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Prison Dharma


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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.



 

 

 

 

 

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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

Gunaratna Sarika

James Hicklin

Jeffrey S Bell

Leighton Bates

Michael Powell

Raymond Larsen

Ronald Clements

Will Pizzola

Other Inmates

Inmates’ Experiences in Retreat

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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