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.