Case Study Death and Dying: Christian and Buddhist Philosophies towards providing Health Care

Case Study Death and Dying: Christian and Buddhist Philosophies towards providing Health Care

During the lifetime of all human beings, they undergo periods of health and illness. The occurrence of both illness and health make the two aspects significant and of concern to the religion. In consideration of multiple societies, the religious elements have the values that are pegged on the health and well-being as essential values that are needed for a better living. The religion guides its followers of various activities and undertakings and more so providing the followers and believers with the ways of promoting their health and at the same time manages their predisposition to conditions, pain and suffering (Geurts et al., 2014). This article dwells on the philosophies of two religions pertaining their provision of healthcare: Buddhism and Christianity.

Christians believe in the expansion of the healthcare of individuals. This aspect does not only apply to Christianity since various individuals from other faiths including those having no faith also opt for providing care to the ill considering it critical to either their faith of the philosophy that they uphold(Pomfret et al., 2018). The biblical verses and teachings contain numerous stories stating the manner unto which Jesus took care of the sick in the society. The example of care entailed healing of people which He did on several occasions while preaching the gospel. In considering the actions of Jesus, Christians have an obligation to cater for the needs of the hungry, the vulnerable cohorts in the society and those suffering from various conditions such as in the case of Gorge. This element of care is not strange to the Christian fraternity since it has existed for many years and can also be associated with the development of many ancient hospitals that were faith-based with many healthcare providers being priests and nuns.

The Buddhist also view the healing and provision of care in different manners based on their concepts of belief. The concepts held by the Buddhist are pervasive and limitless with the ability to view, know and cognize various issues. According to their perception, the ii health amongst individuals is comparable to instances such as clouds that cover the sun in the sky. In spite of the covering, the clouds can’t match the sun thus temporary by blocking the lighting. This temporary nature is given to ill health with their causes having the ability to be extracted from the mind. In their perspective, the ill health is created by mind thus considering the origin to be internal instead of being an external factor.

According to Mathew 10:7, the disciples were instructed by Jesus to cure the sick. Being followers of Christ, Christians ought to strive towards providing care to those who are suffering or are in great need of it to emulates the actions of Jesus. Unlike Jesus who never placed any consideration to any individuals whether rich or poor, the current healthcare system seems to favor those who are gifted while assuming or giving less attention to the socially disadvantaged. Charity care is given less consideration with various medical centers are unable to tolerate generosity anymore comparable to the ancient times.

How each religion interpret the nature of George’s malady and suffering

Based on the Bible teaching, Christians believe in many spiritual causes that are behind genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that make people face difficulties in life among them being; misery, depression, inefficiency, accidents, losses, illness and suffering brought about by the disease process. In Hosea 4:6 it records that people suffer as a result of failing to observe God’s law. People in the old testament suffered a severe and lasting plague, and miserable and chronic sicknesses when they did not obey what God commanded them through their leaders. Despite sin, Jesus told His disciples in John 9: 1-3 that a man suffered from blindness since birth not because his parents nor the man had sinned, but he was blind so that the works of God might be manifested in Him. Job, the man the bible records to be blameless and upright before God, who feared God and turned away from evil, suffered painful illness of boils from head to toe. This indicated that it is not the only sin that can cause suffering but sometimes man suffers for God’s power to be manifested through them when God saves them at last.

From the Tibetan Buddhist perspective, the mind is the sole source of health and sickness. The mind is believed to be the cause of all the problems that individuals face. That is, the cause of the disease is internal and not external. The concept of Karma which means action, explains the concept of suffering further. It states that all of our actions lay down imprints on our mind stream and these actions have a potential of ripening sometime in the future and their impacts can be seen (Boyle, 2017). The karmic seeds (individual’s actions) can be positive, negative or neutral and they never get lost. When the negative ones ripen at a given time, they manifest in the form of problems or sickness while the positive ones ripen in the form of happiness, health, and success.

Buddhism is so philosophical in explaining why some people get ill while others remain in best health. Individuals may be exposed to the same external situations, but only a number of them will be affected by developing an illness. Also, people with similar types of conditions will respond quite differently to the same treatment. Some will ultimately recover, and some will recover temporarily and then develop a recurrence while others will rapidly become worse and die. Buddhism focuses on the mind for the cause of these differences. Buddhists believe that primary cause illness is internal, that is the imprints laid down on the mindstream by previous actions. The external conditions are just but secondary causes of illness and suffering.

Both religions will interpret the nature of George’s malady and suffering beyond the physical suffering. In an attempt to trace the cause of the disease and suffering, the religions will answer the question why George is having the disease and suffering in the process of the disease. On top of the physical factors like environmental exposure and lifestyle, Christianity will look into George’s religious life; how it has been his walk with Christ while Buddhism will focus on his mindset depending on his deeds.

How each religion thinks about the value of his life as a person and value of his life with ALS

According to the Bible, God promised that those who follow Him would be blessed with health and prosperity. Christianity analyses wellbeing and suffering in two perspectives. When one is stable in life, healthy and prospering, that person is right with God and observing His laws. The bible states that seek first the kingdom of God and all shall be added to you; including health and prosperity. On the other hand,  like Job, one may be suffering so that God’s will may be manifested at the end. So it will be God allowing the person to suffer and face malady. In George’s analysis of his own life, as a Christian, life is more valuable when one is observing and in line with the will of God. No matter what happens, in Psalm 34, when one believes in God, they are supposed to give praises. This indicates that no matter the state of life one is in like George whether in the state of good health or sick they should praise God. That means life is valued in all circumstances.

Buddhists believe the mindset of an individual affects the whole being. Hence the value of an individual’s life will depend upon his/her state of mind (Boyle, 2017). They believe that the value of life is high when the mind is at peace, and the person is in a happy state. For George, the physical illness indicates mental instability hence the mind is filled with negative thoughts and imprints that lowers the value of life.


Values and considerations each religion focus on in deliberating about whether or not George should opt for euthanasia

Buddhists do not have one stand in their view of euthanasia, and the teachings of the Buddha don’t explicitly deal with it. Most Buddhists are against involuntary euthanasia while their stand on voluntary euthanasia remains less clear. The most outstanding position about voluntary euthanasia is that it is wrong as it demonstrates that one’s mental state is terrible and that the physical suffering he/she is going through has caused mental suffering. Some do not approve helping someone to end life because the helper enters into a bad mental state too.

Most Buddhist advocate for meditation and proper use of pain-relieving drugs to enable a person to attain a state where they are not in pain hence no longer think about euthanasia. According to them, physical suffering like sickness is inevitable part of life (Choudhury, 2017). Within their tradition, physical pain and suffering cultivate healthy and desirable mental states of forbearance and patience. Therefore it is not the illness but the person’s response to an illness that has spiritual value.

Despite Buddhism emphasizing on non-harm to living beings and intentional ending of life seeming against their teachings, Buddha himself showed tolerance of suicide. This becomes contrary to the teachings when we focus on euthanasia as a form of suicide. According to Buddhism, a person’s state of mind at the time of death is important – their thoughts ought to be selfless and enlightened, free of anger, hate, and fear(McCormick, 2014). This indicates that euthanasia can be performed for those individuals who are knowledgeable but the rest should avoid it.

Christians are against Euthanasia. They believe that God gives life and human beings are made in the image of God (Rachels, 2017). No human being has the authority to take away life whether innocently or the person consents. It is one of the commandments given in the bible not to kill, and by conducting euthanasia, one would have taken their lives or by assisting one takes away another life which is killing. Proposing euthanasia for an individual is like making the judgment that the current life is not worthwhile which is not correct. In case of suffering Christians are taught to pray to be delivered from illness and be forgiven in case it is a sin causing them to suffer. Christian teachings emphasize endurance in the course of suffering while waiting upon God to deliver them without giving up. While some belief only in spiritual healing, other also believe in physical healing and God delivering them from illness and suffering through seeking medical attention from physicians and taking medication. As recorded in the book of job, Christians believe that it is God who gives life and has authority to take it and the body returns to the soil.

What options would be morally justified under each religion for George

Meditation is a core practice in the Buddhist tradition designed to prevent and address physical and mental illness. Buddhism view that the body and the mind are interrelated and interdependent. Buddhist believe that mind is the creator of sickness and health hence by healing the mental aspect one can heal the physical aspect and the only way to heal mentally is through meditation(Goldstein, 2017). Some Buddhists believe in seeking available medical means especially one that mitigates pain. Others call for dietary checkup hence George can go for foods that meet his nutritional requirement.

On top of offering prayers to God, most Christian believes advocates for seeking medical attention. For George, he will check with a therapist who will take him through various therapies in addition to taking pain-relieving drugs. Breathing, physical, occupational and speech therapies will help him learn how to stay independently even when his muscles are weak (Dorst et al., 2018). Psychological; and social support will ensure he remains emotionally stable. Nutritional support will ensure he gets foods that meet his nutritional requirement and more comfortable to swallow.


Sickness in human life is inevitable. Suffering from a chronic condition such as George’s does not mean the end of life. With the current technologies and future medical innovation in the healthcare field like palliative care, such patients are ensured they live maximum time of their life with minimal or no pain and suffering. Regardless of the religion one belongs to, they should be encouraged to accept their condition and be taught on how to survive comfortably with it with less pain and suffering and how to face the challenges that may come their way. They should be made to understand they are not alone, they should learn to live happily with their condition and create an opportunity for others to learn from them.




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