Prisoners are offered a free copy of the Bhagavad-Gita and accompanying correspondence course, with personal help and guidance from Dr. Ramanand Prasad, director of the American Gita Society. The hard-cover edition of the Gita is available free to prison libraries.
A small group of volunteers who serve as Buddhist Chaplains in the Los Angeles County Jails and the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.
In 2001, the Arcata Zen Group was contacted by an inmate incarcerated in Pelican Bay State Prison, near Crescent City, for help in establishing a Taoist/Buddhist Study Group. AZG members travel to Pelican Bay every Saturday to sit with this sangha. Locally, AZG members lead meditation in both the men’s and women’s
sections of the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on Thursday
Prisons Served: Pelican Bay State Prison, Humboldt County CF
BayNVC’s Safer Communities Project teaches nonviolent communication (NVC) classes in 6-month and year long courses to incarcerated people at San Quentin State Prison and in jails in Sonoma County. Our students behind prison walls learn practical skills founded in self-awareness and compassionate communication that support a shift from blame and judgment into empathic connection, authentic expression and inner freedom.
Weekly classes train students to cope with the real-life challenges of prison life, foster compassionate relationships with their families and other prisoners, and enable incarcerated people who want to change to address many of the issues that have kept them locked into violent patterns of behavior and communication.
Since 1997, Buddhist Pathways Prison Project (BP3) – formerly known as Folsom Pathways Sangha – volunteers have been dedicated to bringing Buddhist philosophy, religious services, mindful movement and meditation instruction into Northern California prisons. Buddhist philosophy emphasizes ethical behavior and a regular meditation practice which allows insight to arise. Insight for many inmates takes the form of understanding one’s own suffering and the suffering inflicted on others. Our program provides prisoners with the tools, resources and daily life skills necessary to create durable life changes both while incarcerated and when released. The California prison system, the second largest prison in the world, does not provide inmates Buddhist services or meditation instruction through a state-sponsored chaplaincy program. BP3 volunteers — along with other dedicated volunteers throughout our state — fill that void.
Serves 5 prisons in northern California: CSP-Folsom (Men’s and Women’s facilities), CSP-Sacramento, CSP-Mule Creek, CSP-Jamestown, and CSP-Deuel Vocational Institution.
Buddhist Pathways is a California nonprofit corporation whose mission is to bring the core teachings of the historical Buddha of non-harming, meditation, and wisdom into prisons and jails as well as federal penal institutions.
Through mindful awareness, incarcerated sangha members gain the wisdom that fosters durable self-transformation and insight into the inner conditions that led to incarceration.
The Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK) (Society for the Promotion of Buddhism) was founded by the Reverend Dr. Yehan Numata in December 1965, one year after the Mitutoyo Manufacturing Company celebrated its 30th anniversary. With the worldwide success of his company, Dr. Numata decided that the time had come to realize his dream of making the Buddhist teachings more widely available. Working with a community of like-minded people, including leaders of each Buddhist sect in Japan and eminent Buddhist scholars, Dr. Numata established the BDK in order to “to transmit the Buddhist religion to as many people in the world as possible, without expounding the doctrines of any particular sect or denomination.” To achieve this goal, the BDK promotes a wide range of activities and projects in the hope of contributing to world peace and mutual understanding among humanity.
Currently there are two other major publication projects handled by the BDK America Berkeley Office. The first is distribution of the popular introductory Buddhist book entitled “The Teaching of Buddha” which has more than 8 million copies in circulation throughout the world, in more than 42 languages. Secondly, BDK has published a Buddhist anthology called Buddha Dharma, which is an expanded version of “The Teaching of Buddha,” and comes with a detailed index and accounting of the Buddhist teaching presented with each story.
Prison Outreach is an on-going, integral part of the Contemplative Outreach family. This important ministry is committed to support volunteers and organizations willing to serve the prison population.
Support consists of consultation, resources and access to a central database of all prison ministry activities nationwide involving Centering Prayer. We hope to encourage and assist those interested in beginning a prison ministry or to provide connections between practitioners already in the ministry who want to share and learn together.
Mary Wyman – CO Chapter Coordinator
San Francisco CA- development of Prison Outreach Conference/Retreat.
Barbara Cook – prison ministry
Hobby Unit- (women) Marlin TX, experiences with conferences and workshops
Douglas La Plant – prison ministry
SCI Rockview, Bellefante PA
Teaching “A Pathway to Freedom” course to men.
Khalilah Bilal – prison ministry
Bexar County Jail- San Antonio TX
Teaching “A Pathway to Freedom” course to women
The Dharma Bums are a group of people dedicated to the practice of Buddhism in America. We do not advocate one particular school of Buddhism. We are simply a bridge for Western people to enter into a Buddhist practice. When one enters the stream of Buddhism, it can be confusing; so we help make it simple. We focus on the Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path, and Six Paramitas. To speak about Buddhism is not enough. One must practice these basic Buddhist principles. Through diligent practice, one will begin to realize the cause of their suffering, thus moving beyond suffering and into Nirvana.
Prisons Served: Metropolitan Correctional Center
Noah Levine is a Buddhist teacher, author and counselor. He is trained to teach by Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA. He teaches meditation classes, workshops and retreats nationally as well as leading groups in juvenile halls and prisons. Noah holds a masters degree in counseling psychology from CIIS. He has studied with many prominent teachers in both the Theravadan and Mahayanan Buddhist traditions.
Noah currently teaches in Los Angeles, CA at his center – Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society.