Morality and Happiness

February 2, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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Author: Zhang Chunyu

[] 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 standards.

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.


Translated from:


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