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How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil? - Dhamma Wheel

How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
rybak303
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How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby rybak303 » Fri Sep 10, 2010 7:57 am

I have been studying Christianity and its explanation for evil and pain in the world. I was wondering what the Buddhist reply is to the question of where evil comes from and why evil and pain exist in the world, both in man and in nature? Does Buddhism believe in Satan and sin as the cause for evil?

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Ben
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Ben » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:04 am

Hi Rybak

Evil doesn't come from anywhere except within. Very basically, the three unwholesome roots or 'poisons' are ignorance, craving and aversion, and all misery is traced back to those three roots. The progenitor of craving and aversion is ignorance. As Buddhists we engage in practice to eradicate these three roots and how they manifest as discrete mental defilements.

With regards to pain - that depends upon what you mean. Depending upon what you mean - there are detailed explanations. But if you mean what I think you mean - difficult situations people find themselves, its the result (fruition) of one's kamma. Again, very basically, what you sow, so you shall reap. If you act with unwholesome intentions, so misery will follow. If you act with wholesome intentions, so happiness will follow. It is the Buddhist doctrine of causation.

There is no direct correlation between satan and any being in the Buddhist pantheon. A manifestation of 'evil' is a being of the deva realm known as Mara. But Mara is, like all beings, conditioned and does not live forever. Before the present being known as Mara, the jatakas (birth stories of the Buddha) suggest that the Buddha's personal attendant, Ananda, was the previous 'Mara'. Another thing to remember is that Mara is the one who endeavours to keep beings rolling around samsara - not necessarily trapped in hell realms. In one sutta, Mara, appearing in the retinue of the Brahma Baku, is portrayed as being the one who endeavours to keep Brahma deluded in believing he was the one who created the universe and the father of all beings.
But for many Buddhists, Mara is just an anthropomorphism of the five hindrances of sloth-torpor, restlessness-worry, sensual desire, doubt and ill-will, or mental defilements.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Paññāsikhara
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:50 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

Paññāsikhara
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:51 am

My recently moved Blog, containing some of my writings on the Buddha Dhamma, as well as a number of translations from classical Buddhist texts and modern authors, liturgy, etc.: .

chownah
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby chownah » Fri Sep 10, 2010 1:52 pm


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Tex
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Tex » Fri Sep 10, 2010 2:58 pm

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -- Heraclitus

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Jason
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Jason » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:37 pm

"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().

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Jason
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Jason » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:39 pm

"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" ().

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Sunset

Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Sunset » Fri Sep 10, 2010 9:58 pm


rowyourboat
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:26 am

I think Buddhism finds it unnecessary to project an 'evil' which exists somehow 'out there'. If you get past this assumption and look at the details you will see that evil actions, deeds and thoughts come from people's minds. There is no real evidence that they are put there by someone else. They seem to have some (outdated) relevance to survival, so there is a good enough reason why they exist. The good news is that they can be reduced bit by bit using various means -leading to happiness for yourself and others. Dont forget we also have the capacity for goodness as well, which can be increased.

with metta

RYB
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

rybak303
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby rybak303 » Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:34 am

Thank you for the well thought out responses everyone. It sounds from what I heard that according to Buddhism evil comes from within which is similar to the Christian interpretation, although in the Christian interpretation there is also a source of evil which exists outside of us as well as within us. Most of you mentioned the source of our internal evil as coming from defiled thoughts, aversion, and greed. But why do we have these defiled thoughts, aversion, and greed to begin with? Does Buddhism give any answers for reason we find ourselves with the defiled thoughts, aversion, and greed or is it like what forum member Tex said with his fascinating quote that Buddhism doesn't concern itself with such questions but rather tries to find the cure here and now?

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Goofaholix
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:09 am


unspoken
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby unspoken » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:12 am

Human greatest enemy is not Satan nor Evil

Human's greatest enemy is ourself,
The biggest and the Only enemy is ourself.

With peace bringing this message to all

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acinteyyo
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Re: How does Buddhism explain the existence of evil?

Postby acinteyyo » Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:59 am

Thag 1.20. Ajita - I do not fear death; nor do I long for life. I’ll lay down this body, aware and mindful.


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