Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Visit to HMAS Stuart

Hello all!
Recently I had the opportunity to cross-deck over to the HMAS Stuart, an Australian ship also here with us in the Persian Gulf. I was only there for a few hours as the guest of Chaplain Russell Smith, the Stuart's chaplain, but it was a great chance to see how another ship operated (the men have beards! the women can wear their hair down!) Also it was an opportunity to share the Buddha-dharma with some of the Stuart's sailors - Buddhism is one of the fastest-growing religions in Australia. Most knew about Buddhism through the Dalai Lama's books (especially "The Art of Happiness") so it was a good discussion.

I also regularly visit the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN72) carrier which we are attached to. Navy chaplains at sea usually cross-deck in what is called a "Holy Helo" meaning we get transported via helo to different ships in order to provide services and counseling, especially when it comes to providing different faith services. We have a good-sized active Buddhism study group; some are raised Buddhists in their families, or married into a Buddhist family, and others are simply curious about Buddha-dharma.

In both situations, there is a definite interest in Buddhism worldwide, and in what most people would probably think as most unlikely places - the warship. But Western militaries are drawn from cross-sections of its society, so it is really no surprise that Buddhists and those interested in Buddhism would turn up there! It also proves a need for more military Buddhist chaplains to provide services and instruction.

Namo Amida Butsu

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