Wednesday, August 29, 2007

San Diego Area Sangha Meeting

For Buddhists stationed in the San Diego/Miramar/Camp Pendleton region: There will be a get-together and discussion group on Sunday, Sept. 9th at 1000. We will meet at the Murphy Canyon Chapel, then have lunch. This will be an opportunity to meet your fellow Buddhists in the military. One topic of discussion will be "Creating a Buddhist Lay Leader Program."

The Murphy Canyon Chapel is located at 3200 Santo Road, San Diego, 92124.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Post your Lay Groups!

Hello all!
One of the things I'd like to accomplish with this blog is to help Buddhist servicemembers connect with each other. I know many of us Buddhists feel isolated in the military; if we could find each other and share support, this definitely could help with our morale and our positive identification as Buddhists. If you know of a lay Buddhist group at your base or on your ship, or where a Buddhist lay leader is located, please contact me to post on this blog.
There will be a separate section listing which installations to find lay or support groups.
Namo Amida Butsu!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ullambana in San Diego Area

For servicemembers belonging to the Chinese, Laotian, Cambodian, Thai & Vietnamese Buddhist traditions, there will be an Ullambana Service on AUG 25 at 1000.

The temples participating are: Tinh Xa Van Duc, Nhu Lai Thien Tu, Chua Phat Da, Chua Van Hanh, Tnh Xa Ngoc Minh, Hsi Fang Temple, Wat Sovannakiri, Wat Lao Boupharam, Wat Lao Buddharam, Wat Buddha Paramee, Wat Lao Navaram, Wat Champourukharam, Wat Khammararattanaram & Wat Escondido.

The location is at: Greenwood Memorial Park & Mortuary, 4300 Imperial Ave. SD CA 92113.

For more Info &/or transportation to the cemetery contact Ms. Do Thai Uyen 619-582-1989 or 619-518-8510 or 619-998-5318

Thanks to Mr. Jim Shawvan at SanDiegoBuddhism Yahoo newsgroup for providing the infomation.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another Article about Chaplain Malasri

This one appears to be from a local paper, The Midweek Market
1st Buddhist Army chaplain candidate at Ft. Carson
Contributed by: Douglas Rule on 8/2/2007
by Michael J. Pach

2nd Lt. Somya Malasri is the Army's first Buddhist chaplain candidate and is visiting Fort Carson this month for Chaplain Initial Military Training.

"If we can sum up (Buddhism), it would be to do only good and to purify one's mind," said Malasri. "The five key precepts are no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, no drinking alcohol, using drugs nor smoking. Developing your mind is very important in Buddhism. I think the Soldiers have stress in their minds, so I can help them with meditation. I can teach them how to meditate and how to get rid of stress, anger or anxiety."

Malasri was born in Thailand and joined a Buddhist temple at the age of 17. At 21, he became a monk and joined the Army at 35. He accepted an invitation from the Buddhist Churches of America to move to Denver in June 2001 to help with the Buddhist communities there and in Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

While in Salt Lake City, Malasri met a Buddhist Soldier who told him about life in the Army and said there weren't any Buddhist chaplains. Malasri became interested in becoming a chaplain. Another Buddhist Soldier in Las Vegas answered more of his questions about joining the Army.

Before doing so, Malasri had to change his status from monk to minister: monks cannot be Soldiers or wear military or civilian clothing.

Malasri checked out the Army's chaplain candidacy program and visited a recruiter to sign up. After joining almost one year and nine months ago, Malasri was stationed in Hawaii, gaining experience as a specialist. He was accepted into the chaplain candidacy program and is working on his master's degree. This program is equivalent to a master's in divinity in Christianity and requires 72 credit hours.

Being the first Buddhist chaplain candidate means Malasri is breaking new ground and is looking forward to the opportunity to help Soldiers.

"I'm very happy to be the first Buddhist chaplain candidate," said Malasri. "Because I'm the first person, I have to set standards for the Army, so I look for assistance from Buddhist groups and my superiors in my faith. There is a Buddhist chaplain in the Navy and I've met with her many times to talk about how things are going in the Navy and how to do it in the Army. I'm really excited about this."

Malasri will be at Fort Carson for one month and will return to school at the International Academy of Buddhism at the University of the West in Rosemead, Calif. He will go to Fort Jackson, S.C., next summer for more training and then back to school to complete his degree.

Malasri admits that dealing with Soldiers offers extra challenges.

"A lot of people ask if a Buddhist can be a Soldier because the first precept is no killing," said Malasri. "The answer is yes. You can protect yourself or sacrifice yourself to do the righteous thing. You can sacrifice yourself to protect your country because if there's no country, there's no freedom and you cannot practice your religion. In Buddhism, if you go to war and kill others, it's your duty, not your intention to kill other people. If a person dies of your intention, and you have anger, that is wrong in Buddhism. When Soldiers go to war, they don't have any intention to kill others and they don't have hatred in their minds."

According to Malasri, there are about 3,300 Buddhists in the Army and about 80 of them are stationed at Fort Carson. Malasri plans to meet as many of the Buddhist Soldiers on post as he can while he is here and will be setting up a Buddhist service.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Buddhist Chaplain Candidate trains at Fort Carson

Hooah! (is that the Army one?) Chaplain Malasri featured in this article from the Buddhist Channel:

Buddhist chaplain candidate trains at Fort Carson
News First Online, Aug 7, 2007

Fort Carson, CO (USA) -- Lieutenant Somya Malasri isn't your average soldier. He joined the Army at age 35, after spending more than 10 years as a Buddhist monk. Malasri grew up in Thailand, and he is now training to become the first Buddhist chaplain in the Army. A decision that forced him to give up his title as a monk. "I had to change my status to 'minister' because a Buddhist monk cannot be a soldier."

Malasri moved to the United States in 2001. He never considered joining the Army or becoming a chaplain until he talked to a couple Buddhist soldiers. They talked to him about their frustrations; the Army didn't have any Buddhist chaplains, although there are about 3,300 Buddhist soldiers in the service. That is when Malasri decided to try and become the Army's first.

"I can serve more soldiers in the Army, because I love soldiers and I love to help others," he said. As part of his schooling, Malasri was brought to Fort Carson to learn from Captain Lisa Northway, a Pentecostal chaplain. For the next two weeks, Malasri will be attending services and learning first-hand the daily duties a chaplain performs. Captain Northway says, "I think it would be very encouraging for some of those same (Buddhist) soldiers to know there is a actually a chaplain of their particular faith group."

Lieutenant Malasri may talk with a strong accent, and he practices a religion that may be foreign to some, but he says it's those differences that make him an American. "I want to serve Buddhism and I want to serve soldiers. I want to serve the nation. Even though I'm from Thailand, I am American citizen. I want to do something for our nation." Malasri's chaplain training is scheduled to last two-and-a-half years.

Monday, August 6, 2007

O-Bon: Festival of Joy!

I attended the Obon Festivals at the Vista and San Diego Buddhist Temples (picture above) this summer. I had a very good time! Although I don't regularly attend their services, I enjoy going to the festivals whenever I can. Obon is my favorite Buddhist festival! Often it's held in conjunction with the temple bazaar, which means lots of shaved ice, chicken teriyaki, and red bean jam buns! Yum! Also there is the traditional circle dancing around a yagura, a center stage. Many of the dances are very old, and the movements mime the work that was common to Japanese laborers over a century ago, such as coal-mining (I wonder, if a hundred years from now, there will be a "Cell-phone talk-and-drive Uta"? Or "Blackberry Ondo"?) Very few are "experts" at dancing, but it is all part of the fun! Obon is often called "The Festival of Joy."

O-bon is also known as the "festival of the dead." This is when many Japanese and Japanese-American Buddhists traditionally celebrate the memories of their ancestors. In Japanese culture, the spirits of the dead are said to return during the summer months to visit their relatives still on earth. At the end of Obon, they dutifully depart, until next year's festival, symbolized by the floating lanterns placed in streams and rivers. Obon has its roots in the Ullambana Sutra, a Buddhist scripture which tells the story of the Buddha's disciple, Maudgalyayana (in Japanese, Mokuren), who saved his mother from the Hell Realms. To save her, he asked the Sangha to make gifts of food and water. In joy at his success, he and the villagers danced for joy, which is said to be the origin of the Obon dance. Ullambana is also celebrated in other countries influenced by Buddhism. In turn, the Obon festival may also have incorporated elements of native ancestor veneration.

Obon, rather than being a sad and grim reminder of people who have died, is one of the best festivals in the Buddhist calendar. Family members come together to eat together, dance together, and renew friendships; also, non-Japanese and non-Buddhists attend from the local community and participate in the dancing! Obon is more than a religious event, it is also a celebration of community and culture. Obon is joyous!

Obon reminds us of one of the truths of Buddha-Dharma: all things are without a permanent self. Our physical bodies will inevitably decay and die. Obon also teaches us another of the great truths: we are all interconnected. When we celebrate Obon, we celebrate our families, friends, and our communities. We recall the dead and express gratitude for their lives. They are never far from us.

A fundamental aspect of military life is also to never forget our fallen comrades. We also commemorate them with memorial services, the table set for the POW/MIA in galleys and chow halls, and in many other ways. We may have known them personally; others we never met at all. This does not lessen our gratitude for their sacrifices. As with Obon, we never met our ancestors! But we are no less respectful and grateful for their sacrifices, who have made us what we are today. During this Obon season, let us commemorate our ancestors, related to us through blood: by genetics and by service.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Scholarships for OIF/OEF Veterans

The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans is offering scholarships to combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It offers a scholarship of up to $1,250 per year for person pursuing a BA/BS degree. You must have an honorable service record and a 2.0 GPA.
The deadline for applying is September 28, 2007.

Contact: or

"Buddhist Monks Appointed In British Gurkhas"

Here is an interesting news story I found on the Buddhist Channel from "across the pond"...

Buddhist monks appointed in British-Gurkhas
By Ang Chhiring Sherpa, Kantipur Online, Aug 2, 2007
KATHMANDU, Nepal -- For the first time in the almost two hundred year old history of the British-Gurkhas, Buddhist monks will now also carry out religious rites for Gurkha soldiers and their family members. Earlier, only Hindu priests were appointed for religious purposes.

Followers of Buddhism within the elite army complained that they were unable to conduct and follow their religious rites in the absence of Buddhist monks. "The British government finally agreed to meet our demands," Chairman of Buddhist Community Center, UK Kaji Sherpa said over the phone. "We had demanded five Buddhist monks," he added.

However, the British government has only agreed to appoint 3 Buddhist monks. The center has asked for an additional two monks.

Taking the move as a positive one, albeit long overdue, British-Gurkha Army Association's member Pronjon Rai said, "This is the result of the pressure and struggle of the British-Gurkhas consisting of a majority of indigenous communities."

The tradition of appointing Hindu priests for traditional festivals and to conduct religious rites in the Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries within the British-Gurkha camps is a long and ancient one.

According to former British-Gurkha soldiers, the British government was reluctant to appoint Buddhist monks due to the fact that Nepal was a Hindu state earlier.

Around 70 percent of the British-Gurkhas are Buddhists.

News link:,4589,0,0,1,0
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