Prisoners Get a Break
I had a chance to read excerpts from the new book ‘Holy Jail’ by Candramauli Swami. Heading up the prison ministry within ISKCON is a sensitive and compassionate fellow from the U.S. who describes himself as a vanaprastha, meaning one who is grooming himself for the life of a monk. His service is invaluable. For the persons, men and women, who have made a bad decision in life, who acted at one point impulsively and for that found themselves behind bars, they now have a chance to reform amicably. This excellent book includes artwork, poetry, and prose from some of the inmates. It’s impressive how these people who hit some misfortune can express themselves.
One person wrote how we are all in Durgadham, the prison of the material world and how we all are trapped in a cell, this body. Who isn’t a criminal? To a large extent we all are criminals who foul up repeatedly in our surges of lust, anger, and greed.
My adrenalin was rising anticipating tomorrow’s journey to a West Virginian Spiritual Retreat. I tried to offset the resulting alertness by reading ‘Holy Jail’. Instead I was moved to emotion reading about the great work that volunteers do for this prison ministry worldwide. It takes a great amount of patience to deal with prisoners who need extra care. Basically inmates are usually persons who are easily distracted from acts of dharma, duty and obligation. Those who come forward to give guidance and friendship to this oftentimes dismissed sector of society put me to shame.
I have to ask myself, “What am I doing? Whatever it is it’s so trivial compared to the labour of love demonstrated by the prison pastoral workers.