The Buddha’s Advice on Family Life

14 May 2014 06:59 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


It has been mentioned in many a place in the Buddhist scriptures the Buddha’s was a Caritanukula Desana that means that the Buddha taught his hearers the Dhamma in a manner suitable to their temperaments.

One day a poor Brahimin came to the Buddha  and said. “Master Gautama I am a poor person and am going to a distant city seeking a job with a view to earn some wealth, will you kindly give me some instructions in order to be successful in my job.” The Buddha agreed and instructed him on the way to success in his work. Time passes and the Brahmin returned as a man of Riches. Once some villagers came to the Buddha and said ‘’Master, we are householders following varied jobs for the maintenance of our families, and thereby we are full of responsibilities. We have no time to devote to higher religious practices. We expect from you some instructions to live our present life in peace and be born into a happy state after death’’ The Buddha saw their mental tendency and gave an instruction suiting their need.
The Buddha said to Anathapindika, one of his wealthy lay devotees that there are five merits in earning wealth.

A Person wealthy can live a healthy, happy and long life supplying all his needs.
He can look after his parents when they are sick or old or in need of his support.
He can support his wife and children supplying all their needs.
He can help his relatives, friends, servants and others.
He could support recluses and priests who have given up house- hold life and devoted their time to  higher religious practices

According to Buddhism it is easier for a rich man to enter heavenly abodes, if he properly spends his wealth, and does his duties. It is not wealth or fulfilling his duties but miserliness and other wrong ways that obstruct the way to heavenly abodes, so the Buddha said.
One day Vyagghapajja the Koliyan asked the Buddha for some instructions to be a success in life. Buddha said to be successful in business and other affairs in this life, a person should be endowed with four things.

Achievement of untiring effort
The achievement of awareness – sometimes fire or flood and the like might consume his wealth, ill disposed heirs would try to take away one’s wealth. Bad habits of gambling, debauchery in sex and drunkenness. One should be loyal to the government otherwise one’s wealth would be confiscated.
To have good companions. who instruct, help and encourage him in carrying out his business. Sometimes it is better to keep oneself to oneself and carry out one’s business alone.
A simple way of living. His expenditure should not exceed his income.

The Buddha advised youth Sigalaka
“Let him divide the Income into four portions, one portion should be used for his daily expenses. Two portions should be used for the progression of his business, one portion should be deposited carefully for use in future in case of any failure or bankruptcy. On another occasion Buddha said that  a trader should be active in his  business in the  morning, noon and afternoon. According to Buddhism, poverty may be a result either of a past karma or a  present karma or of both. But most of such karmas can be suppressed and overcome by wise and far-seeing steps one takes in present life.
The Buddha has said concerning wealth and other necessities of life.

“Brethren these 10 things desirable, pleasing and charming, are  hard to achieve in the world.
1.Wealth   2. Beauty   3. Health   4. Virtues   5. Holy religious life   6. True friends  7. Erudition   8. Wisdom  9. Genuine Dhamma 10. to be born in heaven    
Buddha says by increasing in 10 growths the lay follower of the Buddha  grows in landed property, in wealth, granary, children, wife, in servants, workmen in four footed  beasts (cattle, heap).

From these words of the Buddha, it is very clear that he has valued the laymen’s growth in wealth and every aspect of family life.
One day Nakula – pitu told the Buddha “we want to see each other not only in this life but also in the life to come. To them the Buddha said, if both wife and husband desire to see each other both in this life and in the life to come, both should be matched in four qualities. In faith, in good conduct, in generosity and in the knowledge of the Dhamma.

One day Dhammika the lay follower questioned the Buddha how a householder should live his life and the Buddha told him that a layman should keep five precepts, and he should live a life of chastity in peace. with his wife. You find this account in Dhammika sutta of sutta nipatha.
When advising Sigalaka the young householder Buddha said: in five ways should a wife be ministered to by her husband: By respecting her, by courteous behaviour, by faithfulness, by handing over the authority of the house over to her, and providing her with needs, dresses ornaments and the like; thus being ministered by the husband, the wife with love will fulfil her duties. She will treat the relations of both with hospitality, She will watch over the wealth he earns and she will do her duty with skill and hard work.

The Buddha said; as regards choosing a proper wife a man should be very careful and the wife too should determine to be an ideal one. When King Suddhodana told his son Prince Siddhartha that it was the time for him to marry a suitable one. the latter wrote down the qualities that the girl he would marry should possess. Princess Yashodara was possesed of all those virtues. That is how their marriage took place.
On another occasion the Buddha told the quarrelsome daughter-in-law of  Ananthapindika that there were seven kinds of wives.

1. There is a certain wife who is hard-hearted and hating her husband.   She loves other men and wastes what her husband earns, she is called the wife the destroyer.
2. Wife who tries to filch a little out of what the husband earns - thievish fife
3. Wife who is greedy, passionate, lazy, careless, foulmouthed, full of wrath, hate, tyrannical to family members – tyrannical wife.
4. Wife who is kind compassionate, cares for the husband as a - motherly wife.
5. Wife who is modest, obedient to her husband like a younger sister reverence to her elder brother- sisterly wife.
6. Wife who is pleased at the sight of her  husband, highbred, virtuous ready to give her life to save her husband – friendly wife
7. Wife who is calm even when abused by the husband, patient, true hearted bending to husband’s will, loves her husband, as an obedient servant –servant like wife

After explaining these seven kinds of wives the Buddha asked her to what kind out of these seven, do you belong? She was convinced she said “Lord, after this I will behave to my husband and his family motherly, sisterly friendly and also as a servant like wife”
There are four kinds of couples living as Husband and Wife
1.A Female hobgoblin lives together with male hobgoblin
2.A female hobgoblin lives with a male angel
3.Female angel and male hobgoblin
4.Female angle with a male angel.
The Buddha advised every husband and wife to live as an angelic couple, which will invite peace and success here and hereafter.
In the  6th  century, B.C. in a feudal, polygamous India, Buddha was the first to advocate monogamy and equal rights for women.
This article is based on two Dhamma sermons given by Ven. Balangoda Anandamaitreya in UK  in March 1986 and US in October 1990.

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