427: How Do I Meditate When There’s a War Going On? | Claude AnShin Thomas


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How can we meditate when it seems like the world is falling apart? How do we titrate our news consumption? What do we do with our fears about World War III? How can we do anything constructive to help given how far away many of us are from the action? Why are so many people so upset about Ukraine when they weren’t paying much attention to the wars raging in places like Syria, Yemen, or Ethiopia?

Today’s guest is uniquely qualified to answer these questions, given his experience in combat. Claude AnShin Thomas is an ordained monk in the Japanese Soto Zen Tradition. At 17, he signed up to fight in Vietnam and spent his tour of duty in the theater of war, surrounded by death and destruction. He came home suffering from an undiagnosed case of PTSD and spent years grappling with addiction and homelessness before he was introduced to Buddhism. He says meditation can help all of us look at the roots of war and violence that we all harbor.

Claude Anshin is now the founder of the Zaltho Foundation, dedicated to addressing the causes and consequences of violence in and among individuals, families, and societies. He has served in war zones, hospitals, schools, and prisons. He has also led meditation retreats at sites of war and suffering, and has worked with gang members, guerillas, and refugees. He is the author of the award-winning book At Hell's Gate: A Soldier's Journey from War to Peace, which has been translated into several languages, and Bringing Meditation to Life.

This episode explores the above questions and additionally:

  • The narcotic effect of war.
  • How Buddhism helped Claude Anshin be at peace with what he calls his own unpeacefulness, and yet, why, to this day, he has to reckon with his impulse towards violence.
  • Why he doesn’t believe there is such a thing as a “just war.”

Content Warning: There are discussions of war, violence, suicide, and substance abuse throughout this episode.

Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/claude-anshin-thomas-427

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