Dharma Teachings from Ven. Elder Pak Wan
1. Starting a Buddhist Family
Maintaining a happy and harmonious Buddhist family requires three important factors, spouses should develop:
1.1 Mutual Love
• To appreciate the strengths of your spouse with an objective mind
• Bring happiness to your spouse with loving kindness –
mutual respect, mutual praise, sharing joyous moments, support the accomplishment of
tasks and generous giving.
* Expand this mind of bringing happiness to others outwards; beginning from the scope of one’s home, from relatives and friends to our neighbours, to the society, to one’s country and even to the sentient beings of this universe - this is Universal Great Compassion of Buddhism.
1.2 Mutual Support
• To accept the shortcomings of your spouse with a forgiving mind and empathy.
• To remove the suffering of your spouse with compassion-
mutual support, care and concern, thoughtfulness, consolement and encouragement.
* Expand this compassionate mind of dispelling the pain and sorrow of others outwards; beginning from the scope of one’s home, from relatives and friends to our neighbours, to the society, to one’s country and even to the sentient beings of this universe - this is the ‘Great Compassion based on sameness’ of Buddhism.
1.3 Mutual Cultivation
• Spouses sharing the same religious belief
Taking the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) as one’s refuge, one’s spouse is also a
fellow spiritual friend on the path to Enlightenment.
• Establish common goal, to make concerted efforts, strive to build a happy and harmonious
family based on “Do good, avoid evil and cultivate the mind” the fundamental teaching of
2. Husband and Wife
“There must be affinitive conditions to tie the nuptial knot as husband and wife, cherish this evanescent human life. Cultivating the teachings of the Buddha together as husband and wife, and transcending the ocean of life and death is far more valuable than accruing millions of monetary wealth!”
2.1 Human Life and the Law of Dependent Co-arising: “Mutual support for survival, unity is
2.2 Mutual love and help: “To practice filial piety, respect the elders and educate one’s children
in daily life; to uphold one’s body, be trustworthy, righteous, kind and amiable.”
• As for lay devotees, must maintain a harmonious home, and fulfill one’s respective roles
according to the social ethical code, and most importantly, to observe the ‘Five Precept’.
“to uphold one’s body”: refers to the observance of the abstinence from sexual misconduct,
self-regard and be virtuous;
“be trustworthy”: refers to the observance of the abstinence from false speech, that is to be
honest and keeping one’s promise.
“righteous”: refers to the observance of the abstinence from ‘taking what is not given’, that is
to be uncorrupted and upright.
“to be kind”: refers to the observance of the abstinence from ‘killing’, that is to respect and
“to be amiable”: refers to the observance of the abstinence from ‘taking intoxicants’ that is to
maintain one clarity of mind, to lead a proper, healthy and happy communal life.
3. Filial Piety in Daily Life
Many years ago, the late Venerable Elder Pak Wan left a newspaper article about his Dharma talk on the Ullambana reported by Wong Hui Yan; which emphasized the importance of practicing filial piety in daily life. With earnest and well-meaning advise, he said:
3.1 Emphasis should be placed on filial piety in everyday life, apply compassion in one’s life.
Buddhist should not solely place emphasis on filial piety during the ‘Dharma assembly of
Ullambana’, but social ethics and filial piety implemented daily, to apply compassion in
daily life so that it may become a good habit.
Providing one’s family an atmosphere filled with compassion and peace to live in.
3.2 A family constitutes three strata, and the most important is ‘husband and wife’.
Within a family, parents are the uppermost, husband and wife are in the middle and the
children form the lower strata. Amid these three strata, ‘husband and wife’ is the most
important because with regards to the uppermost, they take care of their aged parents,
preventing them from feeling desolate and helpless; with regards to the lower strata, they
care and bond with their children so that they will not mix with bad company and go astray.
3.3 Between spouses, they should be understanding and forgiving toward each other.
A husband must be thoughtful and understanding towards his wife, due to emotional
fluctuations caused by physiological changes; and likewise a wife must also be
understanding towards her husband, especially the working pressure that he has to
face. Spouses should not throw tantrums and get into squabbles, pulling one’s face for the
entire day, even if the most delicious food on the table becomes
unappetizing/tasteless. Whatever the matter may be, it can wait and be discuss
calmly after the meal. It is not advisable that the children should be affected by the
confrontations between the spouses.
3.4 Family education is very important for the children
What we conceive as “bad” children is due to the fact that they were deprived of the
opportunity for good education, and with the lack of bonding with the family, they err
when led astray by mixing in bad company. This is indeed pitiful. No child is born with “I am
a bad child” written all across his forehead, it is just that unfavourable conditions led to the
child going astray.
3.5 How should we care for our aged parents?
As sons and daughters to our parents, we should be compassionate and provide solace for
our parents, so that they will not feel desolate as they age.
3.6 A filial son predicted the time of his death:
“In China, Ven. Elder Pak Wan has a friend who is very filial towards his parents. Every night
he never failed to help turn off the lights for his parents before retiring to bed. When he
was dying, he could predict the time of his death! It is unfathomable to science, but only
Buddhism could provide the answer.”
3.7 Ven. Elder Pak Wan once said:
“One’s life becomes meaningful if one knows how to attend and care for his parents, love
and cherish one’s spouse and children.”