Chapter

Complementary and Alternative Medicine in America's “Two Buddhisms,”

David Numrich Paul

in Religion and Healing in America

Published in print December 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167962
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850150 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167962.003.0022
Complementary and Alternative Medicine in America's “Two Buddhisms,”

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Buddhists in the United States fall into two main camps: ethnic Asians, for whom Buddhism represents the primary religious component of their cultural heritage, and non-Asian converts to Buddhism. These two broad groupings manifest significant differences in their perspectives and practice of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), with important implications for the American health care system. This chapter focuses primarily on selected CAM practices among US Buddhists under the general heading of folk healing, which includes behaviors often identified with popular religion or folk religiosity. Two kinds of folk healing are discussed: herbalism and appeal to spiritual or supramundane healing forces. Supramundane healing forces could be classified under several CAM designations, such as mental and spiritual healing (healing power from the mind or divine sources); nonlocality (unmediated healing at a distance); biofield medicine (use of energy fields in or around the body); and even the placebo response in certain cases (healing effected through a patient's belief in the treatment). This chapter also considers the practice of Buddhist meditation.

Keywords: Buddhism; United States; complementary medicine; alternative medicine; ethnic Asians; non-Asian converts; folk healing; herbalism; supramundane healing forces; meditation

Chapter.  6259 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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