We have had some discussion recently about the issue whether there should be Buddhist chaplains in the army. This drew the following comment from a correspondent called Michael:
I noted with interest your views on Chaplains and the Army. Speaking as a graduate from the RMA Sandhurst and with five years of commissioned service, including two minor wars, I can assure you that a Buddhist Chaplain would be a hopeless contradiction.
It would be like suggesting abbatoirs should employ vegetarians because they would be kinder to the animals! The roblem is that as a soldier one must always be considering who is the next potential enemy and then work out how one would kill them! The military equipment is very interesting( tanks, helicopters etc, but they are all killing machines.) As a soldier, one can be a pleasant person at times, but when action calls, it is essential to be one pointed and ruthless, if one is to survive. At such times, Dhamma must be completely disregarded. Even in peacetime, one needs to to be abrasive and aggressive to survive amongst one's colleagues. However, it is possible to be a Christain, Jewish or Muslim Chaplain. One could persuade oneself that "God" is on our side and we are the righteous ones, whereas the opponents are evil and nothing is too bad for them. Therefore it would not be so difficult to kill them. The Buddhist Chaplain would be in a hopeless situation. I think it is impossible to be a Buddhist and employed in any of the Armed Services. Mercifully, my children did not follow me!! Best wishes, in Dhamma, Michael