Dharma in a Broom Closet

Creating sangha behind bars

Scott Darnell

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Many years ago I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of a fellow inmate who followed the Soto Zen practice of shikantaza, “just sitting.” One of the very first things he shared with me was a verse from the Dhammapada, which reads in part, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.”

I was hooked from the moment I read that passage. After all, I live in a world of my own making, a world of stone and steel, a world of consequence where guard towers loom at every turn. My thoughts and actions in life built these walls around me as surely as mortar and trowel. It is the same for most of us here. What we thought, we inevitably became. How could it be otherwise?

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