The Lord Buddha had told us he had only one main teaching and all of it concerns the cause of unhappiness and how to think and act in ways that will bring us freedom from unhappiness.
All living things want to be free from pain and other forms of unhappiness. Even little worms on the footpath feel pain and thus are unhappy if we step on them. There are many forms of life, some low, others high, but even the least developed living things seek happiness in their own ways. If we go to a river or a brook, we see that some fishes like to be close to the top of the water, near the sunlight. If something frightens them away from the surface and they have to go deeply into the darkness of the cold water, then they are unhappy and return to the upper, sunlit, warm water as soon as they feel it is safe. If the fishes that like the deep, dark, cold waters are frightened into the warm, upper waters, then they are unhappy because each of the many, many forms of life is seeking happiness in its own way.
Probably you have pets at your house. Very likely a dog and perhaps a cat. Early in the morning when the air is chilly, they like to lie in the sunshine. If they lie in the shadows, they are cold and unhappy. Seeking a warm place to rest is one of their ways of trying to be free from pain and to find happiness.
We human beings, whether we are men or women, boys or girls, all of us want to be free from pain, sorrow, and disappointment. If we study Lord Buddha’s teachings and live the way he advised us to live, we shall find out how to live happily. But this means following a plan, and these Dharma-school lessons will show us that plan, if we will come to classes regularly, pay close attention to the lessons and try hard to remember them.
Every girl knows that if she wishes to make a dress she must have a pattern. Otherwise the dress will not be a good one. If a boy wishes to make a model aeroplane he knows he must follow the sketch or design that goes with the plane-building materials he has bought. If he does not follow the design, then he will only waste his materials. It is the same with our own happiness. If we do not know Lord Buddha’s plan, his pattern for our lives, then we are wasting our lives and finding only unhappiness. If we learn Lord Buddha’s pattern for living, and follow it, then we will find happiness.
Once there was a family so poor that they made their living by rag-picking. The father was lazy and unhappy. He complained all daylong about his hard life. His wife was a cheerful woman who tried very hard to make a living for her family, and never complained of the hard life she had to live. She was a woman of kind disposition and a good wife and mother. She was sorry for her husband and wished that she knew of some way to make him happy.
One day this woman went out to collect rags and old clothing, and found an old coat someone had thrown away. In one of the pockets of the coat was a bag of wonderful jewels. She tried hard to find the owner and return the jewels to him, but she never found him. So, finally, she sold the jewels for a large sum of money, and bought a beautiful house for her family. They were able to live very comfortably, but the father of the family was still unhappy.
At sunrise one day, Sakradevaraja, King of the Gods, looked down from his heaven and saw this good woman going cheerfully about her duties. He decided to reward her for her virtues, so he suddenly stood before her and told her she might have any wish she cared to ask for. At once this good woman asked Sakradevaraja to make her husband happy. A sad look came over the face of the King of the Gods, and he answered, “That is one thing even the gods cannot do for another’ each must make his own happiness for himself. I can give you houses, lands, cattle and many other things, but even Lord Buddha cannot make anyone happy. Even he can only show us the way by which we can make ourselves happy.”
THE PATH OF THE LIGHT
Oh, Light of Asia, lighten our dark West
With Wisdom garnered from Thy Holy Quest,
Show us the Path which leads to sorrow’s cure,
The sorrows that all living things endure,
Thy gentle teaching in our minds instil,
That none can proper who treat others ill.
But he who cherishes goodwill to all
Earth’s living creatures whether great or small,
Through their content his sufferings shall cease,
And he shall walk the Path of perfect peace.- Geraldine Lyster