Healing Hospital: Spiritual Assessment

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Healthcare Diversity in Baha'i and Buddhism

Dawn Stonestreet

Grand Canyon University

20 August 2010


The rich diversity of the healthcare services in America represents one of our nation's great strengths, but a glaring weakness is reflected in the profound disparity in health status between communities of different religious beliefs, such as Buddhists, Baha'is, and Christians. This paper presents a comparison of healthcare status of Buddhists, Bahai's and Christians.

Healthcare Diversity in Baha'i and Buddhism

Healthcare Diversity in Buddhism

The Buddha's teachings spread from India throughout Asia, even reaching as far as the Greek empire at one point (hence the Buddhist Greek monarch -Melinder). To the East, they reached the areas known today as Japan, China and South East Asia, and to the North they settled in Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia and Russia. Wherever Buddhism spread Buddhism often influenced that society's practice of healthcare. The following serve as summarized contemporary guidelines to various health issues. Buddhism lays stress on personal responsibility and motivation as the precepts are training principles rather than commandments. Each individual is free to make his or her own decisions. Buddhism is a path to enlightenment versus a religion.

Many Buddhists are vegetarian or vegan due to respect for other human beings. Some may have taken a precept which involves eating only one main meal a day. This is usually eaten before midday. However it is not uncommon to find non-vegetarian Buddhists as the Buddha asked his monks to eat whatever they got. An individual's health allowing, in all schools and traditions a one day fast is recommended on New Moon and Full Moon days. There are also other festival days such as Buddha's birthday, death day, his enlightenment, the first Sermon and others.

Buddhists generally have no problem taking any medicine that helps. Some Buddhists will be wary, and will wish to know the effects, of any drug which alters their emotional state or clarity of mind due to the 5th precept. However, the idea of the 5th precept is so that “individuals do not perform harmful acts whilst intoxicated” (www.biblegateway.com). So, prescribed medication, that may be intoxicating but which is healing or reduces suffering, is usually accepted. Nevertheless some Buddhists may favour alternative health remedies or may be reluctant to accept sedating medication for this reason.

There is some spectrum of Buddhist opinion on this issue. Ultimately many will have no religious objections since helping others is fundamental to Buddhist belief -and organ donation during life seems to be universally considered skillful and compassionatean act of supreme generosity. However some may decline transplants and organ donation occurring after death due to the belief that the mind may dwell within the body for some time after cardio respiratory death; whereby the body should not be moved for 72 hours, and where disruption of internal organs may be perceived to undermine the optimal dissolution of consciousness. The main Buddhist tradition is then for the family to request prayers from the Sangha (usually a monk, nun or priest) of the appropriate School of Buddhism and ...
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