“One who is thoroughly awakened to the nature of good and evil from their roots to their branches and leaves is called a
-Nichiren Daishonin (Buddhist monk)
The Buddhist religion is one that is unparalleled to all other religions in the world. Over 500 years before Christ, a young prince set out on a journey to reach a state of ultimate happiness. This prince, Siddhartha Gautama, was the founder of our world’s very first religion, now known as Buddhism. The principles of Buddhism differ greatly when compared to other religions. This is because it seeks to answer the question of why pain and suffering exist in the world. In order to discover the answer to this question, the Buddha traveled through the darkest corridors of his mind to face the devil that existed inside him. His journey led him to a complete state of peace and happiness, commonly termed Nirvana. Before he was able to reach Nirvana he had to face the demons that were a part of him. This is why the Buddhist religion focuses on the power of the mind. Western religion views evil as an absolute force in the world and one that we have the power to diminish. Good and evil are seen as opposites, and therefore mutually exclusive. Buddhism has an entirely opposing view to describe the term evil. Evil is not an absolute, ultimate power or external force that acts on our world. In fact, good and evil are innate properties that exist in every human being. This is why we are all capable of good actions, as well as bad actions. In this paper I will discuss the significance of evil in the Buddhist religion. The significance of evil is portrayed in Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths, which seek to answer the question of why suffering exists in the world. It is in the Four Noble Truths that Buddhism describes the path that one must take in order to reach a state of Nirvana, or freedom from all worries and troubles, and obtain ultimate happiness.
The first Noble Truth is that life means suffering. Suffering, or dukka, is the cause of pain in the lives of humans. Because suffering is a part of life, it leads to the fact that this pain is unavoidable. Neither human nature, nor the world we live in are perfect, which is what causes suffering to exist. There are three types of dukka that encompass all types of suffering. Dukka of ordinary suffering is that of physical pains. These include giving birth, growing old, sickness, and death. There is also suffering that is caused by trying to hold on to transient objects. This is problematic because transient objects are always changing. When something you desire changes or is unobtainable, it causes anxiety and stress. This type of suffering is known as dukka produced by change. The last category is the dukka of conditioned states. This is caused by the lack of satisfaction with life in general. It is when you realize that all forms of life are in constant states of evolution and will continue to change. When you realize that nothing is permanent it can lead to depression and despair about the world you live in. Suffering is a concept that is inevitable in life and Buddhism teaches us how to cope and overcome it, not to ignore it.
The second Noble Truth is that the origin of suffering is attachment, where attachment refers to that of transient objects. These are objects in which ultimate loss in unavoidable and this loss will always necessarily lead to suffering. Transient objects include physical objects, ideas, and perceptions. We all develop attachments to objects, and are then disappointed when change occurs and they are no longer what we desire them to be. Attachment causes desires for things that are outside us, which we crave because we think they will be the solution to happiness. The truth is that no matter how successful we are, we will never be able to remain satisfied because we have no control over objects outside ourselves.
The first and second Noble