By Vincent Russo ©
My practice started out with a lot of
tears, especially contemplating the power of regret. The more I
practiced each day, the more I realized I was still going over much
of what continues to plague me. Then I went through a dry spell
as I scratched surfaces but did not go much deeper.
While I would have liked to have secluded
myself to practice, there is work, college courses, nightly programs,
and my role in the Buddhist community here at San Quentin which
keep me busy. In these activities my negative feelings arise when
encountering different attitudes and prejudices, not to mention
my own. The Vajrasattva practice/retreat is really penetrating my
thought process and my actions, sometimes too much, so I take a
step back and look a little deeper into my mental formations. During
the course of this retreat, I have experienced much loneliness in
the midst of others, cried more than I care to admit, and felt inner
fear and regret. But somehow each morning and evening I still manage
to cross my legs and move forward. I also chant during the daytime
i.e., lunch, breaks, and standing in line.
Other than the roller coaster within,
I have come to realize just how much I do not practice being fully
present. I will take it one step further: because of this practice
of feeling my own pain, it is easoer to feel and see the pain of
others. It is easy to see my mind wander aimlessly, before centering
on the mantra or breath.
Please know that the efforts of Bhikshuni
Thubten Chodron, Jack, and yourself make a difference in the lives
of others. Without support, it is very difficult for those of us
who are incarcerated to practice and stay focused. Thank you for
your continuing efforts and support. Someday, I would like to hear
Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings.
With metta, I bow.