Portland, Oregon (AP) —Skyler Flyman, pushed into a recliner in the corner of an Assisted Living Apartment in Portland, suffers from end-stage heart and lung disease and has recently arrived at a hospital. I was worried, staring at my bed anxiously. How she maintains her independence when she further loses her mobility.
It was Rev. Jo Laurence, a pastor of hospice and palliative care, who was there to guide her along the journey. But instead of evoking divine or Christian prayers, she talked about meditation, chanting, and other oriental spiritual traditions. She asked, “Where is the sacred of your decline?”
Lawrence, an ordained Sufi minister and Zen Buddhist who brings years of meditation practice and scripture training to assist end-of-life patients, is becoming more and more common in hospitals, hospice, and prisons. It is part of a fast-growing Buddhist minister who has become a target. Their service has risen dramatically during the pandemic.
In a profession long dominated by Christian clergy in the United States, Buddhists lead a wider variety of disciplines, including Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, and even secular humanist ministers. Is. Buddhist ministers are in a unique position for the times because of their ability to appeal to a broader cultural and religious spectrum, including an increase in the number of Americans identified as non-religious (about one-third). It states that there is.
Correspondingly, research and training opportunities have been established or expanded in recent years. These include the Harvard Theological Seminary’s Buddhist Ministry initiative and the Buddhist track of Union Theological Seminary, an ecumenical Christian Liberal Theological Seminary in New York City. A Buddhist-inspired liberal arts college, the University of Colorado, Naropa, has recently launched a low-resilience hybrid degree ministerial program. Uncertified certifications provided by the New York Zen Center for Contemporary Care and the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico are also popular.
“It’s clear that the demand from students is increasing as the program continues to expand, and it seems that students are finding jobs after graduation,” said Harvard Theological Seminary’s Deputy Dean of the Ministry of Multi-Religion. Yes, said Monica Sanford, the Minister of Asylum of Buddhism.
In the past, Buddhist ministers were often hired by hospitals and police stations, especially to serve the Asian immigrant community. During World War II, they served Japanese-American soldiers in the army. But today, they are more mainstream.
In their first report released this month, Sanford and colleagues identified 425 ministers from the United States, Canada, and Mexico representing all major branches of Buddhism, but researchers found more ministers. It states that there is a high possibility that there is. North American Mapping Buddhist Chaplains reports that more than 40% are in health care and other ministers work as schools, prisons, or self-employed counselors.
Two-thirds of respondents reported having a master’s degree in theology, another graduate degree, or a pastor’s certificate. Most of the staff’s pastoral staff have also completed clinical pastoral education internships and residency in medical and other environments.
The University of Tibetan Buddhism, also in Portland, has seen increasing interest in theology master’s program since its inception 10 years ago, said Lee Miller, director of academic and public programs. It appeals to a wide range of people, from 20 years of training to older Buddhists, to new graduates who are just beginning to meditate, to spiritual seekers to those with multiple religious possessions.
Hospitals and other institutions are eager to hire a Buddhist minister, Miller said.
“Buddhist ministers have a habit of speaking in a more universal language, focus on compassion, are grounded, and feel peaceful,” she said. “Many Christian ministers rely on God’s Word to guide their prayers and read Bible scriptures.”
Mindfulness and meditation training, on the other hand, and beliefs about self-nature, reality, and the impermanence of suffering, provide Buddhists with a unique tool for combating pain and death.
“The outcome of those times in the (meditation) cushion is a kind of self and others that allows us to create real-life abilities, the ability to drop our own personal agenda, and interdependence. It manifests itself in the ability to be conscious, “Miller said.
Buddhist ministers also face challenges, including how to make color Buddhists more accessible. According to the Pew Institute, North American mapping Buddhist ministers report that most professional Buddhist ministers today are white, even though nearly two-thirds of American believers are Asian-American. Has a background of a Christian family.
Traditional Buddhist communities are small and tend to be run by volunteers, often lacking resources to recommend pastors. This is a necessary step for board certification, which is often required for employment.
And non-Christian ministers can suffer from a sense of isolation, Christian-established medical care where the cross is hung on the wall, prayers are offered at staff meetings, and Jesus and the Bible are called regularly. You need to switch codes at your institution.
Providence Health & Services, a Catholic non-profit organization based in Washington that operates hospitals in seven western states, is one Christian medical system that is trying to change that.
Mark Thomas, Oregon’s Chief Mission Officer, said the system employs 10 Buddhist ministers, despite their Catholic identity. The goal is to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate spiritual care for them.
“Many patients resonate with some aspect of Buddhism, or even just cognition,” said Thomas, citing meditation and breathing habits that can help them cope with their suffering. “These tools are very valuable.”
Lawrence, a hospice pastor at Providence Home and Community Services in Portland, grew up in London and felt called to Buddhism after witnessing poverty, violence and racism as a caregiver in Mississippi.
She said that as more people were surprised, many patients did not have a language for their spirituality or it was associated with religious trauma. Lawrence supports them in the ways they need it, including Christian prayers, the comfort of a cool washcloth on the forehead, and Buddhist-inspired blessings.
“For some people, the Buddhist language is a rest,” she said. “I have no luggage and I feel very calm.”
Her patient, Flyman, said she was pleased to welcome Lawrence as she practiced the spiritual traditions of the Orient.
“I don’t think of God like people of traditional religion,” Flyman told her during her visit. “How happy you are here …. It would be very difficult to talk to a Christian minister.”
The Associated Press’s religious coverage is funded by Lily Endowment, Inc. and is supported through a collaboration between AP and The Conversation US. AP is solely responsible for this content.
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