July 12, 2010

Vesak in Iraq (a bit late)

buddhist military sangha, vesak, iraq, buddhist chaplain

"A little bit late but thought this was a nice article!"

That's how the Buddhist Military Sangha introduces an article about the first US Army Vesak celebration, written by one of their own—Sgt. Michael Carden. Vesak celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. It was celebrated this year on May 27.

Presiding over the ceremonies was the Army's first Buddhist chaplain, 1st Lt. Thomas Dyer, blogged about here before. Until his arrival, a full service had not been possible:

“This is a time that is very special to the Buddhist community,” Dyer said. “Traditionally, Buddhists cannot practice unless a teacher is present. They can offer prayers, and celebrate meals but actually having a full Buddhist service; a chaplain or teacher has to be present.”

According to Carden, "Soldiers from across the Iraq joint operations area were invited to the Wesak celebration." Some officials in the Chaplain Corps believe there are far more Buddhists in the military than is generally recognized. Nice to know they have somewhere to celebrate Vesak now.

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