Staying Buddhist in the Military

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Dhammakid » Sun May 30, 2010 4:21 am

Hello all,
Long time no talk! Hope all is well.

If we're friends on facebook, then you may know that I plan to join the United States Marine Corps. I have various reasons why I'm doing this, even though it doesn't align with many of my beliefs. I've struggled with the decision and have sought lots of advice, and, at least right now, I do still believe I'm going through with it.

I'm not here to be persuaded not to join, so I kindly request that responses answer the question I'm about to ask instead of attempting to make me change my mind. Nothing is concrete yet, and I still have lots of time to back out. Boot camp is still a few months away and I still haven't sworn in yet, though that will probably happen over the next few days.

What I want to know is some good ways to keep a Buddhist mindset and bring a Buddhist perspective to military life. I understand that the most "Buddhist" thing to do is simply not join, and that's still a possibility as I have said, but for now, let's assume I'm still joining. How can I bring mindfulness to military life? What are some suttas and/or teachings I can use to keep a Buddhist perspective while enlisted?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

:anjali:
Dhammakid

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun May 30, 2010 4:40 am

Dhammakid wrote: while enlisted?


http://buddhistmilitarysangha.blogspot.com/

Why enlisted? Don't you have a bachelor's degree? Why not aim higher; OCS ? And then be a USMC officer. To qualify / test for OCS (Officer Candidate School) one must have a bachelor's degree or higher and if I'm not mistaken simply to pass some other academic tests, physical tests, running a couple of miles under a certain time, etc. and then some interviews and then you get a shot at OCS.

Have you thought about Buddhist chaplaincy? There are some interesting reports of Buddhist military chaplains, including a Theravada one at the link above.

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Ben » Sun May 30, 2010 5:10 am

Hi Dhammakid

My advice is really advice i would give to anyone and everyone.
And that is to maintain your practice to the best of your abilities.
So, follow your precepts as well as you can and to do your daily meditation sittings. Perform acts of generosity and spend some time engaged in sutta study.
I think this foundation will serve you well.
metta

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby jcsuperstar » Sun May 30, 2010 5:15 am

i come from a marine family, in fact my step brother just came back from his 3rd tour (1 Iraq 2 afghanistan). all the best. there are lots of jobs you can get where you dont have to kill anyone in the military.
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Dhammakid » Sun May 30, 2010 5:13 pm

Hey everyone, thanks for the replies.

David:
Thanks for the link! I don't have a degree - I'm hoping to finish while inside as I only have 21 more credit hours to go. Once I do, OCS is definitely an appealing option as it offers a higher salary and more upward mobility. Buddhist chaplaincy is also a great option, but I'm not sure how to go about doing that. What are the requirements? Do you have to have ordination experience or formal meditation training in a monastery? I'll check out the link and see what I can find.

Ben:
Thanks for the simple yet important advice. I will definitely try my hardest to keep up daily practice and stay mindful of the precepts as much I can.

JC:
Yep, I come from a military family as well. My twin brother and first cousin are Marines, and I have lots of other family in the Army, Navy and Air Force. I will definitely be seeking military occupations that don't involve direct combat warfare, if they are available.

:anjali:
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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Annapurna » Sun May 30, 2010 6:45 pm

Dhammakid wrote:Hello all,
Long time no talk! Hope all is well.

If we're friends on facebook, then you may know that I plan to join the United States Marine Corps. I have various reasons why I'm doing this, even though it doesn't align with many of my beliefs. I've struggled with the decision and have sought lots of advice, and, at least right now, I do still believe I'm going through with it.

I'm not here to be persuaded not to join, so I kindly request that responses answer the question I'm about to ask instead of attempting to make me change my mind. Nothing is concrete yet, and I still have lots of time to back out. Boot camp is still a few months away and I still haven't sworn in yet, though that will probably happen over the next few days.

What I want to know is some good ways to keep a Buddhist mindset and bring a Buddhist perspective to military life. I understand that the most "Buddhist" thing to do is simply not join, and that's still a possibility as I have said, but for now, let's assume I'm still joining. How can I bring mindfulness to military life? What are some suttas and/or teachings I can use to keep a Buddhist perspective while enlisted?

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks.

:anjali:
Dhammakid



Dhammakid, let me speak from the heart, from one Buddhist to another Buddhist, with the utmost kindness and good intentions you can assume from one of us, so, I will speak to you as your sister, and you're my brother, as we have been in many lives before. :hug:

Ask yourself what the Buddha would have told you and what he said about right livelihood.


Please, meditate about it, not for me, but for yourself.

Ask yourself if you think you will be able to cherry pick your tasks and your orders and what you will do when push comes to shove.

Think far ahead into the future, of your kamma.

Ask yourself how much conscious or subconscious 'group pressure' you are processing due to your family's tradition.

I'm not here to be persuaded not to join, so I kindly request that responses answer the question I'm about to ask instead of attempting to make me change my mind.


Dhammakid, I only obey my conscience and the Buddha's teachings and hope I am doing it kindly, although I may not say to you what you wish to hear.

But deep down inside, you hope for it, I know it. All people thirst for the truth with parched lips.

So please see in my disobedience to your wish my respect for your well being and all involved.

With metta,

Annapurna
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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby bodom » Sun May 30, 2010 7:17 pm

You should consider the medical field within the core. You can help alot of people that way. Maybe even military police? Find a branch that involves helping, protecting and serving others. The military is not all about death and destruction contrary to popular belief. There are options open to you other than being behind a machine gun. I commend you on your bravery and selflessness. Last but not least please dont let anyone make you feel bad about your decision, or make you feel like a "bad" Buddhist. It is your decision and yours alone.Best wishes!

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Annapurna » Sun May 30, 2010 7:38 pm

Can you say that you didn't refer to my post, Bodom?

Names don't necessarily have to be mentioned to make a connection.

The military is not all about death and destruction contrary to popular belief.


But it can be. It's the number 1 place for death and destruction, but surely there are also life savers, who are needed to clean up after the warlords, sure. My Dad was such a 'life-saver'.

And sorry, I don't entertain 'popular beliefs', what for am I a Buddhist ? :tongue:

Last but not least please dont let anyone make you feel bad about your decision, or make you feel like a "bad" Buddhist.


If he's such a wussy that he can be made feel bad by posts here, he really shouldn't try to be a :quote: Marine :quote: .

;)

I commend you on your bravery and selflessness.


It depends on his motivations to become a Marine, but the motivations are still unclear to me. What are they?

I think he must have this 'experience'.

I think he may have a hard standing in his family if he doesn't do what most of the men do in this family.

Imo, it's about being a :quote: real man :quote:, standing up for and defending the :quote: right things. :quote:

(Things that took America into Vietnam and Iraq before..... :shock: )

Correct me if I'm mistaken.
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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby bodom » Sun May 30, 2010 7:46 pm

Hi Anna,

This is what advice Buddha gave to soldiers.

In the ‘Seeha Senapathi Sutta’ The Buddha did make clear that a disciplined soldier fights his enemy in accordance with the best traditions and norms maintained by an army,
i.e.: a good soldier doesn’t kill a defenseless person;
a good soldier provides medical treatment to the injured enemy captured;
a good soldier doesn’t kill prisoners of war, children, women, or the aged;
a good soldier destroys his enemy only when his/her life or the lives of comrades are in danger.

:anjali:
Last edited by bodom on Sun May 30, 2010 7:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby bodom » Sun May 30, 2010 7:50 pm

Hi Anna,

Please read through this link. It contains many more statements the Buddha gave concerning soldiers.

Buddhism & The Soldier by Major General Ananda Weerasekera
http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Annapurna » Sun May 30, 2010 7:51 pm

I will. :guns:
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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby bodom » Sun May 30, 2010 7:56 pm

'Seeha Senapathi Sutta' of AnguttaraNikaya-5shows how, one of the army commanders named 'Seeha' went to Buddha to clarify certain doubts on the Dhamma and how the Buddha advised him without requesting him to resign from the Army or to disband the army. Having clarified his doubts on the Dhamma, Commander Seeha requested Buddha to accept him as a deciple of the Buddha. But Buddha instead of advising him to resign from the army advised thus'Seeha, it is proper for a popular person of your status to always think and examine when attending to affairs and making decisions ' Seeha, the commander became a sotapanna (stream enterer = first fruit of the Path) having listened to the Dhamma, but remained in the army as a commander. In this instance too one could see that Buddha did not advise Seeha against the Army or being a commander of an Army, but only advised to discharge his duties the proper way



See Kourtney there is still hope of attaining enlightenment while practicing as a soldier!

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Annapurna » Sun May 30, 2010 8:01 pm

Hope you receive a LOT of enlightenment from THIS post.


bodom wrote:Hi Anna,

This is what advice Buddha gave to soldiers.

a good soldier doesn’t kill a defenseless person;a good soldier provides medical treatment to the injured enemy captured;a good soldier doesn’t kill prisoners of war, children, women, or the aged;a good soldier destroys his enemy only when his/her life or the lives of comrades are in danger.

:anjali:



All this must be seen in context with the times he lived in, and the times we live in.

The Buddha lived in times without mass destruction weapons.

Nowadays, we can't exclude civil victims, becuase of those.

a good soldier doesn’t kill prisoners of war, children, women, or the aged


Then he should take a good look at the past wars America fought on foreign grounds.

[EDIT: Off-topic pictures removed - Retro.]
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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Annapurna » Sun May 30, 2010 8:07 pm

What would you tell somebody who asks:

"Please show me a way how I can stay healthy when I eat a cup of sugar everyday.

But don't tell me I shouldn't eat the sugar.

Please respect I want it."



:?:
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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby bodom » Sun May 30, 2010 8:08 pm

Anna you are hijacking this thread and turning it into something it wasn't supposed to be. This thread was to help and support Kourtney. It is not about your beliefs.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Hoo » Sun May 30, 2010 8:27 pm

I hope you find this link useful. I happen to be close to a major installation where I got interested in the regular Buddhist services that are provided through the Chaplain's Office. They are provided with assistance from the local Buddhist community, so not everyone has an instant response to the issue. I guess I qualify as an example, since I'm ex-military.

On further digging, I found this world-wide site for Buddhists in the military.

http://buddhistmilitarysangha.blogspot.com/

Hope this is useful. Good luck in your efforts!

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Hoo » Sun May 30, 2010 8:54 pm

bodom wrote:Hi Anna,

Please read through this link. It contains many more statements the Buddha gave concerning soldiers.

Buddhism & The Soldier by Major General Ananda Weerasekera
http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

:anjali:


Thank you Bodom :) A most informative piece.

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Annapurna » Sun May 30, 2010 9:00 pm

Bodom, it's not about my beliefs at all, but about what I think is Buddhahamma.

I also don't highjack the topic, but simply present an aspect that belongs into this, although an effort was made by the TS to exclude it.

It would be much more comfortable to ignore this aspect, and pretend being in the army is just the same as a civil job.

It is not. As quickly as lightning it can turn into a serious case of something else, of war.

And show me the soldier who can cherry pick his duties and orders.

I also know the army and war are still male dominated topics, and I am the only woman here participating.

I think being a soldier is not a good choice for a Buddhist. Links are posted to rationalize it, surely. Some guys become Buddhists while already in the army, but why any Buddhist should want to be in the army totally escapes me.

I think it flies in the face of the Dhamma.... :thinking:

Well, the Buddhist position would be that you don't do business with weapons, human beings, meat, intoxicants, and poison.

I also said that he may need this experience...so what's the problem with my posts.


Let us hear what Buddha said:

Considering becoming a soldier? You may want to reconsider...

Then Yodhajiva the headman went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there he said to the Blessed One: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that."

A second time... A third time Yodhajiva the headman said: "Lord, I have heard that it has been passed down by the ancient teaching lineage of warriors that 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.' What does the Blessed One have to say about that?"

"Apparently, headman, I haven't been able to get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.' So I will simply answer you. When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, his mind is already seized, debased, & misdirected by the thought: 'May these beings be struck down or slaughtered or annihilated or destroyed. May they not exist.' If others then strike him down & slay him while he is thus striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the hell called the realm of those slain in battle. But if he holds such a view as this: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle,' that is his wrong view. Now, there are two destinations for a person with wrong view, I tell you: either hell or the animal womb."

When this was said, Yodhajiva the headman sobbed & burst into tears. [The Blessed One said:] "That is what I couldn't get past you by saying, 'Enough, headman, put that aside. Don't ask me that.'"

"I'm not crying, lord, because of what the Blessed One said to me, but simply because I have been deceived, cheated, & fooled for a long time by that ancient teaching lineage of warriors who said: 'When a warrior strives & exerts himself in battle, if others then strike him down & slay him while he is striving & exerting himself in battle, then with the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in the company of devas slain in battle.'

— SN 42.3


And now I'm done here, probably. :anjali:

If Dhammakid joins the army, it's his kamma.... end of story....

Metta,

Anna
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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby bodom » Sun May 30, 2010 9:03 pm

Goodnight Anna. :smile:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Staying Buddhist in the Military

Postby Mukunda » Sun May 30, 2010 11:39 pm

I was in the US Navy for 10 years. The main reason I got out was because of my deepening understanding and practice of the dhamma. My advice to you is get as much support from a flesh and blood sangha and teacher as possible. You are going to be a minority and probably quite different in your views than most of those around you in an organization that cherishes uniformity and conformity. This is not a 9 to 5 job that you'll be able to clock out from. And once you sign on the dotted line and raise your hand, the USMC owns you. You will be an environment that is pretty much "anti-dhamma", and if you expect to have any chance of not succumbing to the mindset you'll be constantly around, you are going to need REAL refuge from time to time and REAL support from REAL people.

Best of luck.


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