Evil. . .

The concept of evil has taken on many forms throughout humankind existence. From demons and devils to humanities own mindsets and distractors, ‘evil” has taken on many ideologies and roles throughout out existence.

Buddhists do not believe that human beings are evil, but they generally accept that humans create suffering through their greed, anger and ignorance. Most Buddhists believe that the negative actions and beliefs of human beings such as greed, anger and ignorance give rise to evil. In many sects of life and religion these three concepts stop us from reaching our full potential. In a nutshell this is what The Buddha was referring to when he spoke of suffering. He also firmly believed that with practice and awakening we could bring an end to our suffering.

The Buddha and everything he brought to light asserts that it is possible to bring an end to suffering. The Buddha was a living example that this is possible in a human lifetime and this is what all Buddhists strive for. Someone who reaches enlightenment is filled with compassion for all living things.

“This Truth that I have realised is profound, hard to see, hard to realize, harmless, sophisticated, more than just speculation, subtle, only really understood by the wise. But this present generation takes delight in attachment, is excited by it, enjoys it. For a generation like this, it’s really hard to understand how things arise in dependence on each other. It’s also really hard to understand the calming of all fabrications, the rejection of all attachments to rebirth, the destruction of craving, dispassion, cessation, nirvana.” The Buddha

Thus evil is not something that possess one or takes over against our will. In fact we could say that that the only evil is that of the untrained mind, the ignorance we woefully live within and thus fail to see and recognize fully – Evil does not live out in the world in some cave, it lives within our very minds and hearts and thus can be located, understood and put into perspective. We cannot put down what we fail to see and understand. So we could say that the concept of evil is directly tied to our suffering and as such can be understood.

Evil is the partner of suffering which comes in many forms. In Buddhism there are three main types of suffering:

  • The first is linked to the first three sights the Buddha saw on his first journey outside his palace: old age, sickness and death. This is the suffering of painful experiences, including unsatisfied desires.
  • The Buddha also taught that suffering goes much deeper than these three things. Suffering is also caused by constant change. People constantly lose the things and situations to which they become attached.
  • Thirdly, even when people are not immediately suffering, they are unsatisfied because they are not enlightened. This is the truth of suffering.

Suffering is a key part of life. Buddhists follow teachings that will help to relieve the suffering of others. Karuna is the word for compassion. This is the understanding of, and the desire to help remove pain, harm and suffering from our days and the days of others. Metta is loving-kindness. The Buddha taught that Buddhists should cultivate it through meditation. Metta holds the key for us all and is best cultivated through meditation.

Through meditation Buddhists can reach an unselfish, loving, pure state of mind. The act of being loving helps concentration, happy and healthy relationships, and to overcome anger. Together, this helps to relieve some suffering in life. Buddhists may also involve themselves in campaigns and charities to help those who are suffering. Many believe that they do not just help people by meditating but also by being active in society. ‘Engaged Buddhism’ is the more acute description of the current energy behind buddhism here in the west and it is considered a movement started by Thich Nhat Hanh.

No person chooses evil because it is evil; they only mistake it for happiness, the good they desperately seek. It is in that desperation that evil lives and hides – Mary Wollstonecraft

Peace and Love, Jim

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