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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 812-817

Lessons for the health-care practitioner from Buddhism


1 Department of Endocrinology, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, Haryana, India
2 Department of Endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, Punjab, India
3 Department of Endocrinology, Ivy Hospital, Mohali, Punjab, India
4 President, Myanmar Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Yangon, Myanmar
5 Department of Psychiatry, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, Punjab, India
6 Department of Medicine, University of Medicine 2, Yangon, Myanmar
7 Department of Diabetes Care, Kossamak Hospital, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
8 Department of Diabetes Care, Hope Worldwide Medical Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
9 Department of Medicine, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
10 Department of Endocrinology, Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila, Colombo, Sri Lanka
11 Department of Endocrinology, National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka
12 Department of Endocrinology, Life Fourways Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa
13 Department of Obstetrics, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, Haryana, India

Correspondence Address:
Sanjay Kalra
Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Bharti Hospital, Karnal, Haryana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijem.IJEM_286_17

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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.


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