From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mindful Marines: What might Buddha say?

(Photo by Tevaprapas)
While sitting in an office "adorned with pictures of war and a 1903 rifle," Major General Melvin Spiese told an Associated Press (AP) reporter that "Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training" ("M-Fit") is "like doing pushups for the brain."

In an article titled "Meditating Marines," the AP goes on to explain that this experimental Marine Corps curriculum is derived from a "Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present."  So far so good.  Evidence from a Douglas C. Johnson research study indicates that M-Fit type training enabled a number of Marines to react better "to high-stress situations and recover more quickly from those episodes."  U.S. Army Captain Elizabeth Stanley, who herself "found relief doing yoga and meditation for her PTSD," then added that "the techniques can help warfighters think more clearly under fire when they are often forced to make quick decisions that could mean life or death…"

It's possible that Stanley's words could refer to the saving of lives – perhaps even on both sides of the proverbial fence.  Warfighters who think more clearly might be able to ascertain ways to kill more precisely, as it were.  Nevertheless, a more efficient war is still a war.  The question therefore remains:  What might
Buddha say (about the "co-opting" of Buddhist-inspired mindfulness concepts for such purposes)?

Perhaps this well-known First Precept of Buddhism provides a (blatant) clue:  Do not kill.  The Pali Canon
(which Wikipedia describes as "the most complete extant early Buddhist canon") elaborates further: ...There is the case where a certain person, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life.  He dwells with his rod down, his knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings…


Copyright January 26, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. I'm not real confident that Buddhist mindfulness would help the military kill better, but if it helps with PTSD then let's go for it.