We currently live in a society full of people with differing culture, religion and belief. As healthcare providers, to practice efficiently in a pluralist society, we need to be aware that religion and faith have a significant influence on an individual’s worldview towards health. It may be very difficult to learn all the religion that is available but this paper will offer readers two very different religion. This paper will provide a thorough view of the following faith: Christianity and Buddhism. For the purpose of this paper, a comparative analysis focusing on the seven basic worldview questions will be completed from the perspective of Christianity and Buddhism. Along with the seven basic worldview questions, a discussion on the healing aspect of these two religions will be touched upon as well as an exploration of the philosophies of both faiths towards health care. The findings in this paper can offer important information to health care workers when working with patient of differing religion.
It is known that religion and spirituality has a huge i mpact on an individual’s worldview. As a result, healthcare providers should be aware of our patient’s religious practices and be mindful of #own values and beliefs so that it will not interfere with our patient’s care. Among the religions that are practiced by the individuals in America, about seventy percent identified themselves as Christians, while almost six percent practiced a non-Christian faith. Of those six percent, roughly one percent of the populations practice the Buddhist faith (Pew Research Center, 2015). In order to provide the best care to the entire patient, it is important for the health care providers to understand the worldview of each of these faiths. This paper will provide a comprehensive comparison between two faiths. On utilizing the seven basic worldview questionnaires in exploring # the philosophy of Christianity and Buddhism. Critical components from the perspective of Christianity and Buddhism will also be addressed. By understanding the worldview of these two faiths, it is hoped that healthcare providers are able to provide a more individualized care.
Worldview as defined by Shelly and Miller (2006) is a framework of ideas and assumptions about the world and life. The seven basic worldview questions will provide a perspective about the world through the eyes Christianity and Buddhism. The first question pertains to prime reality. In the Christian faith, prime reality is God. For Christians, God is first in everything. A verse from Colossian 1 states “He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead” (Colossian 1, New Standard Version). In contrast, the Buddhist faith believes in the concept of samsara, an endless existence or a continuous cycle of life, death and reincarnation (Berkley Center, n.d.). For Buddhist, the goal is to be liberated from samsara to attain nirvana by practicing the teachings of Buddha.
The second question inquires about the nature of the external reality, the world around us. For Christians, God created the universe and we rely on him for our existence. It is said that God created humans as his image. On the other hand, Buddhists believes that the material world around us is unreal, in order to achieve liberation from suffering (nirvana), we must free ourselves #from the physical andthe mental attachments to the material world (Berkley Center, n.d.).
The third question relates to the meaning of a human being. In Christianity, humans are made in the image of God or imago dei. According to God’s plan, humans have the responsibility and authority over the rest of creation (Shelly and Miller, 2006). For this reason, it is felt that humans are created with wisdom and knowledge in order to care for the sick and the poor. In contrast, Buddhists believe that there is no permanent body or soul, human existence is just a combination of five components or khandas: physical form, feelings/sensations, ideations, mental formations and consciousness. These components combine at birth to create a person (Religion Facts, 2015).
What occurs to a person after death is the fourth question. For Christians, depending on the decisions and actions one makes, our existence will either be with or without God. We exist beyond the death of our body (Tripp, n.d.). On the other hand, the concept of reincarnation holds true for the Buddhist faith. Reincarnation is the belief that the soul or spirit will be reborn after the death of the physical body. In addition, karma strongly influences one’s future or next life, for these reasons Buddhist are encouraged to make morally right decisions.
The fifth question asks us if it is possible to know anything at all. Through the eyes of Christianity, the all-knowing God has knowledge of everything and he conveys this information through the Bible (Creation Education Center, 2014). In contrast, the Buddhist faith does not ponder on the idea of knowledge about creation because for Buddhism, there is no beginning, life is a cycle that repeats itself. Buddhism focuses on the current human conditions, the human suffering in life. The essence of his teaching is to end this suffering by studying and practicing the four noble truths (Berkley Center, n.d.).
The next question is in regards to knowing what is right from wrong. For Christians, we are made in the image of God; we are created as moral beings, knowing the differences between right and wrong. Shelly and Miller (2006) stated that our decisions are based on good thinking, Scripture and the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, God knows our intentions and it is our desire is to please therefore by doing what is morally right we are pleasing Him. In contrast, Buddhism has the concept of Precepts. It is similar to Christian’s Ten Commandments. Precepts consist of many sets that guide us to make morally right decisions. The main five sets or pancasila, states not to kill, steal, lie, misuse sex and abuse intoxicants. Since there is no God to please, by following these Precepts, Buddhists can achieve enlightenment (O’Brien, 2015).
The last worldview question brings up the meaning of human history. For Christians, humanity is linear; it means there is a beginning and an end. The end for us is in God’s hand. The belief that God will create a new humanity in a new kingdom is true for Christians (Shelly and Miller, 2006). On the other hand, Buddhist believes that humanity is not linear but goes through repeating cycle until one achieves nirvana.
Spirituality has a huge role in the healing process. It provides hope and positive thinking during the most difficult time (Pulchalski, 2001). Spirituality varies for everyone and an individual’s faith can influence one’s spirituality. In the Christians faith, spirituality is rooted on the belief and trust in God. For Christians, turning to the spirit realm for healing is prohibited by God because it is viewed as getting involved with demonic, even more a lack of faith in God (Shelly and Miller, 2006). The power of prayer, bible study and church attendance is shown to aid in the healing process. Twenty studies over the course of thirty years have shown that regular church attendance can significantly lower blood pressure (Shelly and Miller, 2006).
A critical component in healing for Buddhist is the mind and body. The minds are limitless and pure but have the power to control the body’s performance. As a result, meditation is proven to be a powerful tool in case healing. The concept of karma, meaning anything we do now will affect us in the future has a role in illness. To heal one’s current illnesses, one must engage in positive behaviors and actions then in order to prevent illnesses in the future. Following the noble eightfold path allows Buddhist to achieve good karma, therefore limits the suffering caused by illnesses.
When caring for patients whose spiritual beliefs are different from their own, nurses may find it difficult at times to understand certain practices. According to Shelly and Miller (2006) nursing developed from the Christian worldview as a response to the teaching of Jesus Christ and his example while caring for the sick. Some important factors to be considered when caring for the Christian patients are their strong belief in God. According to the Bible, it is in God’s nature to heal and physicians are an extension of God’s general blessings to a fallen human race (Tangelders, 2007). Offering a Bible can be very valuable to the Christians during hospitalization as it allow time for prayers. It should be kept in mind that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and it belongs to the Lord, therefore we must treat it, not mistreat it or use it for medical experiments (Tangelders, 2007).
In contrast, when caring for the Buddhists, we must be mindful of our working environment, making sure that it is quiet for the purpose of meditation. Mediation allows Buddhist to transform their mind, to develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity and calm in order to see the true nature of things. Limiting noise can be beneficial towards mediations. Modesty is a big concern as most Buddhist prefers to be cared by the same sex. If possible, when performing procedures where the body is exposed, make sure the nurse is of the same sex.
We practice in a pluralist society and should be tolerant of the differences and accept our patient for who they are. Respecting our patient’s belief and allowing them to practice their faith free out any restraints can be so beneficial during hospitalization. The author of this paper feels that spirituality in any form allows individuals to cope with whatever illness one faces. Spirituality gives patient the power of hope and positive thinking (Pulchalski, 2001). As seen with any religion or faith, the power of the mind is just as strong as the body. As a result, when caring for patients take into consideration everything, view our patient as a whole.
O’Brien, B. (2015). The Buddhist Precepts. Retrieved from Buddhism.about.com/od/theprecepts/a/preceptsintro.htm
Pew Research Center. (2015). America’s Changing Religious Landscape. Retrieved from https://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/
Pulchalski, C. (2001). The role of spirituality in health care. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, 14(4): 352-357
Religion Facts. (2015). Buddhist Beliefs about Human Nature. Retrieved from https://www.religionfacts.com/buddhism/beliefs/human-nature
Shelly, J. & Miller, A. (2006). Called to Care (2nd ed.). Downers Grove, Il: IVP Academic.
Tangelder, J. (2007). A Christian Perspective on Healthcare. Retrieved from www.reformedreflections.ca/faith-and-life/chr-perspective-healthcare.html
Tripp, D. (n.d.). Exploring Christianity. Retrieved from https://www.christianity.co.nz/truth6.htm
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