Buddhist Spouse on Life in the Military

The Buddhist Military Sangha recently published an interview with a Buddhist Navy spouse on being “married to the military.”  While much of the interview is, understandably, on the topic of roles and relationships, there were some interesting statements on faith and the military.

The interviewee is Mrs. Barbara Zaragoza, a practicing convert to Zen Buddhism and a “Navy wife.”

On being stationed overseas, away from her usual religious support: 

The Navy transferred us to Naples, Italy, so my meditation with a group, at first, seemed to have come to an end…In all of Naples…there was only one Zen Center that had three people…I decided to create my own meditation group on the military base in Naples.

The Chapel and the Chaplains were very kind and open. They let me have a space and made me the Buddhist Lay Leader for the base. Every Monday I would go to the Chapel and meditate for thirty minutes. Whoever wanted (and I put up some flyers) came to meditate with me. I facilitated the meditation group for 2 1/2 years…Our little group flourished and still continues on today through a Buddhist friend of mine who took over as Buddhist Lay Leader.

On being a Buddhist in the American military:

In the last six years, I’ve never once come across anyone in the armed services who has said anything negative to my face for being Buddhist.

In my meditation group on base, I had active duty members and spouses who were Muslim, Sufi, Catholic, Jewish, Unic, Transcendentalist, trumpet players and agnostic…I’m just grateful that the military has given me the opportunity to worship Buddhism so freely.

The US military, through its Chaplaincy and command channels, continues to support the religious free exercise of its members throughout the world.

Read the full interview transcript.