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29 March 2005

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ray

I suspect there are no easy answers to this issue. When this was discussed within one of Sheffield Amida's meetings there were more people who felt that buddhist chaplains would be compromised if they worked within the services.

I would like to hear more about the arguments against there being Buddhist chaplains in the armed forces. Or to take a step back, what is the role of "chaplains" within the armed forces? Is it to collude with the politicians and the generals to get the troops ready for war? Or is it to offer spiritual support and guidance to those who are experiencing the horrors of war that the rest of us may never experience directly?

Michael makes good points and i wonder whether the presence of a buddhist chaplain would make that much difference. and yet....

War is perhaps the ultimate example of how tragically we have failed as people to recognise one another’s common humanity. Buddhism brings a message of compassion and hope. Nothing in war is black and white. There are still choices. War dehumanises people, dehumanises the enemy. Dharma brings compassion. A general can be mindful of reducing civilian casualties in planning a bombing raid. A soldier can treat prisoners of war, or even just starving civilians, with more compassion and respect than those terrible images we have witnessed from the prison camps in Iraq. Troops that have to experience the horrors we ask of them, either in war or in peace-keeping roles deserves access to spiritual support. Imagine having to witness the events in Rwanda. If the Buddhist message is not to be heard within the armed forces, it should not be because we withdraw, but because we are excluded for being too subversive. War dehumanises us all, Buddhism helps us to recognise our common humanity. May be that is an irreconcilable position. But we are caught between the “ideal and th

ray

I suspect there are no easy answers to this issue. When this was discussed within one of Sheffield Amida's meetings there were more people who felt that buddhist chaplains would be compromised if they worked within the services.

I would like to hear more about the arguments against there being Buddhist chaplains in the armed forces. Or to take a step back, what is the role of "chaplains" within the armed forces? Is it to collude with the politicians and the generals to get the troops ready for war? Or is it to offer spiritual support and guidance to those who are experiencing the horrors of war that the rest of us may never experience directly?

Michael makes good points and i wonder whether the presence of a buddhist chaplain would make that much difference. and yet....

War is perhaps the ultimate example of how tragically we have failed as people to recognise one another’s common humanity. Buddhism brings a message of compassion and hope. Nothing in war is black and white. There are still choices. War dehumanises people, dehumanises the enemy. Dharma brings compassion. A general can be mindful of reducing civilian casualties in planning a bombing raid. A soldier can treat prisoners of war, or even just starving civilians, with more compassion and respect than those terrible images we have witnessed from the prison camps in Iraq. Troops that have to experience the horrors we ask of them, either in war or in peace-keeping roles deserves access to spiritual support. Imagine having to witness the events in Rwanda. If the Buddhist message is not to be heard within the armed forces, it should not be because we withdraw, but because we are excluded for being too subversive. War dehumanises us all, Buddhism helps us to recognise our common humanity. May be that is an irreconcilable position. But we are caught between the “ideal and the actual”. War is a terrible, terrible thing. For most of us, the closest we will get to it will be vicariously through a multi-plex cinema or a video arcade game. But may be we are all of the nature to do these things. Whether we like it or not, we benefit, materially at least, from the flawed political system that exists in our country, supported by military force. Religions, if they are to mean anything at all, must not be confined to the churches and meditation halls. They need to engage with the world, they need to engage with the people who are suffering as a result of armed conflict, or, as a result of their karma, those who are a part of that terrible military machine.

,,,but i don't know.

I wonder what Peter Jarman’s views on this matter are?


Dharmavidya

Dear Ray

I appreciate where you are coming from. I would also love that soldiers who are facing the reality of war should get genuine spiritual counselling. What we might regard as genuine spiritual counselling (i.e. how to leave the armed forces as swiftly as possible), however, would probably not be acceptable to the chaplains' employer. Aren't there are two ways of debating subjects of this kind and don't we sometimes we get into a mess by muddling them? One way is to investigate "what could a perfect person conceiveably do?" Another way is to look at "what's possible given the kind of folk we are in the real life situation?" Now, of course, if a perfect Buddhist were working as an army chaplain they would be able to do some good things (we could call this the Kshitigarbha argument). But if there are to be Buddhist chaplains in the army, is that going to be the kind of person who goes for and gets the job? What are the army going to look for at the job interview - a pacifist who believes that we should not have sent troops to Iraq? I can't see that. The sort of person who would get such a job would surely be the one who came closest to having, in himself, reconciled the aims and values of the army to the aims and values of his religion. Now we know that Buddhism has been squared with militarism at various points in its history and we rue those occasions. You and I agree that soldiers need spiritual support as much as anybody else, but such support comes in different forms and these forms have consequences not just for the individual but also for the positioning of the religion in the society. Anyway, the subject is not academic as there is going to be a Buddhist chaplain for the armed forces, so we will have to see what happens - not that you or I will probably ever find out for the most part.

James

I will play "devil's advocate" and ask this question, "Is war ever justifiable? Such as defeating Hitler in WWII??" Curious to your answers.

westcoaster

I apologize for reviving a dated topic, but I stumbled upon this page from google, and must say I strongly disagree. Buddha himself made numerous statements which appear to support the idea of soldiering, provided the soldiers worked for a just kingdom. (See: http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm) I'll admit it's not conclusive, but it's quite a bit more than Jesus Christ ever said.

Furthermore, the premise that chaplains are there to support the war grossly misses the entire purpose of chaplains. They are there for the spiritual needs of soldiers, not for PR.

Sophia

Buddhists survive and thrive in the Army. I am one of them (lay Buddhist of SGI-USA). My assignment presently affords me the opportunity to affect Soldiers in the most personal way, the way they treat each other and through cultural awareness training leads them to the acute understanding of their impact on the world around them and at large. I work hard to empower Soldiers with the understanding that they are Global Citizens, that they can be the change they wish to see in the world. Soldiers are trained to kill, however, that is their last option. Up until that point, they have a missions that support themselves and humanity. I completely disagree with the original post of the uselessness of a Buddhist Chaplain. I believe that Chaplian would be the most EFFECTIVE. I pity the Chaplaincy . . with their lack of vision and lack of answers and ability to help my Soldiers. Open your eyes, the missions requiring Soldiers to kill are a speck and last resort, in comparion to the many many missions he and she serve to support their fellow Soldiers, the nation, and humanity worldwide.

I welcome your comments . . [email protected]

MegaTroopX

It should be noted that Army chaplains, regardless of their faith, are there for the mental and spiritual health of the soldiers. I received quite a bit of aid and comfort from my company's chaplain, a 7th-day Adventist. In the Army, it's more about helping the troop than about sectarianism.

I agree with Sophia, in that the soldier's mission is usually a positive one. If the goal is growth (both of yourself and humanity at large), then you can't get anywhere when there are those who would destroy everything for the sake of nihilism and dominance.

Also, there is a Buddhist chaplain's corps, at least in the Navy. It's small, but there.

Dharmavidya

Thank you for your contributions. I guess most people think that the missions undetaken by their own side are constructive and for the good of the world. Strangely, however, the people on the other side think similarly. Each thinks that the other represents "nihilism and dominance". I am sure that Osama Bin Laden would have little difficulty describing the USA that way, for instance. Also, of course, lay Buddhists, as a matter of fact, have engaged in violence and military campaigns. Kublai Khan was, at least nominally, a Buddhist. Buddha did not expect the world to change overnight. The more immersed in Buddhism one is, however, the less one will have to do with killing and coercion or with the institutions that exist for such purpose. Sometimes we face invidious choices and cannot help being implicated - life is like that. After all, the army is an extension of the state and it is very difficult to survive as a stateless person in the contemporary world. The Buddhist sangha is, however, something of a blueprint for how it could be possible in a slightly more enlightened world.

boonhome

Hi,
I am Boonhome and would like to give comment to this too.
It is very important to have Buddhist chaplain in the army, there are some 3100 Buddhist soldiers in the army . These soldiers serve our country, they also need spiritual guide like any others esle. But the important parts are who will be Buddhist chaplain monks or lay buddhist teachers. For theravadin monks, they can not be hundred percents becuase the vinaya rule say so, for lay teachers yes. They are lots of Buddhist chaplians in Royal Thai Army and also in some country like South Korea. So, why not the great Army like American can not have one.

Ananda

I am seriously considering to become a Buddhist Chaplain. Does anybody know a Buddhist chaplain, who is willing to talk to me?
Or can anybody give me information about this who is not a recruiter? My recruiter tells me that I can be chaplain assistant and the Army will pay for my master degree (I already have a BA in Buddhism)It sounds good, but is it guaranteed if I sign up or do I take serious risk? I mean as a Buddhist I can't kill. My conscious wouldn't let myself to actively kill. However practically I acknowledge the need for the Army and would dedicate myself to serving soldiers in their needs.

kelliep

A majority of chaplains are christian. what happened to commandment 6 "thou shalt not kill" ? that seems pretty straight forward. why is that acceptable while buddhism is not?

Rinchen Gyatso

I don't know about the British military, but in the U.S. military part of a chaplains' job is to "keep up the fighting spirit" of the soldiers. As a Buddhist monk, I cannot encourage anyone to fight and kill.

Yuinen

I've come to this post late, but would like to state that I am currently a US NAVY chaplain of Buddhist faith (Jodo Shinshu). I would like to encourage other Buddhists to consider military chaplaincy. Chaplains of any faith tradtion are there to support the servicemembers, men and women, of any or no religious background. We do alot of counseling and religious services, but we do not encourage people to kill for religion, nor do we bless weapons or such. At the same time, we must beaware that the use of lethal force may become a reality for ANY military member, that is their duty. Chaplains are noncombatants and we do not carry weapons. If anyone is interested in being a chaplain's assistant, whether in Army or Navy, please be aware that since chaplains are not armed, the assistants are the chaplain's bodyguard, and WILL be trained to use firearms in self-defense. Many RPs (Navy chaplain assistants) have been in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Military chaplaincy really is another form of engaged Buddhist practice, just as hospital or prison chaplaincy is. There are MANY opportunities to take of your Buddhist co-religionists, and teach about the Dharma to non-Buddhists. There is interfaith dialogue every day! Anyone with an interest in chaplaincy please feel free to contact me or the Buddhist Churches of America as they are the only endorser of Buddhists for the US Armed Forces. We are Jodo Shinsh Buddhism but our Abbot, Socho Ogui, is open to endorsing qualified candidates from other Buddhist traditions. You can also look at the National Association of Ministry to the Armed Forces web site, www.ncmaf.org, for specific requirements to become a chaplain.
Gassho!

Sunil

Thanks everyone. As the first ever Buddhist Chaplain to the UK Armed Forces I have a lot to tell you about my experience. For the moment it suffices to say that it has given me great opportunity to share Dhamma with the Buddhist and non-Buddhist community in the military. I accepted the job without any preoccupations, without making any judgements, all what I wanted to do was to help a community to develop their Dhamma eye, while supporting my own family which turned out to be a rewarding experience. No one ever questioned my position on wars etc. etc. All what they wanted was to get some spiritual support when they need it. How am I different from a medical doctor who provides medical support to the Militay? As long as I understand what my role and responsibilities are I am convinced I cannot go wrong. When it comes to making crucial decisions, my focus is not where I work but how I work and what impact it has on the community I work for. I assure you one does not have to compromise one's morlality or serenity as long as one is guided by the right motive. Sorry to be preaching but I must tell you that this opportunity has given me the rarest of opportunity to share Dhamma with wonderful people. As long as I can add peace to the hearts and minds of a community I do not mind where I work. Thanks.

combat medic

something to think about............shaolin warrior monks. bandits used to raid temples and murder monks. japanese invaded many times. the monks fought and defended themselves

Woddy

I am new to Buddhism and a Soldier. I was educated in Religious Studies at a Christian school. I am not sure if it applies to Buddhism but most faiths that are large enough to encompass a whole country have philosophicaly worked out the questionn of Soldiering. There are seen to be two sets of ethics. The ethics of ultimate goal are the personal ethcis and morals that are used while at home and with the others of your community. The Soldier, Policeperson, Fireperson, Politician, etc. are responsible for others more than themselves. This is called the ethics of Responsiblity. One must make hard decision and at time unethical actions to protect those who have trust in thier defense. Would anyone want to live in a country that did not defend itself, that did not respond to attacks, that passively sat by the death of it's citizens? Would that country be moral? Would anyone have time to work toward enlightenment in such a country?

Stranger

I think one of the problems of being an Army chaplain is the question of who employs you. That is, if it's the Army, they will be looking to you to support their personel either by acts of commission or ommission in what ever military venture is being undertaken. To what extent the Army would be interested in the spiritual welfare or health of its members is questionable. I am sure it would not want anyone around who through example and teaching caused a number of its members to leave and seek others career avenues.

But, let us not get too pious it is through the work and sacrifice of men and women of the armed forces that we (in the west at least) have the opportunity to enjoy a relatively peaceful existence. Also soldiers just as much as anybody else need to hear the Dharma and receive its teachings. I am sure the dabate will go on but in the meantime their are men and women hurting out there so lets hope that we will work it out soon.

your brother in the Dharma

yeshi dorjee

no emiemies can defect by army if is iner eniemses no defect.it enieme

Gina

Hello Clueless who are ignorant of Buddhism.

Are you speaking of employed a Monk into the Military? Then answer is "NO" then you are right. If you asked, do you employed a layman or regular person (non-monk) to be a chaplain, then your answer is YOU ARE IGNORANT FOOL AND WRONG. As a Buddhist who practice 8 (Eight) Fold Path which is almost the same as Ten Commandment.

You don't kill for pleasure but you kill if necessary. I'm not a vegaterian. And Buddha Gotama is not a God. He is a spiritual teacher and master. He said that, "Each of us is responsible for own happy or misery. YOu can be what you want to be. There is no power, no faith, no miracle, no sin and no God in his world." He was a Hindu and died as a Hindu; doesn't found a new religion. He preached what is in the Bagava Gita and old vedic teaching. He intpreted it in his own way. I'm a Buddhist and don't mind becoming a Chaplain and won't let you shoot me if you point a gun at me. I will shoot in self-defense. In this essence, it is not killing. What type of killing is good and what is not?

Killing animals for game and pleasure or leisure is a NO NO.
Killing for food is OK.

Now do you understand thge basic?

booster

As for theory - you have to find it yourself. As for practice - maybe I could give some help. I found an interesting program on one of the thematic forum recently. It searches for combination automatically. Nice one, though poor in interface.
Program is based on Martingale system with the changed algorithm. It`s based on searching and waiting a series of results («red or black» usually). But this one I got is for «head or tail».
There were discussions «pro and against» this soft, but I downloaded it and explored for about half an hour and left it in automatic mode till next evening. What I found in the morning was 250WM.
But use this soft shrewdly, admins in casinos do not welcome these things.
Soft:
http://fff.to/19G
Mirror 1:
http://fff.to/19H
Mirror 2:
http://fff.to/19I
pass for the arch: 123
customized for http://headortail.com

Austin Keith

Please check out Kodo Sawaki, Taisen Deshimaru, and Robert Livingston- all three are Zen teachers and have served their countries in war time.

I have lay ordination and I live at a Zen temple now. I plan to become a chaplin after ordination.

Peace is an idea. Zen is beyond ideas. Real peace can be found anywhere, even on the battle field.

Gus Hales

Perhaps I could offer a few comments as an ex Paratrooper Falklands Veteran and Northern Island veteran. War is disgusting I have been involved first hand. The first precept says it all, to harm others is not just the direct action of sticking a bayonet in some-ones chest, but those who give the moral justification in order for that person to do it. Army chaplains play their part in giving that moral justification I know because I have experience. In addition the first words John Read said were "We now hope more people from ethnic minorities will join the armed forces". In other words a Buddhist practicioner has become a recruiting Sergeant for the Army. Please Sunil resigne now be a Buddhist adviser to the armed by all means, but come off the pay rol.
If any one is interested please google in Gus Hales or Veterans protesting

aashish

hello namaste
I am in the services going on sixth year, ammo tech by trade who used to be a driver, i did op herrick 6 as an interpreter, i lost a good friend as his vehicle was hit by an ied, i was driving two vehicles behind him. After that incident anger took over me despite my strong buddhist values. That anger lasted very long time with me, and it was buddhism that saved me from self destruction. I will soon be deployed but i amnot looking for revenge instead looking fwd to get the job done with highest standered of proffesionalism. It was sad to read some of the comments. All i want to say is in every religion it emphasises compassion,kindness and mercy. And there isnt any religion, that supports killing. I may not be a good buddhist but i am a good soldier and i am proud of my faith. Buddhism is not a religion but way of life. Every buddhist aims to live a meaningfull life, and what i do is very meaningfull and important.. Thanks with metta aashish
Om mani padme hom

aashish

hello namaste
I am in the services going on sixth year, ammo tech by trade who used to be a driver, i did op herrick 6 as an interpreter, i lost a good friend as his vehicle was hit by an ied, i was driving two vehicles behind him. After that incident anger took over me despite my strong buddhist values. That anger lasted very long time with me, and it was buddhism that saved me from self destruction. I will soon be deployed but i amnot looking for revenge instead looking fwd to get the job done with highest standered of proffesionalism. It was sad to read some of the comments. All i want to say is in every religion it emphasises compassion,kindness and mercy. And there isnt any religion, that supports killing. I may not be a good buddhist but i am a good soldier and i am proud of my faith. Buddhism is not a religion but way of life. Every buddhist aims to live a meaningfull life, and what i do is very meaningfull and important.. Thanks with metta aashish
Om mani padme hom

Gus Hales

Hi Aashish, I think you are getting a few things mixed up here. Firstly, if you think that soldiering is a meaningful profession that's fine that is your choice. But it is not what the Buddha taught. So then what did the Buddha teach, well lets start with the first precept, not to intentionaly harm or kill any living being. So the Buddha taught non-violence and the cultivation of compassion. However, how would we define what it means to be a Buddhist? Well the starting point regarding what the Buddha taught must be a commitment to non-violence. How many so called Buddhists in the military have commited themselves to non-violence, if there are any then why are they in the military? For instance I can call myself anything. I can call myself an eagle, but that doesn't mean I can fly, likewise I can call myself a Buddhist but unless I commit to non-violence then the term is useless and a delusion. As a veteran of fifteen years service who was badly wounded in the Falklands War, I remember going into battle with fixed bayonets, I can assure you that peace, kindness, compassion and harmlessness were not on my mind at the time, so please lets not kid ourselves. The intention to kill others is not what the Buddha taught, so by definition there cannot be any Buddhists in the military, but many who call themselves Buddhists. Now coming on to Buddhist chaplains, the reason the military employs them is for the services to get the best out of their men. So if I twist the teachings and convince my troops that it is moraly sound to kill others then the military have acheived the objective. Hence the reason for chaplains, that's why they are there. But the Buddha still taught non-violence, regardless of how others would convince you otherwise. That's where the confusion comes from. The Buddha taught us to free the mind from Greed Hatred and Delusion, it is a difficult practice and we can continue to delude ourselves. But if you think that happiness will come from the killing of other people, you are wrong, I know this from experience and this is what the Buddha taught. PEACE!

kinko

Dear Gus ales please stop practicing my religion.I bet you're a western,please stop buddhism and go back to your religion.Buddhist countries have and had in the past strong armies.My japan,china,korea,burma even tibet had a very strong army a century ago.So please you western stop pretendin to know OUR RELIGION.your misconception of our culture is really dangerous for us.IF YOUR NOT ASIAN STOP BEING BUDDHIST.

bradley peter

Christianity in no way ever condones killing either. Having Buddhist chaplains is simply giving Buddhist in the armed forces the same option that everyone else serving has.

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