Health and disease constitute one of the shared experiences of human existence. Religion upholds the essence of health and well-being is vital for the realization of a meaningful life. For this reason, various religions provide the believers with the means and ways that would facilitate the enhancement of their health status and foster their ability to manage the issues associated with human vulnerability in pain, disease, and suffering. Christianity and Buddhism depict similarities and differences in the aspect of healthcare as an essential part of fostering an individual’s wellbeing. Buddhism upholds practices that concentrate on morality, wisdom, and the enhancement of the believers’ health. On the other hand, Christianity upholds the vitality of prayer, worship, charity, reading the Bible, and the Holy Communion as key for the realization of good health. This paper gives a comparative analysis of the Christian and Buddhist perspectives concerning healthcare.
The Christian worldview regarding the question of prime reality rests on the existence of only one God. The only God refers to Himself as “I am who I am”. Christianity holds that their prime reality, God, is Triune, immanent and transcendent, omniscient, good, and sovereign (Onfray, 2015). The Christian approach underscores that the creation of man was done through an external God and Christians should seek to be one with Him. The realization of oneness with God could be attained by following the teaching of Jesus Christ, the physical incarnate of God on earth.
On the other hand, the Buddhist philosophy does not hold on to a theistic worldview regarding prime reality. However, the believers later introduced godly figures to represent their deity. Therefore, the Buddhists do not believe in the concept of an external God, which implies that everything exists spontaneously just as the way a seed grows into a plant given the right conditions. Buddha failed to acknowledge himself as God when he was confronted by responding that he is awake thereby implying the extinguishing of the individual, the nirvana. Therefore, the ontology of both Christianity and Buddhism differs. Christianity believes in one external God while Buddhism holds a different idea regarding the issue of prime reality through the concept of nirvana (Harvey, 2013).
Nature of the world
Christianity upholds that God created the world out of nothing implying that the universe is independent and subjective to Him. Therefore, all the phenomena in the universe lack eternity and infinity since its existence is wholly contingent and dependent on God. In this light, God determines the end and continuity of the Universe. Additionally, the creation of the creation represents a portrayal of God’s power over the universe and shows that He is an external supernatural being separated from the creation. Further, Christians view the creation of God as a representation of Him (Sorajjakool, Carr, & Nam, 2009). Thus, when Christians see God’s creation, they expect to identify predictability, regularity, and testability.
Conversely, Buddhists perceive the surroundings as results of cyclical creation meaning that it has neither a start nor an end. In this light, Buddhists believe that the sufferings that man goes through in their daily living trigger the cyclical creation that is denoted by rebirth. Further, the creator of the universe is perceived as part of the cyclical wheel that makes the universe revolve (Harvey, 2013). A comparison of the two viewpoints depicts that Christianity recognizes the human body as an image of God. Thus, they must uphold healthy living habits to mitigate suffering, disease, or pain. On the other hand, Buddhism sees suffering, pain, and illness as a cycle of events that makes the universe spin through rebirth.
The Christian religion sees individuals as created in the likeness of God. Thus, human beings should portray self-consciousness, moral accountability, intelligence, and freedom to make choices coupled with spiritual attributes that facilitate a personal relationship with God (Onfray, 2015). Therefore, God expects Christians to engage in loving relationships that are already inherent in the personalities of the divine Trinity as well as enjoy fellowship with Him both in the current life and through eternity. Through Jesus Christ, God seeks to foster salvation among Christians who have been surrounded by sin thereby emancipating them from adversity to fellowship with Him.
In Buddhism, human beings are regarded as one with God. Greater emphasis is put on the fact that unity with all reality is essential for the existence of Buddhists. For this reason, individual personality is disregarded to attain unity among the supporters of the religion (Keown, 2012). On the issue of health and disease among believers, Christianity advocates for loving relationships that improve their well-being thus, enhancing their way to salvation. Similarly, Buddhists underscore the relevance of an approach that unites all the people to foster their well-being and identification with their God.
What occurs at death?
Life after death or eternity is a common belief in Christianity. So, when Christians die, they can exist after the occurrence through a relationship with God or without Him subject to the decisions or choices one made in their life. Material aspects of life are important concerns to God, and thus the second coming of Jesus would trigger the resurrection of the believers. The resurrection of Christians would occur in a transformed manner similar to that of Jesus during His resurrection. In this light, an eternity in Christianity exists either in heaven or in hell with some instances of temporary Purgatory (Onfray, 2015).
The Buddhist religion avoids speculation regarding the issue of life after death or eternity. However, Buddhists provide that the attainment of Nirvana would guarantee an individual’s rebirth into one of the 31 existence planes in a recurrent manner due to their karma (Harvey, 2013). In this view, both Christianity and Buddhism have worldviews that portray the possibility of life after death concerning the choice one makes in life.
The possibility of knowing anything at all
The source of knowledge for Christians is believed to emanate from God. The intelligence granted by God to humanity should thus be utilized in a way that it depicts their understanding of the universe or their knowledge of God. However, the issue of moral pervasiveness undermines the capability of individuals to make rational decisions, especially concerning issues of spirituality. Furthermore, Christians believe that revelations about God’s reality and the real meaning of life and death constitute the source of knowledge among them. Therefore, revelation occurs to the humble and ready to receive the knowledge.
Among the Buddhists, the significant aspect of their knowledge generation processes involve their extraction from the world and engaging in looking within themselves to connect with their real selves, their divinity (Keown, 2012). Thus, Christians receive their understanding of reality from God while Buddhists’ knowledge is innate.
Since the Christian’s God is perceived as perfectly good, the creation of the people was expected to depict similarity with their deity implying that they should uphold attributes of moral goodness. Nonetheless, the contemporary world has brought about secular values that undermine the moral values supported by Christianity (Onfray, 2015). Therefore, more believers engage in unethical aspects of life thus derailing themselves from attaining salvation as underscored in the Holy Scriptures. The goodness blemished by sin deters healthy relationships with God calling for the execution of justice that requires the condemnation of evil.
On the other hand, Buddhists view sin as just an aspect of ignorance of the actual characteristic of reality. Thus, the believers ought to focus on enlightening themselves by staying awake instead of repenting since morality is relative (Sorajjakool et al., 2009). Therefore, determining wrong deeds from the bad ones should regard the results to the greatest majority of the Buddhist communities. In this respect, the monks teach that the believers should refrain from stealing, taking of life, lying, sexual immorality, and use of intoxicants.
The meaning of human history
The Christian worldview about history is that it approaches a chain of events that seek the realization of a particular goal as planned by God. Thus, no matter how similar events seem over time, they are not the same since history does not go through a reversible cycle. Thus, history in Christianity is teleological, and it proceeds to a particular end as planned by God and those historical events should be used in God’s glorification. On the other hand, Buddhists identify history as meaningless since life goes through a sequence of unceasing rebirth (Keown, 2012).
Critical components in the faiths concerning healing
Christianity and Buddhism among other religions have essential elements that foster the healing process among the believers. For instance, the Buddhists believe that good karma promotes good health implying that upholding morality is essential. Furthermore, the healing process among Buddhists involves the integration of efforts from the mind and body to combat the disease. On the other hand, Christians see themselves as image-bearers of God. Thus, they strive to protect the body from disease as it represents the image of their creator (Sorajjakool et al., 2009).
Benefits of receiving healthcare services from a practitioner of a different faith
The provision of healthcare services to individuals of a different religion has substantial benefits not only to the client but also to the health expert and the organization. Firstly, the approach would foster the support for spiritual resources that would bolster the healing process concerning emotional and physical well-being. Secondly, the patients could benefit from the providers coping approaches to healing like the involvement of the inner self to combat psychological disequilibrium. Thirdly, the healthcare organization’s image would be improved since it shows compassionate spiritual healthcare services to individuals from diverse faiths. Fourthly, the interaction of different faiths during healthcare delivery enhances the building of a relationship between the patient and the health expert.
The spiritual and religious approach to healthcare provision is very crucial for the integration of personalized approaches for the delivery of quality services. In this respect, the different worldviews concerning faith and its application to health issues have been instrumental in opening new perspectives. The question of acquisition of knowledge would help providers in understanding the underlying causes of a particular disorder thus treat it appropriately. Further, the morality aspect would foster responsibility among clients to curtail issues of health epidemics to the greatest majority. Moreover, the integration of religious features in healthcare provision would facilitate a multidimensional understanding of the needs of the patients thus improving the delivery of services.
Harvey, C. (2013). A Buddhist perspective on Health and Spirituality. Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, 9(1), 33-35.
Keown, D. (2012). Buddhism and Healthcare. Japanese Religions, 37(2), 143-156.
Onfray, J. M. (2015). Healthcare and Christianity, the human person at the heart of God’s concerns. Soins, 60(799), 40-42.
Sorajjakool, S., Carr, M., & Nam, J. (2009). World religions for healthcare professionals. London, UK: Routledge.