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Death Issues of Indigenous Sacred Ways, Buddhism and Hinduism Religions

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Health Care and Life Sciences

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Name

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Institution

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Health Care and Life Sciences

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Death Issues of Indigenous Sacred Ways, Buddhism and Hinduism Religions

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Introduction

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When dying, a religious person will guide, call for ceremonies and make prayers that will send the dead to the spirit world. Normally, a spiritual or a medicine person who is close to the dying person conducts the ceremony. Not to mention the family members who are supposed to be present but, medicine in the context of religious sects means a spiritual power that is associated with ability and authority which is linked with the capability to heal and to advise. At the time of death, our original father who is all powerful and all knowing spirit, holds all power, all medicine and all wisdom which; all of them are orchestrated by ancestors and warriors and spirit beings. The spiritual beings act as consultants in planning healing ceremonies and as caution against likely causes of trouble (Baydala et al., 2006).

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However, at the present medical culture, persons encountering death, grieving and end-of-life in hospitals are put under standardized medical practices which undermine the importance of religious meanings. Due to the influence of industrialization, the meaning and practices associated with dying have changed from the religious rituals to bureaucratic structures which are governed by the healthcare providers. The biomedical models associate dead bodies as broken machines and, hospitals have been concerned only with controlling death and fixing the body. In other words, it is not that the healthcare professionals do not have the basics for humanity, but it is because hospitals focus on cure over care and neglect the religious meanings of death, dying and grieving. Dying has shifted from religious cultural and community practices of dealing with the loss to hospitalized fragment tasks that create bureaucratized and depersonalized human experience (Baydala et al., 2006). Therefore, the paper will examine beliefs practices and history of indigenous sacred ways, Hinduism and Buddhism, in relation how people treat death in healthcare settings. Further, the paper will examine ways the beliefs of the adherents approach healthcare, benefits and difficulties this practices impact nursing and healthcare in United States

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Understanding the Personal Meanings of Aboriginal Canadians in Relation to Death and Healthcare

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In respect to Aboriginal epistemology, there have been many meanings formulated about death and belief of the community, culture and ceremony that are practice and which are represented through trusting relationships based on ancestral traditions and friendships. As a result, there are hermeneutic and ethical issues that emerge between Aboriginal Canadians and how the health care providers treat a dying person towards the moment of death. According to the Aboriginal people, when a person was dying, there were around 30 to 50 people who stayed in the waiting room. During that moment, the elders could smudge items such as stones that were considered to be important to the family. According to their traditional sacred ways of paying respect to the dead, the stones were a way of communicating with the family in matters of kinship which was associated with the extended families. It was a practice for the extended families to come together in case there was a health crisis. In support and guidance to the family of the dying person, they could conduct ceremonies and provide gifts perceived to be given by the Creator so as to establish communication between the dying person and the spirit world. In times of need, healers, medicine men and medicine women could bring healing sacred items such as the stones, feathers, sweetgrass, tobacco, clothes and some medicines in form of tea. According to the elders, a person who was dying was doing the most spiritual and emotional act and performing a ceremony was considered to be an important part of the healing. Many items were blessed and people were expected to respect and refrain from touching them (Baydala et al., 2006).

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The traditional practices of the Aboriginal people have been an integral part of their ceremonies even when they bring their ill patients to the hospitals. For instance, the elders emphasize on the importance of the medical practitioners consulting the ill patients or the family members first before they move these items. In addition, the fear of death reflects personal meanings among the Aboriginal people that are meant to facilitate psychological growth and prevent dysfunctional anxiety (Baydala et al., 2006).

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However, the personal engagement in issues of death is important part of education for the healthcare providers. Allowing the Aboriginal family members to experience grief is can help the healthcare providers be psychologically prepared to provide the necessary care to the ill patients without distracting the deep and extraneous personal meanings of the end-of-life. The medical culture of dying for the nursing and the practitioners in the US has relied on universal knowledge of treating. As a result, it has been difficult to provide enough care to the dying patients as a result of the conflict with the meanings that the Aboriginal people attach to death (Baydala et al., 2006).

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Medical Culture of Dying in Hinduism

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According to Hindu families, decision concerning healthcare are made by the senior members of the ill-patients of the eldest son in the family. The family and the community is very important in Hindu culture people believe in human interconnectedness and interdependence. Hindu culture has a philosophy concerning the end-of-life. For instance, prolonging the life of a Hindu patient is regarded as interfering with karma. In addition, interventions such as intubation and artificial feeding in times of incurable illnesses, is treated going against the traditional Hindu thinking. Hindu’s thoughts and beliefs also include reincarnation; a belief that when a person dies, his soul moves onwards to another form (Thrane, 2010).

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When Hindu patients are admitted to the hospitals in terminal conditions, they adhere to these beliefs and practices which the western caregivers should be concerned about. For instance, the senior members prohibit the medical practitioners from performing an autopsy on the body since Hindus belief that it interferes with the reincarnation. In addition, organ transplant in prohibited they believe that part of the body lives and interferes with the reincarnation (Thrane, 2010).

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The western medical profession is starting to acknowledge the importance of integrating Hindu cultures and beliefs especially at the end-of-life. For example, spirituality in healthcare has been important among the nurses who have been provided care to the dying Hindu patients. The spiritual interventions such as praying and reading holy texts to the dying Hindu patients act as cultural compassion, individualized care and respect for the patient’s needs. Furthermore, cultural practices such as allowing members to offer Tulsi leaves to the Hindu patients grant them purity and water from Ganges River so that they can lead a peaceful death (Thrane, 2010).

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However, there have been several challenges the nurse and the healthcare providers have been facing in the United States. The spiritual interventions have been a hindrance to the nurses and healthcare provides when they are treating the ill-patients. For instance, in a case study of a 73 year-old man who was suffering from end-stage pancreatic cancer, he refused to take pain medication because he believed that karma meditation would help him to conquer pain. As a result, the man had to receive counseling from his spiritual advisors since he believed that his decision had to be accepted and that he had to suffer for his karma (Thrane, 2010).

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Medical Culture of Dying in Buddhism

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As origins of most religions are based on the fear of danger, Buddhism, however, is based on suffering and the state of mind. The Buddhadharma revolves a man who lived twenty five centuries ago. In his life history, he woke without the help of gods or man and, found his way through the difficulties of birth, sickness, old age and death; eventually living in everlasting spirit and peace of nirvana. According to Buddha, he believed in faith and practice. From one of his philosophical words, he said, “If you don’t take the medicine of the Great Physician, when will you see the light of the sun?” The precepts of meditation have been used by monks as a way of transformation of consciousness. Part of the training precept of Buddhism included not consuming intoxicants such as the medicine. According to Buddhism, terminal ill-patients should cultivate heightened awareness that should end their suffering and their desire for existence; for the sake of non-existence and the sense of pleasure. In additional, Buddhists belief in rebirth; which is transmigration of karma from one form to another. As a result, Buddhists ill-patients allow rebirth as a practice of the undeniable continuous human experience and as a moral plane (Storhoff & Bridge, 2010).

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When Buddhists patients are brought to the hospitals, they endure suffering as a way of learning their final teaching before they pass on. As a result, however, nurse and healthcare find challenges when treating Buddhist patients since they rely on the perpetual stages of Buddha’s teaching that are independent of medical culture (Storhoff & Bridge, 2010).

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Despite the resilient Buddhism practice, the meditation practices have been helpful to the psychologists when treating patients with anxieties and stress problems (Storhoff & Bridge, 2010).

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Conclusion

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In most indigenous languages and religious groups, treating patients in hospitals is often seen as a place where people are taken to go and die. Nevertheless, researchers are integrating the values, cultures and beliefs of people in order to alleviate the negative attitudes experienced by patient especially when they are in critical conditions and, in order to provide better healthcare.

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References

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Baydala, A., Hampton, M., Kinunwa, L., Kinunwa, G., & Kinunwa, L. (2006). Death, Dying,

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Grieving, and End of Life Care: Understanding Personal Meanings of Aboriginal Friends. The Humanistic Psychologist, 34(2), 159–176

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Storhoff, G., & Bridge, J.W. (2010). American Buddhism as a Way of Life. New York, NY:

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SUNY Press

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Thrane, S. (2010). Hindu End of Life: Death, Dying, Suffering, and Karma. Journal of Hospice

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and Palliative Nursing, 12(6), 337-342

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