Friday, February 20, 2009

Exercise Iron Fist

Recently I was underway with the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD52) during its participation in Exercise Iron Fist off the coast of California. This is a joint amphibious exercise with Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force, so some of the Japanese personnel were embarked on our ship during the exercise. Although my Japanese is now practically non-existant, I did manage to talk to a few of them who knew a little English. I think they were surprised to see a Buddhist chaplain! (The JSDF does not employ chaplains). Although most Japanese identify themselves as Buddhist, it is a popular assumption that most are what we in Western terms would call "non-practicing." The few guys I managed to talk to did identify themselves as Buddhist (also as Jodo Shinshu), one older man assuring me that "thought daily" of the Buddha-dharma. I think there are many ways in which we "do" Buddha-dharma, either through a daily practice, such as actually doing meditation, or what we do with other people, or simply contemplating the Dharma. The latter is probably harder to identify because it is private and personal. But it does not make it any less a "practice!"

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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