Friday, October 9, 2009

If you want to be a soldier, be prepared to die!

Question: (Unedited)

I am a Marine Officer, and I have been in the Marine Corps. for 12 years. I'm a Christian, but it never really gave me what I was looking for, I do Believe in God, but I want something more out of life. While in college I studied Eastern Religions, I speak Arabic and Chinese, and I understand more then most Americans the thought process of the East. I would like to train and become a Buddhist, but can I as a military officer?....Thank you. J.

My comment:

Hi J,

Thank you for asking me.

Sometime back someone asked the same question. May I repeat my answer:

No one is disqualified from becoming a Buddhist just because of his profession. The Buddha taught universal truths about this existence. The truth is that if one associates with unskilful and unwholesome profession, one must be prepared to face the unwholesome consequences. If one is prepared to be a soldier, then one must be prepared to kill and be killed in battle. The final decision rests on the individual. Buddhism does not force anyone to change one's profession.

There are certain principles which a Buddhist will strive to uphold along the line of the 5 precepts. Of course ideally one should choose a profession that is not against the 5 precepts. But then who is going to do the "dirty jobs", so to say. Who is going to defend the country? Who is going to keep law and order in the streets? Who is going to get rid of the pests that may affect our health? These are all very urgent and realistic questions. Those who are in this category may take consolation that they are doing it for the greater good of the society and nation.

However, at the same time they could strive to lead a dignified, noble and harmless life as best they could. They still can follow and practise the teachings of the Buddha to the best of their ability.

The realities of this world and this existence are such that there are always this unsatisfactoriness and imperfections where many a time we are confronted, without much choice.

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