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Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

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Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White House

Postby jundo on Sun Sep 17, 2017 7:18 pm

Just to say that Zen Buddhism and the Precepts can be shaped and turned into many forms: For some, war is an instrument of peace, nuclear weapons a means to preserve life. I do not personally agree, but not all Buddhists are of one flavor.


A senior official in the White House tasked with advising President Donald Trump on weapons of mass destruction is an ordained Zen Buddhist chaplain, who long ago reconciled Buddhism's non-violent teachings with his support for aggressive, sometimes violent American foreign policy.
Christopher A. Ford, special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, who is also a former Navy reserve intelligence officer, a Rhodes scholar and a State Department veteran, was ordained in the Prajna Mountain Order of Soto Zen Buddhism at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico in March 2010.

...

The first, from 2009, is six pages, titled "Nukes and the Vow: Security Strategy as Peacework" and argues that Buddhists should not blindly latch onto complete global nuclear disarmament in the name of peace if their goal is indeed to "create a world that contains as little human suffering as possible." Nuclear weapons, Ford said, may be necessary for such an end.

"One foreign diplomat friend of mine likes to joke, at least privately, that the disarmament movement needs to be careful lest it 'make the world safe again for largescale conventional war,'" writes Ford, who took on the name Daigan during the training. "He is only partly joking, however. From the perspective of Buddhist compassion, some global security environments without nuclear weapons are surely less desirable than some scenarios that contain them. We must do what we can to avoid offering cures more harmful than the disease we seek to treat, and while it is notoriously difficult to predict outcomes -- one way or the other -- in the complex adaptive system of modern international politics, we are no friends of compassion if we do not at least worry about the potential unintended consequences of our policy agendas."


http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-zen-bu ... via=mobile

Gassho, J
Founder Treeleaf Zendo, Japan. Member SZBA. Treeleaf is an online Sangha for those unable to commute to a Sangha, w/ netcast Zazen, interaction with other practitioners and teachers & all activities of a Soto Sangha, fully online without charge (http://www.treeleaf.org) Nishijima/Niwa
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Re: Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White Hou

Postby desert_woodworker on Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:01 pm

J.,

jundo wrote:...not all Buddhists are of one flavor.

Thanks!, Jundo. Fascinating.

Mr. Ford, although he may be ordained a Zen Buddhist priest, and studied in the Chaplaincy program at Upaya Sangha, NM, is evidently not a Zen Buddhist teacher. I think readers here should take note of that, as a general point, and not assume that "priests" are necessarily well-accomplished as practitioners, any more than some lay people are, nor that they are all teachers (nor destined to become teachers). Still, a Chaplain has some training in addressing the public.

The fellow also seems not to be a specialist nor expert by any means in nuclear weapons, but in "weapons of mass destruction", which is a class that spans the gamut from conventional to nuclear, where "conventional" includes chemical explosives, poison gases, infectious biological organisms, nerve agents, and weather-modification; and "nuclear" means fission devices, fusion devices, neutron devices, and radioactive "dirty" bombs. There may also be some that I am omitting because they may be secret.

By the way, for those interested, there have been a few Buddhists in the US Congress for a while. One, representing Hawai'i in the Senate has been in Congress for over ten years I recall, when there were a total of two Buddhists there; but now there's an additional Buddhist Rep. from Hawai'i, in the House of Representatives. The three are:

    o Representative Colleen Hanabusa, newly elected Democratic Representative from Hawaii;
    o Senator Mazie K. Hirono from Hawaii; and,
    o Representative Hank Johnson from Georgia.
Results of a survey of religions claimed by the 535 members of Congress (100 in Senate; 435 in House of Rep.) are discussed here.
It's noteworthy that only ONE person of the 535 in Congress claims NO religion, and hence claims to be "unaffiliated", while fully 23 percent of American citizens (about 71 million!) claim to be unaffiliated:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/More-Hindus-and-Buddhists-in-U.S.-Congress-Pew-study/article16993529.ece

EDIT: It may be that political candidates calculate that their chances of election are increased by claiming to the 77 percent of Americans who embrace a religion that they are religious, too. Pretty sad commentary --if we needed it! -- that only ONE person in possibly as many as 535 made-bold to tell the truth about themselves in that regard.

--Joe
Last edited by desert_woodworker on Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White Hou

Postby Larry on Sun Sep 17, 2017 10:40 pm

I think it's also significant that he hasn't formally meditated for "at least a couple of years".
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Re: Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White Hou

Postby jundo on Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:42 pm

desert_woodworker wrote:J.,

jundo wrote:...not all Buddhists are of one flavor.

Thanks!, Jundo. Fascinating.

Mr. Ford, although he may be ordained a Zen Buddhist priest, and studied in the Chaplaincy program at Upaya Sangha, NM, is evidently not a Zen Buddhist teacher. I think readers here should take note of that, as a general point, and not assume that "priests" are necessarily well-accomplished as practitioners


Perhaps this makes too much of an assumption of who is and who is not an accomplished practitioner or good teacher based on the person's political views?

Gassho, J
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Re: Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White Hou

Postby jundo on Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:43 pm

I am going to post this as a follow-up to my last posts on the "Zen Buddhist Trump Advisor" and the ethnic cleansing monks of Burma: In the West, folks involved in Zen seem to be overwhelmingly politically liberal, peacenik types who go from "Occupy Wall Street" rallies to the Zendo.

However, I learned a few years ago through some dear Zen friends in Florida, that there are liberal Buddhist folks and conservative Buddhist folks. We sometimes forget this, but interpretations of Practice and Precepts can lead people to different conclusions. Although many in Western Buddhism tend to associate Buddhist Practice and the Precepts with having to hold rather 'Lefty' political views (probably because so many convert Buddhists in the West seem to be Latte drinking, Prius driving political liberals ), that is not necessarily the case. I have many Western Zen friends who are politically conservative, favoring, for example, George W. Bush to Obama, thinking the war in Iraq justified and in keeping with the Precepts as an action ultimately intended to preserve human lives, opposing relaxed Abortion laws as the taking of life, opposing Gay Marriage, large scale government funded social programs and the like ... all in keeping with their personal view of the Precepts. In fact, Buddhists folks will engage in ethical debate on such topics, much as Christians might have opposing views on "What would Jesus do?"

In fact, the only political views that clearly should not be combined with Buddhism are, for example, to be a Buddhist Nazi, K.K.K. member, Trotskyist, bomb throwing Anarchist or a like violent path because of the violent, divisive, hate-filled content.

The prevalent interpretations found in Asia of the Precepts might be considered rather "conservative" to many Westerners on certain topics, very progressive on other topics.

In much of Asia, Buddhism has traditionally been, at various times in its history, both a social revolutionary force ... and (probably for most of its history) a very conservative force unwilling to overly "rock the boat" in the traditional, feudal and otherwise undemocratic societies in which it has found itself, ranging from old Samurai Japan to the modern People's Republic of China. The Buddha professed peace and non-violence, yet rarely if ever told an Indian king to disband his armies or take a fully non-violent path (the Buddha himself was from a warrior caste, knew the realities of the world. He seems largely to have stayed out of politics and let kings be kings, advising them to be just and fair, but not much on the details of that). Just as in the Catholic Church, there are clerics who are far far to the right in their views, and far to the left ... often inspired by Marxism and the like ... and many who just stay out of politics altogether. Once, in Japan, the Precepts were interpreted in ways to support the country, the Emperor and the military during the war. Sometimes it was simple patriotism, sometimes it was excess militarism and jingoism, sometimes it was done out of prejudice and cultural superiority, sometimes it was done simply out of differing views on what is the best way to ultimately protect society and save lives. (My Teacher, Nishijima Gudo Wafu Roshi, was very much against WWII, thought it a terrible tragedy and mistake on Japan's part, said that Kodo Sawaki, for example, professed the same although also supportive of his country and the soldiers in the field) ...

http://sweepingzen.com/zen-at-war-brian ... ndo-cohen/

But my Teacher, Nishijima, used to profess sometimes a few very socially conservative views on politics too that I did not always personally agree with (not surprising coming from a 90 year old Japanese man, like listening to your grandfather's view of the world). However, I came to realize that I went to him for spiritual advice, not advice on how to fix the carburetor on my car, cook tomato soup or about whom to vote for. The Precepts are black and white on many issues, but ambiguous with grey areas in many more areas. Such is the nature of this complex world, Samsara, where we live.
In my case, I do not think that my political views are much different from my younger days, except I do make the effort to run my views through the lens of the Precepts, Wisdom and Compassion. They guide me in forming opinions on questions such as on abortion, going to war after 9-11 and the like ... but yet there remains much room for discussion on so many of these issues, and various sides.

Then again, there are certain lines where, when crossed, thing become more black and white again. To me, it is impossible to see how any monks or sincere Buddhist could support the violence and ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. It seems that the vast majority of Buddhists around the world would agree with me. However, obviously (just looking at some of the posts by some Buddhists in this very Facebook group!) not all Buddhists do. I believe that they are wrong, but I am not the final word unfortunately.

I do look forward to a world which, someday in the future, is filled with the peace, non-violence, love, environmental concern for the world, avoidance of excess consumerism and materialism, building schools and hospitals instead of bombs, and better sharing and caring for our fellow sentient beings that I believe is at the heart of Buddhist values (and so many other religions and humanist philosophies too).

... I believe that when such a revolution comes, this world will leave behind so many of its current problems and excesses.

Gassho, Jundo
Founder Treeleaf Zendo, Japan. Member SZBA. Treeleaf is an online Sangha for those unable to commute to a Sangha, w/ netcast Zazen, interaction with other practitioners and teachers & all activities of a Soto Sangha, fully online without charge (http://www.treeleaf.org) Nishijima/Niwa
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Re: Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White Hou

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Sep 18, 2017 3:17 pm

J.,

jundo wrote:
desert_woodworker wrote:
jundo wrote:...not all Buddhists are of one flavor.

Thanks!, Jundo. Fascinating.

Mr. Ford, although he may be ordained a Zen Buddhist priest, and studied in the Chaplaincy program at Upaya Sangha, NM, is evidently not a Zen Buddhist teacher. I think readers here should take note of that, as a general point, and not assume that "priests" are necessarily well-accomplished as practitioners

Perhaps this makes too much of an assumption of who is and who is not an accomplished practitioner or good teacher based on the person's political views?

Oh, no, no. Don't be uncertain about this. I don't say a word about political views. And it's not even clear what the political views of Mr. Ford may be.

I make just a general statement, and I call it that, above, in the passage you quote, where I make it.

I'm not casting aspersions upon Mr. Ford. I just make the general statement that "priest" is not an elevation. That's not an aspersion, either.

with best rgds.,

--Joe
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Re: Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White Hou

Postby Linda Anderson on Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:28 pm

True... Zen, any religion, can be shaped and turned. I don't see benefit in grading practitioners, priests and teachers on the merit scale. Jundo has rightly pointed out the possibilities. Living in California, I can agree with the Prius thingy and also the beat beginnings of Buddhism. Buddhism settles into cultures according to external politics and internal psycho-dynamics.... similar to the way that fundamentalist Christianity has settled been self selected by certain conditions/people.

As far as the article quoted.... IMO, it's dangerous propaganda, pure and simple which attempts to conflate religion with a justification for the use of nuclear weapons.... it's another manipulation. Daily Beast is a good vehicle for such ideas. Have you noticed how many millions of people have already been killed with the "humanitarian intervention" explanation? In truth, it has nothing to do with humanitarian interests... more lies! It is nothing short of insane to think that nuclear weapons won't destroy the planet... these folks are driven to ignore such things. As soon as man stops stealing resources from their neighbors (like oil) peace may have a chance. Sadly, not in my lifetime.
linda


jundo wrote:Just to say that Zen Buddhism and the Precepts can be shaped and turned into many forms: For some, war is an instrument of peace, nuclear weapons a means to preserve life. I do not personally agree, but not all Buddhists are of one flavor.


A senior official in the White House tasked with advising President Donald Trump on weapons of mass destruction is an ordained Zen Buddhist chaplain, who long ago reconciled Buddhism's non-violent teachings with his support for aggressive, sometimes violent American foreign policy.
Christopher A. Ford, special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for weapons of mass destruction and counterproliferation, who is also a former Navy reserve intelligence officer, a Rhodes scholar and a State Department veteran, was ordained in the Prajna Mountain Order of Soto Zen Buddhism at the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico in March 2010.

...

The first, from 2009, is six pages, titled "Nukes and the Vow: Security Strategy as Peacework" and argues that Buddhists should not blindly latch onto complete global nuclear disarmament in the name of peace if their goal is indeed to "create a world that contains as little human suffering as possible." Nuclear weapons, Ford said, may be necessary for such an end.

"One foreign diplomat friend of mine likes to joke, at least privately, that the disarmament movement needs to be careful lest it 'make the world safe again for largescale conventional war,'" writes Ford, who took on the name Daigan during the training. "He is only partly joking, however. From the perspective of Buddhist compassion, some global security environments without nuclear weapons are surely less desirable than some scenarios that contain them. We must do what we can to avoid offering cures more harmful than the disease we seek to treat, and while it is notoriously difficult to predict outcomes -- one way or the other -- in the complex adaptive system of modern international politics, we are no friends of compassion if we do not at least worry about the potential unintended consequences of our policy agendas."


http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-zen-bu ... via=mobile

Gassho, J
Not last night,
not this morning;
Melon flowers bloomed.
~ Bassho
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Re: Zen Buddhist Nuclear Weapons Expert in Trump's White Hou

Postby desert_woodworker on Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:57 pm

.
I enjoy Gandhi's spirit in his saying, "There is no path to peace. Peace is the way."

To universally popularize the understanding of this saying, I think, would not only give peace a chance, but a push (if not be a path to peace directly).

    (this may be off-topic, though. If so, my apology to All).
:Namaste:

--Joe
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