Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Dear Brothers & Sisters in the Dhamma,
The below sermon was delivered by Ven. B. Sri Saranankara Nayaka Maha Thera, Chief Monk of Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple and Chief High Priest (Judiciary) of Malaysia during the Mother’s Day Appreciation Dinner on 11th May 2008 at the Sri Lanka Buddhist Temple, Sentul, KL. This sermon was inspired by the Sigalovada Sutta delivered by the Buddha.

Buddha’s Path to Happy Parents and Children
By Ven. B. Sri Saranankara Nayaka Maha Thera

5 Duties of Parents towards Children

1. Dissuading Children from Bad Habits
We live in a world, where a child is exposed to negative messages since small. A world that teaches our children to strive for power, fame, status and entertainment. Children develop habits like instant gratification, lying, cheating, disloyalty and looking out only for oneself. It is the duty of parents to prevent children from being exposed to these negative messages especially from movies, magazines, music and the internet.

2. Persuading Children to Do Good
Parents must continuously expose children to positive information, values and habits. Parents themselves must be an example of virtuous living. Children must be brought to the temples and if possible be enrolled in the Sunday Dhamma School. Parents and children must visit the temple often, participate in spiritual and welfare activities and most importantly learn and practice the Buddha’s teachings. They should develop a meaningful relationship with the monks and other lay devotees. The family must daily pray and meditate together and practice the 5 precepts in everyday life.

3. Giving the Children a Good Education
It is the duty of parents to provide a good education for their children, both spiritual and secular. They should learn the interest and talents of their children and guide them to learn and develop skills that will help them to obtain a right livelihood. They should encourage their children to follow their dreams according to their likings and talents. Parents must find a career for their children that will help them serve society in a meaningful and wholesome way.

4. Giving Them in Marriage to Suitable Individuals
In the modern world, it is quite common for children to find their own partners in marriage. Nevertheless, it is the duty of parents to have a say in their marriage selection. Most of the time, young people are attracted to a partner only in the physical sense. They fail to realize the challenges of marriage life. Their marriage will be successful if the couples can complement one another and share similar values and ambitions. Parents should assure their children choose marriage partners based on rationality, practicality and compatibility.

5. Handing over the Inheritance to the Children at the proper time
If parents have any inheritance to hand over to their children, it should be done at the proper time either before or after they pass away. Parents must prepare a will to transfer the wealth to their children and this division of wealth should be fair to all their children. If they pass away without leaving a will, this might cause disharmony among the children when it comes to dividing the wealth.

5 Duties of Children towards Parents

1. Supporting the parents
If parents cannot support themselves due to monetary or health problems, it is the duty of children to provide them with this support during their old age. If parents no longer have a steady income, children should provide their parents with money to cover their expenses. They must make sure their parents have regular health checkups and take their medicines on time. If their parents cannot take care of themselves, they should care for their parents by bathing and feeding them.

2. Performing the necessary duties
It is the duty of children to care for the happiness and wellbeing of the parents. They should stay together with their parents and care for them. If this is not possible, they should visit their parents often. Encourage the grandchildren to spend time with their grandparents. Pay respect to their parents by including them in family activities like birthdays, weddings, outings, etc. If their parents are unable to attend religious functions at the temple, they should take them to the temple regularly to attend blessing services, chanting, dana and dhamma talks. If possible, parents should be taken on Buddhist pilgrimages. A child’s greatest duty to a parent is to keep them on the Dhamma path.

3. Keeping the family lineage
Whatever inheritance handed down by the parents, should be put to good use. Children should invest and safe guard the family inheritance so that it will continue to benefit the coming generations.

4. Honoring the name of their Parents
The Buddha advises, “Although man’s body decays and disappears, the name or influence he creates does not decay”. Children must protect the good name of the family. They should continue the good works of their parents, especially the spiritual and welfare services rendered by their parents to society. The children should continue the noble tradition of visiting the temple and supporting the Dhamma and Sangha.

5. Performing meritorious actions in the name of departed Parents.
After their parents have passed away, the children should regularly conduct religious services and transfer the merits to their departed parents. They can make donations to charitable activities and print Dhamma books in memory of their parents

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