Monday, September 27, 2010

Another U.S. Navy Buddhist Chaplain Candidate

Congratulations to Brett Campbell who also entered the U.S. Navy's Chaplain Candidate Program (CCPO)! Brett will be doing his seminary work at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Naropa University was founded in 1974 by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Bravo Zulu!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Second Buddhist Chaplain to Enter U.S. Navy

Congratulations to SH3(SW) Aroon Seeda who will be commissioned this week as a U.S. Navy Ensign in the CCPO (Chaplain Candidate Program)! So soon we will have two Buddhist chaplains in the U.S. Navy! SH3(SW) Seeda is a former Thai Theravada monk who immigrated to the United States; he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served with distinction aboard the USS Kidd. As a CCPO he will complete his seminary work at the University of the West in Rosemead, California, where several of our Army Chaplain Candidates are studying. He will make a great addition to the Navy Chaplain Corps. Bravo Zulu!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Proposed Guidebook for Buddhist Servicemembers

Mr. Brian Nagata of the Numata Center in Berkeley, California, is currently working on a Guidebook for Buddhist Servicemembers. This guidebook would primarily be for Buddhist lay leaders/readers to conduct discussion or services in the absence of a Buddhist chaplain. It could potentially also be used for information by those interested in Buddhism or even as a source of info for non-Buddhist military chaplains. Right now this book would include the following chapters:

Brief History of Buddhists in the American military
A Brief Introduction to Buddhism
The Four Noble Truths & Eightfold Path – basic explanation
Key Buddhist Terms
25 Basic Questions about Buddhism and American Buddhist Military Personnel
Central Objects of Worship (different Buddha pictures and Dharmacakra)
Sample room layout for conducting a Buddhist Service
Sample layout for the Buddhist Altar
Sample Buddhist Altar Set up instructions
Weekly Buddhist Service – Basic Instructions on how to run the service
Weekly Buddhist Service – Suggested service format
Sample of the laminated “Weekly Buddhist Service” card (to be used by service attendees)
Sacred Sayings from the Sutras
Readings from the Dharmapada
Buddhist Holidays
Short Explanation on “Gassho” (Anjali) – universal Buddhist Gesture
Brief Explanation of the Dharmacacra Dharma wheel symbol
A Brief history of the Recognition of Buddhism and the Dharmacakra by the US Armed Forces
Sample Service Format – Simple ceremony to become a Buddhist
Sample Service Format – Last Rite for a Buddhist Soldier (on the battlefield or in a military hospital)
Sample Service Format – Memorial Service for the Committal Ceremony for a Buddhist Soldier (if not at a Buddhist temple or Buddhist Center).
Items Available for Buddhist Military Personnel
Suggested Reading Material List on Buddhism

This book will try to be inclusive of Buddhist traditions; it would probably be unrealistic to expect that this book could be used for every Buddhist service, given the vast difference of practices, but at the minimum it could serve in the absence of texts or other materials. We would welcome your input!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

UWest Alum Now Active-Duty Buddhist Chaplain

From the University of the West Web site:

ROSEMEAD, Calif. – Sept. 7, 2010 – UWest M.Div. in Buddhist Chaplaincy alum Somya Malasri (class of 2010) recently had his degree-work approved by the U.S. Army, allowing him to become the Army’s second active-duty Buddhist chaplain in its history.

“This is great news not just for Somya personally – he has been working toward this goal for many years now – but also for our program,” said Rev. Danny Fisher, Coordinator of UWest’s M.Div. “We’ve put together a very good, very professional program.”

Fisher’s program was launched in 2009 and so far Malasri (who transferred in from UWest’s M.A. in Buddhist Studies program) is its only graduate. Fisher worked closely with Malasri through his studies to his eventual placement as a chaplain serving the Army’s estimated 3,000 Buddhist soldiers.

“With Somya’s going active-duty, we’ve passed a huge test,” Fisher said. “The Department of Defense in particular has the most stringent educational requirements of all the organizations that certify chaplains – they are certainly the body that most narrowly defines what a chaplain's graduate education looks like, at least.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Military Chaplain Killed in Action in Iraq, Afghanistan

Sad news recently. From CNN News: "For the first time in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a U.S. military chaplain has been killed in action.

On August 30, U.S. Army chaplain Capt. Dale Goetz, 43, was killed in the Arghandab River Valley in Afghanistan, when the convoy he was traveling in was struck by an improvised explosive device, according to the Department of Defense. Four other soldiers also were killed in the attack.

Goetz was serving as the battalion chaplain for the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment.

Friends and co-workers said Goetz was a dedicated father and chaplain. He leaves behind a wife and three sons.

The Army's chief of chaplains, Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, said in a statement, "Dale was a selfless servant of God, a devoted husband and father, a strong American patriot, and a compassionate spiritual leader whose love for Soldiers was only surpassed by his firm commitment to living his calling as a United States Army Chaplain."

Military chaplains share many of the dangers with their deployed servicemembers, and help persons of all faiths. May Chaplain Goetz be blessed and may his family have no separation from peace.

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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