The US Marines are testing the use of meditation in their training. http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/20/16612244-meditating-marines-military-tries-mindfulness-to-lower-stress?lite
At first I was unsure if this was an appropriate use of meditation. One of the precepts for deep meditation is to abstain from killing and soldiers are asked to kill sometimes. Therefore, a soldier must not be a proper candidate for meditation. But then I started thinking about this precept, the world we live in, and what we ask of our soldiers. We live in a complicated world with rage, fear, and chaos all around. Drugs and guns are easy to obtain allowing individuals with unstable minds have the ability to take the lives of innocent civilians. We live in a very different world than the Buddha did. I can think of situations where a soldier full of love and compassion would need to take someones life for the safety of a community.
I’m glad I not in these situations having to make the gut wrenching decisions and I think it’s important to help the soldiers we send into combat prepare for these difficult situations and the recovery process. Meditation is the best tool I’ve found to deal with the difficulties of life and I hope soldiers receive the best mental health support we can provide.
We have a lot of guns on this planet. Turning my back on this reality while leaving the people who face this reality every day out to dry isn’t the responsible choice. I wish the world was safe from violence and I believe many soldiers hope for the same. Maybe if we train our soldiers to be more mindful they will find creative ways to reduce the number of military deaths on both sides of the battle field. Maybe a mindful military would be able to choose their battles more wisely.
I don’t want to pretend that I understand the complex reality of war. I don’t want to get in an argument about the right and wrong military choices of the past. I just want to acknowledge the realities of our world today and express support for anyone who is trying to make the world better for tomorrow. Time to meditate.