Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bearing Witness: Prison Dharma

The prison issue of Bearing Witness: A Newsletter for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism (FREE subscription) contains stories of inspiring successes and heart-breaking frustrations. It sheds Buddhist insight onto questions faced by all people struggling with the challenges of life behind bars including:

· 9 links to Buddhists working in prisons

· 6 articles

· 5 videos

· 1 podcast interview

The View from Inside:

Peace and Liberation Behind Bars

One inmate describes how a prison Zen Sangha helped him find serenity, concentration and discipline. In a podcast interview, a leader of Sokka Gakkai International shares a letter from his incarcerated son in which his son explains how Nichiren chanting helps set him free, even while “in the hole.”

Ministering in Prisons:

Getting In and Staying There

An Insight meditation teacher from North Carolina describes the draconian regulations volunteers traversed to work in prisons. A Zen Master in Oregon explains how giving an inmate precepts led to her getting kicked out of the prison while a Zen group in Los Angeles teamed up with a Christian leader to ease anxiety about their presence.

Towards a System Based on Interdependence

After years of ministry with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, pioneers Alan Senauke and Melody Ermachild Chavis share rich personal experience and poignant Dharmic and social analysis. As exemplified by Fleet Maull’s videos of Integral Transformative Justice, Buddhist teachings on karma and interconnectedness help build alternatives that both support inmates taking responsibility while also addressing the preconditions that enable our unjust prison system.

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