1.1 Million American Troops to Learn Meditation for Mental Toughness ~ via Duff McDuffee.

Via on Sep 10, 2009

us army meditation

According to this Time Magazine article, the US Army is going to train
all soldiers in meditation as part of the newly released “Warrior Mind Training”!

I’m not exactly sure what to think about this.

On the one hand, meditation has been shown to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, a debilitating condition that affects 1 in 8 returning soldiers, less than half of whom ever seek treatment. Framing meditation as samurai training is more likely to bypass the stigma associated with traditional therapy and may provide some much-needed relief for shell-shocked vets.

On the other hand, historically samurai were trained in zazen to overcome the fear of death and killing. Some claim that this led to the spiritual justification of unnecessary violence, for the samurai warriors were said to kill with an empty mind.

Will meditating U.S. solidiers be more or less likely to commit atrocities like that at Abu Ghraib?

I’m no pacifist—I understand that in our current world, we need military. But I am a peace-lover, and I’ve often worried about how the military seems to co-opt new technologies for the purposes of doing “their work” more effectively.

I’ve often been wary of the use of the word “warrior” for civilian meditation training programs, as in the Shambhala Training, that are focused on peace and kindness. The warrior archetype has always included killing—celebrating warriorship can all-too-often justify brutality.

War is hell. Will meditation make it more hellish or more heavenly?


Duff McDuffee writes on topics of personal development and culture at BeyondGrowth.

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6 Responses to “1.1 Million American Troops to Learn Meditation for Mental Toughness ~ via Duff McDuffee.”

  1. Nick says:

    Interesting post.
    In Shambhala there is a slogan you might dig:
    Victory over War.

  2. MrTeacup says:

    To me, the issue is whether this makes it politically easier to justify and create support for a war. The real danger is not whether the military uses meditation, but the way the spiritual practitioners uncritically support institutions and people just because they happen to share certain religious beliefs.

    This is no different from the fundamentalist logic of "We're a Christian nation, we can do no wrong."

  3. ~C4Chaos says:

    this is a case in point that meditation skill (just like science or any other skill) is value-free. meaning, it can be used for good or bad, or both. meditation develops concentration, clarity, and equanimity. those qualities, when developed to their higher potentials, make for an effective warrior (compassionate or otherwise).

    there’s nothing inherently Buddhist about meditation. however, using meditation from an ethical (and liberation-oriented) perspective is one of the most valuable contributions of Buddhist teachings.

    and let's not forget that the setting of the classic text Bhagavad Gita is in the middle of the battlefield. Krishna's instructions to Arjuna was essentially on how to be a mindful warrior.

    my two cents.
    ~C

  4. Todd says:

    I believe that meditation is a form of prayer. If taught properly I believe that meditation can only be a positive thing.

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