5.) A Buddhist Reflection on the Western Intellectual Tradition

October 22, 2008

Two categories with which students of Buddhism are bound to become familiar, whether they focus on the Theravāda or the Mahāyāna forms of it, are prajñā and karuṇā. What follows are some observations on trends in Western intellectual history in the light of this distinction. In order for these observations to surface in the course of a general survey of modern intellectual history one might begin by rendering the word prajñā as cognition in English (in place of the more usual ‘insight’) and karuṇā as compassion. As a next step, one might then ask the question: What follows if we view compassion as a mode of cognition?

The suggestion is not as far-fetched as it might sound at first. It makes eminent sense in at least three ways. (1) Modern philosophical and scientific concepts of cognition are based on the subject/object dichotomy, with the implication that a conscious subject (the scientist) cognizes an object, if not inert then at least, radically different from the subject (matter, bacilli, etc.). However, the greater the extent to which the object of investigation possesses life or consciousness the more porous the distinction tends to become. (2) In the case of the study of human beings or shall we say, in the humanities, a very different view of the dichotomy needs to be taken. The psychiatrists represent the extreme case where the true scientific understanding itself consists of being able to cognize the inner mental and emotional states of the other human being. (3) There are some modes of knowing in which cognition presupposes compassion. In appreciating a dramatic performance, for instance, if one does not have com-passion for the suffering being depicted on the stage, the literary ‘cognition’ of the play itself would be impaired.

This prepares the ground for the following observations:

(1) While enlightenment in Buddhism involves the operation of both the factors, the Western Enlightenment, it seems, chose primary focus on only one of them: cognition.

(2) The synchronic presence of the two elements in Buddhism is replaced, as it were, by a diachronic movement in relation to Christianity. The emphasis on compassion in medieval Christianity was followed and replaced by an emphasis on Reason in the West. The recent questioning of the supremacy of Reason in the West is now allowing more room for the incorporation of compassion as cognition.

(3) Both Buddhism and Christianity, as well as the modern West, recognize the healing power of non-emotional involvement. This represents a striking fact. Thus we have the Arhat or the Bodhisattva who fully identifies with the suffering of the universe but never loses sight of the fact that the ultimate redemptive power lies in prajñā. In Christianity and the modern welfare state we have the social servants and the social workers who similarly do not allow the intense emotional involvement of the familial type to cloud their vision. The most concerned person, on witnessing an accident, calls the ambulance rather than jeopardizing the victim’s condition by spontaneous sentimental attempts to take care of him or her. The doctor, and further down the line, the scientist, similarly display a non-emotional involvement which does not preclude a humane sympathy from characterizing their actions, and even motivating their interest in medicine and science itself.

(4) In a sense cognition and compassion set the limits for each other. For instance, a sole focus on the cognitive aspect of the disease could make a doctor callous towards the patient. Similarly, an exclusively compassionate attitude, combined with lack of cognition, might cause one to give something to a patient which the patient craves but which will only serve to aggravate the illness. Similarly, these two—cognition and compassion—can be polarized or totalized. For instance, in the West, when it is Reason alone which was allowed to respond to the challenge posed by the quest for an ultimate reality, philosophy per se emerged. Then cognition and compassion, when the latter is represented by a confessional approach to reality, got polarized as philosophy versus theology. In India, when religion is regarded as the response of the entire human being (and not just Reason) to the whole of reality, then no distinction is drawn between the two—or even between philosophy and religion.

(5) The current movement known as “deconstruction” in Western thought leads one to ask the following question from a Buddhist point of view: If compassion had intellectually enjoyed as firm a place in Western thought as in the Buddhist, would a movement like deconstruction have emerged? The revolt of Reason represented by the Enlightenment was against revelation. If it now be claimed that reason has exhausted itself as a mode of knowing and revelation has already been discredited in this role—what does the West have to fall back on intellectually? This might not have been the case if compassion had been as primary a category in Western thought as revelation.

4.) Do Different Religions Agree on the Relationship of the Ultimate Reality to the Universe

September 29, 2008

I

I would like to begin by explaining the task I have set out before myself, and why. When we review the religions of the world we encounter different concepts of the ultimate reality. To describe these various terms such as Semitic Monotheism, Hindu Panentheism, Confucian Agnosticism, Taoist Mysticism, Buddhist Transtheism, etc., have been used. You may be inclined to join issue with me on the appropriateness or otherwise of these distinctions but this is not the time to do so. For my purpose at the moment is merely to draw attention to the wide variety in the concepts of the ultimate. If this fact of diversity in the conception of the ultimate is challenged then my task shall be complicated and this is something we could pick up on again later. At the moment I would like to emphasize the fact of this diversity in the conceptions of the ultimate.[1] This is the first point. The second is that when we review the conception of the universe in the various religious traditions then we encounter a similar diversity of opinion. We encounter here Semitic Creationism, Hindu pulsating eternalism, Buddhist dependent coorigination, Confucian Realism, and Taoist Naturalism.[2] Again, if this fact of diversity about the nature of the universe were challenged then my task shall be complicated and this is something which could be picked up later. At the moment, again, I would like to emphasize the fact of the diversity in the conceptions of the universe.

I would also like to add that this diversity in the concepts of the ultimate and the universe seems to exist not only among the various traditions, that is, interreligiously but also within the various religious traditions themselves—in their different subtraditions or at different periods in history, that is, intrareligiously.[3] I shall, however, speak only of the major religious traditions as a whole.

To recapitulate then, when we survey the major religious traditions—by which, bowing to academic tradition—I mean Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism[4]—we find a wide variety about the conceptions of the ultimate on the one hand and conceptions of the universe on the other. Now I am in a position to identify the task I have set before myself today—could it be that although the various religious traditions have different conceptions of the ultimate reality and different conceptions of the universe, they might agree on the nature of the relationship between the two? Their views on the nature of the ultimate may differ as also about the nature of the universe—but despite this could it be the case that they agreed on the nature of the relationship between the two items they are not agreed about?

II

There are two ways in which we could set out to accomplish our task: (1) We could survey the relationship between the ultimate reality and the universe in each tradition and try to formulate a generalization on the basis of such a survey or (2) we could define the various possible relationships that could exist, to start with, between the two—the ultimate reality and the universe, and see which category provides us with a catch-all net or at least one which will cover the maximum number of cases.

For reasons not entirely clear to me I have opted for the second procedure.

III

The various possible relationships which could exist between the ultimate reality and the world could be either obscure or recognizable. If recognizable they could either involve a relation of complete independence between the two or varying degrees of dependence. If dependence were involved, it could either be unilateral or bilateral (perhaps mutual is a better word here). If the dependence were unilateral it could mean either that the ultimate reality depended on the universe or the universe on the ultimate reality.

Let us now see if we can narrow the focus further. If the ultimate reality depended on the world, it could hardly be regarded as ultimate. If the relationship between the two was too obscure, our enterprise will come to a quick end. If the universe and the ultimate reality were quite independent of each other, the ultimate reality would have to be regarded as an ultimate reality and this in turn would raise the question whether it could be regarded as ultimate.

Thus before we proceed further, two ends of the spectrum of possible relationships are defined. The relationship, at least initially, may not be taken as too obscure for investigation, and the ultimate reality and the universe so independent, that the universe may lay claim to its own ultimacy.

Hence we are thrown into the range wherein the relationship may be unilateral or one of mutual dependence. An example of mutual dependence would be sonship depending on fatherhood and fatherhood on sonship.

Let us now see how far a model of unilateral dependence can carry us. Such unilateral dependence can be of three kinds: (1) temporal; (2) ontological; or (3) logical. To illustrate with examples from daily life: When a painter paints a picture at a point in time the painter possesses temporal priority; the screen can exist without the movie but not the movie without the screen, thus the screen possesses ontological priority; the “idea” of the chicken may be seen as preceding the chicken, in the chicken-egg debate, to make it intelligible, thus providing an illustration of logical priority. Now to apply the categories: In the first case, the ultimate reality is seen as creating the universe. At first sight this would seem to fit the Semitic religions neatly but not the Eastern ones wherein the universe as well as the ultimate reality in some sense may be viewed as eternal. However, trouble could arise from within even the Semitic tradition. It is true that a belief in creation ex nihilo would be consistent with the temporal dependence of the universe on the ultimate. However, the extent to which the Genesis account can be so interpreted has been debated. Unlike the English word creation, the Hebrew word for “creation” is used uniquely in that sense so it can be argued that we do not quite know what it means.[5] Again, the question of the universe being created out of nothing leads one to ask the further question—what is meant by nothing? Does it mean just nothing or no-thing, in the sense of matter existing without form. Medieval Jewish, Islamic and Christian scholasticism is rife with a discussion of such issues.[6]

One is, therefore, naturally led to a discussion of ontological dependence. If it is granted that the universe or matter in some form always exists then its relationship to the ultimate reality needs to be discussed. Now many religious traditions, it seems, would concede that whatever form this matter or universe may be in, it is ontologically dependent on the ultimate reality. That is to say, the ultimate reality could exist without it, but it could not exist without the ultimate reality. This would seem to be true of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as of Hinduism in general (with the possible exception of Sāṅkhya in which universe could exist but not evolve without the ultimate reality of purusas).

But what about Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism? In the case of Confucianism, or more properly neo-Confucianism, the relationship between li (principle) and chi (form) may be described as that of mutual dependence—but it is clear that Principle possesses on ontological priority according to the statements of the neo-Confucians themselves.[7] Even if this is disregarded, logical priority must be conceded, for although we do not know whether the egg came first or the chicken, the “principle” on which the chicken is formed must be seen as prior to the chicken, not on a sequential but a structural view. Similarly, the priority of the Tao can be clearly established on the basis of the opening statement of the Tao-te-ching.[8]

The careful observer would have noticed that in moving to Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, sometimes the concept of ontological priority had to be replaced by that of logical priority when the ontological connection between the ultimate and the universe became too close. But when they seem to be fused, as in forms of Mahayana Buddhism, the situation becomes rather complex. For if “Sasāra and Nirvāṇa are the same” and “Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form” then how are we to establish the ultimacy of one over the other? Here, however, two points need to be borne clearly in mind: (1) The kind of description mentioned above belong to the world of samvṛtta satya or the relative plane as opposed to the paramārtha satya or the Absolute, identified with Śūnyatā. But the distinction between the Absolute and the Relative is itself a product of the relative realm of discourse, so that ultimately only the Absolute exists and must possess ontological primacy, the Relative being dependent on the Absolute. (2) Whatever be said of Nirvāṇa and Śūnyatā, and its relation to the world, the fact that salvation lies in the realization of Nirvāṇa or Śūnyatā is not challenged.

The case of Mahayana Buddhism, however, can pose a tough problem when looked at from another point of view. If the universe and the ultimate are seen as interpenetrating each other, in such a tight embrace that they can’t be separated, then the ontological priority of the ultimate is thrown in doubt on account of complete mutual dependence. In this case, even invoking logical priority may not prove very helpful because the idea of logical priority can be seen as assailing the logic of logic itself, something the Mādhyamika School is notorious for. It will be noted, however, that the Ultimate, be it Emptiness or whatever, still possesses axiological priority.[9]

IV

The foregoing discussion suggestions the following conclusions. (1) As relationship necessarily involves relata, it involves a fundamentally dualistic world-view. Thus those world-views which regard the ultimate as “none” (Mādhyamika Buddhism) or “one” (Advaita Vedānta) tend to fall off the table if the point is pressed too far.

(2) If both the Ultimate and the universe are eternal, their co-eternalism shifts the gear into that of ontological priority. If the universe itself is regarded as ultimate one ends up with some form of scientific materialism or Marxism.

(3) The more intimate the contact, or the greater the measure of mutual dependence between the Ultimate and the universe, the greater is the pressure to move from temporal, through ontological to logical and finally towards axiological priority.

(4) Temporal, ontological and logical priorities imply axiological priority automatically. The Creator has more “value” than creation, the independent over the dependent, etc.

(5) The final conclusion then is that all the diverse religions agree on the axiological priority of the Ultimate. But isn’t that why it is Ultimate one might say, to begin with? Or, one might ask, does the end provide the beginning and the conclusion becomes the introduction.


[1] See James Hastings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951 [1925]), Vol. VI, p. 243 ff.; S.G.F. Brandon, ed., A Dictionary of Comparative Religion (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1970), p. 303 ff.; etc.

[2] See James Hastings, ed., op. cit., Vol. III, p. 125 ff.; S.G.F. Brandon, ed., op. cit., p. 215, etc.

[3] See R.C. Zaehner, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Living Faiths (New York: Hawthorn Books Inc., 1959), passim.

[4] Huston Smith, The Religions of Man (New York: Harper & Co., 1958), passim.

[5] Person I owe this point to Professor Norbert Samuelson.

[6] See Harry A. Wolfson, Structure and Growth of Philosophical Systems from Plato to Spinoza, Vols. 1-4 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1947-1976), passim.

[7] Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed., Sources of Chinese Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960), p. 537, 539.

[8] Ibid., p. 53.

[9] Wm. Theodore de Bary, ed., Sources of Indian Tradition (New York: Columbia University Press, 1958), pp. 158-159, 176-178.

3.) Religion and Human Rights

September 17, 2008

Some modern human rights, such as freedom of religion, were won in opposition to established religions and this may have helped generate the broader impression that religions are opposed to human rights.

A project was initiated in 1993 to look into what had so far been an unexamined relationship between religion and human rights. It is called The Project on Religion and Human Rights and was located in New York.

The aspect of the Project I worked most closely with, in close collaboration with Professor Harvey Cox of Harvard University, addressed the issue whether religions can serve as positive resources for human rights. As we investigated the issue we began to shed our initial scepticism in this regard and began to identify examples from each religion which can help enlarge the scope of human rights—as envisaged in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 10, 1948. The following examples might serve to substantiate this claim.

(1) Hinduism. Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to life. Those familiar with Hinduism know that the traditional Hindu blessing alludes not just to life but longevity (āyuṣmān bhava) as well. Should then not longevity be added to the right to life, thereby securing the right for human beings against life-threatening pollution and a host of other factors?

(2) Buddhism. Section 1 of Article 17 confers on “everyone the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.” In the Buddhist Saṅgha, however, property is not merely held in association with others but is held by it as an association and its just use is also enjoined. The existing Article could certainly benefit from the Buddhist example.

(3) Confucianism. In Confucian China, a doctor was paid inversely in relation to the number of patients treated, for the physician’s function was envisaged as keeping people in good health. Article 25, which accords to everyone the right to adequate health, could benefit from this insight.

(4) Taoism. Article 16 identifies the nuclear family as virtually the basic social unit but Taoism, as well as African religions, place much more emphasis on the community. The recognition of community rights thus becomes important.

(5) Judaism. Under the Law of Return passed by the Israeli Parliament in 1950, every Jew is automatically granted Israeli citizenship upon entering Israel, a crucial provision if the widespread persecution of the Jews is kept in mind. Article 14 of the Declaration, which only grants the right to asylum from prosecution, thus suffers by comparison.

(6) Christianity. Certain forms of Christianity practice institutionalized monasticism. Article 24 accords to everyone the right to rest and leisure form one’s work but not the right to retire from such work itself, which is upheld by the monastic orders not only of Christianity but other religions as well.

(7) Islam. Under Islamic Law compelling need is a mitigating factor in determining punishment, as in the case of theft. This brings with it the realization that the Articles of the Declaration of Human Rights should not be read in an isolated way. Thus Islam teaches us that Article 17—the right to own property—must be read with Article 25—which confers the right to an adequate standard of living.

Thus virtually every major religion has some insight to offer in the manner in which human rights are understood. If it is recognized that in their own day religions were great humanizing influences, that Christianity condoned slavery to avert a greater evil of genocide for instance, then we will be able to take a more positive view of religion as positive resources for human rights. Do I not destroy an enemy, Abraham Lincoln is believed to have said, when I make him a friend.

2.) On Paradigm Shifts in Buddhism and Christianity: Some Reflections Precipitated by the 2nd Conference on East-West Religions in Encounter (1984)

August 6, 2008

It appears that if dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity is to be fruitful through the idiom of paradigm shifts, attention needs to be focused on the following points as items for an agenda of discussion.

(1) Paradigm adjustments versus paradigm shifts

Paradigm shifts as they have been discussed involve temporal succession or sequentiality. One paradigm shift follows another. Although it is recognized that earlier paradigms may persist alongside new ones, this point must be further developed. In this respect replacing the word persistence by coexistence may help, because when earlier paradigms persist, they and the new ones thereupon come to coexist. That is to say: In the case of religious traditions, as distinguished from that of purely scientific inquiry, it needs to be more fully recognized that the way in which paradigms are interrelated is not merely one of replacement of one by the other but as much also by interaction resulting from coexistence.

A new vocabulary needs to be devised to handle this situation. It is suggested that a distinction be drawn between two terms: (1) paradigm shifts and (2) paradigm adjustments. The paradigm shift should refer to diachronic changes – a usage we are already familiar with; and paradigm adjustment may then refer to the synchronic or simultaneous changes resulting from the interaction of the plurality of paradigms – one with the other. Thus paradigmatic changes brought about in the various schools of Buddhist thought, for instance, as a result of their mutual interaction could be described as paradigm adjustment, while the word paradigm shift could be used to explain the emergence of these schools themselves.

(2) Do paradigm shifts “happen” or are they “brought about”?

This is another point which requires clarification or at least discussion. Even in science a paradigm shift is brought about; it does not merely happen. It is brought about by a scientist who gains a new vision, is seized by it and is instrumental in bringing others around to sharing his view. But it seems that this role of the pioneer is even more pivotal in religion. The universe of discourse of the scientist largely consists of matter or the material aspect of human beings and their existence, while that of the religious figures relates to human beings as conscious entities. Moreover, the burst of creativity which might lead to a paradigm shift in religion seems to show a difference at least of degree, if not of kind, in relation to science. Typically the religious figure consciously associates this burst of creativity with another order to consciousness. Two points have just been made: (1) that a paradigm shift in religion as compared to science may involve a greater degree of the human element as religion has more to do with human beings as such than science and (2) that the creativity underlying this shift is often consciously related to a transcendent being as in Christianity, or a transcendent mode of consciousness, as in Buddhism. What may seem like impersonal forces in the case of paradigm shifts may acquire a more conscious personal dimension in religion.

(3) Paradigms as variables

In scientific revolutions, paradigms change but not the referent the paradigms are designed to explain. True, more data may become available about the referent and this may lead to a paradigm shift. But the referent generating this data seems to be a constant. It is the same universe for instance, of which the Ptolemaic and the Copernican paradigms are different explanations. The universe is the constant here, the paradigms are the variables.

What is this constant in religion? Professor Hans Küng (1) identifies the constant not as religion but as a religious tradition. Then (2) he identifies the foundational element of a religious tradition as such a constant. It seems to me that Professor Küng is wise in choosing religious tradition rather than religion per se as the constant, thereby avoiding a potentially frustrating debate about what religion is. It could be argued, however, that Professor Küng may have chosen the softer option in designating the foundational element of the religious tradition, e.g. biblical revelation in the case of Christianity, as the referent of the tradition.

The basic datum – the constant – could be taken to be a human being’s existential situation. All the various religious traditions will then appear as various macro-paradigms trying to “explain” this constant. Christianity is one such macro-paradigm. If the human existential situation is treated as Christianity’s referent and not the Christian revelation itself, then the analysis of paradigm shifts may provide a broad enough base for dialogue to occur. Inasmuch as Buddhism takes its stand not merely on its foundational texts or teaching but on the human being’s existential situation, it would be hard to apply Professor Küng’s analysis to it the way he applied it to Christianity and this may explain in part the difficulties faced in the context of the discussion of paradigm changes in Christianity and Buddhism.

(4) Paradigm shifts and truth

Human beings may be said to be under a certain obligation to seek the truth wherever they can find it, rather than adhere to a particular religious tradition, though it is not denied that one may find that truth in one’s own religious tradition. It has been said that a true ‘man’ of religion is as indifferent to the history of religion – (and paradigm shifts), as a true scientist is to the history of science. What seems to be implied here is that paradigm shifts occur not so much by analyzing paradigms as by analyzing reality with an intense devotion to truth, even if it turns out in the end that the so-called new truth is merely another paradigm.

If it is clearly recognized that the study of paradigm changes is a second-order study and that first-order concerns of “truth” etc. are not directly related to it, then much confusion may be avoided. When we compare paradigm shifts in Buddhism and Christianity, it should be clear that we are trying to study paradigm shifts, not to generate them.

(5) Paradigm shifts and religious pluralism

The question of paradigm shifts needs to be related to the fact of religious pluralism more clearly. Paradigms persist, as was pointed out earlier, and new one’s also emerge. In science, paradigms replace one another; in religion they tend to coexist. This throws up the issue of choice among paradigms – both within a religious tradition and among traditions. This aspect can be kept in the background: (1) by emphasizing “dialogue” rather than “conversion” as the mode of relating to another religion and (2) by focusing on comparison among rather than choice between paradigm shifts.

But some day the question will have to be brought out of the closet: how are such choices among paradigms to be made? This is, of course, a thorny issue but the nettle will have to be grasped by someone, sometime, as is done regularly in science.

1.) Healing on the Borderland of Medicine and Religion

June 23, 2008

I would like to work with some distinctions, either explicit or implicit, in the discussion of healing at the borderland of medicine and religion.

The first is the distinction between curing and healing. Medicine, at least as it is practiced today, focuses mostly if not solely on curing, while what the patient wants is healing. The problem is that when the two do not go together, the relation between them becomes complex and we get a borderland problem. When curing takes a long time, or the outcome is uncertain, then the need for healing is felt. If the disease was incurable in pre-modern times, it would be handled only through healing. In popular North Indian culture, a distinction is drawn between dawa or medicine and dua or prayer and when a physician finds failure staring him in the face, or when family members find themselves in the same predicament, they often say: “The time for dawa or medicine is over, it is now time for dua or prayer.” There are cures for diseases in life but when the whole of life itself is treated as disease—as afflicted with dis-ease, then one heads not for the hospital but the monastery. The Buddha’s analysis of life has often been presented on a medical model: the symptom is dukkha or suffering, the diagnosis is taṇhā or longing, the prognosis is positive if the right treatment is administered, and the prescription is the Eightfold Path, hence the description of the Buddha as the Great Physician who cures the ill of life itself. At this extreme end of the continuum also, curing and healing coincide just as, as the other end, treatment of a simple illness requires no distinction between healing and curing. It is worth noting however that “curing” and “healing” in that highly advanced sense, when life itself is viewed as deserving of treatment, has a highly sophisticated and organized structure of the Buddhist Order backing it, ensuring both efficacy and safety but essentially independent of state control.

The second distinction I would like to work with is spiritual healing and religious healing. In alluding to the Buddhist Order, I had veered into the realm of religious healing. The Buddhist Order, at the philosophical level, provides healing at its loftiest, but at the pragmatic level it also provides services for allaying the spirits for instance, which might supplement medical attention which takes the form of trying to cure the disease. Note, however, that in such cases also there is once again the Buddhist Order in the background as a regulating force. If we call this religious healing in the ordinary sense, then it is worth noting that, in large parts of the developing world, such services are institutionally anchored, usually in a major religious tradition, so that the problem of “spiritual healing,” as it has evolved in the West, may be a Western development calling for Western answers.

The third and last distinction I would like to take up is between the disease and the patient. Of course, it is the patient who has the disease, but one does not have to be a Cartesian to invoke the distinction between body and mind in this context. An illness may involve the body but it has an effect on the mind, not merely in the sense that physical changes might affect mental states, but in the deeper sense that the person has to mentally grapple with the consequences of the illness. The first time I understood what the word “depression” meant, which until then for me was a bizarre Western locution, was when I broke my knee in a car accident and was unable to regain my uses of it physiotherapeutically. My ailment had been surgically “cured” at the physical level, but at the mental level it was another story. Medicine may often take for granted the fact that the “mind” will take care of itself if the “body” is taken care of. But this may not always be the case, and specially when chronic ailments are involved. Complementary and Alternative Medicine, or CAM therapies for short, may provide a vital foil in such situations along with regular medical treatment. The point to note is that just as the test of the treatment at the physical level is “objective,” the test of the treatment of CAM therapies may be “subjective.” This need not raise the specter of medicine being thrown open to random subjectivity, if it is recognized that the focus is the “mental state” and not the “physical state” of the patient. Nor should the “philosophical” angle be overlooked here. Many patients have been helped in maintaining morale by the simple adage: ‘Who knows? May be “adversity saves us from calamity.”’

Such wholesome wisdom in the past would have, in all probability, been dispensed by a pastor, which creates room for suggesting that a service of this kind, without being confessionally associated with a specific religion, might be called for and the profession which naturally emerges as a likely candidate for this is nursing.