What I’m reading during the lockdown.
Lessons for the Health-care
Practitioner from Buddhism
Sanjay Kalra, Gagan Priya, […], and Bharti Kalra
From its earliest days, Buddhism has been closely intertwined with the practice of medicine, both being concerned in their own way in the alleviation and prevention of human suffering. However, while the connection between Buddhism and healthcare has long been noted, there is scarce literature on how Buddhist philosophy can guide health-care practitioners in their professional as well as personal lives. In the sutras, we find analogies that describe the Buddha as a doctor, knowledge of Dharma as the treatment, and all lay people as patients.
The occurrence of disease is closely related to one’s mental, physical and spiritual health, society, culture, and environment. It is not enough to approach medicine in a manner that simply eradicates symptoms; the psychosocial aspects of disease and its mind based causes and remedies must be a primary consideration. Holistic care involves harmonization of all these elements, and the Buddhist philosophy offers great insight for the physician.
The Buddhist medical literature lays out moral guidelines and ethics for a health-care practitioner and this has corollaries in the principles of medical ethics: nonmaleficence, benevolence, justice, and autonomy. There is emphasis on loving-kindness, compassion, empathy, and equanimity as key attributes of an ideal physician. The practice of medicine is a stressful profession with physician burnout an often neglected problem. Mindfulness meditation, as developed in Buddhism, can help health-care professionals cope up with the stress and develop the essential attributes to improve patient care and self-care.
This article outlines the spiritual and ethical values which underlie Buddhist concern for the sick and gives an overview of lessons which health-care practitioners can imbibe from Buddhism.
Role of Buddhist meditation practices for the physician
In this text, we have tried to present Buddhist teachings that can assist and guide the health-care practitioners in their work. The doctrine presented in this humble communication provides a spiritual and moral compass for our profession. Modern medical care needs to internalize age-old Buddhist philosophy and draw inspiration from Modern medical fraternity needs to internalize age-old Buddhist philosophy and draw inspiration from Buddhist values, in order to regain their internal self-esteem and their respect among society.
© Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Image: Buddha of Medicine Bhaishajyaguru (Yaoshi fo), China, ca. 1319, (Yuan dynasty 1271–1368)
Healing practices, physical and spiritual, played an important role in the transmission of Buddhism throughout Asia. In this mural, Bhaishajyaguru (Yaoshi fo), the Buddha of medicine, wears a red robe and is attended by a large assembly of related deities, including two seated bodhisattvas who hold symbols for the sun and the moon. The twelve warriors, six at each side, symbolize the Buddha’s vows to help others.