October 23, 2009

Being a Buddhist Police Officer

For thirteen years I was a law enforcement officer. In the dark humor of that environment, we called ourselves “paid killers for the country.” No one else wanted to be in out boots. I did not identify myself as a Buddhist; I was not aware that the way I behaved and experienced the world fit squarely with the Buddha’s teachings. It is clear to me now that we could have been, and were, instruments of karma. But skillful action, discriminating awareness, karma, the law of causality were not terms in law enforcement basic training.

For a Buddhist in police work, the most important thing is to be constantly aware of ego. It is not your anger, not your revenge, not your judgment, no matter how personal the event. I was paid and trained to take spirit-bruising abuse. I endured things of which the majority of women in America will never even dream. For me it was not judgment, in the Western sense, but discernment. This kept me, and others, alive and healthy. This discernment allowed me to act skillfully in crisis. The law of causality allowed me to know that if I could not stop the perpetrator of violence or pain or loss, that some other vehicle would reach that person—karma.

- Laurel Graham, from “Vajra Gun,” Tricycle, Winter 1998

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marc's picture

www.nike-airyeezy.com

Ryan's picture

EveryOne,

Its nice to see that there are others with like mindedness in our noble profession! Our profession in essence is at the core of life and day to day we are a part of powerful situations. I see much cleared now. In fact it was a shooting that I was involved in where things became so much clearer for me. Our profession can be the ultimate selfless service to those we serve, and each other.

Walk gently and swiftly,

Namaste

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[...] Tricycle » Being a Buddhist Police Officer www.tricycle.com/blog/?p=1594 – view page – cached For thirteen years I was a law enforcement officer. In the dark humor of that environment, we called ourselves “paid killers for the country.” No one else wanted to be in out boots. I did not... (Read more)For thirteen years I was a law enforcement officer. In the dark humor of that environment, we called ourselves “paid killers for the country.” No one else wanted to be in out boots. I did not identify myself as a Buddhist; I was not aware that the way I behaved and experienced the world fit squarely with the Buddha’s teachings. It is clear to me now that we could have been, and were, instruments of karma. But skillful action, discriminating awareness, karma, the law of causality were not terms in law enforcement basic training. (Read less) — From the page [...]

Philip Ryan's picture

Wow, thanks for the comments, Jon, and the Thich Nhat Hanh book!

Jon's picture

Finished, done and retired thankfully to Buddhist precepts and practices. Wish you all reach the end of your tour safely

BlindRob's picture

Excellently stated. Quite hard not to pick up some bad karma doing police work but lots of the good stuff can be earned the same way. And if used mindfully, the Dharma allows one to stay above the... umm... poop.

Jamie G.'s picture

I've been a cop for almost six years. I wasn't a Buddhist at first, but since then I keep a copy of the metta sutra on the back of my clipboard that I chant before going 10-8, and Nhat Hanh's book "Keeping the Peace" was very helpful.