Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 Years On

Hello all!

As I'm sitting somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I would like to take the time to reflect on the current status of Buddhists in the armed forces. There are no exact numbers of how many Buddhists are now serving, but what is undeniable is that Buddhists of all traditions - Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana - have served and also have given their lives in the service of their country. Perhaps only gradually during the past five years have the rest of our American population noticed that our military is made up of incredibly diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. It is finally time to bury the stereotype of the armed forces as an "all-Christian" organization, which really only ever existed in the fantasies of certain fundamentalists. It is also time not only to reflect on the fact that 5 years on into the GWOT the mission is still unfinished, but also that our Buddhist servicemembers must be recognized and supported. It is part of the development of American Buddhism, however we may define that, that Buddhists are truly members of American society, not a "fringe" or a "fad" that can be readily dismissed. Around the world Buddhists continue to struggle for freedom. Let our voices in the military be heard also! Support your Sangha members who are now serving, or who have served. Find out how you can support them. Don't be afraid to support them!
Namo Amida Butsu


Rocco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rocco said...

There have been these stereo-types throughout different branches of the Military. I have been in the Army and Navy along with working at Joint Commands with Air Force and Marine Corps personnel. I have talked with many different ethnic people about Buddhism and the reflection it has within the Military. It would be great to find out how many people are Buddhists in the variety of Military branches. This would give a better understanding as to how many individuals believe in the Noble Eightfold path towards the demanding life and many sacrifices involved with being in the service.

One factor that complemented my Military uniform is a Tibetan phrase inscribed on my right forearm that translates to “Supreme Happiness.” This phrase translated by Lama Karma Rinchen, whom I’ve studied under at the Kagyu Thegchen Ling in Honolulu, is a meaningful work art in itself. The insightful conversations I have had over this ink-scription, were extended so far as to discussing what it would be like having key Buddhist leaders. How would America as a “Dominant Nation” be perceived by other countries, if in fact key Military personnel such as a General or an Admiral were open about practicing Buddhism? What about the next president of the United States of America being a practicing Buddhist? Although some skeptics have told me it will never happen, I believe we are closer to that reality than ever before. At this point, supporting each other within the Sangha and being a happy Buddhist is what we are all about!
~ Rocco

Creative Commons License
Buddhist Military Sangha by Jeanette Shin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at