Suffering is among the acute most as well as hard human problems. All people at a particular point will face as well as the struggle with suffering. This is a problem not meant for just believers in God but also for non believers. Suffering may be regarded to be among the most widespread human problems. For a few of believers, suffering turns to be the obstacle in their religious journey. Some refuse God due to spiritual or physical pain, which they go through. Others, nevertheless, utilize it as a way of purification and sanctification. The suffering problem has never been effectively and successfully resolved.
Based on Buddhism, there are three suffering aspects namely ordinary suffering, suffering as conditioned states and suffering as produced by change. The first suffering aspect covers most commonsense of sufferings to normal human beings. These include birth, sickness, old age, distress, lamentation, grief as well as death. These sufferings are mental and physical. Failure to have the personal satisfaction is suffering, as well. In own words of Buddha, unity with what is disliked is suffering, breakup from what is liked is suffering and not to obtain what one needs is suffering (Mishra).
The second suffering aspect includes things that are subject to transformation and are pleasant. A happiness period or a condition that is pleasant in life exhibits suffering as brought about by change. When there are no more pleasant things, suffering occurs, as a result. Nevertheless, it is notable that Buddhism loudly prophesies the impermanence doctrine, which basically states that all things are subject to change and are not permanent, including pleasant conditions and happiness. In principle, the impermanence doctrine also precludes the being of an unchanging and permanent God. Suffering is hovering at the every happiness event’s door. This view’s upshot is that this world’s happiness, regardless of the period it might last, invites suffering at the instant it vanishes. Furthermore, having a happy feeling concerning someone or something may indicate fond regard to the world, which results in suffering. Buddhism encourages separation from and proposes against fond regard to the world.
The third and final suffering aspect is much deeper philosophically. It denotes the human beings’ existence. Being is suffering with nascence as its origin. Apprehending this suffering aspect is a requirement to opening the ultimate liberation concept of Buddhism. Buddhists describe suffering from a viewpoint that is experiential. Buddhism fundamentally expresses that if one does not feel suffered, then he or she is not. This point of view results in suffering relativity. It is just against this significant background that one can comprehend the Buddhist discernment of suffering and their answer to it. A Buddhist scholar, Mishra, declares that suffering was made by man. With that discernment, sense can be made out of a declaration from Kenneth Ch’en, a Buddhist scholar, who said that suffering may be suppressed (Ch’en).
Buddhists also describe suffering from an individualistic point of view. Even though it does not refute the suffering’s universality, it is much more interested in the suffering individual human beings feel. It is what a person feels contrary to what other persons may feel. It is what a person has done contrary to what others might have done. It is what a person will do to remove suffering for themselves contrary to what others might assist. To individuals, their suffering is brought about by themselves and thus they are exclusively responsible for their own suffering, both for keying out its cause and finding its solution.
Suffering can be changed when people eventually learn to alter their minds (Targ and Hurtak). Once again, this shows that Buddhism centers on the mind as well as how it operates. Here, Buddhism tries to solve the emotional, as well as psychological suffering. There is another type of suffering known as real suffering or naked suffering as a number of Buddhist scholars have made up the term. Buddhism does not classify those sufferings.
The Christians, on the other hand, believe that in one’s battle against suffering one is not alone, but God is there in the very middle of the experience. So that to analyze the Christian reaction one ought to first turn to the Bible, which is the key origin of revelation. One instantly notices that the Holy Scriptures approach to the suffering problem is not philosophical, entailing that its key concern is not suffering’s a rational explanation, but instead its approach is experiential. One ought to note, however that there is some development in the Scriptures in their handling of suffering.
In a certain article, there are three basic tendencies, which include the fact that suffering is a sin’s punishment, it is absurd, and that it is a source of renewal. These dispositions are frequently related in similar texts. First, the Old Testament refuses dualism and lays claim that evil together with suffering were not God’s intentions from the beginning. The universe’s picture in the creation story in Genesis is one of peace harmony, and beauty. Wickedness and suffering were not God’s creation and will but came in the world as a result of sin and God’s rejection. The Adam and Eve’s rebellion against the order that was intended by God led to suffering, chaos, pain as well as death. The Wisdom Book states plainly, that God is not the maker of death and that he takes no delight in damaging the living. In order to live for this, he made everything. Suffering was not God’s intention but occurs as a result of misused free will, which was imparted to human beings. The impacts of the fall are evidently visible at present. It can easily be imagined that a perfect world in which happiness and love lives and death and suffering are not present. It is, however, unfortunate that the world is full of suffering, anguish and pain (Evans).
The Old Testament, does not just present human suffering as an impact of sin, but also talks about its absurdness and a number of positive as well as educational facets of it. To try a rigorous assessment of teaching of the Old Testament on suffering would go far abroad from the key center of this chapter. It would be helpful, however, to make a number of observations. Israel in confronting immense sufferings and deliverance into the enemy’s hands avers that the humankind’s suffering is meaningless, undeserved and absurd. The prophets’ lamentations also offer a good example of calling into question the sense of human anguish and pain. Jeremiah, for instance, in going through the scandal of solitariness, suffering, and evil, voices his anger and letdown. Jeremiah calls into question the God’s goodness in the midst of his rejection, pain and suffering. Paradoxically, he does not give up his faith but midmost of torture experiences the God’s presence. In the Scriptures of Hebrew the whole Book of Job battles with the human suffering question. Job also serves as another case of a man who critically questions the God’s goodness while going through disease and pain. The hypothesis that suffering is just the penalty for sin is disputed in this case. Job is confident that he did not trespass and so he does not comprehend why God permits him to go through suffering. Deserted by his friends while in anguish, Job challenges God’s goodness. So that to console him, his friends demonstrated the same kind of divinity that Father Paneloux comprehended, which states that God cognizes his action better, and a person suffers because he or she has trespassed. Just as Father Paneloux who said to the Oran people that what they ought to go through was brought by God as the penalty for sin, so Job’s friends advised him that what he was going through is a penalty for sins, which he had perpetrated.
In the gospels, one gets several accounts of encounter of Jesus with individuals stricken by different types of suffering, from physical to spiritual as well as moral. In coming across the afflicted individuals, Jesus was never apathetic to their suffering but sympathized with them and assisted them. The Gospel of Matthew says that Jesus command the spirits out and brought around the sick. This was to accomplish the prophesy of prophet Isaiah. This is clearly stated in the book of Matthew, which says that Jesus took away our illnesses and took our diseases. In another place, Matthew narrated Jesus’ words that he feels remorseful for all the people and afterwards healed the sick and gave food to the crowd.
The whole Luke’s Gospel lays out Jesus as a universal redeemer who assists the deprived and the stricken through providing them with forgiveness as well as showing them the unconditioned love, which God has for them. Jesus did not attach any ethical label to the ill. In actions of Jesus, God’s kingdom becomes available for people and God exhibits his astonishing power in his deeds of curing and resurrecting the dead. It is surely interesting that in his come across with the Jesus does not begin from rational account of their affliction reason. Rather than offering them the rational theory concerning the suffering’s nature and roots, he provides them with sympathy and cures them. Simultaneously, Jesus disputed popular condemnation of his time that suffering is the penalty for sin. The ideal example may be encountered in the Gospel of John. It states that as Jesus passed, he saw a man who could not see from birth. His adherents asked him whether it is the man or his parents who sinned for him to be born blind. Jesus replied that neither of them had sinned and that he was born blind so that God’s work may be brought out in him. The disciples sought for the rational account of the blind man’s suffering and desired to know whose sin led to his suffering. Their assumption was that it ought to have been the sins of his parents’ or his own.
Ch’en, Kenneth. Buddhism – The Light of Asia. Woodbury, New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1968. Print.
Evans, Gillian R. Augustine on Evil. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990. Print.
Mishra, Pankaj. An End to Suffering – The Buddha in the World. :, . New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. Print.
Targ, Russell and J. J. Hurtak. The End of Suffering – Fearless Living in Troubled Times or, How to Get Out of Hell Free. New York: Hampton Roads Publishing, 2006. Print.