Friday, October 22, 2010

U Student Finds Place for Buddhism in the Army

Just found this article today in the Daily Utah Chronicle! Article can be found here.

U student finds place for Buddhism in the army
By Marie Lenihan-Clarke

Published: Thursday, October 21, 2010
Updated: Thursday, October 21, 2010 13:10

Christopher Reeves
ROTC Cadet Jeffery Gilbert stands in front of the Buddhist temple, the Zen Center.
Cadet Jeffery Gilbert, a junior in philosophy, was accepted to be the first Buddhist chaplain from Utah. He will be one of 1,967 Buddhist chaplains in the acting Army nationwide, according to Sgt. First Class James Benn, special categories chaplain recruiter.
Earlier this year, Gilbert completed a higher part of the ROTC's Leaders' Training Course, becoming a Military Science Three, or third-year equivalent.
Gilbert will work with the chaplain core for the U.S. Army. In order for Gilbert to become a Buddhist chaplain, he must obtain a master's degree in divinity and have the approval of another Army-recognized Buddhist minister.
From a military perspective, Gilbert captures the diversity found within the Armed Forces, said Lieutenant Aaron Weyburn, a gold bar recruiter for the ROTC. The ROTC is raising awareness that practicing religion as well as serving your country is possible in today's society.
"Protecting and serving are quite compatible with Buddhism," Gilbert said. "The use of force or violence is to be avoided, but to what extent differs among some schools of Buddhist thought."
Holding a pacifist role in Buddhism and observing hurt could cause indirect damage and harm, he said.
Understanding that there is more to the Army than force or violence is important too, Gilbert said.
"If you speak to anyone in the Army, they have a strong mentality towards service and protection," he said. "They see their position within the Army as serving the people of the U.S."
Gilbert is furthering his insight into Buddhism as well as other religions through the study of philosophy.
"I take philosophy because it is a personal interest," he said. "Understanding the core issues at the very heart of human existence through philosophical perspectives will allow me to better serve the needs of my community." Since he is a chaplain, a philosophy degree will assist Gilbert to serve all denominations, with a specific focus on Buddhism.
Colonel George Johnson, commander of the U's senior ROTC program, said Gilbert is an asset to the ROTC.
"Cadet Gilbert has the leadership characteristics needed to provide spiritual guidance to our cadets and future soldiers," Johnson said.
[CORRECTION: The author clearly made a typo in the article above: we do not have 1,967 Buddhist chaplains in the Army - that's nearly the total of the chaplains in all the Armed Forces!]

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Buddhist Chaplains Returned from Deployments

Just a note that I have returned from my deployment with Combat Logistics Regiment 15Forward to Afghanistan, and will be resuming my ministry, at Camp Pendleton. Likewise, Chaplain Dyer has returned from his deployment to Iraq. We will use our experiences to help develop resources for American Buddhist military servicemembers. As I stated in previous posts, Brian Nagata of the Numata Center is working on a prototype of a service book and The Teaching of Buddha - Military edition. We can also use our experiences to help new chaplain candidates in developing their own form of Buddhist ministry in the field. More good news to follow!

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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