This is a strange way of thinking. You may rush the marriage, but end up with a lifetime of misery, fighting, and disharmony, and this doesn’t make sense. This creates so much worry, problems, and unhappiness in the family, and also for the parents. They must check the potential partner for years, and then it can be decided. It takes time to come to know the person.
I have heard stories that many times, if, at first you don’t live together, there is a lot of excitement and expectation about the future, and you think that then when you do live together, there will be peace and happiness. Because of that, both agree to live together, but then they discover the faults, the garbage in the other person’s mind.
You start to look at the person like they were a can filled with garbage. If not like a septic tank, then like a container filled with garbage. You dislike and hate him, but you have to live with him. You torture yourself. Many problems begin that you didn’t have before. There is a danger of court cases, of dissatisfaction, looking for another partner, jealousy, suicide, even killing the partner or family. It opens the door for so much negative karma, so much harm for other sentient beings.
In order to have harmony, peace, happiness, and success, four things have to be harmonious: harmony of body, harmony of controlling, harmony of life, and harmony of luck (fate). If there is no harmony of body, any children born to you may be deformed. If there is no harmony of controlling, your business won’t succeed, and there will be lots of problems. If there is no harmony of life, your life may not be long.
If the four types of harmony are there, the relationship will last a long time. There will be success in business and so on. If one has to live with someone without the four types of harmony, there are pujas that can be done to prevent these problems. In Tibet, many families also check astrologically before they decide to get married. They don’t rush.
The purpose of marriage should be more than physical, sexual contact. If the purpose is only that, when one partner finds someone else, the mind can change. They may give up the partner and follow the other person. So, the reason for living together should not only be that. It should be to support each other with compassion and loving kindness, to develop and practice a good heart. I told them about how, many years ago in England at Manjushri Institute, a couple came from very far away to visit. The woman had had an operation, and the husband said she couldn’t have sex any more because she was in pain. He said that because of that, there was no purpose for them to live together any more.
Somehow, parents never think of the problems their children may have in marriage, even though they themselves have had problems. From their point of view, their fixed idea is to rush out to get married and have children. It’s as if they were building a house, thinking that it has to be square, with doors, windows: thinking that the house has to be this way, and that there’s no other way to do it.
This is not saying that anyone who gets married and has children is bad. I am just expressing the view of these people. Since there is the decision that you want to live the married life, then make that something special in your life. Make your married life more beneficial, more useful, more productive. Here, more productive doesn’t mean being able to make more money or being able to produce more children, like a company producing pots, or like a spider producing many eggs.
There have been bodhisattvas in the past who created a thousand sons (I guess it meant they had hundreds of wives) to benefit other sentient beings. The bodhisattva has the wisdom to see the broad benefit.
In this case, productive means developing a good heart and developing patience. Have the attitude in everyday life that the purpose of living with this person is to develop patience, the patience to bear hardships in serving the other person.
When the other person is angry or upset with you, scolds you, abuses you, and so forth—however you label those things—one practices the patience of being able to bear the harm.
The third patience is practicing Dharma with your companion. Also, recognize that this is an opportunity to practice the perfection of charity, giving your body and belongings.
One also practices the perfection of morality with the three types of morality, such as the morality of working for other sentient beings, working for the needs of one’s companion or other relatives depending on the circumstances, and the morality abstaining from the negative karma of harming the other person with anger. One also practices the morality that is the integration of virtuous Dharma, the six perfections. It also becomes the perfection of perseverance and the perfection of concentration and of wisdom.
Concentration can be practiced by always being aware of one’s attitude, and by always practicing Dharma with that companion in daily life, as those examples show. Always collect merit. Always keep the idea that the purpose of being with that person is to collect merit and to purify. That can be for yourself and it could also be for the other person. You can be a great help for the other person to practice Dharma. To support them in purifying and in accumulating extensive merit, and to bring the other person closer and closer to enlightenment by giving Dharma, by understanding the lam-rim and by causing the other person to practice lam-rim. You can even meditate together on lam-rim and practice deity practice together, whichever is possible.
The more you are able to create merit and purify, the more able you are to look at and live with that person with compassion, thinking how that sentient being has so much suffering, is totally overwhelmed by the thought of self-cherishing (which is another wrong conception, a hallucinated thought), and how he is totally overwhelmed by the root of samsara, which is ignorance. That is, while there is no “I” existing on the aggregates, on the body, one believes that there is an “I” there. From that comes the biggest suffering, the root suffering. Because of that, one is totally under the control of attachment and caught in the prison of attachment. One is caught in the net of attachment, like in a mouse trap. Attachment, anger, jealousy: many negative karmas completely delude the person. The mind and the view—the whole world of the person—is a wrong view. They have so many wrong views. In that way, the person continuously suffers. Not only that, they are continually creating negative karma, the cause of samsara and particularly of rebirth in the lower realms.
These delusions are mental sickness, a chronic disease that the person has. Just as there is chronic disease of the body, these are chronic diseases of the mind. With these diseases, one experiences many problems. One is overpowered by many problems, the results of past negative karma. On top of that, one is under the control of karma and delusion, not having freedom at all.
In this way, you generate great compassion, thinking how wonderful if this person could be free of all suffering and its causes, and then think, “I am going to do that, by myself.” Generate compassion this way.
Generate great loving kindness by thinking how wonderful if this person had all happiness, including liberation and enlightenment, and thinking, “I will cause all that, by myself.”
This person is the source of all your past, present, and future happiness up to enlightenment, so cherish that person. They are the most kind, the most precious one. Serve the person, not thinking, “This is ‘my’ husband, ‘my’ wife, ‘my’ child, ‘my’ parents,” which is the expression of attachment. Don’t think that way. Rather, feel they are precious, most kind, then serve them as someone who needs happiness and doesn’t want suffering. Serve them for that reason, not because they are “my” husband, wife, child and so on.
That is how you use staying together with that person to achieve enlightenment: by generating compassion, loving kindness, and so forth, as well as patience. This means that you use the experience of being together to bring about the success of the aim of your life: to free numberless sentient beings from suffering and its causes, and bring them to enlightenment. Helping and supporting each other in the Dharma makes it very meaningful to be together. If there is no special attitude in married life, there is not a single difference from the life of dogs and pigs. They can also experience sexual pleasure. This is advice for making life beneficial and useful while living together as a couple.