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Volume 6 no 4

The Voice of Bliss

What is in a marriage? It does not merely mean people falling in love, getting married and having children. There is a lot more to these if there is to be a happy, blissful and fulfilling family. A sense of responsibility, understanding, endurance, and zealousness and progress in all endeavours are some of the essential ingredients. A Chinese proverb says that when the family is harmonious, whatever that it endeavours will be auspicious. The teachings of Buddhism show how to go about being harmonious.
Blissful Family
Zeal and Progress for a Blissful Family

If a married man learns Buddhism but cares only for his own liberation and views others with suspicion; does learning Buddhism serve any purpose for him?

As human beings, we need to understand the principles of humanity. When we are married, then we must understand the purpose of a marriage. After that, when we want to have children, then we must also understand the purpose of having children. However, many people in this world simply fall into wedlock and have children without proper considerations. They neither have an idea about bringing up nor educating their children. Therefore, people who are considering marriage should know why they want to be married. Thereafter, they need to select their ideal partner. When we understand the principle of procreation, then we understand that the purpose of a marriage is to bear off springs.

If a married man does not know the responsibilities of being a husband and father, and is muddle-headed, then he might as well not get married. Thus, besides being gainfully employed, each and every one of us born into this world has obligations towards humanity. For example, both the husband and wife must be responsible for their family. They have to be filial to their parents, take care of their needs, and respect their teachers and elders. It is also their duty to give their children a proper upbringing and a proper education. Besides, they need to hold themselves high on moral grounds, and go a step further to benefit the people of the world. People who have the ability and capability to contribute to the well being of society and the country should endeavour to fulfil this invaluable responsibility.

On the other hand, there are people who are not able to fulfil their responsibilities because of health reasons. If they happen to be a member of our family, we should not treat them with disrespect. On the contrary, we have to try our best to encourage them, and exercise tolerance and understanding. In this way we keep alive the hope that he will change for the better and do his best.

Buddhism teaches "zeal and progress"; therefore it is incorrect for a person to learn Buddhism and becomes unenthusiastic towards life. In the Six Paramitas (The six practices that can ferry people from the sea of suffering to the shore of enlightenment), "zeal and progress" is one of them. It means not to be slack. In this regard, a student has to study hard; a homemaker has to take good care of the household. Indeed, in whatever we do, we have to do our best. A monk or a nun, for example, must cultivate the enlightenment path with "zeal and progress". It is incorrect to say that because I am a Buddhist, therefore I am no longer concerned about enthusiasm and progress in life. Such a view wrongly depicts Buddhism as negative and pessimistic, and is misleading.

Jen Chen Buddhism advocates zealousness and progress in a right livelihood, a happy
and fulfilling family, and a life of bliss and happiness.

Not having to endure anything anymore

My spouse and I quarrel frequently and it has been like this for a long time. I have endured to the point where it is impossible to endure anymore. My spouse on the other hand takes me for granted. This has been the case for more than 30 years. Is separation a wise decision?

Domestic quarrels between husband and wife are a common occurrence. However, people who are practising Buddhism certainly will not quarrel unless they lose their mindfulness or become confused at the spur of the moment. In general, the best way to avert a quarrel when things reach a sour point is to practise tolerance. But, when it reaches a point where it becomes impossible to endure any further, then an explosion of temper seems to be the only way out. Jen Chen Buddhism advocates the notion of "not having to endure anything anymore". When we have cultivated to the stage where we attain "the mind of the past cannot be grasped, the mind of the present cannot be grasped, the mind of the future cannot be grasped", we will realise that this is "not having to endure anything anymore." We live each day happily, forgetting the unhappy events of yesterday. When you are able to be detached from the Three Minds [1] and the Four Forms [2], then your family will naturally be peaceful, happy and blissful.

Although you are a Buddhist, you may be lacking in understanding certain principles of Buddhism. Because of this, when the situation goes beyond your endurance threshold, separation becomes your solution. A divorce will follow the separation but the really pitiful victims are the innocent children.

Buddhism speaks of reaching out and guiding people to the realm of the Buddha's teachings, be they our foes, close relatives or those to whom we are indebted. At the same time it also exhorts us to treat both foes and close relatives with equality. Most people, however, are focused only on the "foe" and totally overlook "close relative". This in reality means that they have not fully understood the Buddhist meanings to the terms "foes" and "close relatives". For example, a loving couple may find themselves behaving like enemies when things get sour. They quarrel, fight or may even smash objects in anger. (i.e. they become foes because of the circumstances.) If we understand the principle of equality between foes and close relatives, and are compassionate about reaching out to them and guiding them to the realm of the Buddha's teachings, there will be no quarrels.

Ordinarily, if people avoid disputes, do not over indulge in love, respect their spouses as if they are their guests, then that is certainly a fine example of a happy family.


[1] The Three Minds: (i) the past is gone and cannot be grasped. (ii) After this moment, the present becomes past and also cannot be grasped. (iii) The future is not here yet and therefore cannot be grasped too.

[2] The four forms: Form - Characteristics; (i) Everybody has an ego, this is the ego form. (ii) When we see another person, we perceive the human form. (iii) When thoughts arise in our mind, we perceive the sentient being form. (iv) The continuity of these thoughts through time gives rise to the age form

Building a Blissful Family

My spouse and I have embraced Buddhism and taken refuge in the Three Treasures. So have our children. How should we cultivate as a family and build a Buddhist culture family?

It is indeed a good thing that your entire family has embraced Buddhism. As husband and wife, you have to live in harmony and cultivate together. This is called partner in cultivation. However, in order that this is a partnership that does not retreat from the Bodhi, you have to maintain the Bodhi mind. The Bodhi mind is the mind that is resolved to becoming enlightened. Furthermore, you have to safeguard and uphold the teachings of Buddhism. The children should be brought up with teachings of wisdom; they should not fall into the hold of superstition, which will become very difficult to rectify.

To build up Buddhist culture family, you have to learn extensively, truly understand the principles of Buddhism, and apply Buddhism in the course of your daily life, family life, as well as in your personal conduct. It is in this way that a blissful family is built up.

Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre