Everyone, without exception, wants to be happy. People feel happy when their desires are fulfilled. However, the desires which result in injustice or harm do not bring enduring joy, free from the pangs of conscience. Our conscience repels the evil desires that result in unrighteousness, and longs to satisfy only good desires that lead to true happiness. Yet, since the beginning of time, people have failed to follow strictly the good desires of the conscience, mainly because of ignorance.
What kind of knowledge is essential to happiness? Science? Power? Wealth? No -- the knowledge of True Love.
The following seven steps to happiness and fulfillment are not esoteric but are based on common sense and a clear understanding of the dimensions of love. We need not accomplish all seven steps in order to enjoy the fruits of taking just one, although each step leads to the next. This page will empower you with knowledge that, if applied, will improve your life.
As a baby we are not capable of giving much. All we can do is receive. We are completely selfish. This is not wrong for infants. Our cuteness itself is by design, for it powerfully motivates our parents to love us. It is essential that we receive abundant love at this stage so that we can give love at later stages.
Here we begin to learn the concept of sharing. If we do someone a favor, that someone will return a favor. A milestone in the development of brother-sister love is the realization that we ought to initiate the reciprocation by giving first. Perfect love is the ability to give without receiving. This enables us to have a successful marriage.
A major component of happiness in life is the ability to share intimate love with our spouse. Through complete self-giving, physically and spiritually, the divine substantially enters our lives and establishes the power to live in joy and happiness. True marriage is eternal and absolute.
The highest love is that which parents give their children. It is unconditional, marked by sacrifice and investment, all for the sake of the other. We experience sublime joy through this type of love.
This principle is learned in the family, from childhood. When we followed our parent's guidance to share with our siblings, if we had any, we realized that there are people other than ourselves. And when we shared, we felt the joy of approval from our parents, appreciation from the one with whom we shared, and satisfaction from a good conscience.
Obedience to parents is a preparation for harmony in society. Through the extended family, one learns to love one's elders. Elders can be regarded as aunts, uncles and grandparents. Society becomes an extension of the family. This ability to love all people developed through adolescence and adulthood, brings peace to ourself and our surroundings.
Although we received tangible rewards and approval as a child, we graduate to higher levels of serving where the rewards are not so tangible. As we grow, we gain the ability to commit to greater causes: ideals of goodness, truth and beauty, even at a sacrifice. This culminates in a life full of meaning, and prepares us to serve God, whom we cannot see but to whom we are learning to ultimately relate with our heart.
As we grow, we wonder about eternity, about the origin of the universe, and about the nature of the Creator. Awareness of the invisible Creator and the ability to work in harmony with Him is a profound experience. Why would people such as St. Francis, Buddha and Moses give up an opulent lifestyle for a life of simplicity and humility? They discovered that the pleasures of the flesh pale in comparison to the bliss that enraptures the mind through union with God.
The Psalmist conveys this yearning for God in its essence when he writes, "As the deer longs for flowing streams, my soul longs for God."
St. Augustine pines for God, "My soul is restless, until it rests in you, O Lord!" It is then no wonder that we feel empty and spiritually unsettled when we do not find God.
God's parental love was always manifested through our parents' love. And yet, they did not create this impulse to love. The source of love is God. That God exists and loves us as our Parent is the greatest discovery one can make. Blessed are those who find God early in their life and walk in His footsteps.
The key to good character is self-control. As hard as we may try, we cannot suppress our physical desires. On the contrary, physical desires are God-given and are to be satisfied in a principled way. Complete happiness arises only through the fulfillment of both the physical and spiritual desires. The problem comes when we allow our physical desires to dominate us. This opens the door to bad habits and vices. Alcoholism, compulsive gambling, and drug abuse are just some of the symptoms of a person whose body is not under control.
Developing a good character requires continual practice. But the reward is immeasurable. We then have a deep sense of self-respect and pride. Those around us appreciate us and thereby reciprocate good with good, multiplying our goodness. This translates into a life of happiness and fulfillment.
A horse controlled by a rider gallops faster than a wild one. A martial artist throwing controlled punches is more deadly than one swinging wildly. Ten rowers rowing in unison will defeat ten stronger rowers rowing at their own tempos. Order and discipline are necessary for the fulfillment of happiness in every arena of life, including sex.
Today we are taught to question everything, including the traditional wisdom that sexual activity is safest and most enjoyable within faithful marriage. By now, however, it is common knowledge that the misuse of love carries serious consequences. Sexual activity with multiple partners brings high risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. But the consequences to the spirit are even more destructive. There is the guilt which haunts you when you abuse your sexuality. Lowered self-esteem and regret may last a lifetime. But even that is mild compared to the danger that accompanies the fury of a jilted lover. Jealousy can turn deadly in someone who cannot deal with rejection. Countless crimes are committed as a consequence of infidelity.
The brief pleasures of infidelity have nothing to do with love. True love is about doing things which benefit the people for whom you care. Adultery, on the contrary, shatters the family. Every member suffers, all because you did not learn to put aside the urge of the moment. Simply recall the shattered lives of some of the tele-evangelists. Sexual promiscuity even destroys nations: Rome is but one example; America may turn into another - it we don't do anything about it. Lack of common-sense or self-discipline can lead to a lifetime of sorrow.
The family is meant to be the place where everyone is concerned to practice True Love. Family life is essential for our well-being. The love between husband and wife is the foundation for happiness in life. Studies show that sex is far more enjoyable in marriage than in cavalier pre-marital or extra-marital affairs. Plan to have a family with at least three children, so that you and your children will benefit from all familial relationships.
Needless to say, a family where there is love between father and mother provides the strongest security for the children. Studies also show that most criminals come from dysfunctional, broken homes. When families are wholesome, crime rates, drug abuse, unwanted pregnancies, abortions and neuroses naturally decline. Everyone in society benefits.
The happiness we feel at home ends at the doorstep of our house if society is in turmoil. Innocent children are hit by stray bullets during gun battles between youth gangs. Anywhere we go, we are in danger of becoming a victim of a crime. Our joy ends where the problems of society begin. Therefore, our work for the peace and safety of society benefits us and our family.
The family provides the resources for social healing. In the family is the need for a judge, peacemaker, counselor and decision maker. When siblings quarrel, the parent judges and ends the quarrel. It is both loving and efficient, and prompts our spiritual growth as parents. We may by mistake judge unfairly. In that case, will we not try to make up for the unfairness, and even overcompensate? This helps the child who was wronged to overcome his resentment and practice forgiveness. It helps the parent to be more patient and wise.
In society, we must strive to maintain morality, civility and justice with the same parental heart.
If we disobey physical laws, we may harm ourselves and others. When we harmonize with nature and her laws, we stay healthy and enjoy the creation. Likewise, if we disregard spiritual laws, the way of Heaven, we jeopardize our spiritual health. As the body hungers for physical food, the spirit hungers for spiritual food. Service and self-sacrifice are the basic nourishment for the spirit. Through living for the sake of others, our spirit grows. We move into alignment with Heaven.
Alignment with Heaven in the family begins with true marriage, and we cannot accomplish a true marriage by ourselves! It requires a man and a woman working together. Throughout history, in every culture, there has been a problem between man and woman, preventing us from receiving Heaven's Blessing in marriage. The problem is selfishness, and it has a spiritual root. Spiritual traditions refer to the root of selfishness as Satan, Iblis, maya, lust, sexism, and so forth. This root bears the fruit of adultery, murder and the world of suffering.
The root cause of struggle in the family is the absence of God's involvement. If God is not in the marriage, True Love will not be present in the family.
God desires a central role in the conjugal love of His children. He wants to make it great. Once His Blessing is given, God will be in the midst of your family.
Today you have this opportunity through a very simple yet meaningful dedication ceremony. Through the Holy Marriage Blessing, you and your family will dwell together eternally. Success in marriage takes hard work, and we need a higher power every step of the way.
We mark every significant event in our lives with a ceremony. What is more significant than celebrating God's presence in our marriage? God is calling all couples to receive His Blessing of Marriage today. The road to happiness and fulfillment is opening before you.