Suffering plays an important role in a number of religions, regarding matters such as the following: consolation or relief; moral conduct (do no harm, help the afflicted, show compassion); spiritual advancement through life hardships or through self-imposed trials (mortification of the flesh, penance, ascetism); ultimate destiny (salvation, damnation, hell). Theodicy deals with the problem of evil, which is the difficulty of reconciling the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent god with the existence of evil: a quintessential form of evil, for many people, is extreme suffering, especially in innocent children, or in creatures destined to an eternity of torments (see problem of hell).
The 'Four Noble Truths' of Buddhism are about dukkha, a term usually translated as suffering. They state (1) the nature of suffering, (2) its cause, (3) its cessation, and (4) the way leading to its cessation (which is the Noble Eightfold Path). Buddhism considers liberation from suffering and the practice of compassion (karuna) as basic for leading a holy life and attaining nirvana.
Hinduism holds that suffering follows naturally from personal negative behaviors in one’s current life or in a past life (see karma in Hinduism). One must accept suffering as a just consequence and as an opportunity for spiritual progress. Thus the soul or true self, which is eternally free of any suffering, may come to manifest itself in the person, who then achieves liberation (moksha). Abstinence from causing pain or harm to other beings (ahimsa) is a central tenet of Hinduism.
The Bible's Book of Job reflects on the nature and meaning of suffering. Pope John Paul II wrote "On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering". This meaning revolves around the notion of redemptive suffering.
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