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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
winter 2006| 8 |buddhadharma Also, you state that I “will continue to lead” the cadet sangha. This leaves out the very important fact that I am doing so alongside Sarah Bender Sensei and that she would be leading the actual services. I go to great efforts here at USAFA to highlight the essential role that Sarah plays as part of our group and the fact that she is literally the future of our Bud- dhist cadets’ practice and learning. Stuart A. Lloyd, Maj, USAF U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado The last sentence in the Fall 2006 Maha- sangha News article entitled “A Well- Grounded Air Force,” an article that extols the virtues of Buddhist practice at the Air Force Academy, reads, “We smile as we see one of our kids walk out of the door, because the number of lives that young man or woman is going to touch, you can’t count them.” Well, you can: www. iraqbodycount.org (the source George Bush quoted in a recent speech), for exam- ple, lists at least 43,000 civilian casualties in Iraq since that war began, mostly from aerial bombardment. An exemplary study by Johns Hopkins University in 2004 put the number then at well over 100,000, also listing aerial bombardment (what “our kids” are doing after they leave training) as the greatest cause of death. The people who die from bombs dropped by our military are not karmically better off because the bombers claimed to be practicing Buddhists. This unfortunate conflation of Buddhism and militarism is not different from what happened in Japan with the samurai movement, where spiritual practice was co-opted, and cor- rupted, to support and justify ritualized, institutional violence. The same issue of Buddhadharma in- cludes a definitive statement on this topic by Thanissaro Bhikkhu in First Thoughts, in which he points out that “the Buddha never taught a theory of just war; no deci- sion to wage war can legitimately be traced to his teachings ... These facts are among the glories of the Buddhist tradition, and it is important for the human race that they not be muddied in an effort to recast the Buddha in our own less-than-glorious image.” “Well-grounded,” in Capt. Armstrong’s Buddhism, I think means well-muddied. Steve Bartelt Almond, Wisconsin