Saturday, November 29, 2008

Books 4 Vets

I'm passing this note along from the military-chaplains Yahoo group. We know Buddhists are big readers - so if you have an extra Dharma text, please also pass this along!

"Anyone who has been hospitalized knows that between visits from family and
friends there is little to do to keep up one's spirits. Books fill that
void by not only filling time but providing education. A wise man once
said, "A man confined to a bed can travel the world through books."

If you have an old (or new) book you've read that is now only taking up
space you can make a very appreciative veteran. To make a book contribution
mail a used (or new) book (or two, or three) to The American War Library.


Books For Vets
The American War Library
16907 Brighton Avenue
Gardena CA 90247-5420

[Please use the United States Post Office's low cost "Media Mail" shipping
rate to mail your book(s) to The War Library.]

Friday, November 14, 2008

Congratulations General Ann Dunwoody!

LTGEN Ann Dunwoody is promoted to become nation's first female 4-star general! Bravo Zulu!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Readings...

Here's a great thank you to the troops message posted at the Hardcore Zen blog:

Thank you Brad!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

Do not forget to offer incense for our brothers and sisters in uniform today. Welcome them into your sanghas. Do not disparage them. Assist them in finding peace.

Namo Amida Butsu

Monday, November 10, 2008


Blessings! Semper Fi! Happy Birthday, Marines!!!

Namo Amida Butsu

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"In His Service and Yours"

When I was on leave last week I attended the American Academy of Religions annual conference in Chicago. This is primarily an academic conference, not a gathering of clergy (although some clergy are also scholars) and I noticed that there were a number of Buddhist monastics in attendance. A friend of mine, Chaplain Danny Fisher, occasionally blogs about what goes on in these conferences, since he is involved in this type of scholarship. I'm mostly an observer (I've never presented a paper): I've been a member of the AAR since my graduate school days - it's interesting to hear all the different lectures, even if some of them tend to be much on the heavy postmodern jargon density side! I recommend anyone who is interested in military chaplaincy and/or getting their graduate degree in Buddhist Studies to keep abreast of the scholarship in the Buddhist Studies field.

While at the AAR, I had the fortunate opportunity to meet Ms. Lee Lawrence, a journalist who is currently co-producing an independent documentary on military chaplains. She and Terry Nickelson also wrote a series of articles on the subject military chaplains for The Chistian Scientist Monitor newspaper. They interviewed a number of Army, Air Force, and Navy Chaplains. I thought these were very well written. The documentary looks to be on the same level, although I have not seen it: it is in post-production I think, or somewhere around there, so it is not out yet, but I'm looking forward to viewing it. The link can be found here:

Hopefully, these articles and the documentary will help the public in understanding the roles of the military chaplain, which I think is probably one of the least-understood professions in our society. I would probably add that it is possibly one of the most difficult - and least-palatable - for most people, even clergy, for what are obvious reasons. So the fact that it is rarely discussed or brought up, even in study by religion scholars for example, is pretty surprising to me, and what is out there tends to lean towards the polemical. I hope this trend will change.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our New Commander-in-Chief

History has been made tonight. Barack Obama will be our nation's first African-American President and Commander-in-Chief of of its Armed Forces. This is a tremendous moment! He may not have been who some of us voted for, but as members of the military, he is our Number One guy now!

I only hope that, with this victory, that President Obama will listen to the advice of his generals and admirals, and the troops on the ground and sailors at sea. I hope that he will remember the voices of those who voted for him on this day. I hope he will be mindful of the people of Iraq and Afrghanistan. Most of all, I hope that we, as a people, remember that our leaders are but human beings like ourselves, neither "saviors" nor "devils" - though by reading in the media in the past weeks that idea certainly didn't come across very well. It's amazing the pressure that this man will be under.

Sakyamuni Buddha, we should remember, did not live in a democratic society, and so we do not know what he may have thought of the concept of "one man one vote" (or one woman one vote for that matter) and even less what his opinion would be of the current American electoral college. Any speculation about who he would have "voted" for must remain just that -wishful speculation (just as all the nonsense also written about who Jesus would have voted for)! However, it would be good just now to be reminded that the Buddha regarded all as capable of the greatest path a human being could undertake - not running for President(!) but for Awakening, which was not dependent on being born into a good family (caste) but by exemplary living. Anyone could do this. So perhaps, after all, there are similarities between ancient, oligarchic India and present-day America!

We have the karma to be residents of a country in which a person like Barack Obama can become President through open and free elections. This is a blessing to recognize, even if we did not vote for President Obama. This is a winning situation for all! Now, may we be able to continue this reality (no longer just a dream), and go on with our duty to defend this great nation.

Namo Amida Butsu
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Buddhist Military Sangha by Jeanette Shin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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