Difference between the Christian and Buddhist view of suffering
For many people, suffering goes beyond the physical experience. Faith and community can function as changing aspects that help individuals experience suffering despite their life circumstances. Suffering is defined as the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. However, in every culture worldwide, the problem of suffering has been managed in different ways. For example, in the Christian world, give suffering a universal meaning to redeem it in some way, to give it a sense of purpose. Other cultures, like Buddhism, seek to transcend it through wisdom.
To emphasize, in Buddhism, the purpose or the goal is to leave the cycle of samara (continuous reincarnation) and enter nirvana. Buddha teaches his followers how to achieve this goal through his four noble truths: the truth of the nature of suffering, the truth of its cause, the truth of the nature of its cessation, and the truth of the nature of the path leading to its cessation. More simply put, suffering exists; it has a cause; it has an end, and it has a cause to bring about its end. Buddha identified three kinds of suffering: the dukkha of physical and emotional pain, the suffering of change, and all-pervasive suffering (Ingram & Loy, 2005). The first kind of dukkha is the obvious suffering caused by physical discomfort, from the minor pain of stubbing a toe, hunger, and lack of sleep to chronic disease agony. The second kind is the suffering caused by the fact that life is constantly changing; the constant bombardment of change ruins every state of happiness. Finally, the all-pervasive suffering is the general background of anxiety and insecurity that colors even the happiest moments. It is life’s inherent unsatisfactoriness due to its intrinsic instability.
On the other hand, in Christianism, suffering is a tool God uses to get the person’s attention and to accomplish His purposes in their lives. It is designed to build trust in the Almighty. Having faith in God and following his word can help release suffering and result in ascension into heaven after death. The idea that suffering is inevitable is comforting compared to the idea that God made humans suffer. The acceptance of suffering can be a means of personal spiritual growth since it is related to the redemptive sufferings of Christ (Yu, 2006). An individual might be suffering without any pain or experiencing pain without any suffering. The perfect example is the martyrs, who are experiencing physical pain without any suffering since they use it as a means to reach holiness. Therefore, suffering has a redemptive meaning after Jesus’s death, and Christ allows us to share in the most profound sign of his love through our own suffering.
Ingram, P. O., & Loy, D. R. (2005). The Self and Suffering: A Buddhist‐Christian Conversation. Dialog, 44(1), 98-107.
Yu, X. (2006). Understanding suffering from Buddhist and Christian perspectives. Ching Feng, 7(1/2), 127.
Buddhists do not believe that humans are inherently evil, but they do believe that greed, rage, and ignorance cause misery. Buddhism is a philosophy, psychology, theology, and philosophical practice based on a way of thought and living. It started with Lord Siddhartha’s teachings regarding his experiences and path to enlightenment. His teachings were written down about 300 years after his death and have since been followed literally or viewed in a broader sense. Other cultures have influenced Buddhism, and Buddhism has been influenced by other cultures. These cultures combined what they considered to be essential with their own wisdom practices.
According to Bang, there are three levels of misery: the first is called “the suffering of suffering,” the second is “the suffering of transition,” and the third is “the suffering of conditioning.” The first category includes traumatic events associated with being physically human, such as birth, illness, ageing, and death. The happy or pleasurable kind is the second. These encounters are brief because they arise in an unenlightened state. Since happiness and pleasure are on one end of a spectrum, while pain and traumatic experiences are on the other, the misery of change is viewed as suffering.The third form of suffering is the existential awareness that as long as we continue to live in an unenlightened life, suffering will still be present.However, I might consider happiness as an illusion and connection, and choose to either stay disconnected from it or feel the physical mental-spiritual meaning in the moment and let it go neutrally until the next moment (Bang 2018).
According to research, Buddhists pursue Buddha’s teachings in order to leave samsara. Christians, on the other hand, obey God’s word and the bible in order to be saved and reach heaven. Suffering occurs in all religions, but the reasons and methods for alleviating it are distinct. There is no such thing as a “maker” or a higher, omnipotent being, nor is there a predetermined text to read and obey. Buddhists obey Buddha’s teachings in order to escape samsara.In Buddhism, the aim or goal is to break free from the samara cycle and attain nirvana. Through his four noble truths, Buddha teaches his followers how to accomplish this goal: the truth of the essence of suffering, the truth of its origin, the truth of its cessation, and the truth of the nature of the path leading to its cessation. Sickness, old age, and death are all inevitable sources of suffering.
Ignorance, attachment, and aversion are the root causes of distress. The object of Catholicism is to love God, obey His commandments, and spread the gospel. There was no “initial sin” or suffering when God made mankind, but when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, mankind’s suffering began. Suffering began with Adam and Eve’s first sin, and it has been passed down over the generations, so that everyone is born with sin. Catholics pray, go to confession, and strive to make positive decisions in order to end their misery and become free of sin, because we are born knowing what is good and bad. Suffering is unavoidable and current in samsara, according to Buddhism. The noble eightfold path will lead to nirvana, or liberation from samsara (Hall et al,2018).
Bang, H. (2018). Buddhism and Up (Karma): A Buddhist Priest’s Wisdom to Help Suffering: A Conversation with Ji-Gong Bob-Sa. Traditional Healing and Critical Mental Health, 76.
Hall, M. E. L., Shannonhouse, L., Aten, J., McMartin, J., & Silverman, E. J. (2018). Religion-specific resources for meaning-making from suffering: Defining the territory. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 21(1), 77-92.
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