Christianity vs. Buddhism: Health and Healing

Christianity vs. Buddhism: Health and Healing


In the process of delivering healthcare, a caregiver encounters patients and families from diverse religious backgrounds. The primary objective f the paper is to examine the role played by religious diversity in healthcare. Patients from disparate religions follow diverse beliefs which ultimately play an intergyral role in treatment. The paper especially emphasizes and compares the influences of Christianity an Buddhism. By revealing different aspects of both faiths, the paper reveals why nurses should respect patients’ religious beliefs. That is, given each patient’s unique beliefs and needs.


Diversity is a key principle in healthcare. That’s because people from different races, cultures, religions, backgrounds, and ethnicities work and seek health services from the system. Hence, to work in a cohesive manner where everybody attains what they want, health workers must understand some aspects of different life forms in play (Rumun, 2014). Religious beliefs especially play a huge role in healthcare given that many rely on their religious philosophies to derive or seek guidance on the mode of treating various ailments (Harvey, 2016). Additionally, different religions interpret various aspects of treatment differently. However, overall human health is often emphasized as one of the most valuable things in life and thus subject to protection through divine and medical means.

Healthcare providers should encourage patients and their families to identify and interpret their religious values that influence different aspects of treatment. Consequently, healthcare providers must also have a comprehensive understanding of different religious worldviews and how they influence patients’ interactions with them and the entire healthcare system (Ketchell, Pyles, & Canda, n.d). This paper provides a comprehensive, comparative analysis of how two religions; Buddhism and Christianity, influence healthcare decision-making.


In Christianity, human beings are God’s representatives on earth since they are created in his image and occupy planet earth at his behest. Therefore, God plays an integral role in one’s health (Ketchell, Pyles, & Canda, n.d). Consequently, God is ultimately responsible in determining how an individual deal with their ailments and different forms of treating them.

Christian Spiritual View of Healing

God is part and parcel of every tiny aspect of human life. I fact, God not only created human beings in his own image, but he also incarnated himself into all these bodies, and will the mortal physical bodies into immortality (Hauerwas, 2015). God also resurrected into a physical human body and gave his disciples and church the power of healing bodies. As such, having a physical body is only temporary (Harvey, 2016). In fact, the most important aspect of life is spiritual given the inevitable return to a spiritual form once God redeems human bodies. Therefore, spirituality in Christian doctrine is considered the greatest determiner of an individual’s overall wellbeing.

Therefore, it is common for Christians to seek blessings and sacraments whenever one is about to go for surgery or whenever one faces any perceived risk of ill-health or death (Hauerwas, 2015). In other Christian denominations, fellowships and prayer gatherings are often used to perform the same purpose (Harvey, 2016). All in all, seeking divine intervention is an important component of the healing process in Christianity before seeking appropriate medical intervention.

Components of Healing

Christians believe in healing the mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual facets of healing. In essence healing involves restoration of the image of God. Additionally, when one is sick, the community is also considered sick (Rumun, 2014). As such, healing is incomplete without the complete healing of the community in question.

The Church was therefore created by God with the gift of healing. The church is therefore appointed as a community of healing the emotional, physical, social, spiritual and religious aspects of an individual. Nevertheless, despite acknowledgement of other components of healing, spiritual healing is emphasized more in Christianity than all other components of healing (Harvey, 2016). That’s the reason some health practices such as abortion are condemned since they help in healing other aspects, while leaving an individual’s spirituality more ill. Essentially, the Christian position is that a fetus is God’s creation and therefore has a right to live. Killing it without repercussions therefore is sinful, and detrimental to one’s spirit (Rumun, 2014). That is the same approach taken by the church in condemnation of euthanasia which compromises the sanctity of life as created by God.


Hospitals should have chaplains from different Christian denominations. That’s because Christians prefer strengthening their belief of getting well soon before seeking any medical intervention especially where a life changing intervention like surgery is required (Rumun, 2014). Health providers must also ensure they enquire the patient’s willingness to meet the chaplain and promptly organize such meetings when in the affirmative (Hauerwas, 2015). Christian patients in need of receiving the holy communion should also be assisted in accomplishing it on a regular basis throughout their stay in hospital (Ketchell, Pyles, & Canda, n.d). Additionally, anointing oil is also important for Catholic patients in conjunction with confession before they can believe in the healing power of medicine.

Christianity vs. Buddhism: Health and Healing
Christianity vs. Buddhism: Health and Healing

Health providers should also remain sensitive to all other religious needs of the Christian patients given that different denominations have different practices and structures of belief.


The primary goal for Buddhism is to help human beings to alleviate their suffering (Keown, 2014). Instead, it provides Buddhists with proper channels to attain Nirvana in their lives. The religion is therefore grounded in a philosophical underpinning that heavily emphasize metaphysics. Suffering in Buddhism is attributed to mundane attachments and earthly desires (Setta & Shemie, 2015). Otherwise, without them, it is easier to attain Nirvana. Nirvana is a state of transcendence where desire, suffering, and sense of self are free from effects of karma and the death-rebirth cycle.

Healing and Spirituality

Like in Christianity, spirituality is the most pertinent healing force. Buddhism prescribes for spiritual and ethical well-being for each individual and adjures one to be compassionate to all forms of life and develop wisdom (Setta & Shemie, 2015). It is only through spirituality that suffering is minimized and human health guaranteed. However, healing is dependent upon the three greatest refuges of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Important Components of Healing     

The theory of dependent origination in Buddhism attributes all forms and types of existence as integrated factors that rely on the inter-dependent causal relationships (Setta & Shemie, 2015). As such, for simplicity purposes, disease in Buddhism entails all kinds of human suffering while being healthy is considered the state of being totally free of suffering. Additionally, health is derived from actions and events in past lives up to the resent moment.

Buddhist have different perspectives pertaining healthcare. For instance, euthanasia is abhorred for interfering with the natural cycle of death ad rebirth or deliverance in Nirvana (Keown, 2014). In essence, euthanasia is a contentious issue given its contrarian effect on the sanctity of life as espoused by the Buddha.


Vegetarian diets are referred by Buddhists. Fasting is also a major pillar of the religion (Keown, 2014). However, fasting and a limited diet can often dampen one’s ability to heal during an illness. Therefore, caregivers should advise the patients accordingly if they re willing to continue with such practices during the treatment process (Setta & Shemie, 2015). Meditation is also a major part of Buddhism. Consequently, a quiet and peaceful space must be availed when needed by the patients and their visitors. Meditation can also be an efficient pain management and healing measure for believers (Keown, 2014). Therefore, healthcare providers must be keen to see that Buddhist patients are well assisted whenever they need to practice it.


In Christianity, an individual’s relationship with God is the primary force in life. Hence, all other aspects of life on earth are secondary and re nothing other means of enhancing that primary force of life. On the other hand, Buddhism differs widely from this view. That’s because all things are interconnected in a cyclical causal relationship (Ketchell, Pyles, & Canda, n.d). That is, each and every aspect of life is connected without exemption. This partly accounts for Buddhist principle of commitment and duty to all-natural things; both animate and non-animate. This is contrary to the Christian view of individuality and personal connection in pursuit of the grace of God. Most importantly, Christians perceive an external God as the healer of human suffering, while Buddhists attribute healing to individuals.


The meaning of God in both religious doctrines are similar. That is, God is unfathomable, unknowable, and beyond comprehension in both religions (Hauerwas, 2015). God is also a unique creation since he was not created like other things in the universe in both doctrines. Hence, God does not result from any probable cause and is therefore not limited by any powers or conditions (Setta & Shemie, 2015). Ultimately, both worldviews emphasize spirituality as an important aspect of the healing process.

Implications of the two Doctrines to Nursing

It is clearly evident that a nurse should be cognizant with different patients’ religious beliefs and derived views (Ketchell, Pyles, & Canda, n.d). That’s because religion plays an integral role in the lives of patients. More importantly, religion plays a critical ole in determining treatment and its effectiveness for different believers (Rumun, 2014). That’s because patients from different backgrounds have different approaches and reception to recommended care by physicians. Hence, nurses must respect religious diversity in the pursuit of meeting diverse needs for patients from different religions. Therefore, care should be customized according to the views of different patients (Setta & Shemie, 2015). Treating diverse patients in the same manner may therefore lead to negative outcomes of medical intervention.


Religious traditions vary widely in relation to their effects on healthcare. As such, it is difficult to predict how individuals respond to prescriptions of care without understanding their religious background and the religious principles that inform their reception. Healthcare providers must therefore have requisite knowledge about different religions and how they influence the views of patients pertaining healthcare. That’s because the primary goal of healthcare is to assist patients in dealing with their ailments and alleviate their suffering. Nurses must therefore respect diversified spiritual needs according to their respective religions. Additionally, they must avoid treating patients from different religions in the same manner, because that guarantees reduced efficacy of medical interventions. They must also watch out for detrimental religious practices that negatively influence the treatment process.

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