News at Tipitaka Network
Monk takes basics of Buddhism behind bars at Jefferson County's federal pen
By COLIN GUY, Beaumont Enterprise, Friday, December 26, 2008
The sound of a prison gate closing is distinctive and final, according to Bhante Kassapa Bhikkhu, a Buddhist monk who travels to the federal prison in Beaumont each week.
But by passing through that door over the past year, the monk has nurtured a relatively small but dedicated number of inmates who want to participate in the weekly meditation sessions. The group has grown in number from about seven to around 15 and sometimes more, said Kassapa, an American-born monk who lives and practices at the Buumon Buddhist Temple in Port Arthur.
"I don't think many of them would have been Buddhist before they came," he said.
Prisoners have a lot of time to fill, he said, which encourages some to explore new ideas and faiths. Any faith, he noted, is likely to make incarceration more bearable, but some have found that the solitary, reflective nature of Buddhism suits their circumstances particularly well.
"There's solitude and quietness found in Buddhism," he said.
"One of the reasons I think why it works for them is that in the beginning, Buddha had to take himself out of society for a number of years while he discovered who he was and these guys have a similar situation."
Kassapa said he attended a conference in Oregon where one of the subjects discussed was Buddhism behind bars.
In India, he said, officials have found that encouraging inmates to practice meditation has had a calming effect.
Studies have found that in general, inmates who practice Buddhism tend to have lower recidivism rates - less than 40 percent - than the average rate for the population as a whole, Kassapa said.
Services, which begin at about 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, include rituals, group meditation and discussions about Dharma, the guiding principles of the Buddhist faith.
Kassapa estimated that probably about 20 to 25 percent of visitors to the Buumon Buddhist Temple are considering changing their faith to Buddhism. By contrast, he said, probably only one or two of the inmates at the prison meditation group are not interested in the spiritual aspects of the sessions.
"In the years I've been here (in Port Arthur), about 15 people have become Buddhist that come here all the time," he said. "(At the prison) it's really reversed. They are seriously becoming Buddhists."
Buddhist News Features:
Sunday, May 15, 2022 Vesak Extra!
Wednesday, May 26, 2021 Vesak Extra!
Thursday, May 7, 2020 Vesak Extra!
Ancient Buddhist statue may be returned to Japanese temple after 10-year legal battle
Huntington to exhibit Its oldest printed book
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia holds interfaith dialogue on women and spirituality
Deep meditation could improve your gut health and help with depression and anxiety
Pope Francis discusses ‘ecological conversion’ with Buddhist monks from Cambodia
Meet the monks who live in Aberdeen’s Thai temple
How the British saved India’s classical history
Japan art and Buddhist pagoda in the snow
Australia returns 9 ancient Buddha statues to Thailand
How to be mindful if you hate meditating
‘Compassion is the only solution to current day challenges’
How corporations attempt to co-opt Buddhism
Dependent Origination: A review and exploration toward unification
New Thich Nhat Hanh documentary “I Have Arrived, I Am Home”
NJ`s Buddhism boomlet: A quiet faith catches on in a chaotic world
Efforts to preserve five-tone musical ensemble of the Khmer in Soc Trang
Experts collect evidence of Theravada Buddhism
Buddhadhamma, act of ongoing transformation: Bhante Ajahn Jayasaro
Korean Buddhist community plans restoration of 1,300-year-old Buddha statue
Rocky marvel at Buduruvagala
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.