Marriage is an institution that reflects the values of the society that supports it. If the people of a society no longer believe that it is important to be married, then there is no reason why they cannot change the institution of marriage. Marriage is a custom. Customs can always be changed. We can find the same core point in this question as we have in others — the ultimate truth of the matter is that individuals can and should decide for themselves what is right. As long as they are not violating others or breaking the laws of the society in which they are living, then they are free to do what they believe is right. It is not for me or anyone else to tell them that they must get married if they want to live together. That is their choice and their choice alone.
The same analysis can be applied to homosexuality. People often ask me what I think about homosexuality. They wonder, is it right, is it wrong? The answer is, it is neither right nor wrong. It is just something that people do. If people are not harming each other, their private lives are their own business; we should be tolerant of them and not reject them.
However, it will still take some time for the world to fully accept homosexuality. All of us must learn to tolerate the behavior of others. Just as we hope to expand our minds to include all of the universe, so we should also seek to expand our minds to include all of the many forms of human behavior.
Tolerance is a form of generosity and it is a form of wisdom. There is nothing anywhere in the Dharma that should ever lead anyone to become intolerant. Our goal as Buddhists is to learn to accept all kinds of people and to help all kinds of people discover the wisdom of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha.
‘To bear disgrace and insult is the most important virtue a person can possibly cultivate, because the ability to forbear is enormously powerful, since a moment of anger can destroy an entire lifetime of merits.
In today’s society, people often mistake forbearance for cowardice. Therefore, the inability or unwillingness to forbear anger has become a source of social and family violence. Spousal abuse, child abuse, and drive-by shootings result from the inability of people to control their emotions. If we want to have peace and order in our lives, reason must prevail over negative emotions.
What does it mean to forebear? It is not very difficult for most of us to endure a moment of hunger or thirst. It is not very hard for most of us to bear the heat of summer or the cold of winter. However, it is very difficult for most of us to forbear anger. Even great men of history have succumbed to such a fate. By losing control of their emotions, many lost their ability to perceive things clearly and made irreversible mistakes that changed the course of history and profoundly impacted the lives of many generations. Therefore, the decision to forbear or not forbear is a determining factor in one’s ultimate success or failure. If we wish to be successful in our undertakings, we must learn to hold back our emotions and be as thoughtful as possible in our actions and reactions.
To forbear is indeed an act of courage and not a symbol of cowardice. It takes great effort and resolution to endure pain and hardships. It requires tremendous confidence to bear insult and disgrace without a hint of retaliation or self-doubt.
In order for us to practice the virtue of forbearance, we must have strength, wisdom, and compassion. We must be willing to settle differences or disputes by means of reason and kindness. We must believe in tolerance and restraint as signs of goodness and bravery. Therefore, if we want to succeed in life and bring about a more peaceful world, we must learn to control our emotions and not to be affected by a moment of anger.’