In yesterday’s post I commented on the peculiar mix of people who attend Buddhist meditation retreats. The topic struck a chord with several readers who sent comments and wrote to me directly. The issues raised run deep and may well reflect attitudes and customs prevailing in society at large. Instead of lamenting these imbalances and inadequacies, I’d like to look at ways in which Western Buddhist practitioners (Zen and others) reach out to marginal and non-traditional segments of society. To begin, a summary of what the Prison Dharma Network is doing to serve people who are incarcerated (taken from their website).
Prison Dharma Network (PDN) is an international, nonsectarian, contemplative support network for prisoners, prison volunteers, and corrections professionals. PDN’s mission is to provide prisoners, and those who work with them, with the most effective contemplative tools for self-transformation and rehabilitation.
We support prisoners in the practice of contemplative disciplines, with an emphasis on sitting meditation practice and the practice and study of Buddhist teachings and other wisdom traditions. We promote these paths of wakefulness and non-aggression as ideal vehicles for self-rehabilitation and personal transformation.
We believe in the power of the various mindfulness-awareness practices and body-mind disciplines of the world’s contemplative traditions to change behaviors, transform lives, and ultimately to reduce recidivism, prevent crime, and enhance community safety and well-being.
Please write if you have experience with this or similar programs. Feel free to comment anonymously. image: source unknown.