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Heartwarming Letter

(Picture compliments of inmate Steven P of CA – letter from J in TX)

Greetings! I am a disabled prisoner serving two life sentences in Texas. I found your address in the back of (a) book… There is no library here at this prison medical unit but the Protestant Christian Chaplain brought in one large book rack plus one rolling book cart…I was fortunate to find Pema Chodron’s book! I began reading and studying Buddhist literature a few months ago on April 4. I was forcefully uprooted from (a) prison unit…and shipped halfway across the state…I was transported all through the night. Tho I am already paralyzed they ..handcuffed me on both arms and feet (and the transport van was not equipped to properly transport wheelchairs so they took me out of my wheelchair and laid me on the floor of the van for the whole trip. (These vans do not have good shock absorbers so the trip was very jolting). Just before this happened I had read about counting breaths up to ten repeatedly and noticing and remarking to myself “thinking” when I would get distracted from counting breaths. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to practice. But I had no idea of the benefits. i soon discovered that it was easy to endure pain for ten breaths. Then I discovered that the pain seemed to come and go like thunderstorms. Then I discovered that when I was totally in the moment (here and now) there was no pain at all! 🙂 And the last benefit I noticed was that time did not intrude on my consciousness while I was in the hear and now. The result of which was when I arrived hardly any time seemed to have “passed” even tho it was 12 hours later! I am indigent. I depend on the prison even for this paper, the pen I am writing with, the envelope and postage stamp….I have no family (or) friends who have not died or disappeared since I was sent here in 1994. I was very glad to read about tonglen practice in “The Wisdom of No Escape”. Tho I don’t think I’m ready for it yet – it provides me with another avenue to practice. I would like to know more about Shambala practice. I am very ignorant and have just begun to learn. I have enjoyed every Buddhist literature I have read…I don’t think I’d classify what Ive learned so far as “religion” but more as the way of life. Perhaps you could find someone who would be a patron and sponser my studies. I appreciate your being there! J.

If you are interested in sponsoring this inmate please write to me at

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