Career in the military?

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Career in the military?

Postby wanderlust » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:51 am

I am 25 and considering a new career in the military. How strongly should this be avoided according to the dhamma?
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:06 am

Greetings Wanderlust,

The military is a big beast... are you able to be any more specific about the aspect of the military in which you intend to pursue a career?

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Career in the military?

Postby wanderlust » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:24 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Wanderlust,

The military is a big beast... are you able to be any more specific about the aspect of the military in which you intend to pursue a career?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi. Maybe a medic. This all depends on the ASVAB test though.
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:27 am

Greetings,

It's hard to argue against being a medic, no matter who you're serving.

:juggling:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


Dharma Wheel (Mahayana / Vajrayana forum) -- Open flower ~ Open book (blog)
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby wanderlust » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:33 am

Thanks Retrofuturist. That was helpful and made me smile.
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby Reductor » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:00 am

Will you be obliged to fight for your life as a medic?

I would not suggest it, myself. Consider the state of mind you'd have if you were
under attack and fighting to survive, and what that would mean if you were killed at that time.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

Even fighting off beings in defense of another is not without its peril.

But I do understand the desire to serve. I once considered a military carrier.

Take care.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: Career in the military?

Postby acinteyyo » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:48 am

Hi wanderlust,

I am serving in the german airforce. I think it is "borderline" (find this in the dictionary, hope it fits). According to the noble 8-fold path there are 5 types of buisness a lay follower should not engage with.
AN 5.177 wrote:"Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five?
Business in weapons,
business in human beings,
business in meat,
business in intoxicants,
and business in poison.
"These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in."

Some say "business in weapons" means dealing in all kinds of weapons or instruments for killing (wikipedia).
I think common-sense consideration is advisalbe. For example "business in meat". A salesperson in a normal store where selling meat is also part of the job does not act inappropriately, does he/she? But the butcher who supplies the meat acts inappropriately by killing the cattle. Both are engaged in business in meat but it is a subtle difference.
I'm not part of the forces. I'm an aircraft-avionics-engineer responsible for servicing, repair and overhaul. I do no kill anybody nor am I engaged in dealing with weapons or fighting against terrorists. My job is to maintain the serviceability of navigation, radios, radar, altimeter and such things. There is sometimes training in weapons, shooting and so on, some military stuff but it is not the main thing. It may be not the most accurate right livelihood setting but I try to do my best to keep the practice and precepts. By the way I have to serve still about 9 years in the airforce, because of the contract I signed, so I just make the best of a "bad" job.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.
Pathabyā ekarajjena, saggassa gamanena vā sabbalokādhipaccena, sotāpattiphalaṃ varaṃ. (Dhp 178)
Sole dominion over the earth, going to heaven or lordship over all worlds: the fruit of stream-entry excels them.

:anjali:
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:06 am

I grew up on military bases as my father was a career officer with the U.S. Army. I was interested in the military as a career for a large part of my childhood. After becoming a Buddhist, I looked for positions or fields that might be a little more peaceful. I seriously considered the U.S. Coast Guard as their main mission is to save lives at sea. Currently there are many Coast Guard officers and sailors in Haiti, helping out there.

Later I chose another route, not the military, but one of my vegetarian Buddhist friends did end up going into the Coast Guard after being accepted to OCS (Officer Candidate School) after graduating college.
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby appicchato » Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:49 am

You might find something of interest here to help you in your decision...

http://buddhistmilitarysangha.blogspot.com/
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby Luke » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:48 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:I seriously considered the U.S. Coast Guard as their main mission is to save lives at sea. Currently there are many Coast Guard officers and sailors in Haiti, helping out there.

Later I chose another route, not the military, but one of my vegetarian Buddhist friends did end up going into the Coast Guard after being accepted to OCS (Officer Candidate School) after graduating college.


I agree that the Coast Guard is probably the most ethical branch of the armed services (although now it's actually under the Department of Homeland Security). The Coast Guard was one of the few organizations which did a fantastic job rescuing and helping people during Hurricane Katrina.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/artic ... 07,00.html

Wanderlust, if you become a medic in the Coast Guard, you could become like a Buddhist superhero (as long as you don't kill any humans or animals). And any medical job outside of the military (EMT, nurse, firefighter medic, etc.) would be great also, of course.
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby Abyss » Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:10 pm

I never served in the military (albeit I intented to do so in my early youth) but my father and both grandfathers did. It seems that most Buddhists are mainly concerned about the precept against killing when thinking of a soldiers life (which is quite understandable). But I also would like to bring "right speech" to your attention, especially:

Abandoning harsh speech, he becomes one who abstains from harsh speech: he becomes a speaker of such words as are innocent, pleasing to the ear and lovable, as go to the heart, are civil, desired of many and dear to many.

It seems to me that the tone amongst soldiers was (is?) often quite rough. Yelling and shouting commands and instructions for example is certainly not "lovable" and "pleasing to the ear". Even if it is an army of volunteers which is not at war, there might come situations in which one has to deal with drunken or disobedient subordinates for example, i. e. one has to force a certain punishment (suffering) on them (confinement to barracks or whatever).

Therefore I think that serving in the military (as a soldier) can become quite challenging for a Buddhist.
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby Annapurna » Sat Jan 23, 2010 6:11 pm

wanderlust wrote:
retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Wanderlust,

The military is a big beast... are you able to be any more specific about the aspect of the military in which you intend to pursue a career?

Metta,
Retro. :)


Hi. Maybe a medic. This all depends on the ASVAB test though.


Hello, Wanderlust.

In WW II my father was pulled into the army, -he was a specialist for internal diseases.

At times he would share some of the things he had to go through.

Own army under heavy attack, with hundreds of injured, and himself walking past the lines of the injured, crying, sobbing, begging for help.

He walked by, having to decide:

" Amputation"

"Amputation"

*shakes head* ...."give him enough morphine...."....

Amputation"...

etc... etc....etc...

He then did surgery for over 48 hours, occasionally sleeping for a few minutes while standing up, held by 2 others, so he would be able to finish an operation as quickly as possible.

He returned with a post traumatic stress disorder, for a long, long, time.
He could never watch war movies.

If we zapped into war movies on TV, he would instantly ask to zap away, and if it wasn't done, he would get up and leave the room.

I was the only one who followed him then, to find him with his head on his arms, sobbing on the kitchen table.

Heartbreaking.

He then told me stories like the above, stirred up through the movie.

I understand wars aren't fought like WW II anymore, and the circumstances for medical help may have improved, but then you never know what you get into, and of course my father was armed too.

It isn't a nice job.

You are 25, and I wonder if you need the support of the Army to make it in life.

I'm sure if you try, you will find something better.

Good luck.

Annabel
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby locusphor » Sat Feb 06, 2010 6:36 pm

Greetings,

IMO Buddhism is concerned with not separating, or turning away from difficult, painful elements in society. In some countries this openness has cost many Buddhist lives. Granted these were monks not soldiers per se, but in a war it can be very dangerous to be seen attending to the wounded, no matter which side they come from. And despite the difficulties in appearing perfectly neutral to a society at war, we Buddhists are drawn to unconditional compassion toward everyone. Separating as a doctrine is not what Buddhism's about. As a Buddhist in the forces, you'll be a part of a culture that needs compassion and understanding.

It would be really good IMO to bring your awareness along should you enlist. Try to live by the precepts. No one is perfect and doing a "good"job on anything is really secondary to the process of learning and teaching yourself. I'm a pacifist, but if I were to join the forces I would try not to kill or be indirectly involved with the killing. As much as I could, I would still prepare for the inevitable grey areas to arise.

Metta.

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Re: Career in the military?

Postby Northernbuck » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:32 am

I spent 8 years in the Canadian military as a technician. When I joined, there were no big wars, no large conflicts, and the Berlin wall had just fallen. I was not a Buddhist then, but I did not feel that I was doing harm to others or myself. As a technician, I would have had no direct involvement with conflict or death. Using the same rational thinking, I do not feel guilty about eating a steak as I had no direct involvement with the animals death. So the question is, are our third party actions still wrong?
But if this neutral feeling that has arisen is conditioned by the body which is impermanent, compounded and dependently arisen, how could such a neutral feeling be permanent? - SN 36.7
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby ground » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:01 am

It is really astonishing how the law of cause and effect is uncritically ignored in certain "areas" of human life. Actively contributing to the conditions that enable others to commit wrong deeds in the future certainly is not the same as committing the wrong deeds oneself. But what is actively "reasoning" away one's obvious contributions to conditions conducive to others wrong deeds? Propagating wrong view?
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby Paññāsikhara » Sun Feb 07, 2010 12:31 pm

I think that being a nurse, or doctor, or really anybody in this field, in a regular hospital or civilian organization, would be a wonderful thing to do!! :heart:
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby BlackBird » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:58 pm

One of our family friends was once considering joining the army - Wanted to be a medic. When she got to the interview room they asked her: "So are you prepared to kill people?" she said: "WHAT?!? NO!"

That was the end of that.

(NZ army hasn't seen true mobilization since the 2nd world war... The gist of it is, if you want to go off to Afghanistan or East Timor or something, then they're happy to take you, and pay you big money for it, but otherwise you spend about 7 months of the year sitting in your barracks [modern apartments] and the other 5 running around the central highlands blowing up grass and shooting at the dirt - All the same, you're trained to kill, at the end of the day that's your job)

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'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby Mukunda » Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:31 pm

I was in the Navy for almost 10 years. As my practice and understanding of the dhamma grew, I came to understand that even though I never directly engaged in combat, and probably never would, all of my efforts were in support of an organization who's purpose is ultimately to kill people. Therefore I chose to quit pursuing it as a career. I appreciate others have a different understanding, and respect that, but you should consider that once you enlist, you are obligated to the military for 8 years (served either active duty or in reserve) and should you come to realize it's not for you, you're stuck.
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby adamposey » Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:46 pm

I suppose my advice on the matter comes from a relatively weak perspective as my own progress is kind of lacking. But I would suggest to you that if you're considering a career in the military you should deeply examine why it is you're looking at the military. Certainly a military career does not exclude Buddhists as the United States army recently hired/whatever their first Buddhist Chaplain.

That said, as a Buddhist in the military you would almost certainly be bound to doing things that you might find morally and karmically reprehensible. This is the case for many careers though and so I suppose my suggestion to you would, again, be simply to give your conscience a deep probing to understand what it is you are looking for through military service, and THEN decide if that's right for you or not.
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Re: Career in the military?

Postby dawgfvr » Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:29 am

It is a difficult path...but one can be spiritual in nearly any setting. Self-transformation, not assent to religious doctrines, is the goal of a spiritual life. My advice: Be selective in the military occupational specialty (MOS) that you choose. I recommend that you veer away from combat arms. I say that as a retired 1SG who invested 22 years in the Infantry. The military was a rewarding but very challenging road I took. I was fortunate...I never went to combat and never fired a weapon in anger. From the end of the Vietnam War, 1974 to the Persian Gulf years, 1996, I trained but was never called on. Since leaving the military, I found the Buddhist Path...I call myself a follower of the Dharma. I like to think of myself as compassionate and caring rather than crudely violent as even today, in my present job as a civilian gate guard at Ft Lewis, I am required to strap on a 9mm pistol, cuffs, baton, pepper spray as I go about my duties. I protect people...you can too. I wish more people in our position practiced the Dharma. Perhaps I should not have responded...this was my first post. I am a beginner's beginner...never attracted to rituals, robes, chants, prostrations, deity visualizations, lineages, schools of Buddhism, etc. You want to choose the military...go for it. Just know/practice the 4 Noble Truths and 8 Fold Path in the process. That alone is all that I can handle or practice in this lifetime. In your journey, take three books: Bhikkhu Bodis's, "The Noble Eightfold Path", "Going For Refuge Taking the Precepts" and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu's "Handbook for Mankind". Include meditation in your daily routines and you will be just fine IMHO.
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