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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Nature of Love and Pleasure

From the Buddhist point of view, marriage is neither holy nor unholy. Buddhism does not regard marriage as a religious duty nor as a sacrament that is ordained in heaven. A cynic has said that while some people believe that marriage is planned in heaven, others say that it is recorded in hell also! Marriage is basically a personal and social obligation, it is not compulsory. Man and woman must have freedom either to get married or to remain single. This does not mean that Buddhism is against marriage. Nobody in this world would say that marriage is bad and there is no religion which is against marriage.Practically all living things come into being as a result of sex life. Among human beings, the institution of marriage has come about so that society guarantees the perpetuation of the human species and also ensures that the young would be cared for. This is based on the argument that children born through the pleasure of sex must be the responsibility of the partners involved, at least until they have grown up. And marriage ensures that this responsibility is upheld and carried out.society grows through a network of relationships which are mutually inter-twined and inter-dependent.

Every relationship is a whole-hearted commitment to support and to protect others in a group or 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 indulgence. 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 one another, each manifesting a supportive and appreciative recognition of the other's skill in caring and providing for a family. There must be no thought of either man or woman being superior — each is complementary to the other; marriage is a partnership of equality, gentleness, generosity, calm and dedication.

In Buddhism, one can find all the necessary advice which can help one to lead a happy married life. One should not neglect the advice given by the Enlightened Teacher if one really wants to lead a happy married life. In His discourses, the Buddha gave various kinds of advice for married couples and for those who are contemplating marriage. The Buddha has said, "If a man can find a suitable and understanding wife and a woman can find a suitable and understanding husband, both are fortunate indeed.There are different kinds of love, and these are variously expressed as motherly love, brotherly love, sensual love, emotional love, sexual love, selfish love, selfless love, and universal love.

If people develop only their carnal or selfish love towards each other, that type of love cannot last long. In a true love relationship, one should not ask how much one can get, but how much one can give. When beauty, complexion and youth start to fade away, a husband who considers only the physical aspects of love may think of acquiring another young one. That type of love is animal love or lust. If a man really develops love as an expression of human concern for another being, he will not lay emphasis only on the external beauty and physical attractiveness of his partner. The beauty and attractiveness of his partner should be in his heart and mind, not in what he sees. Likewise, the wife who follows Buddhist teachings will never neglect her husband even though he has become old, poor or sick.
"I have a fear that the modern girl loves to be Juliet, to have a dozen Romeos. She loves adventure . . . . . The modern girl dresses not to protect herself from wind, rain and sun, but to attract attention. She improves upon nature by painting herself and looking extraordinary.
We can study the Buddha's teaching regarding the feelings that man and woman have for each other. The Buddha says that he had never seen any object in this world which attracts man's attention more than the figure of a woman. At the same time the main attraction for the woman is the figure of a man. It means that by nature, woman and man give each other worldly pleasure. They cannot gain happiness of this kind from any other object. When we observe very carefully, we notice that among all the things which provide pleasure, there is no other object that can please all the five senses at the same time beside the male and female figures.
The ancient Greeks knew this when they said that originally man and woman were one. They were separated and the two parts that were divided are constantly seeking to be re-united as man and woman.

Young people by nature like to indulge in worldly pleasures which can include both good and bad things. Good things, like the enjoyment of music, poetry, dance, good food, dress and similar pursuits do no harm to the body. They only distract us from seeing the fleeting nature and uncertainty of existence and thereby delay our being able to perceive the true nature of the self.
The faculties and senses of young people are very fresh and alert; they are very keen to satisfy all the five senses. Almost everyday, they plan and think out ways and means to experience some form of pleasure. By the very nature of existence, one will never be completely satisfied with whatever pleasure one experiences and the resultant craving in turn only creates more anxieties and worries.
When we think deeply about it, we can understand that life is nothing but a dream. In the end, what do we gain from attachment to this life? Only more worries, disappointments and frustrations. We may have enjoyed brief moments of pleasure, but in the final analysis, we must try to find out what the real purpose of our lives is.
When one ceases to crave for sensual pleasure and does not seek to find physical comfort in the company of others, the need for marriage does not arise. Suffering and worldly enjoyment are both the outcome of craving, attachment and emotion. If we try to control and suppress our emotions by adopting unrealistic tactics we create disturbances in our mind and in our physical body. Therefore we must know how to handle and control our human passion. Without abusing or misusing this passion, we can tame our desires through proper understanding.

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