotes material well-being rather than the
mental state of being well.
Of course we cannot deny
that desire for wealth is a valuable adjunct to success if held within
proper bounds. Desire , in itself, is not evil. Unrestrained, however,
desire leads to restless discontentment, envy, greed, fear and cruelty
to fellow beings. The accumulation of money may aid in the achievement
of a kind of happiness to some extent, but does not in itself bring
total satisfaction. Where most men of vast means fail is when they
confuse the means with the end. They do not understand the nature,
meaning and proper function of wealth, that is merely a 'means' by which
one can gain the 'end' of supreme happiness. But one can be happy
without being rich. An old Chinese tale will illustrate this.
Once there was a king
who wanted to know how to be truly happy. One of his ministers advised
him that to be happy he would have to wear the shirt of a man who was
truly happy. After a long time he found such a man, but the happy man
had no shirt to give the king. That was why he was happy!
Wealth should be used
well and wisely. It should be used for one's welfare as well as that of
others. If a person spends his time clinging to his property, without
fulfilling his obligations toward his country, people and religion, he
will lead an empty life plague with worries. Too many people are
obsessed with material gain, to the point that they forget their
responsibilities to their families and fellow beings. Happiness is a
strange thing. The more you share it, the more you get satisfaction .
If one is selfish, when
the time comes for one to leave the world, one will realize too late
that one had not made full use of his or her wealth. No one, even a
wealthy person, will have really benefited from the riches so
ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH
Some people think that
by accumulation more and more wealth, they can overcome their problems.
So they try to become billionaires, working hard, but after becoming
billionaires, they have to face many more unexpected problems -
insecurity, unrest, enemies and difficulty in maintaining their wealth.
This, clearly shows that the accumulation of wealth alone is not the
solution for human problems. Wealth no doubt can help to overcome
certain problems but not all the world's happiness can be gained through
money. Money cannot eradicate natural problems.
thinkers and rationalists have pointed out the nature of human
weaknesses and how to overcome them. However, many people regard them as
mere theories and not as solutions to their problems. Sometimes the
intellect actually creates more problems because it increases our
egoistic opinions about ourselves.
THE BUDDHA'S ADVICE FOR
misconceptions held by certain quarters that Buddhism, with its spirit
of tolerance and particularly in its practice of meditation, does not
encourage its followers to work hard and to be industrious. The Buddha ,
in his many discourses, in fact strongly encouraged his followers not to
be idle and indolent but to work hard and to be industrious so as to
accumulate wealth through righteous means to maintain economic
stability. Whilst encouraging the accumulation of wealth, the Buddha
incidentally warned his followers not to violate any ethical or
religious principles in so doing. He also advised that man should not
become a slave to the mere accumulation of wealth just for accumulation
for sake but to protect it without neglect and waste. He advised that
wealth should serve as an adequate means of livelihood for the family,
should be utilized to assist relatives and friends where necessary, and
to help the poor and needy as charitable acts.
In his discourse on
various types of happiness in relation to wealth, the Buddha gave four
practical classifications of happiness as follows:
- Happiness in the
possession of wealth through righteous and legitimate means
- Happiness through
the proper and correct usage of accumulated wealth;
- Happiness in the
knowledge free from indebtedness to anyone;
- Happiness in the
knowledge that no illicit or illegitimate means had been employed in
the course of accumulating wealth and that no one had been harmed or
injured in so doing.
MAN'S PLACE ON THIS
From the Buddhist point
of view, man is different from animals because only he alone has
developed his intelligence and understanding to reflect his reasoning.
Man means 'one who has mind to think'. The purpose of religion is to
help man to think
correctly, to raise him
above the level of the animal, to help him understand his relationship
with his universe and live in harmony with it so that he reaches his
ultimate goal of supreme happiness and fulfillment.
The three questions
which have baffled man ever since he was able to satisfy his three basic
survival needs of food, shelter and procreation are:'Who am I? What am I
doing here? Am I needed? Throughout the history of man, many
thought-systems have evolved, with religion being foremost among them,
to provide answers to these questions. Naturally, since man asked them
in the first place, the answers were all seen from the point of view of
MAN IN THE UNIVERSE
Long ago man had been
seen himself as being in the centre of the Universe, as its most
important inhabitant. According to this point of view , the world was
made for humans, for themselves to obtain from it what they wanted
because they were the most favored creatures on it and everything that
existed on this planet was for their sole pleasure.
This so called
"Humanistic" view may be directly responsible for the terrible rape of
our planet and our disregard for the rights of other beings which
co-exist with us. For example there have been tragic cases where certain
species of animals become extinct through needless slaughter by
unsympathetic humans in pursuit of their sporting pleasure or business
purposes. Even today the subjugation of nature by science and technology
is being applauded. We must increase the number of those amongst us who
have already realized the vast destruction that has been wrecked by man
in the name of 'progress'. Up until now nature has been most forgiving
and it has allowed man to continue to think that this planet was made
for him to rape and plunder at will, to satisfy his insatiable greed for
material possessions and sensual gratification. Today there are many
warning signs to indicate that the comfortable times are about to end.
Hopefully, if Compassion and Right View will not save the world , then
at least the same selfishness and desire for self-preservation and
self-gratification will force man to give some sensible thought to our
impoverished environment and our suffering fellow creatures on this
To understand the place
of man in the Universe from a Buddhist point of view we must first of
all look at the Buddha's views on the cosmos. According to Him, the
Universe is to be understood in terms of a vast cosmic space. His
teaching categorized the whole universe into three groups: planets with
living beings, planets with elements and only space itself.
We can see man as a
specially favored creature that had come into existence to enjoy the
pleasures of a specially formed planet or the centre of the universe,
Buddhism views man as a tiny being not only in strength but also in life
span. Man is no more than just another creature but with intelligence
that inhabits universe.
Biologically, humans are
weaker than any other beings big or small. Other animals are born armed
with some sort of weapon for their own protection and survival. Humans,
on the other hand have their mind for every thing but not as a weapon.
Humans are regarded as cultured living beings because they are to
harmonize with others but not to destroy them. Religion was discovered
by them for this purpose. Everything that lives share the same life
force which energizes man. They are part of the same cosmic energy which
takes various forms during endless rebirths, passing from human to
animal, to divine form and back again, motivated by the powerful craving
for existence (the survival instinct) which takes them from birth to
death and to rebirth again in a never-ending cycle called samsara. The
three detrimental sources of man which bind him to samsara are Greed,
Hatred and Delusion.
This cycle can only be
broken irrevocably through the development of Wisdom which destroy these
fetters and puts an end to craving. Our share fate as beings who inhabit
this planet is that we all want desperately to go on living.
'All tremble at the
All fear death
One should neither strike
nor cause to strike' (Dhammapada)
All things depend on
each other for their existence. A man cannot see himself as different
from (let alone being superior to) other beings because his body is
solely dependent on food, which means he is dependent on plants, water,
oxygen, etc. for his existence. At the same time his mind also exists
dependently because the existence of thoughts rely on sense data which
are derived from the external world of objects and persons. The whole
universe must be seen as an immense net: if only one knot in it is
shaken, the whole net vibrates. Man owes allegiance to the world because
he is dependent on it for his existence both physically and mentally.
His attitude towards the world should therefore not be the arrogance of
a pampered only child but one of humility: the world was not made for
him alone, nor is the world always made out in his favor. Worldly
conditions have no favoritism; they are neither kind nor cruel but
neutral. Man exists because the rest of the world allows him to do so.
Therefore he should not
try to squeeze things out from the world only for his own benefit. He
must maintain a sense of awe and respect towards nature and all beings.
Man is a relative newcomer to the planet Earth. He must learn to respect
his other brethren. He must learn to behave more like a guest rather
than a player in a card game where the winner takes all.
It was in recognition of
this interdependence that the Buddha advised his followers to practice
metta (loving-kindness) to all, to radiate that compassion towards all
beings. The Buddha does not mean that men should extend their love to
fellow human beings only (he certainly does not recommend special
treatment for their 'fellow Buddhists'). Whenever he talks about loving
others he always speaks of 'all beings' (sabbe satta) even those lacking
material form, the conscious, the super conscious.
Three modes of birth:
living beings are those that are moisture-born, egg-born, womb-born and
those spontaneously arising in other planes of existence. Clearly the
Buddha was teaching that if a man is to live on this planet he must
develop an attitude of loving kindness towards not only fellow human
beings but all beings that inhabit this planet as well as in other
planes of existence. Only then can he vanquish the selfish thoughts
which place his needs and survival above the needs of all others.
In Buddhist cosmology
man is simply the inhabitant of one of the existing planes one can go to
after death. These range from superconscious levels through the highly
sensuous down to the four unhappy states. Man occupies a mid-way
position in these realms. The so-called divine realms are 'happy' state
but they too are impermanent. Although there are indications to lead us
to believe that some intelligent living beings do exist in other world
systems, it is not verifiable whether there are beings similar to humans
in other planets of the universe. It is in terms of this infinite vast
cosmic context that Buddhism tries to understand the place of man in the
universe. In terms of that context man seems to be small. We must add to
this man's propensity for cruelty, for his ability to inflict pain on
others which makes him at times far less admirable than animals which
only attack to satisfy their basic need for food, shelter or sex.
MAN'S UNIQUE POSITION
One might argue that
this is a very negative view of man, relegating him to an inferior
position and disregarding his magnificent achievements in philosophy,
religion, psychology, science, the arts, architecture, literature and
development of culture and the like. Far from it, in this cosmic context
humans assume a unique position because they have the most rare
privilege of easy accessibility to salvation. It is for three reasons.
Human world is a good,
well-balanced mixture of pleasure and pain. When pleasure is intensified
(in the divine realms) or pain in predominant (in the lower world) one's
mind does not turn towards spirituality. Buddhists maintain that extreme
austerity or extreme self indulgence are not conducive to the
development of wisdom and understanding . The Middle Path between
extreme pleasure and austerity is advocated and the human world provides
man the opportunity to tread the Middle Path. The second reason is the
relative short span of human life and the unpredictability of the time
of death. Faced with imminent death one is more often inclined to
spirituality. The third reason is that while in other realms the
inhabitants are mere passive recipients of the effects of their past
kamma, man is a favorable position to create fresh kamma, and is thus
able to shape his own destiny.
All of this gives man
the responsibility to work out his own salvation in the human plane. He
is in effect his own Creator and Savior. Many others believe that
religion has come down from heaven but Buddhists know that Buddhism
started on the earth and reached heaven.
What this implies is
that each man has within him the Buddha-seed (potential for perfection)
which he can develop without any external aid. One can become a Buddha
through birth in the human plane , because it is here that he can
experience existence in its entirely. Buddhists would certainly agree
with Shakespeare's view of the human paradox -
What a piece of work
how noble in reason,
how infinite in faculties in form and moving;
how express and admirable in action,
how like an angel in apprehension,
how like a god, the beauty of the world
the paragon of animals; and yet to me what is this quintessence of
In many ways man is
ignorant, yet he has the seed to become the highest of all beings, a
fully enlightened one. Some people say that human life is between heaven
and hell because the human mind can be developed easily to experience
heavenly bliss, and when it is abused it could very easily experience
suffering in hell.
Man is man only if he
has that human concern or human heartiness.
Proud man hath no heaven
The envious man hath no neighbor
An angry man hath not even himself.
'The individual by
himself is helpless. Hence the social life of man which brings forth
co-operative power. Man cannot be man without society. Man is one with
nature' . -- (Greek philosopher)
In the teaching of the
Buddha it is mentioned that human beings experience heavenly bliss when
the objects impinging on the five senses are favorable and soothing.
On the other hand they
also experience suffering like in hell if the objects are irritable and
WHAT BUDDHISM REQUIRES
What Buddhism require of
man? A Chinese scholar once asked a monk what constituted the essence of
Buddhism and the sage replied:
To do good, not to do
To purify mind,
This is the teaching of all the Buddha's.
Naturally this scholar
had expected a much more 'profound' answer, something deep and abstruse,
and he remarked that even a child of three could understand that. But
the sage replied that while a child of three could understand it, a man
of eighty could not practice it !
The Buddha has similarly
cautioned his attendant disciple , Ananda not to regard seemingly simple
teachings as something easy to follow.
This is the essence of
Buddhism- Man is required to follow startlingly 'simple' precepts in his
search for emancipation, but the practice of these can be extremely
To begin with:
-he must not take the
life of any living creature knowingly;
- he must not take
anything not given
-he must refrain from
lying and harsh frivolous speech;
-he must guard against
-he must no take
anything (like drugs and liquor) which causes him to lose his
These are important
Buddhist principles to observe.
These principles are not
meant for expression but to be simply put into practice with
understanding. The central problem of the spiritual life is one of
active, practical application, not a matter of intellectual knowledge.
The ultimate aim of man
in Buddhism is to break finally and irrevocably the bonds that bind him
to constant rebirth in the repeated birth- and- death cycle of samsara.
He is destined to be subjected to an endless round of rebirths because
in his ignorance, man conceives of an enduring entity called on 'ego' or
Taking the illusion of
an ego for real he develops selfish desires. Man is thus endlessly
struggling to satisfy his cravings but he is never satisfied. It is like
scratching a sore to find temporary relief, only to discover that in
doing so the itch has increased because the sore has been aggravated.
THE INSTITUTION OF
Marriage is a
partnership in which two individuals of opposite sexes but equal worth
as human beings choose to live together. A happy and lasting marriage
requires a lot of hard work and commitment where love is fed with shared
experiences, joys and sorrows.
Marriage is the
culmination of love by two individuals committed to one another by a
common bond. 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to
the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach ...'(Robert
Browning). We believe as Browning does, that love is the essence of life
itself, something which transcends boundaries, race and creed.
Marriage has failed to
fulfill its purposes today because people have failed to recognize the
importance of equality and respect for women. These privileges are
enjoyed by many women in a large number of areas of human activity.
Strangely when it comes to marriage, women are still treated badly. The
importance of the role of women in society was undoubtedly widened after
the advent of Buddhism in India, giving them a wide scope to venture
into vacations besides house-keeping. In spite of this, for the vast
majority, to get married and rear children remained the normal choice of
career. But there was a difference: married life was ennobled by the
noble position given to it by the Buddha himself to such an undertaking.
He lifted the married women from a state of servant to a state of
responsibility and importance. As an indication of the Buddha's concern
for maintenance of happiness through marriage, he laid down specific
instructions for the guidance of husband and wife.
The Buddha was full of
praise for happy couples. Among his lay disciples were Nakulamata and
Nakulapita who were considered most eminent for having lived together
amicably for a long time. The Buddha praised them and gave instructions
to others as to how they too could live happily in marriage. These
instructions given over two thousand five hundred years ago hold good
even to this day. Much misery has been experienced in modern times by
men and women in married life because they deviated from these
The institution of
marriage in ancient India was governed by the concept of caste, the
position of women, the rights of men and the four stages of the
individual's life. The Buddha's rejection of the concept of the caste
system meant that the Buddhist institution of marriage was emancipated
from these rigid and inflexible rules, regulations and rituals which had
become a great obstacle to the free and unprejudiced behavior of the
members of society both male and female.
The discourse of
Fundamentals of Buddhist Social Ethic, (Sigalovada Sutra) generally lays
down the basic pattern of relationships between husband and wife,
parents and children, and enumerates the reprisal duties that bind them
together emphasizing the most essential aspects of their common life.
The comprehensive study
of the Buddhist institution of marriage outlined in the Buddha's
teaching clearly shows that was intended for the enjoyment, promotion
and moralization of biological needs, psychological satisfaction and
material well-being of both husband and wife without any reference to
specific customs, sacraments or any kind of ideology, religious or
According to the Buddha,
cultural compatibility between husband and wife was considered as one of
the factors of successful married life. Many of today's problems in
marriage arise from the inability of the parties concerned to recognize
the sacrifices involved. Marriage is not simply lust and romance.
Romance is not a bad thing in itself, but it is emotional and has
There will be less
disillusion and heartache in marriage if we understand that, from the
illusions of romance, a deep and abiding love may emerge. Love is a
passionate and abiding desire, on the part of two people, to produce
together conditions under which each can express his of her real self
and to produce together an intellectual soil and an emotional climate in
which each can flourish, far superior to what either could achieve
In the past we heard of
blissfully married couples who shared the sweetness of love earned
through years of being together, for better or for worse. For most who
have been long-married couples, 'happily ever after did not just happen.
Couples in long, happy marriages mentioned this fact of life when asked
what made their relationships a success'. 'We worked to keep the romance
alive. We enjoyed our differences and learned from them.
'We voiced our
discontents freely and deal with them right away instead of letting them
build into thunderclouds'. But in a way, the thing all successful
couples have in the common was reflected in this observation: 'Even when
things were really bad, we were both too stubborn to quit'. Perhaps what
characterizes modern couples with problems is that they want things to
work out too easily as it happens on television. No, everything good
must be earned through hard work.
For many the road to
marital longevity has not been soothe. The bumps included many things:
inability to have children, the death of a child, a disabled child. a
difficult economic crisis and highly stressful career changes.
Although none of the
couples surveyed said so specifically it was obvious that two other
factors were important to their marital success. Firstly, even though
some couples forced considerable differences in personality and
sometimes carried heavy emotional baggage, they maintained respect for
one another always and refrained from trying to remake their partners. A
wife once told her husband: 'You married me for what I am'. He retorted,
'No, I married you for what you would become'. Now of course both
parties were wrong because their expectations were different and they
were unwilling to compromise. Secondly, none of the marriages was marred
by psychological disturbances too severe to preclude a true partnership.
There was a wife who always used to insult her husband even for a minor
mistake stating: 'You are a stupid man'. The husband on the other hand
was a tolerant man. However, one day when he was scolded by the wife
using the same word the husband retorted: ' I think you are right. If I
were not stupid man, do you think that I would ever marry a woman like
you?' From that day onwards she did not repeat that insulting word.
To achieve a successful
marriage, couples also need to understand and accept the differences
between the two genders. Couples sometimes become frustrated with each
other and wish that their partner was more like them. Knowing and being
able to tolerate the differences between men and women helps a lot in
A mate who is willing to
weather the hard times and make the adjustments that come with children,
job changes, financial difficulties or simply learning more about the
person one is married to, is the real secret to a successful marriage.
Another saying on
married life: Wife becomes a mistress to a young man, a companion to the
middle aged, and a nurse to an old man'.
Many couples with
children are determined to stay together at least until their children
are grown up. With just a little effort these years can be among the
most fulfilling times in a marriage.
Marriage is a blessing
but many people turn their married lives into misery and a curse.
Poverty is not the main cause of an unhappy married life. Both husband
and wife must learn to share the pleasure and pain of everything in
their daily lives. Mutual understanding is the secret of a happy family
In a true marriage, man
and woman think more of the partnership than they do of themselves
individually. Marriage is a bicycle made for two. A feeling of security
and contentment comes from mutual efforts.
A wife is not her
husband's servant. She deserves respect as an equal. Though a man is
generally regarded even today as being the bread winner helping out with
household chores do not demean his masculinity. At the same time, a
nagging and grumpy wife is not going to make up for shortages in the
home. Neither will her suspicion of her husband help to make a happy
marriage. If her husband has shortcomings, only tolerance and kind words
will get him to see light. It is important in marriage to keep tolerance
alive throughout. Little things can mean a lot. Right understanding and
moral conduct are the practical sides of wisdom.
From time immemorial,
flowers have been considered the language of love. They don't cost much.
Wives, or for that matter all women, attach a lot of importance to
birthdays and anniversaries, and caring husbands should never be too
busy to keep love alive with little tributes and attentions.
Trivialities such as these are at the bottom of most marital happiness.
Wives do appreciate such little attentions from their courteous husbands
and it is this lifelong goodwill that keeps the home fires burning.
A carefully developed
family affection is a simple formula that works both for keeping
marriages together and bringing up children of good character. True love
means being willing to value ones' partner and being unwilling to
devalue him or her in the presence of other people. This willingness has
to spring from the heart. The key difference between marriages that work
and those that do not is how much a couple value each other.
Criticizing, putting down or belittling a spouse particularly in the
presence of other people, erodes a relationship. And even this is not
enough as each still has to value the other as he or she is a rare gem.
Sometimes words are not
necessary if there is understanding. An elderly father one confessed to
his children that he loved their mother very much and told them to take
care of her always, even after he was no more. He confided to them that
she was the best woman in the world and that the family as indeed lucky
to have her around. The wife, now in her 60's, has seven grown children
and as many grandchildren. Yet she confessed that she never once heard
the endearing words 'I love You' ever uttered or whispered to her- not
even a variation of it. The wife, who belongs to the old school of
Chinese philosophy, is quite content with her husband's own caring ways
and concern for her happiness in their blissful married life. Her female
intuition somehow tells her that deep down in his heart he truly loves
her and that she could not have been dealt a better deck of cards. It is
in the nature of some people not to speak out their feelings, but they
care. We have to watch out for their actions. The next key to a
harmonious marriage is to work towards achieving one's objective. It is
a law of nature that if no effort is put into, for instance, a garden,
weeds will grow instead of beautiful flowers. The same goes for
Faith, not necessary in
the religious sense, (though it helps tremendously if a couple shares
similar religious beliefs) is another vital ingredient in a lasting
How important is sex in
a marriage? Sex is a natural instinct and if enjoyed within its proper
boundaries can bring about great happiness. Sex helps to keep a marriage
glowing, and is an important and vital area that keeps a marriage
together. It creates intimacy, a shred experience between two people
which no one else is party to. It makes the relationship precious and
private. The important thing to appreciate here is the fact that men and
women see sex differently. While men may view sex as an intense physical
activity, women do not. For her, it involves an interaction with the man
she loves, that is with gentleness, his care and concern. Understanding
the fact that women need intimacy and closeness makes the sexual
activity a lot more meaningful and fulfilling.
Sex is much more than
the gratification of an appetite. It is the basis of an intimate
lifelong companionship, and the means of bringing into the world
children whom we love and cherish as long as we live.
Through the ages we have
learned that love and mutual respect must be the basis of close intimacy
between the sexes. Sex, like any other tendency in man, must be
regulated by reason. Man, not being governed by instincts like lesser
animals, would find his tendencies running wild were he not to regulate
them with reason.
There a saying:' Like
fire, sex is a good servant but a bad master'
A society grows a
network of relationships which are mutually intertwined and
inter-dependent. Every relationship is a wholehearted commitment to
support and to protect others in a group of community.
Marriage plays a very
important part in this strong web of relationships of giving support and
protection. A good marriage should grow and develop gradually from
understanding and not impulse, from true loyalty and not just sheer
The institution of
marriage provides a fine basis for the development of culture, a
delightful association of two individuals to be nurtured, and to be free
from loneliness, deprivation and fear. In marriage, each partner
develops a complementary role, giving strength and moral courage to each
other, with each manifesting a supportive and appreciative recognition
to the other's skills.
There must be no thought
of man or woman being superior - each is complementary to the other, a
partnership of equality, exuding gentleness, generosity, calm and
dedication and most important of all, self-sacrifice.