Morality and Happiness

Zhang Chunyu

PureInsight | February 17, 2006

[] If the deep
meaning of morality is to follow the Dao and to guard one's virtue (in
Chinese, morality is made up of two characters, Dao and virtue), then
its superficial meaning is to follow rules that restrict people's
behavior and enable people to do things correctly. It is a way to deal
with relationships among people based on either mutual benefit or
putting other people's benefits first

Putting other people's benefits first actually builds up a foundation
for the future happiness of oneself. In the cultivation community, it
is said that a person with great virtue will enjoy great blessings.
When you think of others and do good things for others, aren't you
accumulating virtue? The accumulated virtue is the source of future
blessing and happiness of every being.

That is looking at the issue from one angle. From another angle,
following a high moral standard is also a necessary condition for one
to obtain happiness.

In reality, human desires are never ending. One experiences happiness
when his desires within a creation boundary get satisfied. When he goes
beyond the boundary, he becomes overly stimulated and feels emptiness
and eventual pain because he can't get his desires satisfied. The moral
standard precisely functions as a tool to limit and restrain a person's
improper desires. Based on this point, a high morality also brings
happiness to people as well.  

For example, let's talk about eating. People like to eat meats and
vegetables, and enjoy many different tastes, salty or sweet, sour or
spicy and so on. When the living standard reaches a level where people
can eat whatever they like and get their basic need for food satisfied,
they start to throw away the leftovers. They throw away all the
leftovers so they can have fresh and delicious food every meal. If they
eat something that doesn't taste good to them, they refuse to eat it
and throw it away as well. Actually when people behave in such a way,
they are already losing virtue over it. The only thing is that the harm
that they have brought to themselves because of losing their virtue is
not known to them immediately. Therefore, people keep on throwing away
the leftovers. As time goes on, people begin to search for new and
exotic food to satisfy their taste buds. Some Chinese people eat a lot
of strange things, such as duck tongues, cat tails, etc. When they eat
such things, they don't eat them for the taste. It is mainly for
satisfying one's ego and showing off one's wealth. Some people even eat
the brain of live monkeys or the placenta of a newborn. They excuse
their behaviors by saying that those things would greatly nurture and
improve their health. A placenta commands such a high selling price in
China that there are reports of poor Chinese women who get pregnant
just so they can sell off their placentas. Isn't it a sign that the
moral standard in the Chinese society has become truly deplorable?

As the living standard goes up while the moral standard goes down,
people not only pay more attention to what they eat, they also care
more about what they wear. Famous name brand clothes use a lot of
exotic materials, such as wolf skin, alligator skin, turtle shells and
rare bird feathers. Some people wear such things to show off and are
very picky about what they wear.  

People want to automate everything in their lives. They surround
themselves with the latest electric gadgets and chase after the latest
trends. Some people become so overbearing on the outside and restless
on the inside that the airs they put on can match with the most
extravagant emperor of the past.

What it is bound to come next is the pursuit of further satisfying
one's sexual yearnings. People look for new partners and new romantic
relationships all the time. One might like one person in the morning
and another person by sunset. Some people carry on two or three
romantic relationships at the same time. They have completely abandoned
the moral standards of a human being.

Is such a person happy? When one calms down and asks himself that
question, one might feel only emptiness. Especially in a quiet night,
one feels extreme emptiness from deep inside his soul and there is
nothing he can do to push the feeling away.

One should give up all those things and live his life in a solid
manner, cautiously and conscientiously. If it is too difficult to do
that, it is because one's spirit has become so unsettled that he is no
longer used to a quiet and low-key life.

Why is it? It is because his heart has already moved away from human
moral restraints. As one starts behaving in an unrestrained manner, his
desires gradually run wild. He can't stop his endless pursuit for more
excitement and stimulation, and he can no longer control his
desire-filled heart.

What the traditional moral standard emphasizes is the exact opposite.
It stresses self-control, restraint, frugality and order. On the big
issues, it stresses kindness, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom and
trustworthiness. Specifically speaking, it is about following a code of
conduct. An emperor should be kind to his subjects, and his subjects
should be loyal to him. A father should be good to his children and his
children should be filial to him. An older brother should take care of
his younger brother, and the younger brother should respect the older
brother. A husband should respect his wife, and the wife should be
obedient to the husband. Friends should be trustworthy toward one
another. In everyday living, one should be hardworking, frugal, and
refrain from living extravagantly and being wasteful.

At the same time, the traditional moral standard teaches a person to
work hard, be willing to endure pain, and be able to count his
blessings. Those things not only conform to heavenly principles, they
also are good matches with human characteristics.

For example, from the angle of physiological and psychological
feelings, people have an upper limit for positive stimuli. If the
positive stimuli are within a certain range, one experiences happiness.
When the upper limit is exceeded, one becomes overly stimulated and
feels pain. In addition, everyone knows that a life filled with any one
thing becomes tiresome. Therefore, people need to have a variety of
things in their lives. Actually, to put it plainly, if a person hasn't
experienced pain, he wouldn't know what happiness means.  Speaking
from a higher level of Fa principle, such things are caused by the
universal rule of mutual generation and mutual inhibition. It looks
quite simple, but it is the basis of one's feeling happiness.  

Humankind innately wants to avoid pain and seek happiness. Therefore,
the endless pursuit of things that humankind has associated happiness
with is natural. It is hard not to become overly indulgent of human
desires. When one takes such a path, he will fall into the abyss of
another kind of pain.

The traditional moral standard advocates self-control, forbearance,
frugality, hard work and endurance. All those things can precisely
prevent people from letting their desires run wild. Those things add
color to one's life and are powerful guarantees of making one feel
fulfilled. Being able to count one's blessings enables one to live
one's life in a more rational and clear-headed manner, and prevents one
from feeling sad and depressed over not being able to satisfy one's
endless desires.

From that, it is easy to see that the traditional moral standard is closely related to the happiness of a person.

There is a social phenomenon where the youths from wealthy families
often overindulge their desires and feel very empty and depressed.
Actually it is resulted from abandoning the traditional moral standard.

The Chinese race had always been known for their excellent work ethic,
forbearance, respect for their elders and love for their young. For
unknown reasons, during the last several decades, the Chinese people
generally have tended to be overly indulgent with their children. Many
young Chinese people let their desires run wild, do whatever they want
to do, show no respect for others, and feel no sense of responsibility.
It has become a major social problem in today's Chinese society.

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