Buddhist Chaplain Speaks

Idol of BuddhaBuddhist chaplaincy is a profession in which Buddhists with specialized training care for the spiritual needs of suffering individuals (careseekers), typically within non-religious settings such as hospitals, hospices, military, workplaces, or universities. What follows is an (anonymous) witness of one Buddhist Chaplain.



There are many ways to offer spiritual care to those in need, and many ways to get there. Most chaplains and spiritual care providers are inspired and motivated by their own passions, life experiences, and karma. Some people offer spiritual care as a professional chaplain and make a modest living at it, others volunteer or create specialized programs to alleviate suffering in a variety of settings.

Professional chaplains are employed in the military and prisons, in healthcare and education, and recently, in the corporate and industry sectors. Volunteer chaplains serve in a myriad of settings, and Buddhist chaplains often volunteer as meditation teachers in prisons, jails and other institutions, as well as hospitals that have one-person or non-existent Spiritual Care departments.

Typically, chaplains have skills in the following areas:

Personal Competence

  • self-knowledge of strengths, limitations, hindrances & habits
  • cultivation of chaplain identity and functioning
  • integration of emotional impact of regular contact with crises
  • engagement of the action/reflection method of learning

Interpersonal Competence

  • establishing spiritual care relationships
  • empathetic listening & attending
  • use of self & Boundaries
  • interpersonal dynamics
  • cultural Competence:
  • creating and leading rituals
  • making a spiritual assessment & care plan
  • ethics of conduct

Religious & Spiritual Competence

  • making use of religious heritage
  • leadership skills
  • meaning making/Spiritual direction
  • religious directives
  • multifaith knowledge & interaction

(text copied from the defunct Buddhist Chaplaincy website.)


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