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Religion and Healing in America$
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Linda L. Barnes and Susan S. Sered

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195167962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167962.001.0001

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

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

(p.343) 21 Complementary and Alternative Medicine in America's “Two Buddhisms,”
Religion and Healing in America

David Numrich Paul

Oxford University Press

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

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