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Tri Lakshana
By Amarasiri Weeraratne
The Three Characteristics of Existence (Contd.)

Let us look at the forests and the ocean depth. Here the stronger preys upon the weaker. Amongst men too, the economically stronger preys upon the weaker by exploitation of labour. The whole of creation can be summed by in the words "eating and avoiding being eaten". Sir Edwin Arnold remarks of in his "Light of Asia".
"Beauteous is the earth,
but all its forest-broods, Plot mutual slaughter, hungering to live,
Of sapphire are the skies,
but when men cry Famished, no drops they give".

It was Tennyson the son of a Clergyman, who wrote, "Never morning wore to evening, but some heart did break." Instances can be multiplied from the world's literature to show that the keynote that underlines existence is suffering. It is on this central theme that the Buddha built up his doctrine. He too was concerned with the same problem which confronted all thinkers. "One thing do I teach," declared the Buddha, "and that is suffering and how to get rid of it." Elsewhere the Buddha has said, that just as there is one flavour in the ocean, and that the taste of salt, there is one flavour in my doctrine, and that the flavour of deliverence from suffering. The Four Noble Truths are the heart-core and corner stone of the Buddha·Dharma. Of these truths, the first is the recognition of the universality of suffering.

Thus we see that the Buddha-Dharma is founded on facts which can be verified by our own experience, and not on any sort of dogma, or speculative assumption, and not to be accepted of faith alone, e.g. "In the beginning God created heaven and earth", The truth of suffering can be verified by each individual for himself, because life is one big picture dominated by suffering. Those natural and reared on the obsession that life was created and is maintained by a merciful God, would find this truth distasteful, because it exposes the imperfection of the Creator and his handwork. The five solutions offered in Christian Theology to the problem of suffering and its compatibility with the concept of a merciful Creator have been found to be unsatisfactory and founded on logic as has been explained and admitted by Alstair M. Maclntyre* in his book "Problems of Christian Belief".

The beliver in God fights shy of the truth of suffering because, it furnishes damning evidence against the all-merciful, and all-powerful concept attributed to the Creator. In this connection the words of Sir Charles Bradlaught are worth quoting:-

"The existence of evil (suffering) is a terrible stumbling block to the theist.
Pain, misery, crime, poverty confronts the advocates of eternal goodness, and challenge with unanswerable potency his declaration of Diety as all-good, and ail-powerful"

Robert Blatchford in his "God and My Neighbour" wrote:-
"The world is full of sorrow, pain, hatred, crime and war. If God is a tender, loving, all knowing, and all-powerful heavenly father, why did he build a world on such cruel lines? Why does he not give the world, peace, health, and happiness?"

Thomas Huxely presented the truth of suffering with devastating effect on the Creator-God concept, when he said:-
"Since thousands of times a minute, were our ears only sharp enough, we should hear the sighs and groans, and pains like those heard by Dante at the gate of Hell, the world cannot be governed by a benevolent God."

Professor Leuba, of Brian Maw College has questioned the scientists of America in a circular, and discovered that more than half of them did not believe in a personal God, nor in a personal immortality. Therefore, it is no wonder that Bishop Ayer of New York lamented in his book, "God Answers Man's Doubts":- "Higher education is becoming viciously antagonistic to Christianity ... One must admit that there are times when atheism seems logical even if a cold and heartless answer to the problem in this sense."
"Thus we will have to agree with Professor W. T. Stace of Princeton University, U.SA the author of "Buddha or Christ" that "while modern science makes a shipwreck of Christianity, it does not touch Buddhism". Indeed, it is this scientific and rational approach so fateful to Christianity that is favourable to the spread of Buddhism in the West. >

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