Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crestone Sangha Asks for Emergency Help

The United States Air Force is proposing to use the mountains around Crestone, Colorado as practice air space for the action they are waging in Afghanistan, against the extremists who have destroyed Buddhist monuments and murdered Buddhist practitioners. 

This training mission is called LATN (Low Altitude Technical Navigation).  

The Crestone sangha is requesting all of us to send an email to the Air Force, strongly urging them to not allow the LATN program to fly over the San Luis Valley,  which is home to their retreat center, Samten Ling.  If allowed to proceed, pilots would fly low altitude night sorties, 5 hours in duration each, half of that at extremely low altitude, i.e. around 200 feet. The sangha is primarily concerned about the noise, and the potential for a devastating wildfire should one of the aircraft crash. We should also note there are important stupas in the area.

This is obviously a complex issue, and as the deadline for comments is apparently November 15th, quick response is indicated.

If you are interested in responding to Crestone's request for help, complete details are available by clicking this link. We hope that in addition to everything else they are doing, the folks in Crestone will try to avoid taking an adversarial posture, and instead enter into a useful dialogue with the Air Force. We think once they do, many of their fears will be appropriately addressed. 

Those LATN training missions fly over here all the time, and we do not find them disruptive. Granted, we do not have the wildfire threat potential they have in Colorado. That aspect definitely needs to be sorted out, as these missions are not without substantial risk. Perhaps the Air Force will be able to supply firefighting equipment or capabilities to the retreat center, as they have done in other situations around the world.

Nevertheless, when we hear those aircraft, we think we are hearing the sound of freedom. If you say, "Oh! Those are war machines!" you are of course correct, but every Buddhist nation in history has raised, trained, and supported a military capability with "war machines." It is a fact of life, and either we approach it with equanimity, or we permit ourselves to get dragged down into "taking sides."

The Dalai Lama is on record acknowledging, and even supporting, the worth of a strong military capability, and I suppose we need to take that into account before we assume a contrary position.

Of course, I have my own Air Force, so maybe I am prejudiced....Victory Through Hare Power, and all that.

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5 reader comments:

Malcolm Smith said...

"...but every Buddhist nation in history has raised, trained, and supported a military capability with "war machines."

The caveat is that every Buddhist nation in history has proven to be completely inept at warfare.

Anonymous said...

How inept was Vietnam against the French, Australians and Americans?

Take everything into the path.

nemo said...

You mean the Buddhist's being oppressed by the Catholic government in the South or the ones that were killed by the Communists in the North?

Buddhist warriors suck. Eventually they all drop their guard and turn away from violence in disgust. Making your enemies into friends is the greatest act of a warrior IMO

Anonymous said...

As Sakya patriarch Sachen Kunga Nyingpo stated:

*If you are attached to this life, you are not a true spiritual practitioner.

*If you are attached to samsara, you do not have renunciation.

*If you are attached to your own self-interest, you have no bodhichitta.

*If there is grasping, you do not have the view.

Contemplate on impermanence, non independent self, etc..

Genuine three jewels will be protected. If not, karma will dictate....

Ben said...

I think you might have intended to say, "Blowing up half-armed peasants."

Because, as we all know, holding disagreeable beliefs and living in a country where the previous government decided to destroy a statue makes you liable to be killed at any time.

I'm calling bullcrap on that.