THE SOLUTIONS OF AIDS WITH THE BUDDHA’S TEACHING
By: Ven. KHemanando
Nowadays, HIV/AIDS has many impacts on society, such as economic problems, loss of income in families, an increasing number of orphans, etc. Many government and non-government are joining together to campaign to disseminate the facts about HIV/AIDS to the population. Nevertheless, there are still some people who do not know about HIV/AIDS, regarding them as “bad” people whose unsuitable behavior has led to their HIV positive status. As a result, there are many monks who are genuinely dedicating their work to the dissemination of knowledge to the population concerning HIV/AIDS prevention and control.
In the first sermon which began his forty-five years of ministry, the Buddha declared: “Birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, disease is suffering, and death is suffering”. This statement about universal suffering constitutes the first of the Four Noble Truths, namely; Dukkha-suffering, Samudaya-the cause of the arising Dukkha, Nirodha-the cessation of Dukkha, Magga-the path leading to cessation of Dukkha that make up the Buddha’s most fundamental teachings. And that statement is very exemplified by the HIV-spread AIDS pandemic that we are experiencing now. AIDS presents several well-known characteristics: a cure for the disease still appears a long way off and its prognosis, be it at short or long term, is death. In this respect, the discovery of new therapies simply extends the term of the problem and even then only within the confines of the wealthy nations. In addition, the illness can only be contracted by contact with organic fluids already infected by the virus. In this context, therefore, AIDS can not, any more than any disease, be considered a form of punishment inflicted by some exterior power.
WHAT IS AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. “Acquired” means that you are not born with it; “Immune” refers to your immune system; “Deficiency” means faulty or ineffective; and “Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms. HIV stands for Human Immune Deficiency Virus. Therefore, AIDS is the set of symptoms of disease that is caused by infection with HIV virus. The virus destroys the white blood cells that are the source of human immune systems, making the immune system weaker until we become easy prey to various other diseases. The infection person will become sick with the symptom of these other diseases, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhea, rash, herpes, and it is more prone to cancer, such as skin cancer.
WAYS OF TRANSMITTING AIDS
1. Through sexual relations
Through unprotected (no condom) sexual relations, either heterosexual or homosexual (both men and women), all are at risk of transmitting AIDS. Even though, just one sexual encounter, you can transmit AIDS, and it has been found that 80 % of people with AIDS contracted the virus through sexual relation.
Methods of prevention:
a. Having just one sexual partner
b. Avoiding promiscuity
c. Not buying or selling sexual service
d. If you think you are at risk then you must use condoms correctly, without making any exceptions for any sexual partners because they appear to be clean or good. People who are infected with AIDS who have yet to show symptoms will look like everyone else. You cannot guess from the outside appearance whether or not a person is infected with AIDS.
2. Through blood
Sharing needless to inject drugs intravenously with a person with AIDS, without cleaning the needless, puts you at risk of transmitting AIDS.
Methods of prevention:
a. Stop using kinds of drugs
b. Do not share needless with other people.
3. A mother who has become infected through her husband, sexual partner or through her own high risk behavior and then transmits the virus to her unborn child. 30 % of children with infected mothers are born with AIDS.
Methods of prevention:
a. Blood testing before marriage
b. Blood testing before pregnancy
c. Consult a family planning clinic.
The meaning of an “infected person” as opposed to “a person who is sick with AIDS”. An infected person has had their blood tested and has been found to have traces of the AIDS virus but their bodies are still strong and healthy and they can work normally. A person who is sick with AIDS refers to a person who is sick with secondary diseases, such as pneumonia, or with some form of cancer.
Having known about the problem of the people who infected from AIDS, we can teach them by the good teaching in order to make the merit in their daily life. That teaching is the Four Sublime State of Mind, namely;
a. Metta – Loving kindness and benevolence for the welfare of all beings.
b. Karuna – Compassion on seeing miserable beings and wishing them to be liberated from suffering.
c. Mudita – Sympathetic joy on seeing happy beings.
d. Upekkha – Equanimity of mind without love or hatred toward all sentient beings.
ENGAGED BUDDHISM ON HIV/AIDS PREVENTION
The practice of using religion to help fight HIV/AIDS is not new. Buddhism tried to scare people with hell if they are not good (Borthwick 1999: 212). These days, the emphasis is on moral and compassionate support for people living with AIDS and their HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns from a Thai Buddhist perspective 5 of 11 families and, beyond that, prevention of the epidemic in a community. The major finding on documentary research points to the role of religious traditions. According to the social duties as shown in Sigalavada Sutta all human beings should observe these social duties with due respect and firm conviction. That duty is divided to five kinds, namely;
1. A bhikkhu must restrain his lay disciples from doing evil deeds.
2. A bhikkhu must exhort them to do good deeds.
3. A bhikkhu must protect them with loving kindness.
4. A bhikkhu must preach them what they never heard before.
5. A bhikkhu must explain to them what they have already heard before.
It is the prominent factors shaping values and providing way of human life.
Through stages of human civilization, people have commonly concerned with sexuality such human reproduction. It is a central and universal phenomenon in all societies. The regulations of sexual ethics on this present study have considered how religious teachings shape sexual values and guide human conducts.
Regarding two standards of sexual ethics in Buddhism, in spite of the differences among the celibate life of the monastic community members and the refraining from sexual misconduct for the laity, eventually, Buddhism provides religious principles for the purpose of attaining Nibbana, through abstention of all sexual activities. This ideal is considered that Buddhism shapes sexual values in high importance. However, Buddhism formed the ideas of sexual ethics for the latter group to have a happy marriage and family life, freedom of contraception, prohibitive abortion and violation of premarital sex. The Buddha said that Dhamma is the way for training mind, speech and body. But the Buddha Dhamma is sometimes regarded in way which is too intellectual and theoretical so that there is a danger that it is not practiced as a way of training.
With respect to Buddhist sexual ethics, it is considered in the main quality endowed by the teaching to human nature. Since, there is no dual community as of laity and priesthood. Buddhist sexual ethics, thus, prescribes a participation in marriage and family life by all. Buddhist provides solutions for ethical and social problems in effective preventive measures by prohibiting any sexual activities outside of marriage. Some prominent ethical issues toward sex and reproductive health such prohibitions on family planning or abortion show that life in Buddhism is a sacred gift. However, sources of this Theo centric ethics also provided outlets for cases, where it is necessary to have abortion or family planning due to valid reasons.
According to data analysis and discussion obtaining from field study, the major findings are concerning attitudes toward sexual ethics of university students. The target groups are selected from 221 Buddhists undergraduate students in Mahidol University, Chulalongkorn University, Thammasart University, Kasetsart University and Ramkamheng University. This study attempts to compare sexual ethics attitudes between these two groups and determine factors that influence their attitudes.
The result of this study reveals that the main findings concern the dilemma of two conflicting demands of the traditional religious view and modernity. Since Thailand has undergone rapid modernization during the past few decades, most of Thai youth have far-reaching effects on Thai cultures, ethical attitudes and religious traditions. In dealing with the situation, the researcher found that most of Buddhists accept the idea of personal freedom concerning sexual performance and materialism including moral laxity. While Buddhist university students remain religious conservative in their attitudes toward sexual ethics and their religious faith.
As referred on the discussion in previous chapter, the nature of each religion is an important factor to support a strong sexual attitudes; especially, the concrete religious norms of conduct. Consequently, the solution of the critical on Thai sexual ethics, rediscovering the basis of religious traditions is the most important outlet. In the practical way, however, it is not easy to exclaim teenagers to transform their views, while Thai society is waving of modernity of sexual freedom, which promulgated sexual permissiveness. Thus, there should be continued consideration and action on the recommendations highlighted by the study.
Religious ethics is the system, which struggled to digest of whole religious principles, especially, assimilating the ultimate goal to perform in daily life. Religious ethics, thus, is not only determined the value concept of good, bad, ought to, right or wrong in relation of human behavior but it is also pointed to the ultimate reality of the real. Buddha said that “when this is, that comes to be, with the arising of this that arises. When this is not, that does not come to be, with cessation of this that ceases. Moreover, it also concerns with human faith and wisdom. Regarding human sexuality, it is the diversities and multi-typed concepts. Human beings have a drive for, a natural desire for and tendency to seek out sexual activities. Religious sexual ethics is the attempt to discover ideals in the areas of sexuality that will integrate sexual desires and sexual performances or their avoidance into the ideals of human life. Hence, the ideals of religious sexual ethics should be realistic in the sense that essential fact about human nature. Obviously, the characteristics of Buddhist sexual ethics show the principles which related to the ultimate goal. The former admitted human sexual desire but celibacy is preferably while the latter admitted human sexual desire and supported marriage and family life. Consequently, the characteristics of Buddhist ethics are the basis of ethical standards, criteria and goals. However, points of contact in Buddhist sexual ethics are in the following matters:
1. Consider the consequences of views, actions and the result of human behavior.
2. Prevent friction and disharmony within human life.
3. Reinforce mankind to be the unity of religious successor.
4. Provide religious characteristics to point out the way of real happiness life.
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