The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism can be explained as follows. The first Noble Truth is that all life is Dukkha, the Sanskrit for suffering. As human being we are born into the wheel of Samsara, and as beings living in Samsara we suffer. The Buddha came to this realization when he saw that everyone and everything around him suffered in some form or other. The second Noble Truth is that the causes of Dukkha are ignorance and desire. All suffering can be linked to the human instinct to desire, and our ignorance that causes us to desire.
After many hours of meditating, the Buddha realized this next truth. He looked back on his past and remembered that even as a rich and powerful prince, who never experienced suffering first hand, and who could not have wished for anything more to make his life better, still had the desire to leave the palace where he had lived and see what was outside. Through his ignorance he had still desired. The third Noble Truth is that there is a way to the cessation of suffering, and that is the elimination of our ignorance and desire through the attainment of Nirvana.
If we eliminate our ignorance and our desire, we can become enlightened. The Buddha developed this part of the Noble Truths as a logical progression from his second truth. The fourth Noble Truth is that you can attain Nirvana by following the Eight Fold Path. This is a set of guidelines that lays out a certain way of living, for example right speech and right intention. These two examples mean that you should not for example speak badly about anyone or curse.
Right intention means that you should have the right reason for doing something, for example if you went to help an old lady across the street, but slipped and knocked her into the road where she was knocked down by a bus, you would not receive any bad karma as a result because your intent was to help the woman. These guidelines were the product of many hours meditating and thought to create the perfect way of conducting yourself in order to eliminate suffering.
(b) To support the first Noble Truth, an example that all life is suffering is that even when we are happy, that happiness will not last. As everything is impermanent, so is happiness, and as all happiness must end, therefore suffering must be ever present. To support the second Noble Truth, the example of a small boy losing his whole family to an earthquake, and the suffering that brings him is attributed to his ignorance to desire. It is his ignorance that leads him to desire to have a family that loves, and takes care of him.
If this desire was eliminated he would not suffer the pain of losing his family. This also backs up the third Noble Truth as it shows that through the elimination of desire, suffering can be ceased. Another example of how halting our desires can prevent suffering is, when a child wants an ice cream, but his mother won’t buy them one, he starts to cry and is sad, he suffers. If the child did not have the desire for that ice cream he would not be sad if he did not get one.
To support the last Noble Truth, the eight-fold path, if you think about right intention, if you always act with the right ideals, you would never disappoint yourself with your behavior, as you know the reasons for them. Having the right livelihood, means that you should earn your living doing something that helps people rather than hinders them, like selling them drugs. If you add all these things up, the life you would live would be full of satisfaction, and free from disappointment, which is in some aspects, Nirvana. SECTION II
4/(a) The innocent sufferer in the argument over the problem of evil can be described as the following. When it appears that a person who has done no wrong, and/or lived a perfectly moral and good life, has been struck down with evil or suffering, it is they who are the innocent sufferer. It is wondered, that if these people live good lives and do no wrong, why then does god punish them. An example of an innocent sufferer is a priest of 25 years, who at age 45 has dedicated his life to learning and teaching about god, and believing in him.
If this man walks home to discover that his house has been burnt done by arsonists, killing his mother who lived with him and also their dog, why would god who is all powerful let such a thing happen to this faithful and good servant. Another good example of the innocent sufferer is a child who dies in their cot. Why are they punished when they have had no time, or ability to sin? (b) There are many different explanations for the problem of evil. It could be suggested that there is one that seems to hold the more weight than the others.
This would in my opinion be that, in the long run, suffering does lead to good. The explanation explains itself, but to back it up, you must examine certain events that happen, and have happened in human existence. A good example is that of the antiseptic. When a cut has antiseptic on it, it stings. But that little bit of pain would be nothing compared to if the wound was left alone and became infected. Vaccines are another good example. On a larger scale, wars in which many men were killed have had some very good effects that seem to be lost in the history and horror of war.
It is a fact that, through wars such as WWI and WWII, medical techniques, equipment, and cures have improved vastly, and enormously quicker than if there were no wars. For those millions who perished and suffered in those wars, millions more have been saved from suffering from the medical advances that were learnt. So good can come from evil. Critisms such as a man who kills a little boy, how does good come from that? Well if god knew that the boy would go on to kill a hundred people one day, then it would be best to first kill him instead. The man who kills him is an instrument of god.
The weakest argument for the existence of god has to be that god works in mysterious ways. This does not answer the problem of evil. It is like answering the question, ‘what is two plus three? ‘ by saying ‘a number’. We know that but it is not the answer to the question. It is posing another question on top of the original question. If god works in mysterious ways, then we need to solve the mystery of the ways in which he works, which of course is the initial question in a different format. Therefore it is not, and should not be considered a solution to the problem of evil.