Happiness: Precept 15

Reference: The Happiness Rundown


In going through life, one inevitably incurs obligations. Factually, one is born with certain obligations and they tend to accumulate thereafter. It is no novel or new idea that one owes his parents a debt for bringing one into the world, for raising one. It is a credit to parents that they don’t push it any harder than they do. But it is an obligation, nevertheless: even the child feels it. And as life continues to run its course, one accumulates other obligations—to other persons, to friends, to society and even the world. 

It is an extreme disservice to a person not to permit him to satisfy or pay off his obligations. No small part of the “revolt of childhood” is caused by others refusing to accept the only “coins” a baby or child or youth has with which to discharge the “weight of obligation”: the baby’s smiles, the child’s fumbling efforts to help, the youth’s possible advice or just the effort to be a good son or a good daughter commonly pass unrecognized, unaccepted; they can be ill-aimed, often ill-planned; they fade quickly. Such efforts, when they fail to discharge the enormity of the debt, can be replaced with any number of mechanisms or rationalizations: “one doesn’t really owe anything,” “I was owed it all in the first place,” “I didn’t ask to be born,” “my parents or guardians are no good” and “life isn’t worth living anyway” to name a few. And yet the obligations continue to pile up. 

The “weight of obligation” can be a crushing burden if one can see no way to discharge it. It can bring about all manner of individual or social disorders. When it cannot be discharged, those who are owed, often unwittingly, find themselves targets for the most unlooked-for reactions. 

One can help a person who finds himself in the dilemma of unpaid obligations and debt by simply going over with him or her all the obligations they have incurred and have not fulfilled—moral, social and financial—and work out some way to discharge all of them the person feels are still owed. 

One should accept the efforts of a child or an adult to pay off non-financial obligations they feel they may owe. One should help bring about some mutually agreeable solution to the discharge of financial ones. 

Discourage a person from incurring more obligations than it is possible for him or her to actually discharge or repay. 

The way to happiness is very hard to travel when one is burdened with the weight of obligations which one is owed or which he has not discharged.



0. Make sure you have completed the exercise section at Happiness: Precept 14-1. Study the precept above.

1. Check the responses to the following questions for false data (see false data steps at Happiness: Prologue).

(a) “Have you been told or taught not to fulfill your obligations?”
(b) “Do you have any rules or ideas contrary to fulfilling your obligations?”
(c) “Have you been led to believe that you shouldn’t fulfill your obligations?”
(d) “Do you know of anything that conflicts with fulfilling your obligations?”
(e) “Do you have any false data about fulfilling your obligations?”


2. Go over each of the following questions repetitively, until there are no more answers: 

(a) “How have others transgressed against the precept: ‘Fulfill your obligations’?”
(b) “How have you transgressed against the precept: ‘Fulfill your obligations’?”

Do a quick review to see if you did not miss any answers on this step. You should be feeling good about this step.


3. See if the following question definitely brings up some name you know of:

“Is there any specific person in your past who really transgressed against the precept: ‘Fulfill your obligations’?”

If no name comes up then go to step 4. if a name has come up, then continue with step 3 as follows:

“Can you recall an exact moment when you observed ___(name)___ transgressing this precept?”

If there is a realization, go to step 4. Otherwise, continue contemplating as follows, until there is some realization.

“Is there any time when you wanted to be like ___(name)___ ?” 
“Is there any time when you decided that not fulfilling your obligations was a good thing?”
“Did you ever do anything bad to ___(name)___ ? 
(Get all possible answers)
“Are there any differences between ___(name)___ and yourself?”
“Are there any similarities between ___(name)___  and yourself?”


4. Handle any anomalies that come up on the following question by looking at the anomaly more closely. 

”Do you have any reservations about fulfilling your obligations?”

If the anomaly does not resolve then review the precept as well as all the exercise steps above to see if anything was missed. Then do step 4 again. When there is no anomaly go to step 5.


5. Contemplate on the following question.

“Do you have any reservations about getting someone else to fulfill their obligations?” 

If any reservation comes up, then consider the following: 

“How would that be a problem?” 

Get answers to this question until there are no reservations.


Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: