life is suffering, so is this hell?

Most, if not all, monotheistic religions believe in a moral dualism. That is, a Good and an Evil. Some of these religions also tend to personify these forces, and give these personifications their own domains – heaven and hell.

Wikipedia’s entry for hell says it pretty succinctly:

In many religious traditions, Hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife…

In Buddhism, and other eastern religions, dualism can best be explained by Yin and Yang – two opposing forces that together create the whole. One cannot exist without the other. There is no “heaven” or “hell” in Buddhism or other eastern systems.

Yet in Buddhism there also exists the four noble truths, of which the first is called Dukkha. Dukkha is loosely translated to English as suffering. This first noble truth states, basically, that life is suffering. Period. Simply put. Life is suffering.

My question is this, and its the same question asked by countless philosophers, theologians, and religious scholars for centuries:

Is this hell?

According to Dante Alighieri there are 9 circles to hell. Maybe we’re stuck in one of thbraccio_lucasignorelli_paradisesanbrizio_clr_full_1499-1502_itallyese circles of hell. Perhaps the demons that are torturing us are not of physical form. Perhaps these demons are inside each of us, torturing us, relative to our own deserved level of hell.

Yet if this is hell, it would imply that there also exists a heaven, and a place of eternal bliss and happiness. Why isn’t this that place, heaven? Because we are, in fact, all suffering.

For those who don’t believe in heaven, according to the world’s most popular and time-tested belief systems, it’s hard to argue that this is hell. You must have one to have the other. Likewise, if someone doesn’t believe in God, this can’t be hell either.

So, I ask you, is this hell? Defend yourself. Speak intelligently.

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