By Adam Tebbe for Shambala SunSpace
Sokuzan Robert Brown, a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of the late Kobun Chino Otogawa, spends an hour a week at one of five prisons within the Michigan Department of Corrections, offering classes on meditation to prisoners. According to the SokukoJi Prison Project, “This year we have donated dozens of malas (meditation beads) and given over fifty new Dharma books to inmates in various facilities just in the last six months.” Brown was recently interviewed by Christina Shockley of Michigan Radio and was asked why he got started with prison work.
“I can’t help it,” he replied.
He elaborated: “…I started by helping myself. I was suffering and had a lot of difficulty, anger, frustration, depression—you name it. In my very early years I was in the Marine Corps (where I first started studying Buddhism) and [I] met my teacher about twelve years later, in my early thirties.