inmates

The Gateless Sangha

By Calvin Malone In 1994, hundreds of inmates were transferred to Airway Heights Correction Center, a new minimum security prison near Spokane, Washington. When one inmate jokingly said, ''I'm a Buddhist," the chaplain undertook to locate an outside group to sit with interested inmates. He found the Padma Ling Center with two lamas who now sit with us weekly. Rowan Comad of the Open Way Sangha in Missoula, Montana also visits regularly to lead mindfulness retreats and support our practice. Despite the tremendous obstacles inherent in prison life, our Sangha has grown to nearly 70.

Here, we are allowed only one meal a year that is not prison food. In the past two years, our Sangha has enjoyed these meals by hosting Buddhist celebrations. Our first event was The Freedom Celebration in 1996. Thirty-one Buddhist inmates and 17 outside guests enjoyed food, community, and teachings. In September 1997, 53 Buddhist inmates and 21 guests attended our Friends of Peace Festival.

The cost of these events is a serious consideration. Seventy-five percent of our Sangha members have no income, 5% earn minimum wage, and 20% earn $1 or less per hour. Some Sangha members felt our money was better spent helping to ease suffering. Others felt that once a year we could spend a bit to ease our own suffering. After much debate, we have decided to use our annual event to raise funds for outside Buddhist groups.

mb22-TheGatelessOn September 19, 1998, we held our third annual event. With the funds raised, we plan to sponsor the education of a child in Nepal, and contribute to three groups: The Free Tibet Project which supports the work of the Dalai Lama; the Engaged Zen Foundation which works with inmates; and Thich Nhat Hanh and the Community of Mindful Living's efforts to rebuild and support monasteries in Vietnam. From this practice of compassion, our name was born-The Gateless Sangha.

Through mindfulness, we are learning if one life is abused, we are all abused, and if one life is enriched, we are all enriched. Our efforts to support others have inspired and enriched our lives. We sincerely hope we inspire others as well.

Calvin Malone, 702364 MB28L, is an inmate at AHCC, P.O. Box 2049, Airway Heights, WA, 99001-2049

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Prison Mindfulness

By Mair Honan A few years ago, the word "prison" arose repeatedly in my meditation. I thought it referred to an internal prison and laughed when the words "Thomaston prison" arose one day. Thomaston is a nearby state prison. I had no conscious desire to enter the prison and no experience in prison work. But, a week later I bumped into someone who works at Thomaston and asked about bringing meditation in. After an interview with the education office, our mindfulness program began.

We present mindfulness meditation as a way to focus the mind and develop peace and clarity in life, rather than as a Buddhist practice. We openly speak about our teachers, however, and the inmates know we have taken Buddhist precepts. Dharma teacher Lyn Fine came to the prison to transmit the Five Mindfulness Trainings to one dedicated practitioner. Each new person receives instructions from The Miracle of Mindfulness. We remind them they can get a free copy of We 're All Doing Time from Human Kindness Foundation in Durham, North Carolina and free books from Parallax Press. When someone wants to learn about Buddhism, we try to help.

During the sessions, the inmates sit on chairs. We sit in meditation at the beginning and end of each session. We also read and discuss a short piece from a variety of teachers. The guys may have questions or want to discuss their practices. During one session, I offered walking meditation, but it activated too much tension in the small room. For now, we pass out instructions from Thay's Guide to Walking Meditation and encourage them to try mindful walking alone in their cell or out in the field.

About nine months after we began, I saw a connection between the inmates and my brother, my closest sibling. One evening, an inmate laughed a particular way and it felt as if my brother was there. A few years ago, through alcohol abuse, my brother killed himself and another young man. Such pain-I loved him so dearly. When I heard the inmate laugh, I remembered that my brother was arrested in his teens and spent a short time in prison awaiting trial. I had wondered why I felt so comfortable with these guys. As Thay says, the past and the future reside in the present.

We're all learning from each other. I am particularly grateful to these men who are unwittingly helping me heal a deep grief. From the beginning, I knew this could work only with the Sangha's help. Six regional Sangha members are cunently involved in the prison practice. We are all grateful to the Thomaston Prison staff. Without their openness, Support, and thoughtfulness, we would not have a meditation program in the prison.

Mair Honan, True Seal of Enlightenment, practices with the True Heart Sangha in Maine.

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Buddhaverse Prisons

By Samuel DuBois & the Mountain View Correctional Facility Sangna Prisons are often compared to monasteries—one is given limited choices, allowed few personal possessions, subject to rigid schedules, offered bland food, and required to work, but with time to meditate, walk, and study. Inmates often laugh at this analogy. Our environment is more like a loud, rowdy, gambling parlor, whorehouse, and TV bar—an abusive, intrusive, hostile program teaching hate, violence, and mistrust; a competitive combat event with much yelling and pain. Perhaps there are elements of both scenarios in prison. Either way, prison can be a clear bell of mindfulness. With Buddhist teaching, demonstration, and Sangha encouragement, prisons could be powerful practice centers. To be sure, prisons are full of relentless teachers. But the probability is slim that, without intervention, prisons will become the houses of healing that they need to and could so easily become.

mb25-BuddhaverseHere in Mountain View, we strive to create a "buddhaverse," as described by Robert Thurman in Inner Revolution (Riverhead Books 1998). A buddhaverse is an environment (universe) where we train our mindfulness and other factors of awakening—investigating Dharmas, energy, joy, ease, concentration, and letting go—and where we engage in activities directed toward practicing understanding and developing enlightenment. If we could create buddhaverse prisons, how wonderful it would be for our society and for the many inmates who acknowledge that they have caused much suffering in themselves and others, and who sincerely wish to change. Interestingly, the current political climate in the United States may be ripe for this ideal.

With Presidential candidate Governor George Bush pushing to funnel monies into "faith-based prisons," Buddhists in America may be in a position to fill a very real need.This undertaking would involve a lot of work, time, problems, red tape, and responsibility. A buddhaverse prison is possible, however, if we are willing to invest, plan, support, and/or work there. Imagine an open-to-the public, education, training, practice and retreat center with prisoners and other residents. One that incorporates subsistence gardening, baking, aesthetic grounds, ecological awareness, and cottage industries. Perhaps such a prison could even become a public temple or retreat center in fifteen or twenty years.

Our national Sanghas are full of people with experience and practice that could mean a lifetime of difference to inmates in a buddhaverse prison and would have an immeasurable positive effect on the lives that the inmates touch, during and after their incarceration. Prisoners who choose to participate would be clearly informed of the objectives, expectations, and schedules. They would be interviewed and advised that noncooperation will result in their return to state facilities. The programs could involve a number of stages, beginning with three to six months in close groups for training and intensive practice, and progressing into more open activities requiring more individual responsibility. In the process, inmates could construct and maintain much of the facilities and programs. If the program is well planned, carefully recruited, and managed properly, there should be few, if any, serious problems. Of course, there are a lot of ifs and many questions, including those regarding security. How would we deal with fences, pepper spray, and locks? But we must understand that our country's prison system is a failure. We can see clearly the many negative results. We should look deeply and honestly at the short and long-term possibilities of a buddhaverse prison.

We invite others to investigate this vision with us. Perhaps together we can build a realistic model. Please share your opinions, questions, and suggestions. Prisoners, please write our local Sangha contact, Pat Tompkins, RR1, Box 140D, Bakersville, NC 28705. Others, please write Samuel DuBois, DOC# 0112717, P.O. Box 629, Spruce Pine, NC 28777.

Samuel DuBois, Courageous Understanding of the Source, is an inmate in Mountain View Correctional Facility in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, which is run by a private company on behalf of the state. Its management and programs are similar to those of state-run prisons. Their Sangha is able to meet five times each month.

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Wonders Never Cease

By Claude M. Rinehart mb35-Wonders1Our lives are full of surprises and wonders that we never dreamed possible.

I’m currently serving a life sentence in the Texas prison system and have been locked up for eighteen years this time around. There is a good possibility that I’ll never be released from prison due to the seriousness of the crimes I’ve committed.

When I first entered prison, I was a very young and ignorant person, and I cared little about anything that life had to offer. I believed that I should try to get what I wanted by whatever means possible. I found out the hard way that this isn’t a successful way to live.

mb35-Wonders2Upon entering prison, I was the proud possessor of an eighth grade education. In the last several years I have studied all kinds of spiritual texts, and have also worked hard to receive my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Sam Houston State University. Becoming a college graduate makes me as proud as I’ve ever been in my life. Never did I think that I would have the opportunity and ability to achieve this. What a blessing.

I wish I could express the feelings that I experienced during the graduation ceremony in the prison chapel. There were 300 visitors there to cheer on their friends and family members. They were very loud, happy, and full of pride for their loved ones. Even though none of the visitors was there to cheer me on, I still shared in the happiness and sense of accomplishment that we all felt upon receiving our degrees.

I was fortunate in that I was seated in the second row and got to look in the eyes of each graduate as he received his degree. It touched my heart to see some of the younger men (I’ll soon be fifty eight), with a tear in his eye. These are the tough guys of society, but they weren’t too tough to be touched by what they had accomplished. The feelings were also a bit bittersweet, like each was saying to himself, “Why didn’t I stay in school when I first had the chance?” I could see that they were both proud of their accomplishment and saddened by their life situation.

I was very proud of everyone there, including myself, and I will never forget graduation day. The day was full of love for one another. We all seemed to realize, for a moment at least, that we’re all human and subject to making mistakes, and that we are still capable of creating good in the world. We were all accepted and respected, even by the prison administration, as people who had met the goals we had set.

I would like to thank the Mindfulness Bell for the opportunity to share my accomplishment with you.

This has given me the greatest sense of self-satisfaction that I have ever experienced.

Claude M. Rinehart lives in Huntsville, Texas, and has corresponded with a Sangha friend for the past four years.

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Transformation at the Prison

By Terry Masters mb41-Transformation1

Friday Morning

I got to the prison early but Kent was already there, pacing the floor.

“Hi Kent,” I smiled.

He nodded but didn’t stop pacing. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” he said, as he paced. “I think I’m goin’ crazy. I don’t think I’m gonna be a Muslim anymore... I just... This is horrible...”

“What happened?”

“Well...” Pacing back and forth, but in front of me so I can hear him.

“This white dude? Yesterday he got in my face. Real bad. “And I wanted to smash his face in. I pictured him on the floor and I was stompin’ his face.

“But you know what I did?” I shook my head.

“I walked away.”

“You walked away from him?”

“Yeah! Listen. I been shot at. I been stabbed. I been dragged behind a car and I don’t even know how many fights I been in... and then... I walked away from that dude.”

I smiled. Kent didn’t notice. He was still pacing.

“I think I’m turnin’ yella. I’m nuthin’ but a big coward.

I’m a...”

I interrupted. “Kent! This is wonderful! This is so beautiful.

You did just like we’ve been talking about.”

He stopped pacing and faced me, waited for me to continue.

“Yes! Somebody...” “A white dude!”

“...A white dude got in your face, made you angry and you stopped to notice what was happening.”

His brows furrowed; he was really listening.

“You stopped, Kent! You listened to your true self.” He looked doubtful.

“You did! You stopped, just like our teacher says to do. You didn’t just react out of habit.”

His face softened a little. “And now...”

“Yeah?”

“And now, you’re doing walking meditation!” (Sorry, Thay.

I know pacing isn’t exactly walking meditation.) “This is wonderful, Kent. This is so wonderful.”

He didn’t exactly smile, but a little bit, he did. And sat down for our meditation as the other guys filed in.

Next Friday

When I came in only Kent and another guy were there, a guy I didn’t know. Kent introduced me to him: Charlie. Charlie and I visited a little as Kent moved the chairs out of the way so we could do some yoga before we meditated. Charlie is a Choctaw from Oklahoma. After a short visit, he walked away to help with the chairs.

Kent came up to me and whispered, “That’s the dude.”

“The dude?’

“Yeah, the white dude I told you about.”

“You brought him, the white dude, to meditation class?” My eyes were wide with astonishment. A smile spread over my face.

“Yeah.”

“Oh my gosh, Kent, you are amazing!” “Terry, don’t cry!”

“Well, I’m so happy!”

The other guys arrived. After yoga and after our first meditation, we always talk a little about our practice. Kent said to the group, pointing to Charlie, “This is the dude.”

Everyone knew right away who he meant. They bragged on Kent until he hid his face, pretending to be embarrassed, “Cut it out!”

I was grinning. Tears of joy were forming. “And Terry, don’t cry!”

“I’m not crying.”

“She can cry if she wants to, Kent—leave her alone.”

We all sat still then, enjoying the wonder of this man.

After a while I said, “Kent, would you be willing to tell us how it came about that you invited Charlie to join us today?”

“Well... well, I was doin’ yoga in our dorm and Charlie, he comes up an’ he says, whatcha doin’? and I say, yoga, and then after a while I say, and I’m gonna do meditation after that. And then after a while I say, and Friday I’m goin’ to meditation class, wanna come? And he says yeah.”

I’m speechless. We all are. We just sit in our circle, smiling. Finally I say, “So, Charlie I know this is your first time here, but would you mind telling us how you got the courage to say whatcha doin’ to Kent?”

Charlie squirmed in his seat as he said, “Well, Kent is a positive guy, uh...” Squirms, his eyes on his feet. “And I’m a... positive guy...” Squirm. “And well I just thought there’s too many negative guys around here and it doesn’t make sense for two positive guys not to uh...” Squirm. “Uh, stick together. So I asked him.”

Charlie took a breath and looked up at us.

Awed, no one said anything.

Charlie added, “And I like it here.” Pause.

“I’m comin’ back.” Pause.

“I’ll be back next week.” Pause.

“Yep.”

I didn’t cry.

There, at the prison? I didn’t cry.

(Although everyone but Kent said it’d be okay.) But I cried when I got home.

Cried and grinned.

Terry Masters, True Action and Virtue, practices with the Plum Blossom Sangha in Austin, Texas.

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A Call for a Collective Awakening

Speech to UNESCO in Paris, October 7, 2006 By Thich Nhat Hanh

mb44-ACall1Ten years ago, I was asked by the director of UNESCO, his Excellency Federico Mayor, to write a manual on the practice of peace and nonviolence, and I readily accepted the work. For me, writing this manual was an easy thing to do, because in Plum Village where I live and practice, we do nothing but practice peace and nonviolence — all year round. There are about three hundred monastics and lay people who live together in Plum Village, and what we learn everyday is to be peace and to do peace. Our center is also open to friends from all over the world to come and practice, and about five to ten thousand people come every year to learn to be peace and to practice peace and nonviolence. That is why I was ready to accept the work of writing the manual, which took about one year to finish with the help of the Dharma teachers in Plum Village.

When you come to Plum Village, you learn how to breathe so that peace, happiness, and freedom are possible; how to walk so that you can enjoy every step, and so that every step can be refreshing, healing, and nourishing; how to sit so that peace, understanding, and wisdom become possible. We also learn to eat our breakfast and do our dishes in way that makes freedom, peace, brotherhood, love, understanding, and joy possible; and the practice is continuous.

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We have offered the practice of peace to many different kinds of people including children, students, parents, school teachers, police officers, ecologists, psychotherapists, business leaders, and others. The children who come to Plum Village practice very well, and they are capable of being peace and practicing peace. We offer different kinds of retreats to serve different kinds of people in their desire to practice nonviolence and peace.

We once offered a retreat in the United States of America for police officers and for corrections-center administrative personnel. You can picture those police officers now, practicing mindful breathing and mindful walking while patrolling the streets. Those police officers are now capable of using loving speech and deep listening in order to restore communication between themselves and their families. Everyone can practice, including politicians. We have offered a retreat for members of Congress in Washington, D.C. and there are now congressmen and senators who practice walking meditation on Capitol Hill. They know how to do walking meditation from their office to the place where they cast their votes. We have also offered the practice for people who are in prison, and there are now practitioners in prison enjoying breathing, sitting, and walking, and they suffer much less. Also among the people who come to our center to practice are many school teachers, and they are able to bring the practice to their classrooms to help their students suffer less.

Proposal 1: An Institute for Peace

Over the years, we have trained more than f ive hundred Dharma teachers in the practices of Plum Village, and they can offer the practice of peace and nonviolence in a non-sectarian way. If UNESCO wants to set up a school for the practice of peace, we can afford to offer teachers — both monastic and lay — and we don’t need any salary.

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The peace manual was completed several years ago and it was published as a book by Riverhead. We have added a number of anecdotes and stories in order to make it pleasant for our readers, but it is essentially a manual for the practice of peace and nonviolence. We know that there is violence within us, and that there are also fear, despair, and anger in us. We should know how to recognize, embrace, and transform the violence and anger within. In Plum Village, we don’t just speak about nonviolence and peace — we try to do it. Once we have been able to transform the violence in us, we can help other people around us to do the same. We can help other people recognize, embrace, and transform the violence and suffering in themselves, and these are very concrete ways to practice.

Over the years, we have sponsored many Palestinian and Israeli groups to come to Plum Village to practice with us. In the beginning, it is always very difficult for the two groups to look at or speak to each other, because everyone has a lot of fear, anger, despair, hate, and misunderstanding. Therefore, their practice during the first week is just breathing and walking mindfully, so they can calm down and recognize the energy of anger, fear, and violence in themselves, and they can get a kind of relief. After about ten days, we introduce them to the practice of deep, compassionate listening. In this practice, you listen with all your heart in order to give the other person a chance to empty his or her heart. There is a lot of suffering within the other person, and maybe no one has ever been able to listen to him or to her. One hour of listening like that can bring a lot of relief to the other person. The group of Israelis sit quietly in order to listen to the Palestinians and vice versa. You have the right to say what is in your heart, but you should use the kind of language that will help the other person or the other group of people to get the message, and this kind of language is called loving speech. You are not supposed to argue, condemn, or blame, but you can tell everything, with the condition that you use loving speech.

Practicing like that and speaking like that can help restore communication. When you listen like that, you have an opportunity to realize that the other group consists also of people who have suffered exactly like you have. Their children, their men and women have suffered tremendously like your own people, your own children. If you see that they have a lot of wrong perceptions about themselves and also about you, you tell yourself that later on, you will have time to help them correct their perceptions by offering them the kind of information that they need in order to do so. If while listening, you realize that you too have wrong perceptions, then you have a chance to correct your own perceptions. It is only when you are able to see the other person as a human being who has suffered as much as you have, that you can begin to look at him with the eyes of compassion. Looking at him or at her like that makes you suffer less, and it makes him or her suffer less at the same time.

After the second week of practice, the two groups are able to share a meal together and hold hands to do walking meditation together. We have witnessed this kind of transformation in our community. Before they leave for the Middle East, they always come up as one group and report to us about the fruits of their practice. They always promise that once they go back home, they will organize activities that will allow other Palestinians and Israelis to join them in the practice so that they too, can suffer less.

Regional Peace Institutes

I propose that as religious and spiritual leaders, you establish an institute for the practice of peace and nonviolence in your own home country — whether you are Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, or Christian — because teaching and practicing peace is not confined to any one religion. The practices in our peace manual are nonsectarian. As a monk, a priest, a minister, a rabbi, or a school teacher, we are in touch with the grassroots, and if we know the art of making and practicing peace, we can help our own community. That is why my first proposal today is for UNESCO to set up such an institute for the practice of peace and nonviolence, and for all of you to also think about establishing such an institute where you live. That way, people like parents, school teachers, business leaders and even political leaders can come and learn how to practice peace.

We know that UNESCO has circulated Manifesto 2000, with its six points of practice for the culture of peace and nonviolence.(1) I know also that more than 70 million people have signed Manifesto 2000, including heads of state; but most of us, after having signed the Manifesto, do not have a way to put the six points into practice. That is why I would like to urge all of you, my friends, to organize yourselves in order for the practice to be possible.

In the Buddhist tradition, we recite the five precepts, the ten precepts, or the 250 precepts every fortnight, and we look back on the past two weeks and ask ourselves whether we have practiced them well or not. We also hold discussions to learn how better to practice the commitments we have made. It is very important that we organize ourselves as communities to recite the six points of the Manifesto and try to practice them in our daily life. The institute for the practice of peace and nonviolence would have the role of helping and supporting that kind of practice.

Proposal 2: Middle Eastern Summit

The second proposal that I would like to make today, is that UNESCO sponsor a summit gathering for Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders somewhere in France, perhaps in the Abbaye Royaumont. I know that the violence in the Middle East has the element of religion in it, and Mr. Osama bin Laden actually believes that Christianity and Judaism are trying to destroy Islam as a religion and a way of life. Of course, violence has its roots in fear and hate; but fear, hate, and despair are born from our wrong perceptions. If the groups of Israelis and Palestinians practicing in Plum Village could come together as brothers and sisters, it is because they had a chance to spend several weeks in Plum Village, living together and practicing together. It is my conviction that if these Muslim, Jewish, and Christian leaders could come and live together for at least twenty-one days — eating together, walking together, breathing together, listening to each other, doing everything together — they will help each other remove a lot of wrong perceptions that are at the foundation of hate, fear, and violence. After that summit, they will issue a call for the cessation of hostility in the Middle East. A Dutch documentary film called My Life Is My Message tells the story of the practice of our Israeli and Palestinian friends and you may like to watch that film.(2) Parallax Press has also issued a book called Peace Begins Here that is about the fruits of the practice of the Palestinian and the Israeli groups.(3)

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Proposal 3: Global No-Car Day

The third and last proposal that I would like to make today, is for UNESCO to sponsor monthly No-Car Days. We know that global warming is our common concern. We are polluting the world. We are making our Mother Earth suffer too much. We have to take action, and that is why I would like to propose that UNESCO, our leader in education, science, and culture, mobilize for global No-Car Days for the whole planet.

In Plum Village where we live, as well as in our Deer Park Monastery in the United States of America, we have adopted a No-Car Day once a week. We have decided to reduce our gas consumption and usage of cars by 50 percent, and only one week after we decided to do so, four thousand friends who are affiliated with us pledged to do the same. So I would like to propose that UNESCO embody the practice and that UNESCO, as a community, practice a No-Car Day once a month and call for the practice of No-Car Days across the globe, to increase awareness about the situation of our planet. “Buddha” means an awakened person, Buddhism is about awakening, and we need collective awakening. UNESCO should be the continuation of the Buddha, and you, my friends, should also be the continuation of Lord Buddha.

Since the day we adopted the practice of No-Car Day, we have gotten a lot of joy and happiness because we know that we can already do something. We do not want to be victims of despair, and we are trying our best to help. Our message is first and foremost not a verbal one; our message is our own action. That’s why it is my desire to propose to all of you who are present here to call for the practice of No-Car Day in your respective communities — if not once a week, then once a month — so that we can draw the people’s attention to the dangerous situation of our planet. We are so busy in our daily life that we need the Buddha every week, every day, to remind us to live in a way that a future will be possible for our children and their children. I believe that we are not being very kind to our children because we are leaving behind us a planet that is deeply wounded.

It is time for us to wake up together in order to do something to change the situation. That is not only for the Buddha; that is for our children and for the children of our children.

  1. For the text of Manifesto 2000, go to http://www3.unesco.org/manifesto2000/uk/uk_manifeste.htm
  2. My Life Is My Message, produced by the Buddhist Broadcast Foundation of The Netherlands, buddhistmedia.com.
  3. Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Begins Here: Palestinians and Israelis Listening to Each Other, (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2005)

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Letters

Prison Dharma I would like to introduce myself. I am Darwin Brown. Through my years of incarceration I have received the Mindfulness Bell. But that’s not all! I have also received from Parallax Press books by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thay’s teachings have helped me to live in the present moment.

I know that directly I am not a student of Thich Nhat Hanh’s, but through his teachings and his books I feel and think that I am a student of his.

Thank you, Thay, for your teachings and showing me the present and wonderful moment. You have guided me home to my true home. Thank you, Parallax Press, for publishing Thay’s teachings for inmates to receive, and thank you to those who donate to the program for inmates.

Thank you, Mindfulness Bell, for all of the articles you publish of Thay’s and others. Every article I read from the Mindfulness Bell reminds me to be in the present and wonderful moment. It is truly the bell that rings, to remind us the present moment is right here.

Darwin Brown Pugsley Correctional Facility Kingsley, Michigan, USA

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Mindfulness Bell #45, Summer 2007

Thank you for the latest issue of the Mindfulness Bell. I enjoyed sharing some of the experiences from Thay’s Vietnam trip, together with photos. I also enjoyed reading the wise words of the monastics in “Dharma Rain in the Rocky Mountains.”

Your prison stories are always very touching, and I give photocopies of them to friends who do Dharma work in a big prison in our country. They pass them on to the prisoners there for inspiration.

There was a very nice article by Sister Annabel about learning to do walking meditation. Thanks for the news of Blue Cliff Monastery. A suggestion would be to include the retreat programme of Thay’s monasteries, so we know what is happening, for those of us who are out of circuit and don’t get to hear what’s going on unless you continually check websites.

Leela Verity True Stream of Light South Africa

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Editor’s reply: Thanks, Leela! We took your suggestion to heart and in this issue we include retreat schedules from the monasteries in France and the U.S.

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