In the healthcare profession, workers come into close contact withpeople with different religious faiths. Assuming that people from allfaiths hold similar principles and values will be setting up oneselffor offending patients. Therefore, it is important to understanddifferent philosophies from different faiths. This paper seeks tocompare the faith philosophies of Christianity with those ofBuddhism. The paper also draws conclusions on the importancerelevance of religion in nursing, and the spiritual perspective ofhealing.
It is important for a healthcare worker to be conversant with thefaith of others and exercise tolerance. For instance, in the USAalone there are over 50 different faiths including subdivisions ofmajor religions such as Islam. Working in the healthcare sectorexposes an employee to clients from the entire spectrum of faiths inthe USA. It is therefore necessary for nurses and other healthprofessionals to learn about other faiths in order to find out theirbeliefs, practices, taboos, and virtues.
According to the Christian view of worldview, God is the primereality. God is everywhere and He cares for his children on earth. Heis real and his works are evident. God is omnipresent and omnipotentat the same. Christianity believes that God is all-powerful hence heis capable of many things that are beyond the reach of humanity,including healing (Pearcey, 2005). As a religion, Buddhism does notbelieve in a personal connection between God and human beings.
Buddhism prides itself as being a way of life that seeks to end thesuffering of human beings, rather than it being just a religion(Conze, 2013). Among the suffering, that Buddhism seeks to rid of itsfollowers is sickness. According to Conze (2013), the religionbelieves that sickness is a result of going against the Buddhist wayof life. Buddhism draws its faith and practices from the teachings ofBuddha, who was able to attain the status of asceticism through longperiods of meditation.
The external reality in Christianity is a world that was created byGod. According to Christianity, God created the world and all thelife in it in six days. The world is concrete rather than just aspiritual notion. Everything was created for a reason because theworld needs all the creatures in order to function as God intended.This concept of the external reality is what drives Christians toconserve the environment and speak against such acts asdeforestation, climate, change, and pollution.
On the other hand, Buddhism does not specify when the world came intobeing (Murti, 2013). Unlike Christianity, Buddhism does not beginwith an explanation of how the world came into being. Instead, itstarts by giving the story of Buddha, who was born to a life ofcomfort and plenty, but decided to live a life of poverty.
A human being is God’s creation. On the sixth day of creation, Godmade man and named him Adam. Few days later, he used his rib tocreate a woman and a companion for Adam. According to the biblicalstory, he named her eve (Goheen, 2008). The two procreated to giverise to the entire human population. Buddhism holds a differentperspective of what constitutes a human.
The human body has unimaginable power if used well in accordance withBuddha’s directions. It can also be a source of sickness andsuffering if not used well. The human brain can be a source of poweror the source of suffering. It all depends on how the human beingdecides to approach life. In order to achieve asceticism, a state ofno human suffering, the human being should be living a life of puritythat includes meditation and purity.
After death, Christians believe that the soul of the person goes toheaven or hell depending on their deeds on earth. Christians alsobelieve that on the judgment day god shall awaken all the dead thentake in the righteous and condemn the evil to eternal fire. Buddhistsbelieve that when a person dies he is relieved of his consciousnessto attain the state of nirvana. After losing consciousness, the deadperson becomes eligible for incarnation. Incarnation is the rebirthof a dead person into another form of life.
The rebirth can take the form of a newborn child or animal, but neverinanimate objects. Buddhists do not believe in the judgment day, butrather believe in the concept of Karma (Puri, 2009). All the gooddeeds shall be repaid with good while evil will be repaid by evil.However, the religion does not explain the existence of asupernatural being that will keep track of all the deeds of humankindin order to determine their Karma.
According to Christianity, it is possible to know anything at allbecause human beings were created in the image of God, who isall-knowing. Since God transferred His knowledge to humankind when hecreated him in His image, then human beings have knowledge too(Moreland & Craig, 2003). This concept explains why Christiansbelieve that the Bible provides all the answers to questions life.All major scientific discoveries and breakthroughs in healthcare arecredited to God because he is the source of all knowledge. Buddhistselude all their knowledge to the teachings of Buddha. After attainingasceticism, Buddha reached a state of mind where he knew everything.
It is through asceticism that he was able to write the scripts(Conze, 2003). Since all his followers read and do their actions inaccordance with the scripts, then they stand a position of knowingeverything. According to Conze (2013), some of his teachings that hisfollowers look up to as their source of knowledge include the fourtruths- Dukkah, Karma, Nirvana, and Theravada.
Buddhists know right from wrong because the teachings of Buddhaclearly separate right from wrong. In the words of Buddha, anythingthat leads to dukkha is wrong (Puri, 2009). According to theirbelief, Dukkah is the desire to have what you cannot achieve.According to the Buddhism religion, it is the source of allwrongdoing because it leads to stealing, greed, murder, and lying.
In order to guide his followers into doing right, Buddha devised thenoble eight- fold path, which is supposed to lead to the cessation ofdukkha. Christians are able to know right from wrong because theywere created in the image of God who is righteous. Christians drawtheir inspiration and guidance from the Holy Spirit. In addition, theTen Commandments created by God are supposed to help Christians tomaintain a good relationship with God and their fellow human beings.
In Christianity, Human history is the creation of human beings by Godin order to serve his purpose on earth. God created human beings inorder to take care of all the other creatures made by God. Humanbeings are superior to the other creations of God because they weremade in the image of God and they have the power to think on theirown. Buddhism does not dwell much on human history.
However, the religion does not explain where man originated. Theearliest mention of human beings in Buddhism was when Buddha was bornto a royal family. He decided to leave the life of a prince when herealized how people were suffering in the outside world. Prior tothat, Buddhism does not give a detailed account of human history andhow humankind came to exist.
Similarities in Healthcare
From the two religions discussed above, healing comes from a supremebeing. In Christianity, it comes from God while in Buddhism it comesto people who have attained the state of asceticism. Christians canreach to God for healing through prayer, whilst the Buddhist canattain asceticism through durations of meditation. Healing inChristianity is a reward by God in order to keep enjoying life.According to Conze (2013), Buddhism also believes that Healing isreward for following the teachings of Buddha that lead to thecessation of dukkha at the state of asceticism.
In both religions, believers are under the impression that sicknessis not the intent of creator but it is a result of their undoing.According to the Buddhists, Sickness is a call to all believers to goback to their formerly righteous path. In Christianity, the sickought to keep praying and believing in God. In Buddhism, the sickneed to meditate and stick to the teachings of Buddha.
When a person of another faith cares for a patient, what is importantat that instant is healing. Quite often, the patient does not carethat whoever is providing the care is from another faith as long asthe caregiver does not try to sway their faith. However, it isimportant that the caregiver acknowledge the different faith of theirpatients. For instance, it would be very rude for a Christian nurseto urge a Buddhist patient to keep believing in Jesus Christ for heis the greatest healer of all time.
The caregiver would issue such a comment with good intentions but itwould not go down well with the Buddhist patient. It is for thisreason that healthcare professionals in multi-faith societies shouldmake an effort in learning the beliefs and practices of people fromother faiths. Ignorance of the beliefs of people with different faithand philosophies is no excuse for inappropriate utterances.
In conclusion, my perspective of spiritual healing is that it comesfrom within. It does not matter the religion, but all that it takesis faith. In my view, faith is the personal believe that one will gethealed, and not necessarily a religious issue. Some people may arguethat it is only the medicine that heals but to me, medicine is justan avenue for spiritual healing. All the breakthroughs in medicineare God’s way of minimizing suffering in his people. Through theassignment, I have learned new concepts that are precious toBuddhism. I never knew of terms such as dukkha, Theravada, andnirvana.
The concept that interested me the most was the dukkha idea. I rerateto this view because it coincides with my long belief that greed isthe source of most problems in the world today, even health. I agreewith Buddha that desire to have what we cannot afford is the sourceof all human suffering. A healthcare provider needs to understand thebeliefs of others in order to relate to them. In addition, thelearning experience is important for caregivers so that they areaware of which spiritual approach they should use when encouragingthe patients to keep fighting.
Conze, E. (2013). Buddhist thought in India: Three phases ofBuddhist philosophy (Vol. 4). Routledge.
Goheen, M. W., & Bartholomew, C. G. (2008). Living at thecrossroads: An introduction to Christian worldview. BakerAcademic.
Moreland, J. P., & Craig, W. L. (2003). Philosophicalfoundations for a Christian worldview. InterVarsity Press.
Murti, T. R. V. (2013). The central philosophy of Buddhism: Astudy of the Madhyamika system. Routledge.
Pearcey, N. (2005). Total truth: Liberating Christianity from itscultural captivity.
Puri, B. (2009). Engaged Buddhism: The Dalai Lama`s Worldview(p. 264). Oxford University Press