Cultural and religion competency is vital when it comes to nursing profession since nurses ought to have comprehensive knowledge concerning perspective of different religious groups when it comes to individual health care. It is important to acknowledge that various religious groups have their concepts and perceptions when it comes to person’s wellbeing in this life and after. As such, Christians and Buddhists have their views on human health care and how an individual must conduct themselves on a daily basis and the consequences of living a reckless life here on earth. Thus, this research not only looks at life here on earth but life after death and what rewards both Christians and Buddhists expect to get once they depart from earth. Therefore, nurses are supposed to equip themselves with relevant spiritual information on how to handle patients and how to meet their religious needs such providing access to spiritual materials and visitation by religious leaders. Notably, Christians believe in holy trinity, but Buddhists do recognize that they live in a dangerous world so they need to have a supreme being in their thoughts to assist them overcome such challenges. Additionally, Christians hold the belief that they were made in the image of God while Buddhists see the universe as a fantasy notion. Christians wait for resurrection after death and coming of Jesus, this is slightly contradictory to what Buddhists believe in. While Buddhists required not to harm others, lie, engage in prostitution, steal, take alcohol and drugs, Christians see it fit that in the event a person sins, that is, they have gone against the will of God, they are liable for punishment from Him. In general, Christianity hold that having faith in God and a direct relationship with the Lord is sufficient for them to be healthy which is a little bit different from the Buddhists who holds that suffering here on earth has an end if we seek freedom of mind, inner peace, not craving for earthly materials and liberate ourselves from these bondage of the things we can live without. To Christians, there is healing in prayer. This fact is relatable to Buddhists who believe in meditation; which is vital for the restoration of their health. Hence, this research looks at the spirituality concept based on this two religious groups that is Christianity and Buddhism. Therefore, nurses are obliged to provide healthcare to the patients they are taking care of by being respectful of their spiritual beliefs while at the same time incorporating spiritual growth in their care.
The concept of health varies from one individual perspective to another and one religion group to another and more so from one culture to another across the world. In this regard, some view health as physical, emotional, social or spiritual wellbeing. This is one of the reasons why nurses have to possess deep knowledge of cultural diversity. Health care providers need to modify their services to fit the perception of health across the different religions, cultures, races and ethnic groups. The definitions of the health by various groups of people are benchmark against the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition. WHO defines health as a state of complete mental, physical and social wellbeing and is not just a mere absence of infirmity or disease (World Health Organization, 2014). The definition of health varies because different religions have diverse perception of the person. On the other hand, a health care system is formulated in such a way that it makes it possible for people to access the health care that is financed by the government and private enterprise. Different religions and cultures have their own beliefs and understanding of human health care and therefore this essay will view how Christianity and Buddhism view health care. Notably, nurses come into contact with people from different religion and culture; hence, it is imperative for nurses to have the competence and knowledge of different faith to position themselves appropriately in offering care that is not in conflict with patient’s values and spiritual stand (Shelly & Miller, 2006).
Buddhist doesn’t believe in the existence of gods unlike the other religions (Murti, 2013). Buddhists believed that the primitive man found himself in a hostile and dangerous world and so he created the idea of God so as to encourage him in times of danger and give him comfort in good times as well as guide him when things go wrong (Murti, 2013).
The nature of the world around us
Christians believe the universe was created by God and the universe is depending on God for its existence. They believed that the world has a beginning, but in its present form will eventually come to an end. It is believed that matter around the world is real and good (Shelly & Miller, 2006). As such, God himself shared in using the matter to create a human being and Jesus. It is believed that God created the universe, but He is distinct from the world. He is believed to be beyond time and space (Shelly & Miller, 2006).
According to Buddhists, they do not believe the world was created and it is ruled by God. They perceived that the material world is unreal, a dream of some kind and a sort of fantasy. They viewed world to mean nothing and of no value (Murti, 2013).
The concept of a human being
Buddhists perceived human existence in a composite of five aggregates which they are referring to as khandas (Murti, 2013). The human being is view to be existing in five aggregates namely physical form, feeling/sensation, mental formations, consciousness and ideations (Murti, 2013). They believed that they are not with God and as such individual personality is underplayed.
What happens to a person at death?
Christians believe that they will exist beyond death either in relationship with God or without Him, depending on the choices one made about life. Christians believe that their dead bodies will be resurrected during the second coming of Jesus Christ through a transformed state same as the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
Buddhists believed that people are reborn after dying through rebirth and reincarnation in a trapped cycle of birth, living, death and rebirth (Shelly & Miller, 2006). They believed that in reincarnation, one will recur repeatedly, whereas in rebirth, individual is not necessarily returning to earth in the same entity (Shelly & Miller, 2006). They compared rebirth in the same way a leaf will grow on a tree after the withered leaf falls off.
Why is it possible to know anything at all?
Christians believed that God gave them intelligence which they expected them to use either in understanding the knowledge about him or the universe (O'brien, 2013). Christians believed that when they received revelation, it will enable them to know the truth about God, the meaning of death and life.
Buddhists believed that the possibility of the person to know is originating from the cycle of dependent origination (Harvey, 2012). The cycle of dependent origination represents a human life cycle, which entails lifetime cycle such as addiction, relationship, a job and cognitive ability (Harvey, 2012).
How do we know what is right and wrong
Christians believed that God is perfectly good and he created human beings with the same qualities of moral goodness (Shelly & Miller, 2006). Therefore, those persons who are following what God intended them to do are doing the right thing. On the other hand, those people who have misused the freedom given to them by God have sinned and they consider themselves wrong (Shelly & Miller, 2006). The bible has made it possible for Christians to be able to know everything since it provides them with the guidelines on how to live well with one another.
Buddhists are using the five precepts to identify whether individual is doing wrong or right. These five precepts of Buddhists required the person not to harm other people, not to steal, not to lie, not to misuse sex and not to consumed alcohol or drugs (Harvey, 2012). The person who will defy those rules stipulated by Buddhists will be considered to have done wrong.
What is the meaning of human history?
For Buddhists, they are trapped in a cycle of rebirth and to them history has little meaning (Harvey, 2012). They believed that there is change and movement without involving the idea of purpose.
Christians’ beliefs on health
Furthermore, Christians perceive health as having a direct connection with the concept of shalom. Shalom incorporates all elements that will make a God-centered community (Shelly & Miller, 2006). These elements, as express according to Shalom are the existence of rest, safety, justice, peace, security, wholeness, welfare and happiness (Pike, 2011). The existence of the wholesomeness of these elements constitutes a community that is dwelling at peace in all relationships be it towards God, fellow human beings, self and environment. Therefore, concerning this concept Christians believe that whoever dwell at this category they will be God people and God himself will be with them and God will wipe out every tears (sufferings) from their eyes (lives) (O'brien, 2013). According to shalom perception, a healthy person functions in conformity to physical, spiritual and psychosocial expectation dimensions of the community and God (Shelly & Miller, 2006). Hence, Christians believe that swaying away from those elements bring unhappiness and unhealthy living with the community. It will result to deaths, mourning everywhere, pain and crying will be the order of the day.
Christians perceive health as having direct interrelationship between health versus salvation and health versus faith. Their belief that there is a relationship between illness and needs for forgiveness. Hence, whoever are ill needs to pray to God through Jesus for his/her sins to be forgiven. Notably, in the book of Mark 2:5 a paralyzed man was healed after Jesus forgave his sins (New International Version, 2011). As such, when one sin is forgiven after receiving salvation he/she will get heal. More so, Christians believe that whoever does not have faith in Jesus and God will not get heal. They believe that ultimate healing come from Jesus who is the savior and healer to human sufferings but only to those who have faith in him.Notably, in the book of Mathew 9:22 a woman with a chronic vaginal bleeding was able to get heal by touching hem of Jesus’ garment because of her faith in Jesus (New International Version, 2011). They believe that the ultimate healing which comes from God through Jesus will restore the disrupted community and individual to be in harmony and dependent up on God who is the giver of life and healthy life.Some religious objects such as scapula, rosary and religious medal may be requested by the Christians’ patients to remain with them during the medication (Pike, 2011). They believe that by using those religious objects to devote their prayers to God they will enable them to recover from their illnesses.
Buddhists’ beliefs on health
Buddhists believe that suffering exists and it is real and almost universal. They believe suffering manifest itself in the form of sickness, pain failure, loss and impermanence of pleasure. To them, suffering is caused by the desire to poses and control things such as desire for fame, desire to dodge unpleasant sensations and craving of sensual pleasures. Furthermore, they believe that there is an end to suffering. According to them, suffering can be ended by having complete freedom of the mind, liberation and non-attachment like letting off any craving. They also believe that suffering can be ended by following the Eightfold path which consists of wisdom/discernment, concentration/meditation and morality/virtue (Kumar et al., 2011). The wisdom includes right thinking or following the right path in life and the right understanding of the Four Noble Truths. According to Buddhism, practicing of meditation will promote good thoughts, conquer evil thoughts, achieve a higher state of consciousness and will make one to be aware of their feelings and body (Harvey, 2012). As such, if someone sticks to these rules he/she will get out of suffering. Therefore, when the Buddhist patient is approaching death, the medical staff should avoid actions that might disturb one’s meditation in preparation for dying.
Impact of meditation on health
Christians and Buddhist patients believe that through meditation practice healing will be achieved. Meditation is believed to bring spiritual transformation. Under this concept, the state of good health is perceived to be achieved through having a mental calm, stable and steady emotion (O'brien, 2013). It connects health with consciousness besides being confined to only the mind and the body. Hence, the clearer the consciousness is, the more the good wellbeing is achieved. In both religions, patients believe that through meditation, life energy (prana) will increases for both the body and the mind and one will feel energetic, alert and full of good humor therefore bringing good health (Harvey, 2012). On the other hand, lack of meditation will lead to lack of life energy and will lead to poor enthusiasm and dullness hence constituting poor health. It is believed that the root cause of illness is in the consciousness or the mind (O'brien, 2013). As such, by attending to the mind by clearing out disturbances, the rate of recovery will increase and so the healing will be developed. By practicing routine meditation worries, anxieties and stress will drop off and pave way for a positive state of mind (Shelly & Miller, 2006). Positive mind givesa positive impact to the brain, nervous system and physical body, therefore causing the illnesses to change to recovery (Pike, 2011). Meditation prevents stress from entering the body system as well as releasing accumulation of stress resulting in happiness and positive state of wellbeing and ultimately a good health (Harvey, 2012).
The impact of prayer on health
On the other hand, prayer is perceived as a special form of meditation. Christian’s patients as well as Buddhist patients and some other religious patientsbelieved that prayer has healing powers (Harvey, 2012). The prayer brings stable psychological and biological changes in the body system which will potentially improve health. Prayer has led to reduce stress, anxiety, pain, promote positive moods and enhance self-esteem, therefore favoring the influence of spiritual and overall quality of life in late-state disease (Connell Meehan, 2012). Prayer lead to a relax mind which subsequently resulting to reduce heart attack, blood pressure, alter level of serotonin and melatonin and boost immune response (Butts & Rich, 2013). On the other side, prayer has led to the suppression of corticostriatal glutamatergic and reduces level of reactive oxygen species. Spiritual medication has been reported to be superior than secular meditation which in overall has led to improvement in spiritual health, positive moods, tolerance to pain and spiritual experience (Harvey, 2012).
What is important to patients of the faiths when cared for by health care providers whose spiritual beliefs differ from their own?
Spiritual and religious practices and beliefs are crucial in the lives of many patients. As such, spiritual practices and religious beliefs of the patients are very powerful items to many patients in coping up with tier serious illness (Butts & Rich, 2013). Therefore, it is important factor to take into consideration when making professional ethical choices in decisions about end-of-life care and about their treatment options. As a health care provider, it is important not to impinge one belief on patients who are especially vulnerable when seeking health care. On the other hand, professions should not have to change their religions to like that one of the patients (Connell Meehan, 2012). It is then vital to respect the patient opts about treatment and decisions about the end-of-life care as long it will not interfere with health status of other patients and a bridge of professional ethics (Kumar et al., 2011). It is crucial that the healthcare providers deliver their services to the care patients equally regardless of their different faiths.
Conclusively, from my own point of view as a Christian, it is upon us to care for the sick in hospitals and provide a healing environment which give hope and encouragement to patients. We can do this by visiting them in hospitals, praying for them an encouraging them to cooperate with the physicians. Illness and other health issues can take a toll on patients and their family, thus, they need support, hope for better life and healing. This can be achieved through incorporating religious activities and examples which show patients and their families they are not suffering alone or abandoned. Just like how Christ cared for the sick by healing them hence our actions should be those that promote compassionate and common goodness. Although, there are a lot of barriers to the provisions of a healing environment by hospitals such lack of funds, they should do their best eliminate all those disturbances and stressors that may affect the patients. Prayers and medication have been seen to be playing an important role in promoting patients’ health and, thus, religious leaders should be given room to intervene. Religious leaders such as priest and pastors together with other religious members should be encouraged to regularly visit their loved ones in hospital to console, pray and give hope to patients. As such, health care facilities can locate time whereby religious leaders and members can freely meet their hospitalized members for prayers. Through prayers and meditation, there are high chances that some patients may develop peace of mind and their condition stabilized while others heal miraculously. From the discussion above, it is evident that faith plays an essential role in patient’s recovery and improving their general wellbeing, thus, it is important all care providers to incorporate spiritual nourishment in care delivery services and clinical settings.
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