December 200 – February 2001
Prison visitor Aryadaka is a member of the Western Buddhist Order, founded in England over 30 years ago by Sangharakshita, an Englishman who spent 16 years as a Buddhist monk in the East. Some Order members are full-time meditators living a monastic life; others either live with their families and have ordinary jobs, work full-time in a ‘right livelihood’ business, or are supported to work at their local center. The Order has about 800 members in 20 countries.
I have wanted to work with prison inmates since I was incarcerated in Scandinavia for two years in 1974. That’s when I began my practice. Prison is an incredibly fertile ground for the Dharma to take root. Since I was able to start working with prisoners, I have met all sorts of people – from murderers to people in for what they call non-violent crimes. Usually I don’t get to know the nature of their crimes, except for those in the sexual offenders’ unit and even then I don’t know nor do I ask the nature of the offense. I do know that most inmates have committed their crimes while on drugs or alcohol…prisoners, socially engaged buddhism, western buddhist order