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August 8, 2015

on compassion and dharma in jail and a request for your support

by Repa Dorje Odzer

Prajnaparamita2

If with kind generosity
One merely has the wish to sooth
The aching heads of other beings,
Such merit has no bounds.
-Shantideva

Within the Buddhist tradition, regardless of which tradition one follows, the development or cultivation of a compassionate perspective towards others is a common form of both practice and training.  As practicing Buddhists we often recite prayers in which we aspire to develop greater compassion for others and or dedicate all of the merit created by all of the positive transformative actions we might be engaged in for the sake of alleviating the suffering of others.  This is part of a larger push to train the mind, and the desire to gain greater insight as to how we create the sense of suffering that we encounter from day to day, and how we might actively work to transform the mind, thereby planting seeds for the cessation of the experience of suffering.

ralang_shakyamuni_final

May I be like a guard for those who are protectorless,
A guide for those who journey on the road.
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.

-Shantideva

The recitation of such prayers as well as the general cultivation of compassionate activity help us to change our minds. The way in which our mind, or perhaps more to the point, the way our perspective, informs our relationship to the world is really up to us.  We hold the keys towards cultivating a greater sense of ease and release from our experience of suffering. Usually (and Buddhist teachings highlight this) we suffer more when our perspective is focused more on ourselves than others.  Similarly, when our perspective, or mental point of orientation, is rooted in a concern for the welfare of others and is not so myopically concerned with our own needs, we become aware of the vastness of collective human experience.  The more expansive and wider our reference point, the less rooted in our own problems and concerns we become.

rikers

All the joy the world contains has come through wishing happiness for others

All the misery the world contains has come from wishing pleasure for oneself.
-Shantideva

About a year and a half ago I created a program that offers the benefits of meditation instruction and practice sessions to incarcerated women at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City.  This program has expanded to include incarcerated adolescents, young adults, Corrections Officers, as well as the most violent inmates at this large jail facility.  The program has been very well received and offers a profound way to help those who have never had the chance to stop and examine their minds, assess their perspective in the moment, and to make room for the possibility of change.  Our program has just launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds of that this compassionate activity can continue.

We can’t do this alone, and without your support, the support of other similarly minded people our own efficacy dwindles.  I ask you to take a moment to look at what we are doing, and to invite you to become part of this very beneficial change for those who have no access to changing their minds, or who seldom encounter others who feel compassion towards them, and for whom the chance of a change of perspective through meditation training would be impossible.

You can see what we do here.  We have until October 2nd to meet this deadline, please help us to help others in whatever way you can.

As long as space endures
And for as long as the world abides,
Until then may I, too, abide,
To dispel the sufferings of the world.
-Shantideva

GoshirWeb

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