I spent some time in prison for GBH. It was while I was there that I found a little orange coloured book by Ajahn Sumedho. It was so strange to find that book there, it seemed very out of place really.
Anyway, I was feeling really stressed at the time, very frightened and trying really hard to prove to everybody (and particularly myself) that I was really a 'good' person.
I had read the bible in prison as I was desperate for some sort of support, but I couldn't accept the idea of a god.
I found Ajahn Sumedho's book helpful. I tried to do the meditation but didn't really know what I was doing. The part that really helped was a story about the monk who had to sweep up the leaves but didn't like doing it... eventually the monk learned to use sweeping up leaves as a meditation and so transform it into something beneficial.
Somehow that story really spoke to me at the time... Sorry but I don't know the name of the book.
When I left prison I eventually got involved with Buddhism again. These days I am a lay member of a Karma Kagyu group and have taken refuge with them. I work as a support worker with people with learning disabilities and am now a registered psychotherapist.
I find the teachings and advice that Buddhism offers with regard to attitudes towards difficult daily situations and difficult relationships very helpful. I have found having a generous attitude towards others (especially if they are getting on my nerves) especially helpful and has totally transformed my relationship with people.
I'm really sure that Buddhism can be of help to prisoners. Even something as simple as the donation of a Buddhist book to the local prison's library could be the seed that could completely change the course of someones life.
Hello tellyontellyon, all,
I just saw the post above - better late than never - and wonder if this is what you were refering to?
[EXCERPT]INSIGHT IN SITUATIONS
Sometimes insight arises at the most unexpected times. This happened to me while living at Wat Pah Pong. The Northeastern part of Thailand is not the most beautiful or desirable place in the world with its scrubby forests and flat plain; it also gets extremely hot during the hot season. We’d have to go out in the heat of the mid-afternoon before each of the Observance Days and sweep the leaves off the paths. There were vast areas to sweep. We would spend the whole afternoon in the hot sun, sweating and sweeping the leaves into piles with crude brooms; this was one of our duties. I didn’t like doing this. I’d think, ‘I don’t want to do this. I didn’t come here to sweep the leaves off the ground; I came here to get enlightened - and instead they have me sweeping leaves off the ground. Besides, it’s hot and I have fair skin; I might get skin cancer from being out here in a hot climate.’
I was standing out there one afternoon, feeling really miserable, thinking, ‘What am I doing here? Why did I come here? Why am I staying here? There I stood with my long crude broom and absolutely no energy, feeling sorry for myself and hating everything. Then Ajahn Chah came up, smiled at me and said, ‘Wat Pah Pong is a lot of suffering, isn’t it?’ and walked away. So I thought, ‘Why did he say that?’ and, ‘Actually, you know, it’s not all that bad.’ He got me to contemplate: Is sweeping the leaves really that unpleasant?....No, it’s not. It’s a kind of neutral thing; you sweep the leaves, and it’s neither here nor there....Is sweating all that terrible? Is it really a miserable, humiliating experience? Is it really as bad as I am pretending it is?...No - sweating is all right, it’s a perfectly natural thing to be doing. And I don’t have skin cancer and the people at Wat Pah Pong are very nice. The teacher is a very kind wise man. The monks have treated me well. The lay people come and give me food to eat, and....What am I complaining about?’
Reflecting upon the actual experience of being there, I thought, ‘I’m all right. People respect me, I’m treated well. I’m being taught by pleasant people in a very pleasant country. There’s nothing really wrong with anything, except me; I’m making a problem out of it because I don’t want to sweat and I don’t want to sweep leaves.’ Then I had a very clear insight. I suddenly perceived something in me which was always complaining and criticising, and which was preventing me from ever giving myself to anything or offering myself to any situation.http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble10.htm