Battlefield Dharma

ISSN 1076-9005
Volume 21, 2014

Battlefield Dharma: American Buddhists in American Wars

Robert M. Bosco
Centre College

The Internet has become a space for today’s American Buddhist soldiers to think through difficult ethical questions that cannot always be resolved on the battlefield. I argue that this emergent cyber-sangha of American Buddhist soldiers signifies the arrival of an important new feature on the landscape of American Buddhism. As Buddhism integrates ever more deeply into American life and collective consciousness, it forms links with American conceptions of national security, military values, and America’s role on the world. When viewed in the larger social and cultural context of American Buddhism, the development of this cyber-sangha represents a new generation’s answer to the predominantly anti-war Buddhism of 1960s and 1970s that continues to define Buddhism in the public imagination. We are thus beginning to perceive the faint outlines of how American Buddhism might be changing—accommodating itself, perhaps—to a new post-9/11 nationalism.

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