The Buddhist Perspective

What is prime reality?

The Buddha is the centre of the Buddhist faith and is honored as a life example, but not as a god. The Buddha is always associated with what is good, hence all individual actions should be directed towards doing what is perceived as good.      

What is the nature of the world around us?

To the Buddhists “mindfulness” is the overall rule that should be applied all over the world, so in times of crises, patients may require peace and quietness so as to meditate. The issue of mindfulness may affect the decisions made by patients or family members concerning painful medications. The faith focuses on suffering relief, but clarity has to be made on the effect of drugs on mental alertness. As such, care givers are encouraged to administer moderate analgesics or even offer non-pharmacological options that reduce pain

What is a human being?

Buddhists believe that human beings were created by a Supreme Being but their destiny is death. After death, the body should be kept still, and avoid bumping even during transportation. This is particularly because to them, the person’s spirit will still be entrenched in the body for sometime before it is allowed to rest in peace.

What happens to a person at death?

Safeguarding the conscience is fundamental to the Buddhists in the end-of-life care. The wishes of the patient concerning pain management and the use of analgesics have to be followed strictly. At this point, the medical staffs are advised to shun away from activities that might destabilize the mind, thus interfering with meditation as the patient prepares to die. To the Buddhists, death is perceived as a transition period with karmic repercussions. Even family members at this point move away from the patient’s bed in order to give them an easy time to concentrate on their dying experience. Immediately upon death, the family may request to be accorded time with the body to perform some religious rites (Shelly & Miller, 2006). Such appeals should be carefully negotiated to accommodate religious significance. 

Why is it possible to know anything at all?

All Buddhists look up to Buddha to direct their conscious on how to perceive the world around them. Through Buddha they are able to explain how the world came into being, as well as the eventual destiny of things. People of the Buddhist faith have a strong believe in reincarnation and emphasize on sole responsibility for individual actions. 

How do we know what is right or wrong?

Miller and Thorensen (2003) concurs that its major milestone is that of “Karma” where there is reward for every good and punishment for every evil. Payment can be immediate in this life, or in the next life, or in the generations to come. They also have strong culturally-based concerns in regard to modesty, for example, medical care offered by a person of the opposite sex. In terms of diet, some Buddhists are purely vegetarian, meaning they do not consume any animal by-product (Koenig, 2007).

What is the meaning of human history?

Human beings were placed on this earth with an overall aim of doing good to those around them. They are supposed at all times to depend on prayer as it is perceived as the only way of conversing with Buddha. This is the reason why prayers are made at the hospital bed next to the patient either quietly of loudly depending on the prevailing conditions (Basu-Zharku, 2001). Family members normally place Buddha’s picture in the room of the patient, candles may be lit, flowers placed in the room and strings of beads used during prayer.

Conceptualization of Spiritual Perspective on Healing

All religions have critical components within which their faiths are based, and it is through this their actions are guided. Basu-Zharku (2001) explains that in Christianity that component is the Holy Bible and in Buddhism it is Buddha. All their arguments on diet, baptism, meditation and prayer have their basis in them. Also both religions tend to shun away from animal by-products as they are considered to be unhealthy. However, there are obvious distinctions in the two religions such as at the end of life religious rites. Christians put emphasis on baptism and ensure that every dying individual has to been baptized. The bible teaches on the importance of being born again (baptized) for an individual to enter the kingdom of God, the reason why they emphasize on it at the end-of-life. On the other hand, Buddhist stress on the need for meditation, because through it the dying person is given a chance to clear their conscience (Oman & Thorensen, 2002). At this time, they are able to repent their sins and ask Buddha to grant their souls a peaceful rest. It is thus very important for the care givers to understand the religious beliefs of their patients, so that they can be able to administer the best service to them for the period they are under their care.

People of different faiths may conceptualize illness as a punishment from God, thus end up asking themselves questions such as “Why me?” All those who believe that God exist are always in constant prayer asking God to protect them and give them good health (Basu-Zharku, 2001). Such questions are in away directed to God as patients seek to understand why their God has allowed bad luck to befall them. In many cases, it is believed that genuine devotion to a given faith is rewarded with things such as good health and having plenty. This perception can be detrimental to a patient as it may interfere with treatment modalities. It is the responsibility of the health care provider to make their patients understand that illness whether mental or physical may occur to anyone. It may result from causes such as accidents, genes, development, trauma; that are not linked in any way to faith or religion (Koenig, 2007). This spiritual worldview usually emerges when a person is undergoing through a painful experience. Nevertheless, such patients should be made to understand that even the most spiritual people including saints become sick, and even end up dying.                                                 

Spirituality plays an important role in healing as people tend to incorporate what they believe in into the healing process (Shelly & Miller, 2006). There has been increased recognition of the role of spirituality in healing in the medical field, and all the medical staff have been urged to always allow their patients to apply the art. Spirituality is more individualized as it comes from deep within a person’s heart. Many religions put emphasis on their followers to embrace healthy eating habits, making it easy for patients who have been restrained to a healthy diet. Moreover, they discourage habits such as alcoholism and smoking which in most cases work against the healing process. Belonging to a particular spiritual group may bring with it social support, something that patients are in need of. Through these groups people get to visit the sick, pray for them and encourage them that God indeed heals (Dynamic Dance of Christian Worldview, 2008). Spiritual patients experience positive psychological states filled with optimism, which in turn enhances an individual’s physical state and mental health resulting from reduced stress. 

Conclusion

Spiritual perspectives may be many, and each and every one of them has its devoted followers who believe that is how things are done. Being a Christian myself, I also believe spirituality plays a significant role in healing. According to the Dynamic Dance of Christian Worldview (2008), it should be noted that God is the giver and taker of life. The bible tells us clearly that even before you were born, He knew you. So we should always look up to Him for divine intervention. This does not imply that we ignore any form of medical prescriptions, because God only helps those who try to help themselves. Embracing a healthy lifestyle is equally important in healing, through healthy eating and avoiding habits such as alcoholism and smoking. This research has put numerous issues into light by emphasizing on the need of medical staff to learn their patients’ spiritual beliefs and practices (Oman & Thorensen, 2002). People have varied beliefs, but there is no need to look down upon these beliefs. The overall aim of a care giver is to experience the improved healthy status of their patient; hence they should always be ready to appreciate their patients’ beliefs and practices.                

References

Basu-Zharku, L.O. (2001). The Influence of Religion on Health. Student Pulse Online Academic Student Journal. Vol.3 No. 01 Pg. 1-3

Dynamic Dance of Christian Worldview. (2008). Faith and Learning. Journal of Education & Christian Belief, 14(1), 33-46.

Koenig, H.G. (2007). When might Religion or Religious Practices Interfere with the Health of a Patient? From Spirituality in Patient Care: Why, How, When, and What, 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press. Pp.108-22. 

Miller, W.R. & Thorensen, C.E. (2003). Spirituality, Religion, and Health: An Emerging Research Field. American Psychologist, 58:24-35.

Oman, D. & Thorensen, C.E. (2002). Does Religion Cause Health?: Differing Interpretation and Diverse Meanings. Journal of Health Psychology, 7: 365-380.

Shelly, J. A. & Miller, A. B. (2006). Called to care: A Christian worldview for nursing (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, IL.: IVP Academic.