Sitting Inside:
Buddhist Practice in American Prisons

by Kobai Scott Whitney

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About The Book

The book has two audiences: prison inmates who want to start practicing Buddhism and volunteers from American sanghas who want to work with prison dharma groups. The book discusses the basics of meditation, compassion and precept practice within the correctional facility context. Whitney discusses some of the history of Buddhist involvement in American prisons as well as the history of constitutional interpretations of religious freedom as applied to inmates. The book is meant to be as practical as possible and it emphasizes Buddhism in action — through the precepts, peacemaking and sangha building inside and out.

Reactions to “Sitting Inside”

“I have been in prison more than 21 years straight. When I began doing time, I was given a copy of Bo Lozoff’s book We’re All Doing Time. It was a great help to me in finding my way on the path. In between now and then, I have read over 2,000 books and none comes as close to what a convict needs as “Sitting Inside” – it seems to take up where “We’re All Doing Time” led us . . . to keep us firmly on the path. It is a great help to my practice.” — Ron Woodsove, Indiana

“I’ve read the book Sitting Inside and find it very informative and insightful. I have added it to my small collection of books of wisdom. I believe Kobai Scott Whitney did exactly what he set out to do in his book. It’s very well written. A good book for both prisoners and volunteers, as well as the curious. I appreciate his compassion.” — Allen Cook, Texas

“Thank you so much for forwarding me a copy of Kobai’s book, Sitting Inside. I have read it, and needless to say, am very pleased to be included in such a work. I applaud your organization for helping Kobai realize his aim. I also applaud that you are able to make this text available to every person who may have an interest in setting up a prison sangha and spreading the dharma.” — Kerry Greenwell, (contributor to the book), Indiana.

“I just received your book today and what I have read so far I am enjoying greatly. Your book fills in a gap and I think that it will be worth encouraging all those who are thinking of joining the ranks as Buddhist prison volunteers to read. There are many topics for discussion there. At our next meeting of volunteers I will use your book for study.” — Aryadaka, Buddhist prison chaplain, Washington

“Sitting Inside” is an informative, insightful and heart moving book. It has alot of invaluable information for Buddhist Inmates, those engaged in prison Buddhist Ministry and Buddhist of all paths. The stories and discriptions of prison practice mirror what my pen pals write in regard to the difficulties and also finding freedom.” — Betty Buck, Buddhist Inmate Sangha

“I had a copy of Sitting Inside sent to my prisoner friend, a man in lock-down serving a 15 to 30 year sentence. He wrote enthusiastically that he had stayed up most of the night reading the book the day it arrived. He found it put many of his experiences in perspective and offered hope. From the outside, as a new participant in the prisoner correspondence program, I found the book invaluable. It helped overcome some of my fears and showed me areas of potential pitfalls to avoid.”
 — Nancy L.

“I have just finished Kobai Scott Whitney’s new book, Sitting Inside: Buddhist Practice in America’s Prisons. Kobai writes clearly and compassionately and he provides us with much useful information. I found it to be an excellent book for aspiring Buddhist’s inside, as well as prison dharma workers. I recommend it to you all. Great thanks to Kate and Fleet for making this important book available.”
— Doug Booth, Upaya Prison Project