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Research Unit4

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Research Unit4: Thanatology and Vihara Care: Buddhism, Medical Science, Psychology, and the Humanities

  If in the modern world there are people searching for a truth that transcend death, a truth that can be a support in all crises, then among these people we must certainly consider patients in the terminal phase of a disease and their families, a people who are contemplating suicide. However, how can we truly hear the voices of those who are dying or thinking about suicide? The true bond of love that transcends death is necessary for all human beings. When people feel that they love or are loved by someone, the pain of sadness and separation is lessened slightly. Facing death and dying is perhaps the time when we realize the true meaning of our own life and awaken to true kindness and compassion.
  First I will perform a practical study to establish a theory of Vihara Care and Grief Care based on medical considerations and social welfare by coordinating information from a variety of fields including Buddhism, medicine, and psychology. Guidelines for Vihara Care and terminal medical treatment can be formed in part based on the spirit of patient care found in the Buddha's teaching, death rituals described in the Ojoyoshu, the thought of religious figures such as Honen and Shinran, as well as artistic depictions of Buddhist teachings like the Yamakoshi Amida (Japanese National Treasure, Zenrinji Temple) and other representations of Amida welcoming the dying person to the Pure Land.
  Second we consider the crises of human life and death and their transcendence through the metaphors and stories of religion and psychotherapy. We examine only Buddhist scriptures but also stories and examples of religious salvation seen in literature and poetry by authors such as Kenji Miyazawa, Misuzu Kaneko, Hisako Nakamura, Yoshio Toui, and religious individuals called myokonin within Jodo-Shinshu tradition. This research hopes to contribute materials that can be used as a spiritual compass for people's lives.