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Eastern Religion

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Most generalizations of first impressions are done by personal appearances such as the clothes a person wears or the way that he or she conducts his or herself. However, the last thing that a person will look at is the driving factor of his or her behavior. For most people, the driving factor is religion. Religion has a major impact on every day functions and decisions such as medical practice, traditions, political views, and spirituality. Even the geographical area of a person can determine the religion that is practiced. To better understand how religion affects a person, the reader must first understand how different religions in different areas affect a society.

Modern Medicine

Albert Einstein said: "We owe a debt of gratitude to the Indians, for they taught us how to count, without which no scientific discovery was ever possible (Hedge, n.d.)"

Eastern religious traditions and beliefs inhabit all parts of the world including medicine. Successful diagnosis and treatment of a patient requires medical practitioners and clinicians to involve the patient in all aspects of care. Patients are also becoming aware and involved in decisions about the course of treatment. Clinicians have relearned an ancient tradition of working "with" the patient as opposed to "on" the patient.

Comparisons have been made to modern medicine using the Vedic and Ayurveda scriptures which concern the whole of humanity. These are common sense writings that deal with not only a way of living, but also on how one should take care of his or her body in both style of life and diet. These books emphasize the importance in understanding the human anatomy and the functions of all organs (Fisher, 2002.)

Ayurvedic scriptures contained information on many issues from the heart to various surgeries such as amputations, fractures, and rhinoplasty (Hedge, n.d.).

Many of the traditional rituals from the East such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and holistic medicine are very popular pathways in the medical care of a patient. Patients are choosing these systems as alternatives due to failures in modern medicine. Patients find these procedures or practices to be less invasive. These rituals also have a calming effect on the person practicing the tradition, releasing tension and stress and allowing the body to heal steadily without resistance.

Acupuncture describes the point locations on the body and was described in detail in the Ayurveda scriptures. Acupuncture is a process whereby very fine needles, cauterization and the study of the pulse of a person is performed. Acupuncture is based on three forms of energy, vital, balance and imbalance, working toward promoting health and decreasing pain. Today, many additional forms of stimulation are incorporated, including herbs, magnets, lasers, and electricity toward helping the body heal itself.

Yoga is a popular form of meditation and physical training which has been widely received in many parts of the world. It uses the mind as well as the body to enhance the physical and mental health of a person. Several styles of yoga exist, each specific to different personalities and desires. Yoga teaches a person how to breathe and control his or her mind by meditating and training.

The appeal of holistic medicine has also increased. Patients want to blend the mind with the body and holistic practitioners treat the entire person, the whole person, as opposed to individual organs of the body where symptoms might be focused. Emphasis is placed on self care and prevention of illnesses.

Alternative medicine comes in other forms such as naturopathy, energy healing, ki touch (Chang, 2001), hypnosis, herbology, chiropractic and homeopathy. These forms of traditional medicine are widely practiced in addition to modern medicine. Other homemade remedies have gained momentum such as chamomile tea, certain types of foods for specific diseases, water therapy, massage and heat therapy after surgeries (Gordon, 2001).

Eastern traditions and beliefs were very simple and are encouraged in modern medicine today. The body, or the system, can be negatively impacted by sedentary living, anger, wrong type of food, sorrow, and fear. Some of the very basic rules of Eastern religious traditions which have been incorporated into modern medicine of both the mind and the physical body include eating the right amount and type of food; making a good and honest living as a career; refrain from lying or cheating; be courageous or humble enough to forgive; and treat everyone as a near and dear family member or friend. The belief is that if one follows these rules, one would always enjoy good health.

Hinduism in India

An Eastern religion that is becoming practiced more commonly is Hinduism. Hinduism is the most prominent of religions within India, with 82% of the population practicing (No Author, 2008). Regardless of social status, Indians are affected by Hinduism in one way or another. The ancient writings and texts such as, the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths are still used as guidelines for Hindus in modern India. Hindu rituals and traditions still play a very significant role in modern Indian culture. Some of these many traditions include ceremonies for offering to gods and goddesses as well as feeding the community. Rituals that are still practiced include a pilgrimage that Hindus take to three rivers, the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati which all come together to a junction called the Allahabad. Hindus believe that they will receive a special blessing at this place. Hinduism has a long history that, to this day, affects its future in India.

Buddhism in the U.S.

When a person thinks of Buddhism, the image that comes to mind is a holy man who is bald, has a big belly and wears an orange robe. This holy man can be usually found in the temple meditating or chanting.

The question remains is if the American culture accepted Buddhism as one of its many religions. According to Pew Forum's U.S. Religion Survey, Buddhism growth in the U.S. has grown dramatically. The most recent survey shows that Buddhism has grown 170% from 1990 to 2001, and has placed fourth as the most practiced religion in America. Buddhism has opened doors to many and is unlike any other religion. According to Dr. Robert Thurman during an interview, "The goal of Buddhism is not merely faith. Faith may be a way station or a method that may be useful at the beginning. But in the long run, the goal of Buddhism is knowledge." Buddhism seems to be an easy religion to follow regardless of one's religious background. Buddhist teachings do not focus on religion



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