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A Buddhist Perspective on Health Care

A Buddhist Perspective on Health Care

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Published by Charles Day
A brief talk relating Buddhist concepts of the illusion of self, interdependency, compassion, and generosity to health care and reform of the present system.
A brief talk relating Buddhist concepts of the illusion of self, interdependency, compassion, and generosity to health care and reform of the present system.

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Published by: Charles Day on Jul 11, 2009
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12/13/2012

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A BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE ON HEALTH CARECharles Day*
www.desmoinesmeditation.org & click above right on “More From This Publisher”
Talk Presented to an Interfaith Gathering on Health Care Reform inDes Moines, IA, July 9, 2009I want to thank the sponsors for organizing this Interfaith Gatheringand for inviting me to provide a Buddhist perspective on health care.Buddha lived 2600 years ago in northern India and for 45 years hetaught others how to live in order to overcome suffering. Histeachings, which continue to spread throughout the world today, canbe summarized in three ways:Do No Harm,Do Good, andMeditate.Meditation is emphasized because it is such a powerful practice for developing insight into the critical realization that we are not theseparate, independent, autonomous individuals that we think we are.We are, in fact, part of an interconnected and interdependent web of reality or unified whole. And when we realize this, we will naturally dogood and avoid harming.From the perspective of this realization, I’d like to comment on threeclassical Biblical teachings that are especially relevant to supportinghealth care for all: “You are your brother’s keeper” - not because youare separate beings but because you are your brother and he is you.“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” - because youare not different, you are the other and the other is you. And, toparaphrase Jesus, “Whatsoever you do unto others, even unto theleast of your brethren, you do unto yourself.”We are all one, appearing as separate individuated manifestations of a continuously unfolding, unified interdependent whole. God looksthrough six billion pairs of eyes.
 
This realization of interconnectedness leads to the spontaneousexpression of what Buddhism considers our innate virtues of compassion, generosity, lovingkindness, appreciative and altruistic joy, and the peace that surpasses understanding. How could one feeland act otherwise toward another being after deeply appreciating thatoneself and the other are not two, but one? This was Buddha’smessage.In terms of our shared humanity, that we are all one, we are all in thistogether, and we all possess the same virtues, health care reform isreally a no-brainer. Everyone should be entitled to the same care,regardless of differences in economic status, employment, age,health, or any other factor, and regardless of whether they are acitizen or a resident, temporary or permanent, documented or undocumented. Ideally in some distant future we will adopt this viewtoward all beings everywhere. Let us begin by striving to achieve inthe U.S. what other industrialized nations have already achieved.We should not be side tracked by considerations of personal wealthentitling some to better care than others, by who is being taxed to paythe bills, by political rhetoric regarding encroaching socialism or nationalism, or by the arguments of corporations and the insuranceindustry regarding market competition, profit margins, shareholder returns, and trillion dollar price tags.Granted that the realities of cost, resources, and other complexfactors are legitimate considerations that need to be dealt with, thebottom line remains that any health care plan should benefit everyoneequally, and/or everyone should be willing to suffer equally. Likeeducation and justice, receiving health care should be everyone’sright, and providing it should be everyone’s responsibility. And, of course, we need to educate and encourage everyone to assumeresponsibility for maintaining their own health and the health of their dependents.Ours is a government formed by the common consent of thegoverned to meet our common needs and solve our commonproblems for our common benefit. Sounds Buddhist to me. So let our lovingkindness, compassion, and generosity prevail, and let us

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