By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
Fort Knox has another spiritual service to offer its Soldiers; a Mahayana Buddhist service is meeting every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m. Distinguished Faith Group Leader Robert Drake leads those services.
Drakes acknowledges that a common misconception is that Soldiers cannot be Buddhists. Many people think all Buddhists are pacifists. Drake, who retired from the Air Force, has practiced Buddhism for nearly 40 years, to include while he was still serving on active duty in Vietnam.
An oversimplified distinction is that Mahayana Buddhism is modern while the more historical, traditional Buddhism (Hinayana) is the one more generally equated with pacificism. More specifically, Drake adheres to the Soka Gakkai International, a movement that promotes peace and individual happiness based on the philosophy and practice on the Nichiren school of Mahayana Buddhism.
“You can be a good Soldier and a good Buddhist,” Drake asserted.
The first few Buddhist meetings on Fort Knox garnered half a dozen attendees, which the senior installation chaplain, Chaplain (Col.) Byron Simmons said is a relatively good turnout. Drake said his goal is to reach an attendance of two dozen or so, but it remains to be seen how many at Fort Knox will be interested.
The meetings are Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in the Religious Support Annex, Bldg. 1487 (near Kingsolver Elementary School). Drake said anyone interested in exploring the faith is welcome to attend.
“We want to make this accessible to Soldiers, in particular,” he said.
Simmons added that if Soldiers find Buddhism spiritually satisfying, he is all for anything that encourages resilience.