Hi Individual and other friends,
I grew up in Singapore which has conscription and I have actually served 2.5 years in the military. I was in a combat unit -- did the lot, fired guns, lobbed grenades, dug trenches, etc, etc.
So what are my views about a military career?
The military will do it what it can to mold its personnel into a particular worldview. Whilst it is true that one gets a lot of physical training and exercise in the military, I'd say its primary aim with regards to personnel is to put the individual through a thorough process of subjectification
. In other words, all military activities are in the end, concerned with shaping the mind. This is of course necessary, especially if one is in a combat unit.
Now, people often ask me if I benefited from my stint in the army. I usually say that I absolutely detest the constant indoctrination that goes on as well as the fixation with power in some people of position. I do not agree that one has to enter the military to build 'character' for I do not think that subjectifying someone to a certain view is 'character-building'.
Having said that, when I think back to my time in the army, I'm still surprise at how much I was able to endure. I am still surprise at how much sh*t I could take, how much I could achieve when I set my mind to it. I really learned about the power of effort and determination.
So, in terms of your question about whether military experience would prepare you to be a monk or not: I think it might help you insofar as you would be learning much about effort, determination and discipline. BUT the military isn't the only place where you can cultivate those qualities. The kind of discipline promoted in the military is of a specific kind, for a specific purpose.
Having said all that, please keep in mind that my stint in the military was NOT voluntary. So I think it won't surprise you that I don't feel too positive about it. The only thing I really appreciated about it was that it made me VERY VERY FIT and well, erm, I did look pretty darn fit too.