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Prison Dharma


About this section:
Imagine trying to generate even the slightest bodhicitta -- the intention to become fully enlightened in order to benefit all sentient beings most effectively -- in a prison environment. It's similar to generating compassion in hell! Although we are all prisoners of our negative karma, negative emotions, and disturbing attitudes, we still have this precious human life. Nothing can ever take away our Buddha potential. Ven. Chodron and the prisoners with whom she corresponds offer practitioners insights into how they can benefit themselves and others in even the most difficult situations.

 

Portrait of HHDL
Portrait of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama by John F. Johnson ©, an inmate in Grafton OH. To use picture, seek permission through webmaster.

 

San Quentin prison
Ven. Chodron with two Zen priests, and members of Mahabodhi Society before entering San Quentin prison in California, where Ven. Chodron gave a Dharma talk and led meditation to about 45 inmates in April, 2005

 

Andy and Ken began the Buddhist group at South Central Correctional Center at Licking MO. Venerable was very happy to meet them—and vice-versa—since they correspond regularly.
Andy and Ken began the Buddhist group at South Central Correctional Center at Licking MO. Venerable was very happy to meet them—and vice-versa—since they correspond regularly.

 

Ven. Chodron and Tim
Ven. Chodron visited Lawrenceville Correctional Center in April 2007. Tim, seen in the picture, coordinated the larger talk open to all the inmates as well as a smaller talk with the members of the Buddhist group. She was impressed with their interest in Dharma and the sincerity of their practice.



 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

Drawing of HHDL by Don Wackerly
Drawing of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by anonymous

Buddisht Group at Bowling Green
Picture from the talk I gave to the Buddisht group at the prison at Bowling Green, Missouri. One of the men with a guitar wrote a song especially for our visit and they had just performed it. An interesting thing about this visit is that the group consisted not only of Buddishts, but also there were a few Muslims, a Jew and a Native American who attended.

 

Picture taken in July 2006 when Ven. Chodron gave a talk to the Buddhist group at a prison in Pacific, Missouri.
Picture taken in July 2006 when Ven. Chodron gave a talk to the Buddhist group at a prison in Pacific, Missouri.

 

Articles by Ven. Chodron

Articles by Ven. Jigme

Articles by Ven. Semkye

Contributions from Inmates

Bo Flack

Bryan Taylor

Bryan, an inmate in Texas, offered this beautiful painting of Buddha that he did on a handkerchief.
Bryan, an inmate in Texas, offered this beautiful painting of Buddha that he did on a handkerchief.


Daniel Dimitrov

  • Gratitude
  • Incarceration and Release
  • Beyond Words
  • My Shorts
  • Choosing the Seeds I Plant

Gunaratna Sarika

James Hicklin

Jeffrey S Bell

Leighton Bates

  • Getting Back on Tract
  • The Reality of Adversity
  • Letting Go of Guilt and Shame
  • Letting Go of Attachments
  • Personal Demons
  • A Thought
  • Choice and Changing
  • Flow
  • The Liberation of Self-forgiveness
  • Opening Up to Love
  • On Attachment
  • Noble Silence
  • The Journey
  • The Prison Way of Life
  • Friendship
  • Prison politics
  • Watering seeds
  • Having Compassion for Yourself
  • An Orange of Mindfulness
  • Jewels of the Dharma
  • Making Mistakes
  • Transforming Our Sufferings in the Three Times
  • Talking to the person I used to be
  • Beauty and the Bugs
  • How Family and Friends can Support a Loved One in Prison
  • Seeing Buddha Nature
  • Learning
  • A Quilt of Compassion
  • Going through the Dharma

    A note from Ven Chodron dated 27 Apr 05

Michael Powell

  • A Close Call
  • Changing Our Mind
  • Getting Along with Others
  • Loneliness
  • Practicing in Prison
  • Dear Mum
  • Leading Ourselves out of Addiction
  • People Serving Time
  • Release from Prison: Shock or Growth?

Raymond Larsen

  • The Most Stable Prisoners
  • Intoxicants
  • Bodhisattva Vows
  • Stateville
  • Prison and Prayer

Ronald Clements

Will Pizzola

Other Inmates

Inmates’ Experiences in Retreat

  • Vajrasattva Retreat, 2006 by Raymond Larsen
  • What Brings Happiness by Bill Suesz
  • Changing by Bill Suesz
  • Retreat by Bryan Taylor
  • Doing Retreat in Prison by Dale Moore
  • Vajrasattva Purification Retreat by Daniel Dimitrov
  • Vajrasattva by Gunaratna Sarika
  • Doing Vajrasattva Retreat by John Bragg
  • Vajrasattva Retreat by Martin Pang
  • Vajrasattva Retreat by Vincent Russo

Humor

Prison Poetry

 

Contributions from Prison Volunteers and Others

Kathleen Herron


Others

Audio Recordings:

Singapore Prison School
Ven. Chodron teaching at a Prison School in Singapore.




This poster was painted for the Monroe Prison Service Dog Program by Bill Van Court, an inmate at Monroe Correctional Facility in Washington State. This fantastic program gives puppies to inmates to train as service dogs for the blind, vets with PTSD, the differently-abled, the elderly, and others. The dogs live in the cells with the inmates, who care for them and train them 24/7.




The inmates at Monroe with the dogs they trained. Working with the dogs gives the inmates a new sense of connection with living beings--both the dog and the human being who will benefit fr/m having a service dog. After these dogs are given to those who need them, the inmates will receive new puppies to train.



Ven. Chodron visits Al, who was convicted of a double murder, in prison. The visiting room is made of white cinder blocks, but the painting of this Mediterranean villa provides a background for photos.

Laura Bates' book Shakespeare Saved My Life tells the story of her teaching and discussing Shakespeare in a supermax prison and the effect it has on the inmates. If you think that criminals can never change, please read this book. Without it being the main point of this book, she also describes the dreadful circumstances people live in in American prisons.

 

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