As I'm sitting somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I would like to take the time to reflect on the current status of Buddhists in the armed forces. There are no exact numbers of how many Buddhists are now serving, but what is undeniable is that Buddhists of all traditions - Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana - have served and also have given their lives in the service of their country. Perhaps only gradually during the past five years have the rest of our American population noticed that our military is made up of incredibly diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. It is finally time to bury the stereotype of the armed forces as an "all-Christian" organization, which really only ever existed in the fantasies of certain fundamentalists. It is also time not only to reflect on the fact that 5 years on into the GWOT the mission is still unfinished, but also that our Buddhist servicemembers must be recognized and supported. It is part of the development of American Buddhism, however we may define that, that Buddhists are truly members of American society, not a "fringe" or a "fad" that can be readily dismissed. Around the world Buddhists continue to struggle for freedom. Let our voices in the military be heard also! Support your Sangha members who are now serving, or who have served. Find out how you can support them. Don't be afraid to support them!
Namo Amida Butsu